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Monday, 4 June 2018

What we’re tracking on 4 June 2018

Annual increase in stock market stamp tax has come into effect: The stamp tax on capital market transactions rose to 0.15% yesterday from 0.125%, Al Mal reports. The levy, which came into effect last year, will rise to 0.175% next year. The Financial Regulatory Authority is debating whether to cut regulatory fees on stock market trades to 0.04% from a present 0.05%, to offset the burden imposed by the annual rise in the stamp tax, sources from the authority told Enterprise last month.

During its first year in effect, the stamp tax earned the government EGP 700 mn in revenues from main market transactions excluding OTC trades, Misr For Central Clearing, Depository & Registry Managing Director Tarek Abdel Bary told Enterprise yesterday.

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference gets underway today in California with a keynote speech at 10am Pacific time (that’s 7:00pm CLT tonight). You can stream the keynote here. Meanwhile, 9to5Mac has a rundown of what you can expect, namely iterative improvements to iOS 12 as Apple pushes new tentpole features to next year to allow its engineers time to focus on quality. Also: Don’t hold your breath for a lot of new hardware. The conference is front-page news in the global business press this morning. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, Apple’s goal is “fewer [new] features, but fewer bugs.” Also on analysts’ wish list: Improvements to Siri, plans to tackle “device addiction” and a plan to win over HomePod skeptics, the Financial Times adds.

Also for tech types this morning: Microsoft could announce as soon as today that it will acquire GitHub, the popular developer tools platform that allows techies to manage code, among other things. Business Insider broke news of the talks over the weekend, and Bloomberg confirmed the news yesterday.

Many women with early stage breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy “following the publication of a groundbreaking study showing that they derive no benefit from the grueling treatment,” the Financial Times reports. The 10k patient study is front-page news around the world, having suggested that 70% of women “should not be given chemotherapy because it does not improve their survival prospects. They can therefore be treated with hormone therapy alone, which is far milder.” They found that tests of gene activity in tumor samples could identify women who could safely skip chemotherapy in favor of hormone therapy. The caveat: Some women 50 or younger “might benefit from chemo even if gene-test results suggested otherwise,” the New York Times notes.

Yield is not a dirty word: Manulife Financial, the Canadian giant that has “spent years buying stakes in pipelines, power grids and transportation systems … now wants to manage more of these types of assets for other investors,” shifting roughly USD 1 bn in existing infrastructure investments into a new fund that is open to outside clients. … One large European investor committed some USD 1 bn. … Big institutional investors are looking for new ways to generate yield after years of ultralow interest rates and expensive asset prices. More are now turning to investments in pipelines, utilities and roads to generate stable cash flows. Some, like Manulife, are choosing to manage those assets for others for additional revenue,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Hedgies and Wall Street banks are adding social media to their research menus, the Journal notes this morning, looking at a wave of acquisitions of “alternative data” firms.

The Financial Times’ Jonathan Guthrie writes a withering take on why “bright young things flock to a withering old profession”: Investment banking. Don’t expect revelations, but do expect a chuckle or two.

Regret becoming a banker? Go indulge your inner Walter Mitty with the Financial Times’ Dream Jobs series, which runs occasional profiles of “people who’ve given up the 9-5 to seek new careers — and new lives — on distant shores.” Among them: A management consultant who became an Antarctic guide, an insurance sales rep who is now a motorcycle guide in Vietnam, and an ex-finance guy who became a freediving instructor in Indonesia. Mommy, how do you spell ‘midlife crisis’?

Better still: Go read James Thurber’s original short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, in the 18 March 1939 issue of the New Yorker.

Why Qatar is still afloat: A year into the economic embargo, Bloomberg posits that the reason Qatari banks have done so well is because the government and statelet-owned banks have plowed some USD 26 bn in deposits into them since May of last year. Qatar noted the passing of the one-year anniversary of the boycott by declaring it is “stronger than ever,” CNBC says, on the same day that Bloomberg reports that the statelet’s propaganda arm, Al Jazeera, recently slashed dozens of jobs.

Your Ramadan rundown for today:

Bank hours run 09:30 am to 01:30 pm for customers and from 09:00 am to 02:00 pm for employees, CBE announced.

The EGX is running shorter trading hours. The trading session kicks off at 10:00 am, but closes at 1:30 pm. Tap or click here for the full schedule.

So, when do we eat? For those of us observing, Maghrib is at 6:53 pm CLT today. You’ll have until 3:09 am tomorrow to finish your sohour.

We apparently have post-iftar entertainment on the brain this morning, having caught up on all current episodes of Westworld, season two, and finished The Americans. Speaking of which:

The Americans, one of the best shows on television, went out with an (emotional) bang last week. The New York Times has a (spoiler-heavy) interview with show stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. A must-read if you’re a fan of the show.

What to watch if you’re not a fan of mosalsalat? Start with the Times’ list of “What to Watch Now That ‘The Americans’ Is Over,” then check out its list of “TV binges of summer, from Jack Ryan to ‘Better Call Saul.’”

Magnum P.I. is getting a remake on CBS, and the first full trailer is out. Mixed feelings on our end, folks, but we’ll check the series out when it debuts this fall. You can watch the trailer here (runtime: 4:16).

In the mood for a book, not a TV show? Read the New York Times Book Review’s list of 73 summer books, broken down into categories including thrillers, cooking, movies and television, romance, music, sports and more.

Stephen King’s The Outsider isn’t on the NYT list, but should be, whether you’re a fan of his work or not. It’s one of two books King has coming out this year — Elevation, set in Castle Rock, Maine, is due in stores in October.

Food on the brain? We’ve just added Chefs, [Redacted] and Rock & Roll to our to-be-read pile. The tome looks back at the “remarkable evolution of the American restaurant chef in the 1970s and 1980s,” telling the tale of how cooking in a restaurant was transformed from a first job (or last job pre-prison) into a celebrity undertaking.

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