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Monday, 5 November 2018

What we’re tracking on 5 November

It’s PMI day: The Emirates NBD purchasing managers’ index for October is coming out today. You can download the press release here where it arrives at about 6:15am CLT. September’s PMI gauge had dipped after a three-month period of improvement in Egypt’s non-oil private sector.

Tourism Minister Rania Al Mashat is in London to attend the World Travel Market, heading an Egyptian delegation of tourism companies and hotels, which runs tomorrow through Wednesday, Youm7 reports.

US sanctions against Iran’s oil and finance sectors go into effect today. Europeans are among the many scrambling to find a way around the new regime. There’s still no word on whether Egypt is among the eight countries to whom the US will grant waivers allowing them to continue buying Iranian crude, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the move yesterday. An oil ministry source told Al Masry Al Youm yesterday that Egypt does not import crude from Iran despite an earlier report in the international press that we import from Iran for the Sumed pipeline.

Contrarian view? Or simple boredom? Is the narrative on emerging markets shifting, or is the Financial Times simply bored of the EM Zombie Apocalypse and trying out a different take? It begins with the FT’s suggestion that outflows from emerging markets debt haven’t been as sharp as you might have expected from all the hoopla in the headlines. This comes as EMs have also become more resilient to shocks by adopting sound economic policies that help insulate against external risks, the salmon-colored paper adds. “Over the years, they have ditched currency pegs in favour of floating exchange rates, inflation has been brought under better control, fiscal policy is generally more disciplined, financial regulation has improved and much more debt is issued in local currencies.” EMs are also generally better equipped to repay foreign debt, even if — like Turkey and Argentina — their currencies tumble against the USD.

Oh, and EM currencies? They’re looking rather attractively priced right now, the paper notes, suggesting “EM FX may be at its cheapest since the 1980s in inflation-adjusted terms.”

Saudi’s allies look for a ‘tamer’ MbS as Khashoggi case recedes from headlines: The kingdom’s allies in the Gulf and the wider MENA region are hoping that the fallout following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will rein in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “aggressive policies,” diplomats and senior officials told the FT’s Heba Saleh. That’s just one of several pieces on KSA making the rounds at the moment as the international business press looks to keep alive interest in KSA. Also worth checking out:

  • Investors scarred by Saudi shocks see bigger risks than Qatar (Bloomberg)
  • Consulting firms are still lining up to do business in KSA (New York Times)
  • Alwaleed bin Talal’s brother has reportedly been released after his arrest (Bloomberg | WSJ)
  • Saudis call for Amazon boycott over anger at Washington Post (Bloomberg)

Americans head to the polls tomorrow in midterm elections with control of the House of Representatives at stake. Driven in part by the narrative that women will turn out against The Donald, polls suggest Democrats could narrowly wrest control of the House from the GOP — prompting nightmares for liberals in which 2016 repeats itself. Early signs suggest turnout could be heavy. Want to follow the tick-tock? The New York Times has coverage throughout the day, as do Axios and Politico.

Fantasy football: Trump has a “woman problem” in 2020, writes Axios.

Spotify is coming to Egypt and the wider MENA region, according to a report in MENA Bytes. The service appears to be available by invitation only right now. It’s part of a trend of Western streaming services pushing into emerging and frontier markets. We have more in today’s Macro Picture, below.

READ OF THE MORNING: The guy who wrote Sapiens and Homo Deus, the high-profile Israeli academic Yuval Noah Harari, is out this year with 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. While on a visit to the US, he sat down with the New York Times’ business page for a great talk about what artificial intelligence means for workers and the prospect of a global AI arms race, among other topics.

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