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Monday, 10 July 2017

What we’re tracking on 10 July 2017

It was an excruciatingly slow news day yesterday, but most importantly…

The sky did not fall yesterday: Egyptian stocks witnessed a 0.2% drop on Sunday, the first day of trading sincethe Central Bank announced a 200 bps increase in interest rates — a far cry from the 2.5% slip following last May’s interest rate hike which was the largest drop in the world at the time. It would appear that markets have been mostly responsive to the CBE’s message that the move is temporary. Analysts at Naeem Brokerage said in a note that the market might witness a slight temporary correction, adding that banks might benefit because they expected higher investment income to offset delinquencies and slower credit growth, according to Reuters.

Six banks reportedly raised interest rates on deposit certificates with variable interest rates on the first day back. QNB Al Ahly, Blom Bank Egypt, National Bank of Greece Egypt, the Egyptian Arab Land Bank, and AlexBank have all raised monthly interest rates on variable interest CDs to anywhere between 14.75% and 19.5%, according to a chart courtesy of Al Borsa. Meanwhile, the Arab African International Bank raised the interest rates for its EGP Golden Saving Account to 12.5% monthly, Daily News Egypt reports.

Other state-owned banks will not announce how they will move until their Alco (assets and liabilities committees) meetings this week, most of which will apparently be held on Tuesday. The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) will unlikely raise interest rates on its 20%-yield CDs, NBE Deputy Chairman Yehia Aboul Fotouh tells Al Borsa. The bank is likely to move to raise interest rates on savings and deposit accounts, he added. Banque Misr Chairman Mohamed El Etreby had announced on Saturday that his bank would hold interest rates on 20%-yielding deposit certificates. Banking sector sources tell the newspaper that it is unlikely that banks will move high-yield long-term CDs as the CBE had said the move was temporary.

Banking heads including El Etreby assured the public that lending rates to SMEs will be kept at 5%, the CBE’s mandated rate under its SME finance program, Al Ahram reports.

In his first public statement since issuing the rate hike, CBE Governor Tarek Amer said that raising interest rates would increase inflows of USD to the banking system, in a widely picked up interview with Egyptian daily Al Akhbar’s print edition. He told the newspaper that the banking system has managed to draw in USD 57 bn since the EGP was floated eight months ago.

This has not stopped naysayers from continuing to denounce the move: The CBE’s decision to hike interest rates by another 200 bps last Thursday will lead the economy to shrink and strays from the government’s financial reform and inclusion policies, Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce head Ahmed El Wakil tells AMAY. In theory, an interest rate hike is meant to help curb inflation, but the situation on the ground dictates otherwise and the timing is just not right, he adds, as higher interest rates will translate to higher production costs and lower investments.

Elsewhere, Goldman Sachs Asset Management is the worst-selling fund manager globally this year, with revenues falling 7% year-on-year in 1Q17 — compounding a 7% drop in revenues and a 17% fall in profits in FY2016, according to the Financial Times. Investors pulled an estimated USD 26.7 bn from GSAM’s mutual funds so far in 2017, with more than half of the asset manager’s strategies globally suffering outflows, the salmon-colored paper said. “Investors have been dumping stockpickers for cheaper passive funds that track an index,” something which is hurting other asset managers including Fidelity, Morgan Stanley and Franklin Templeton.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the passing of banking sector giant and legend Mahmoud Abdel Aziz Saad who passed away late last month. Mr. Saad had served as the Chairman and Managing Director of CIB until his retirement in 2002, and headed the team responsible for setting strategic decisions that made CIB one of the leading private banks in the region. His storied career also included heading up NBE, the Federation of Egyptian Banks and the Union of Arab Banks. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

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