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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

What we’re tracking on 5 July 2017

The exchange rate has been on people’s minds this week as the EGP appreciated against the USD for the first time in three months on Monday after strengthening c.0.7%. The EGP continued this gain again today with a rate of EGP 17.95 to the USD 1. Most research houses are of the view that these gains will continue to the end of the year on the back of improved FX reserves the result of a substantial hike in inflows and excellent yields.

On that front, the inflows reached USD 618 mn, the largest single-day gain in the CBE’s history, central bank official told Al Shorouk, a claim backed up by Banque Misr Chairman Mohamed El Etreby (more on that in Talk Shows). We had noted yesterday other reports attributed to nameless CBE officials that inflows since the EGP devaluation reached USD 54 bn. We should get a clearer picture from the bank this week when it announces its net FX reserves for June.

Renaissance Capital’s Global Chief Economist Charles Robertson sees the CBE’s direct hand at play here, suggesting that the it may want to be acting to put downward pressure on inflation. He also posits in an email statement that there is an implicit target for the currency in the FY2017-18 and the CBE is now going to edge the currency towards that level. He sees the fiscal year ending with the rate at EGP 17.5.

Beltone Financial concurs that the appreciation will be the medicine to help keep inflation in line. The Investment bank is cautiously optimistic, stating that removal of transfer caps would be the last remaining test on the resilience of the EGP. Analysts there expect 2017 ending with an exchange rate in the range of EGP 16.6-17.1 and averaging at EGP 16.8 for FY2017-18. Arqaam capital takes it one step further, predicting a rate of EGP 16.0 for the USD 1 by FY2017-18, according to Al Borsa.

We are one step closer to officially entering FY2017-18, as The House of Representatives finally signed off on the FY2017-18 state budget during a plenary session on Tuesday, Al Shorouk reports. The bill is currently awaiting President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s approval to come into effect and the government will continue to use last year’s budget until then, sources at the Finance Ministry tell Al Mal (tap here for a refresher on the FY2017-18 budget).

Also on Tuesday, the House approved the extension of the nationwide state of emergency for another three-month term, according to Al Shorouk. MPs also signed off on the National Elections Act, which mandates judicial supervision of the elections regulator for a 10-year period.

The House’s Economics Committee should also be sending today its comments on the executive regulations for the Investment Act back to the Sherif Ismail cabinet after reviewing the draft, AMAY says. The government is under no obligation to follow them (thank God).

MPs will hold their final session today before they head for their summer recess. Having worn themselves out with more work in these past few weeks than at anytime we’ve seen, we recommend the recess be prolonged. We sure will miss you guys (sarcasm may not register, so we’re adding this here for good measure).

Today is do or die time for Qatar as its second deadline expires, or as we like to call it “the season finale of Qatar Smackdown.” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said yesterday that the deadline for Qatar to comply would not be extended a second time, Bloomberg reports. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE announced they have received Qatar’s response to their list of demands, saying in a joint statement in the wee hours of the morning that they will respond “at the appropriate time.” The heads of the Egyptian, Bahraini, Emirati, and Saudi intelligence services reportedly met in Cairo last night, Reuters reports, citing MENA news agency. No details were provided on the outcomes of the meeting. Qatar said it is open to dialogue as long as it is “based on clear principles without the threat of escalation,” according to the Financial Times. Doha announced yesterday it is significantly stepping up its LNG production capacity, signaling its statements of goodwill may be full of air and that the small state is “ready for a protracted dispute with Gulf neighbors,” Reuters says.

Only Turkey was apparently given a reprieve from the laptop ban on flights to the US yesterday, Newsweek reports. The ban from Turkey will be lifted today following inspections of its airports. Turkey was the second of a list of six Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, that have been slapped with the ban from the US and the UK that caused some turbulence (for lack of a better word) in air travel. Saudi Arabian Airlines expects the in-cabin ban will be lifted by 19 July after implementing new security measures, the Saudi Press Agency said on Tuesday. Considering we’ve been given the same annoying “airport security” song from the Russians for sometime now, it reasonable to think our airport security will pass muster.

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