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Monday, 24 April 2017

Salman rolls back austerity measures, Qatar shifts to passive investing, Macron to face Le Pen in French presidential runoff

A handful of international stories worth your time this morning:

If we did this… Saudi Arabia’s King Salman rolled back unpopular austerity measures on Saturday at the same time as he appointed two of his children to key positions; one, Abdulaziz bin Salman, will head the ministry of energy affairs, while Khalid bin Salman will be the next Saudi ambassador to Washington. The reversal of austerity measures will see the kingdom restore bonuses and allowances for state employees and members of the armed forces. Bloomberg has more.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, the Qatar investment Authority is the “latest convert to passiveinvesting,” the Financial Times writes, saying the world’s ninth-largest sovereign wealth fund and “owner of London landmarks the Shard and Harrods, is moving cash into exchange traded funds and index funds as part of a more ‘prudent’ investment strategy.”

Former banker and pro-EU party leader Emmanuel Macron will face far-right candidateMarine Le Pen when France heads to runoff vote on 7 May to elect a new president. Macron is forecast to win (then again, so was Hillary Clinton): “A Harris survey taken on Sunday saw Macron winning the runoff by 64 percent to 36, and an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result,” Reuters writes. Macron had 23.9% of votes cast yesterday in the first round of balloting to 21.4% for Le Pen with 96% of ballots counted. The catch, the newswire writes elsewhere, is that “to have a real chance of implementing the reform of France’s economy and politics that he wants, he needs a victory big enough to enlist popular figures from established parties in the parliamentary election that follows in June.”

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