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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

What we’re tracking on 26 June 2018

The bad: The Pharaohs lost 2-1. To *Saudi Arabia*. In stoppage time. We shall never again speak of the events of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Ever. Even Twitter feels sorry for us: “Hug an Egyptian today. An absolutely brutal World Cup for them,” wrote Washington Post foreign affairs reporter (and football aficionado) Ishaan Tharoor.

The good: We’re getting a surprise long weekend during which to lick our wounds: PM Mostafa Madbouly declared this Sunday a national holiday substituting for 30 June, which is falling on a Saturday, according to Al Masry Al Youm, citing the Official Gazette. We’ll be back in your inboxes on Monday morning.

A suggestion for legislators: Let’s pass a law, shall we? One that says there is a rule: “Thou shalt always have a replacement day off if a national holiday should fall on a weekend, and an Eid shall always last ‘x’ working days.” Or (take your pick, we don’t care): “Thou shalt not have a replacement day, ever, in the event that a national holiday should call on a weekend day, and…” What we would give to have consistency and the ability to plan ahead.

Wall Street was “pummeled by escalating trade threats” yesterday, Reuters reports, as the increasingly complex showdown between the US and other leading economies “handed the S&P 500 and Nasdaq their steepest losses in more than two months.” The benchmark EGX 30 bucked the trend yesterday (closing up 0.4%), but the wider EGX 50 and 70 indexes each closed down. Asian shares are extending the global selloff this morning and investors continue to “steer away from riskier assets, lifting safe-haven US treasuries and keeping the USD on the defensive.” Oil prices are edging lower (pressuring energy stocks), the yen is strengthening, and the CBOE’s VIX equity volatility index is edging back up to nearly 20, its long-term average, the Financial Times adds.

Arrest warrant issued for Abraaj founder over bounced checks allegedly worth at least USD 48 mn: UAE prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi, who stands accused of issuing checks with insufficient funds, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are reporting. “[The] bounced check was used as partial security for loans estimated at USD 300 mn made to Abraaj by Hamid Jafar, founder of Sharjah’s Crescent Group,” the Financial Times quotes a source as saying. “Without this loan, Abraaj would have collapsed six months ago.”

A Sharjah judge will decide on Thursday whether Naqvi will face a custodial sentence. Sources said the Karachi-born businessman was in the UK would not return to face the charges. The FT notes that the arrest order is fairly standard in the UAE in cases of bounced cheques, and Naqvi’s lawyer said he was optimistic that a settlement on the cheques could be reached (though he sounded a sharply confrontational note in his remarks to the Wall Street Journal).

T minus two days to MPC day: As we approach the central bank Monetary Policy Committee meeting on Thursday, Economists continue to take the view that the CBE will keep interest rates on hold, largely to absorb the shock of the recent subsidy cuts. HC Securities Chief Economist Sara Saada is the latest to join the fray, joining what seems to be a consensus that monthly inflation is unlikely to accelerate beyond 3.5% in June. HC sees annual inflation reaching 14.5%, adding that, “while our numbers also point to monthly inflation of c. 1.5% in July on the rise of electricity prices and second round effect, we believe annual inflation will decelerate to c12.5% in July on favorable base year effect.”

Is the US headed for recession? At least one leading indicator is heading in a direction that suggests it could: The yield curve is flattening in the US of A, threatening to go negative — and every recession of the past 60 years has been preceded by an inverted yield curve. The limit, of course, is that the time between the inverted yield curve and the onset of recession is entirely unpredictable. Confused by it all? Eyeballs rolling into the back of your skull? The New York Times has the backs of all the non-bond-traders among us with a really straightforward explainer: What’s the yield curve? ‘A powerful signal of recessions’ has Wall Street’s attention.

Please don’t tell the House about this: Kenya is considering a “Robin Hood” tax in the form of an excise tax of 0.05 percent on financial transactions of more than USD 5k, the Financial Times reports. That includes “money transferred by banks, money transfer agencies and other financial services providers.” Surprising no one, Kenyan bankers are against the proposed levy.

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