What we’re tracking on 09 April 2020
The Sisi administration has extended the nationwide curfew by two weeks to 23 April. All other measures it has imposed to prevent the spread of covid-19 are extended for the same duration, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced yesterday. Malls and other commercial centers will still be permitted to operate from 6am-5pm and will be closed all day Friday and Saturday, as has already been the case for two weeks.
The extension comes with a few changes:
- Curfew hours will begin one hour later, running from 8pm-6am to ease rush-hour congestion on public transportation;
- All restaurants will now be permitted to offer delivery services around the clock, but still can’t open for table service. Restaurants were previously only allowed to deliver food outside of curfew hours.
All government offices offering citizen-facing services other than health and security remain suspended. This includes registry offices, notary services, and the issuance or renewal of passports, visas and work permits.
(And for those of you keeping track at home: 23 April is either the first day of Ramadan or the day before Ramadan, by our math.)
The Cairo metro has changed its schedule from today to match the new curfew hours, according to a Transport Ministry statement.
The House of Representatives will remain in recess until 29 April, Hapi Journal reports. General assembly meetings were set to resume next Sunday, 12 April.
The Egyptian Football Association also extended the suspension of matches and all other activities until the end of the month, according to a statement.
EGX-listed companies have an extra month to report their 1Q financial results under a decision from the Financial Regulatory Authority that extends the filing deadline to 15 June. Saudi Arabia’s market regulator, meanwhile, has given companies on the Tadawul an extra 20 days in which to disclose first quarter numbers.
PSA- If you’re still going to work here in Egypt, the CDC across the pond has some suggestions on how you might do that safely. The bottom line from the back-to-work guidelines for essential personnel:
- Take your temp before you go to work — and make sure your employer does the same before you go in the door. Too high? You’re heading back home.
- You and your employer should regularly monitor your health while you’re on the job.
- Wear a face mask the entire time you’re in the office / factory / facility.
- Don’t gather in the break room, and don’t sit closer than 2 meters away from anyone else.
- Disinfect your workspace regularly and make sure your employer is doing the same with shared spaces.
- Don’t share headsets, keyboards, mice … or anything else you or a coworker would touch.
ALSO: We’re bringing back our popular My Morning Routine column for a little while, but in a new guise: The WFH Routine. This week’s columnist is one of our own. Know someone who has got it down to an art? Ping us with suggestions by hitting “reply” to this email or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 IN EGYPT-
Egypt now has 1,560 confirmed cases of covid-19 after the Health Ministry reported 110 new infections yesterday. The ministry also said that another nine people have died from the virus, taking the death toll to 103. We now have a total of 439 cases that have tested negative for the virus after having first been confirmed as having the disease, of whom 305 have fully recovered.
Several hospitals reported covid-19 infections among their staff members yesterday, including the Sudr Dikirnis Hospital in Dakahlia, where a total of 21 medical staff have now tested positive for the virus. The hospital is temporarily shutting down as of today to be disinfected, according to Al Shorouk. Beni Suef Specialized Hospital is also temporarily shutting down after reporting two nurses and three admin staff tested positive, and one nurse has been infected at the National Heart Institute.
The government is launching a mobile app to track cases and answer FAQs on covid-19. The new app is set to provide a direct line of communication between doctors and patients and will allow health officials to accurately track the spread of the virus through geo-location surveillance, according to Ahram Online. The application will soon be made available for Android and iOS.
SMEs may be among the biggest casualties of covid-19 in Egypt, with many of them having two months or less of working capital on hand that will disappear if the current situation continues, head of the SME committee at the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association Hassan El Shafei tells Zawya. El Shafei is calling for more stimulus measures to support SMEs including tax exemptions and subsidized loans to pay salaries and operational costs.
No, Egypt doesn’t have a vaccine that the rest of the world doesn’t: Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed dismissed rumors that Egypt has a “secret” covid-19 vaccine and the ministry has yet to authorize the production of any type of meds for the virus, .
The Higher Education Ministry has trained 15k med students to go on staff at hospitals, spokesperson Mohamed El Tayeb said (watch, runtime: 3:33).
WFH and online learning have spurred a 30% increase in sales of new and used computers, according to the local press. Retailers are reporting a decline in sales of new computers as people have opted to repair their existing machines and purchase used ones.
Euromed For Medical Industries is investing USD 3 mn with unnamed Chinese partners to set up a face mask production line that will manufacture 150k face masks a day, Chairman Mohamed Ismail told the local press. The company is also looking into manufacturing thermometers and personal protective equipment.
Expats in the Gulf are finding themselves in a precarious position as job losses threaten their ability to live and function in their countries of residence, Bloomberg reports. This will directly impact the estimated 6.9 mn Egyptians living in the Gulf as of June 2019, according to CAPMAS, an estimated 400k of whom are resident in the UAE. Remittances from Egyptians living abroad rose 5% to USD 26.8 bn in 2019 from USD 25.5 bn in 2018, and many of these come from the GCC, we recently reported.
Emaar Misr will donate EGP 40 mn to the Misr El Kheir Foundation and EGP 10 mn to the Egyptian government, the company said in a bourse filing yesterday (pdf).
Ibnsina Pharma puts its 750-truck fleet at the government’s disposal to help transport and distribute equipment and supplies to remote areas, according to Al Mal.
The EGX30 rose 2.6% yesterday, propped up by index heavyweight CIB, which rose 4%. Trading was busy yesterday with shares worth EGP 1 bn changing hands, over 61% above the trailing 90-day average. The EGX30 is now down 27.7% since the start of the year.
The Dow Jones and S&P 500 each rose 3.4% yesterday and the Nasdaq closed up 2.6%, as investors appear to see signs of covid-19 infections “stabilizing” in some of the worst-hit countries, including Italy, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Brent crude is up 5.49% this morning ahead of an anticipated Opec+ meeting today that could see the oil cartel agreeing on production cuts.
The outlook for US markets is a little less rosy this morning. Futures suggest all three major indexes will open in the red later today. Meanwhile, Asian markets are mixed: Japan is in the red, while shares in China, Hong Kong and South Korea are all up less than 1% as we head toward dispatch time.
ON THE GLOBAL FRONT-
Global infections surpasses 1.5 mn, US reports highest daily death toll: There are now more than 1.5 mn confirmed cases of covid-19 infections globally, the Wall Street Journal reports. The total number of infections in the US has surpassed 430k as the country reported a record-high 1,973 deaths yesterday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “responding to treatment” for his covid-19 infection, but remains in ICU, CNN reports.
EIB, AfDB roll out bns for support packages: The European Investment Bank will contribute EUR 5.2 bn to help 100 non-EU nations strengthen their health infrastructure and accelerate support for private sector investment, according to a statement (pdf). The statement does not indicate whether Egypt will be eligible for a piece of this funding. The African Development Bank is launching a USD 10 bn response facility to help member countries fast-track their measures to contain the spread of the virus, it said. The facility includes USD 5.5 bn earmarked for sovereign operations in bank members, USD 3.1 bn for sovereign and regional operations, and USD 1.35 bn to private sector operations.
“Wobbly” US response threatens to make recession worse -Reuters: US efforts to support the economy through covid-19 is being hampered by technical glitches, bureaucracy, and the “muddled” response by the federal government, says Reuters. Despite passing the historic USD 2.3 tn economic stimulus package last month, businesses are still in the dark about when they can access loans, families are yet to see any direct payments, states are unable to process unemployment benefits amid a surge in new claims, and banks are not prepared for the government’s USD 350 bn lending program to support small businesses.
Another day, another beyond-dismal data dump: The day’s eye-watering figures are brought to us by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which kindly informed us that leading indicators in pretty much all major economies saw the biggest monthly drop on record in March. All countries are experiencing a “sharp slowdown” apart from India which is merely going through a “slowdown,” the OECD said. Read it and weep (pdf).
The Bank of France has estimated that the French economy shrank by 6% in 1Q2020, its biggest contraction since WWII, Bloomberg reports.
And Germany’s economic output is set to plunge by 9.8% in the second quarter, five of the country’s leading economic research institutes have said. This would be the sharpest quarterly drop since records began in 1970, setting up the economy to contract 4% during the course of 2020.
Emerging markets are really looking like a bargain right now: The pandemic has pushed the MSCI emerging markets index’s cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) ratio to a 65% discount against the ratio for US equities, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF). EM equities now have a CAPE ratio of 7.8x, which is below financial crisis levels and pales in comparison to the US’ 22.6, says the Financial Times. The IIF cites sharp portfolio outflows and deep EM corporate debt as drivers for the low valuation. The spread between developing market and US equities could reflect an overvalued Wall Street, rather than a sign that EM stocks are getting cheap, JPMorgan Asset Management EM equities chief investment officer Richard Titherington argues.
Investors are evaluating a deluge of emergency share sales as companies scramble to raise funds to tide them through the pandemic-induced economic downturn. Vulnerable companies such as cruise line operators and retailers at airports and train stations have been among the first issuers, and bankers are optimistic that investor demand will match supply especially if the new issues are offered at a discount, the Financial Times reports.
Bernie Sanders pulled out of the US presidential race yesterday, effectively ceding the Democratic nomination to former VP Joe Biden, according to the New York Times. Politico has some analysis on how Biden is determined to “avoid repeating the mistakes” Democratic presidential hopefuls made in 2016, which undermined Hillary Clinton’s standing in the elections.
Wondering what you could achieve while in lockdown? Well, a Scottish poet made up the F-word during the plague in 1568, according to the Scotsman. “In Scotland – Contains Strong Language” is a BBC documentary exploring the history of expletives in the country and has found the first ever recorded use of the word by wordsmith Walter Kennedy during a medieval slam poetry session.