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Thursday, 2 March 2017

What we’re tracking on 02 March 2017

The EGP weakened c. 37 piasters yesterday to EGP 16.17 to the greenback as importers look to stock up before Ramadan, bankers and economists told Reuters. “The EGP’s weakening today is due to a decline in FX inflows into banks this week and because importers are increasing demand in preparation for Ramadan,” said Beltone head of research Hany Genena. Allen Sandeep, head of research at Naeem, also noted “It’s pre-Ramadan letter of credit opening time. People will start importing now in order for the goods to arrive in two months.”

Meanwhile, the Central bank of Egypt made c. USD 420 mn available to some 20 banks on Tuesday night to back settlement of demand loans to cover pre-float LCs of less than USD 5 mn, as per the terms of its settlement agreement with the Union of Egyptian Investor Associations (UEIA) in February, Al Borsa reports. Banks were offered greenbacks at EGP 15.8841 per USD through subscription to a two-year zero-coupon bonds carrying a 3.65% interest rate, top banking officials tell the newspaper. The central bank had agreed with the UEIA to help some 570 companies caught upside-down with pre-float LCs. Banks will on-lend the greenbacks to the companies in question, who will then repay their debt in EGP over a two-year stretch.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in town today to push her migration agenda in meetings with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and other senior officials. The Financial Times notes that Merkel’s trip comes from a place of desperation, as controversy over her handling of the migration file is likely to be a key issue in this year’s elections to the Bundestag. Today will be her second trip in six months to a continent she had not visited in five years, and the German chancellor is widely expected to try to convince Egypt and Tunisia to open migration camps for asylum seekers, something both countries have adamantly rejected, according to the Associated Press. She is coming with some sugar to help the migration medicine go down, in the form of a 10-company business and trade delegation. Merkel has viewed investment from Europe to the MENA region as a crucial policy initiative to help stem the flow of illegal migration from the region. We should expect to see agreements on technical training and economic cooperation. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is expected to travel to Brussels this month and could be tapped to hash out a migration pact that would give Egypt assistance and easier access to the EU for its nationals. In the meantime, Amnesty International is calling for Merkel to press El Sisi on human rights.

The Dow Jones broke 21,000 yesterday, and the nice people at Planet Money will not be celebrating: Wall Street closed at record highs yesterday, and depending on who you believe, it was because of expectations the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this month (Financial Times) or because markets cheered US President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress the night before (CNBC). Either way, one person is going to be really unhappy about all of the focus on Dow 21,000: Planet Money’s Adam Davidson, who loathes the “stupid, stupid Dow.” You can listen to the classic Planet Money podcast on the subject (run time: 17:40, updated for Dow 20,000 in January) or go read Davidson’s “Why Do We Still Care About the Dow?” for the New York Times Magazine. (Reminder: Davidson isn’t against all stock indexes — he just hates the Dow.)

It’s a great day for: That kid who created Snapchat. “Snap Inc., maker of the disappearing photo app dependent upon the fickle favor of the millennial demographic, is going public at a valuation at least twice as expensive as Facebook Inc., and four times more costly than Twitter Inc.,” reports Bloomberg. That for a company that won’t give investors voting rights and whose prospectus is a document from a parallel universe. We’ve never actually prayed for an IPO to tank. There’s always a first time, right?

It’s not likely to be a great day for: Donald Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke twice with the Russian ambassador to Washington, but did not disclose those contacts during his confirmation hearing, the Washington Post reports in an exclusive.

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