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Thursday, 6 September 2018

What we’re tracking on 06 September 2018

Sir Geoffrey Adams has been appointed as the UK’s new ambassador to Egypt, the British foreign office said yesterday. Adams was previously stationed in Cairo in 1998 as the head of mission, and also acted as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s director for the Middle East and North Africa. Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal took the time to welcome Adams to Egypt last night, urging him to convey an accurate image of Egypt to the UK. Kamal lambasted outgoing ambassador John Casson for his “hostile” behavior towards Egypt and its citizens during his service (watch, runtime: 5:19). Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer also covered the news of Sir Geoffrey’s appointment (watch, runtime: 2:03).

Financing pact with the “other IFC” today” The ministries of supply and trade will sign a financing agreement with the Islamic Finance Corporation today, the Investment Ministry said in an emailed statement. No further details were provided.

Emerging market equities are back into bear territory as currency crises in Turkey and Argentina deepen and the pain spreads to other markets, the Financial Times says. The sell-off intensified yesterday, reflecting a broader direction by investors to curb exposure to EM assets, whether stocks, bonds, or currencies. “MSCI’s broad gauge of mid- and large-capitalisation EM equities dropped 1.6% on Wednesday, bringing the decline over the past half-dozen trading sessions to 4.4%,” the paper said. Wall Street futures also dropped yesterday, fueled by trade war concerns and signs that Chinese economic growth is slowing down.

It’s now the longest EM rout since 2008, writes Bloomberg, regardless of the asset class you’re talking about, suggesting that “not one of the seven biggest selloffs since the financial crisis — including the so-called taper tantrum — inflicted such pain for so long on the developing world.” With a “stampede of selling across emerging markets” now sweeping from Turkey and Argentina to South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, the business information service says, “a cadre of investors and strategists from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to BlackRock Inc.” are all using the word “contagion.”

Why contagion? “The argument goes like this: while the asset class may offer value over the long haul, investors will sell relatively safe holdings to cover losses in more vulnerable markets or, worse, treat all emerging markets the same and sell indiscriminately. A herd mentality has taken over, meaning no matter what the relative risks and potential returns are in individual countries, investors who choose to buy run the risk of being trampled.”

Don’t expect a turnaround before early 2019, a Bloomberg Opinion author suggests in a muddled piece that’s getting social shares, but which is really trying to make the point that America is vulnerable, too.

The EGX30 was down 1.1% for the day. Among the stocks blunting the decline were QNB Alahli (+2.1%) and Qalaa Holdings (+1.8%), with the latter rising on news that it may hike its stake in subsidiary Egyptian Refining Company. We noted yesterday that Qalaa co-founder Hisham El Khazindar had suggested Qalaa could increase its exposure to ERC if the refiner were to go ahead with a capital increase. ERC, which is now 98% complete, is set to start trial operations this fall and is widely expected to have a transformative impact on Qalaa’s financials when it is fully operational next year.

In other news this morning:

Sukuk will rise in popularity long-term despite 1H2018 dip: Moody’s Investor Service expects sukuk issuances to grow in the long run, as governments continue to invest assets in a mix of traditional and Islamic financing tools. That is despite a 12% decrease in issuances to USD 55 bn in 1H2018. Issuances in the GCC led the drop in the first half of the year, but new programs in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Malaysia are supposed to drive market momentum for the rest of the year. Read the full report here in Arabic (pdf).

Members of The Donald’s cabinet have discussed removing him from office, a senior administration official writes anonymously in an op-ed for the New York Times that is making waves across the pond. Read I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.

Other news worth noting with your first espresso of the day:

  • Emirates flight quarantined in NYC: An Emirates flight to New York from Dubai with more than 500 people aboard was quarantined on landing after as many as 100 people became ill during the flight with flu-like symptoms.
  • Blood testing firm Theranos is going to dissolve in the wake of a high-profile scandal prompted by reporting by the Wall Street Journal. If you haven’t already, read reporter John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, his account of the takedown.
  • Instagram wants to get into e-commerce. The Facebook-owned company is building a standalone shopping app, The Verge reports.

We have a mid-week holiday coming up: The government has pencilled in Wednesday, 12 September as a national holiday in observance of Islamic New Year. Look for confirmation some time in the coming days, as a formal announcement has yet been made: The holiday could also fall on Tuesday, 11 September.

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