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Sunday, 26 May 2019

What we’re tracking on 26 May 2019

Expect a slow(ish) news day today as we enter the last full work week of Ramadan, ladies and gentlemen. But what news there is? Well, it’s big:

  • The tax authority looks set to settle with Global Telecom Holding, potentially removing an overhang that has sapped sentiment on the EGX;
  • The central bank left interest rates on hold this at its Thursday meeting;
  • The EGP is strengthened again on Thursday, closing the day at 16.9317 to the greenback.

Global markets are also taking a breather: The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are closed tomorrow for Memorial Day in the US, while the London Stock Exchange will also close its doors for the late-May bank holiday. US and UK markets reopen on Tuesday.

The trade and finance ministries will meet today with the heads of export councils to discuss ways of settling overdue export subsidies, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

The ongoing battle between the US and China over trade and tech spooked the markets again last week. The S&P was down for the third week in a row, while the Dow was down for the fifth week running, its longest losing streak since 2011. Yields on US 10-year treasuries fell to lows not seen since October 2017 as investors piled into safe-haven assets. Market expectations of a rate-cut in the US continued to rise, with federal fund futures putting the likelihood of a cut before the end of 2019 at 78.5%.

Oil also took a hit, with WTI suffering its worst week of 2019 down 6.6% and Brent falling 4.9%.

Boiled frog syndrome? Global investors are becoming quite grumpy about global risk amid Brexit and US-China rivalry, the FT warns, with one columnist drawing a parallel to the days before the Great Recession: “Market shocks often erupt after a long period of slowly heating up … The mortgage and credit excesses were simmering back in 2005, for instance, only for investors to stay focused on squeezing markets for a little extra return.”

Signs of the times: Markets show they're finally waking up to global wall of worry on Bloomberg and World faces 'clear and present danger' from trade war escalation, a Reuters piece picking up on the OECD pronouncement we noted on Thursday morning.

Emerging markets aren’t doing too great either: EM equity funds lost USD 3.8 bn during the week ending Wednesday, marking the fifth consecutive week of outflows amid the worst performance for developing markets since the height of last year’s EM Zombie Apocalypse, the FT writes. Money continued to flow out of BlackRock’s EM ETF — the most actively-traded EM ETF. Data also shows that investors pulled USD 1.1 bn from EM bond funds in the past week, the second consecutive week of losses.

It’s not all bad news though: EM manufacturing and services PMIs have risen above developed economies for the first time since 2013. We have more on this in this morning’s Macro Picture.

It’s election day in much of the European Union, with poll watchers waiting anxiously for voting booths to close tonight for a sense of whether the EU will face a more fragmented parliament. Both the center-right European People's Party and center-left Socialists and Democrats are losing support to harder-line competitors amid an upsurge in populism, Euronews warns. Reuters has more.

Why do we care? First, the EU is our top trade and investment partner. Add to that:

  • An anticipated “green wave” could push more EU-based companies to move polluting industries our way. An exit poll in Ireland, where voters came out on Friday, underlined “concerns about climate change and the environment [that] may bolster the pro-EU Greens group and could mean tighter regulations for industry.”
  • Mario Draghi’s term is nearly over: The elections will set the tone when European leaders meet to start choosing the next head of the European Central Bank, the WSJ notes.

You know you’re onto something when the opportunists plot: An “obscure Cypriot” group of investors are planning a USD 5-10 bn spending spree on Eastern Mediterranean gas, claiming to be “in talks with ‘some of the most respected global family offices, private equity firms and sovereign funds’ about raising the cash,” Bloomberg writes. The story comes off as a PR piece that stupidly argues existing industry players “have struggled to overcome longstanding political and legal hurdles and find viable export markets, leaving many investors to question whether these firms can realize the region’s full potential.”

Other headlines you should know about in the global business press this morning:

  • The top business headline: Fiat Chrysler and Renault are in talks for a “wide-ranging” tie up. (WSJ | FT | Reuters)
  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation on Friday following months of intense pressure from her party and a dismal performance in the polls leading up to last week’s EU elections, the BBC reports.
  • The company that nobody trusts with their data now wants to control our digital wallets: Facebook is planning to launch a new cryptocurrency in 12 countries by early 2020, The Guardian reports.
  • Amazon shareholders are okay being spooks, it seems, overwhelmingly voting to allow the company to sell its cutting-edge facial recognition tech to government agencies, CNBC reports.

What We’re Tracking Today, the Ramadan edition:

A pre-iftar reading list to kill time between your post-workout shower and the breaking of the fast:

RAMADAN PSA- Bank hours are at 9am-2pm for employees; doors are open from 9:30am until 1:30pm for customers. The trading day at the EGX runs 10:00am until 1:30pm.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib is at 6:48pm CLT today in Cairo. You’ll have until 3:14am tomorrow morning to caffeinate / finish your sohour.

WEATHER- The mercury will steadily rise this week, going from 35°C today to 40°C on Thursday. Welcome to summer, y’all.

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