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Thursday, 12 April 2018

What we’re tracking on 12 April 2018

A potential merger of our friends SODIC and Madinet Nasr Housing and Development continued to dominate business news, with SODIC confirming that it is entering into talks that could see the two businesses combined in one form or another. SODIC CEO Magued Sherif spoke with us yesterday about the potential transaction, which is already moving a market hungry for M&A news: The EGX rose 1.4% yesterday, with SODIC shares jumping 8.9% to a 10-year closing high and Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development gaining 12.6% to close the session on a record high.

Someone’s issuing fake Egyptian e-visas? The Interior Ministry warned yesterday that a US company by the name of Gcl Internet Services has been cyber-posing as the Egyptian government and issuing electronic visas for Egypt at double the price through a fake website of its creation. The ministry stressed that the website is the only official online channel for entry visas into the country, according to an emailed statement.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will be meeting his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa today, Ahram Gate reports. The two presidents are expected to discuss ways to boost cooperation across the board, according to the State Information Service. De Sousa is in town to attend the Egyptian-Portuguese Business Forum, which kicks off today. The forum will focus on attracting fresh Portuguese investments in Egypt’s steel, garments, and chemicals manufacturing industries, Egyptian-Portuguese Business Council member Mahmoud Sarg, tells Ahram Gate.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings about data misuse on Tuesday and Wednesday are topping international business headlines. The 33-year-old resisted US senators’ efforts to commit him to regulation, Reuters reports. His testimony seems to have impressed investors, with shares in Facebook posting their “biggest daily gain in nearly two years, closing up 4.5%.” Zuckerberg also said he was one of around 87 mn Facebook users whose data was compromised in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. WSJ, the Guardian, the New York Times, CNN, and CNBC also have coverage.

Now onto the biggest international story of the day: US President Donald Trump vowed to launch missiles at Syrian targets in response to a suspected chemical attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” Trump tweeted. He also warned Russia against backing Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

The UK could also join the potential fight. Sources tell the BBC that Prime Minister Theresa May is ready for military intervention in Syria, “without first seeking parliamentary consent.”

Pressured by the warnings, global stock markets took a dip yesterday. The MSCI’s global stock index was down 0.16% when markets closed yesterday, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.23%, while Nasdaq rose by a marginal 0.12%, buoyed mostly by gains in Facebook and Netflix stocks, Reuters said, attributing the drop to “alarm about a possible Russian-US conflict over Syria.” Global equity markets had only just begun to recover on Tuesday, after China’s President Xi Jinping calmed growing fears about a trade war with the US with promises of lower trade fares (Read here why IMF boss Christine Lagarde thinks “a trade war could rip apart global economy, courtesy of the FT).

This comes as US consumer prices for March dropped by 0.1%, the Labor Department announced yesterday (pdf). Prices were pressured by a drop in gasoline prices, but underlying inflation continued to firm amid rising prices for healthcare and rental accommodation,” Reuters notes. “‘US inflation is warming rather than heating up,’” said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri. “‘Still, the upward trend could suffice to nudge the Fed three more times this year.’”

In other news from Amreeka, US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan announced yesterday that he would be stepping down at the start of 2019, at a time when Republicans are struggling to maintain control over the legislative body, according to Reuters. Ryan said he would not be running in the upcoming congressional elections, which has “dismayed some Republicans already concerned about their prospects with US voters in November.” An unnamed member of the party told the newswire that Ryan’s decision would “set off an intramural war among Republicans on who is going to be the next speaker. It will take the eye off the ball of keeping a majority in the House.”

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