What we’re tracking on 28 January 2020
GERD talks kick off today: Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s foreign and irrigation ministers meet today in Washington, DC for the final round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The officials will be looking to hammer out a final agreement on a framework for filling and operating GERD. Technical meetings in Khartoum last week produced a draft agreement with some “convergence” between the three sides, Sudan’s irrigation minister said.
Cabinet to announce winner of Sixth of October dry port tender tomorrow: Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir said yesterday that the winner of the Sixth of October dry port tender will be announced during Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, Al Masry Al Youm reports. A source in the ministry claimed yesterday that the Elsewedy Electric, Concorde and AE International consortium have been awarded the contract. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if this holds any water.
Stuff you can go to this week:
- AmCham will host US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen for its monthly luncheon today. Cohen will discuss prospects for commercial ties between Egypt and the US. Members can register for the event here.
- CI Capital’s annual three-day MENA Investors Conference gets underway tomorrow at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza.
- The British Embassy and IFC’s StartEgypt Forum 2020 will pit 45 startups against each other in a pitch competition on Wednesday, 29 January at the Greek Campus.
- This year’s Cairo International Book Fair runs through to Tuesday, 4 February at the New Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center.
News triggers to keep your eye on with the new month approaching:
- The purchasing managers’ index for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is due out on Tuesday, 4 February at 6:15am CLT.
- Foreign reserves figures for January will be released on Tuesday, 4 February.
- Inflation figures for January are out Monday, 10 February.
Today we’ll finally find out what Trump has in store for the Palestinians: The Donald will finally release his Middle East peace plan today following meetings at the White House with Israel’s caretaker prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his centrist rival Benny Gantz, the New York Times reports.
The coronavirus is beginning to take its toll on the markets: Equities fell across the world yesterday as concerns about the scale of the coronavirus outbreak in China grew. The S&P 500 suffered its biggest drop in four months, the Dow Jones lost all of its 2020 gains, and the Nasdaq fell the most since August. Safe haven assets — US 10-years, the Swiss franc, the yen and gold — all saw gains as investors went in search of safety. Bloomberg has more.
We’re in market correction territory, says Morgan Stanley: The US stock market may be about to experience its first correction since October, Morgan Stanley’s chief US equity strategist said yesterday.
Oil prices bombed yesterday: Brent fell 3% to reach USD 58.90/bbl while US crude was down 1.9%. Brent has fallen more than USD 10 (around 16%) over the past three weeks.
The latest from China: The death toll now stands at 106 people, with 4,193 confirmed cases in China alone. The good news is that the virus is yet to gain a foothold outside of China’s borders, with cases remaining limited. Nevertheless, it was detected yesterday for the first time in Germany, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, meaning 15 countries outside of China now have confirmed cases.
And Egyptian tourism companies are starting to bear the brunt of the outbreak following the cancellation of some 30k bookings by Chinese tourists this season. The 24 companies affected by the cancellation could suffer combined losses of USD 15 mn, Mohamed Fathi, a member of the committee for Promotion of Cultural Tourism, tells the local press.
From 30 January to 6 February, Miss Germany returns to Somabay for the official Miss Germany Camp 2020. The candidates will enjoy all that Somabay has to offer – sea & beach, water sports, spa, golf and delicious culinary treats. The Miss Germany Camp is hosted at The Lodge by The Cascades Golf Resort, Spa & Thalasso introducing the candidates at a glittering evening event on 31 January.
European banking regulators are easing restrictions for mergers between the continent’s biggest banks in the hopes that large-scale transactions will revitalize a sector struggling with low rates, the Wall Street Journal reports. The regulator, an arm of the European Central Bank (ECB) that is known for imposing heavy restrictions on bank mergers, has shown more openness to the idea during merger talks between two Spanish banks Liberbank and Unicaja Banco, sources have said.
High-frequency traders earn nearly USD 5 bn on global stock markets a year using “latency arbitrage”: Latency arbitrage has become controversial due to it imposing a small but significant tax on investors, according to a new study by UK regulators picked up in The Wall Street Journal. These high-frequency traders react to market-moving information faster than others can by following things from corporate news to economic data to price fluctuations in other stocks or markets. Latency arbitrage amounts to 0.0042% of daily stock-trading volume which would have earned traders USD 4.8 bn on stock exchanges around the world in 2018.
Meet Chris Hohn, the bullish hedge fund manager using his combative tactics to fight climate change. Bloomberg profiles the British bn’aire who manages USD 30 bn in assets and known for getting litigious to get his way. He’s now threatening companies, demanding they dramatically reduce their emissions and disclose their carbon footprint or else he’ll oust their boards or dump their shares.
Governments in emerging states need to shift how they look at the impact of investment by looking beyond “jobs and USD,” Raymond Asfour writes for FDI Magazine. The current model of public administration and investment in most of these countries is outdated by fixating more on traditional number-based metrics of success, even though what their citizens need is actually social progress. That means countries are prone to see as “worthless” those investments that have significant social impact but would not generate jobs or revenues for the state. “A state’s pursuit of investment needs to be clearly seen as serving the needs of the citizen, not the tax authorities,” Asfour says.
The acquittal of Donald Trump may not be a foregone conclusion after all: A draft manuscript of ex-national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book is putting pressure on Senate Republicans to allow witnesses to give evidence in the impeachment trial. Bolton claims that Trump told him directly that he wanted to freeze aid to Ukraine until they began investigating his rivals in the Democratic party, poking a hole in the president’s defense that claims the suspension of aid was not linked to the investigations. The New York Times has more.
Lebanon has to decide whether to dip into reserves to meet Eurobond payments or default: The new Lebanese government has a tough decision to make after lawmakers approved the 2020 budget that targets a 6% deficit only a few weeks before the country has to pay out USD 1.2 bn when its Eurobond matures, according to Bloomberg.
The Salahosphere continues to expand: Pharaoh of forwards and Egyptian king Mohamed Salah was getting measured up on the weekend to be immortalized as a wax statue at Madame Tussauds’ London Museum. The sculpture will be displayed at the museum later this year, Madame Tussauds announced on social media.