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Tuesday, 8 September 2020

What we’re tracking on Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Good morning, friends, and welcome to hump day — get through today and we’re one day closer to the weekend.

We’ve always thought of fall as a season of new beginnings. A new school year for the kids — and for our readers who themselves are heading back to college or starting an MBA or other graduate degree. The early days of budget season, when we spend long chunks of time not crunching the numbers backing 2021, but dreaming of what might be and where we want to take our businesses.

It’s also a great season to take stock of life. If you’re in a similarly pensive mood, there are much worse places to start this morning than with the final column of Guardian health and wellbeing writer Oliver Burkeman. He has eight tips for you, among them:

  • There will always be too much to do – and this realisation is liberating;
  • When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness;
  • The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need;
  • The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it.

And perhaps best: Embrace imposter syndrome, because you know what? Everyone else is winging it, too. The column is well worth reading in full.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Our time online has basically doubled. Home internet usage has gone up 92% y-o-y between June and August, while mobile internet usage was up 12% y-o-y over the same period last year, according to a National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) report. Peak internet usage hours this year expanded by some four more hours, which means people are most actively using the interwebs between 3:00pm to 4:00am, up from the 9 hour peak hours window between 5:00pm to 2:00am recorded last year.

Meanwhile: All eyes will be in Wall Street later today at the opening bell as US markets come back from a long weekend for their first trading session since throwing a temper tantrum last Thursday and Friday. European markets shrugged off the faint whiff of panic across the Atlantic when they opened yesterday, the Financial Times tells us.

Here at home, the EGX 30 was up 0.6% at the close yesterday, ending a week of back-to-back losses that saw the bourse lose 3.3% since 27 August amid a wider global slump and last week’s US tech selloff. Trading was moderate, with EGP 1.1 bn-worth of shares changing hands — or just about on par with the trailing 90-day average. Other regional markets ended the day flat or little changed.

Futures suggest both Europe and Wall Street will open in the green later today.

Notably, the benchmark MSCI emerging markets index was down by 0.5% yesterday, and the currency gauge was little changed. Europe, Middle East and Africa have reversed their slump against their Asian counterparts since last week’s selloff in the US, rising for the past three sessions after hitting record lows on Wednesday, Bloomberg suggests. Commodity stocks have also surged, with a measure of EM raw material stocks vs. consumer discretionary stocks seeing its biggest three-day increase since November 2016.

We should hear more today about what the coming school year will look like for private and public K-12 schools. The announcement is expected to cover safety requirements, how tuition will be handled, private tutoring, and use of online platforms.

Health Minister Hala Zayed is in Sudan today to see the relief efforts underway following the worst flooding to hit the country in over a century, according to a report from the state-run MENA news agency. Sudan has declared a national state of emergency after torrential rains resulted in the deaths of 99 people and the damage of more than 100k homes.

We’re heading back to the polls tomorrow: The remaining seats in the newly-constituted Senate will be decided in run-off elections taking place tomorrow and Wednesday. The results will be announced on Wednesday, 16 September. The first-round of voting last month saw 174 representatives elected to the 300-seat upper chamber, leaving 26 to be decided by this week’s runoff. The president will appoint the remaining 100 members after the results of the run-off are announced.

EgyptAir is resuming direct flights from Cairo to Lagos, Abuja and Accra this week: Flights between Cairo and the Nigerian cities of Lagos and Abuja will run twice a week from today while twice-weekly trips to the Ghanaian capital will begin on 10 September, according to an EgyptAir statement.

Other key news triggers coming up this month:

  • Inflation data for August will be out on or around Thursday, 10 September;
  • Interest rate day falls on Thursday, 24 September when the central bank meets to discuss policy rates.

Conferences taking place this month:

Energy nerds may want to tune into the online-only BP Week, wherein top global officials at the global energy giant will talk about their new strategy, energy market trends and sustainability.

The Health Ministry reported 178 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 151 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 100,041 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 11 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 5,541. We now have a total of 79,008 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.


Greece is bolstering its army as tensions with Turkey grow: Greece is planning to acquire new weapons and revamp its armed forces amid escalating tensions with neighbouring Turkey over conflicting territorial claims in the EastMed, a government spokesman told reporters yesterday, according to Reuters. An official told the newswire last week that the government is in talks with France and others to purchase fighter jets. The maritime dispute between the two NATO members has intensified in recent weeks after Greece and Egypt established a joint economic zone in the EastMed covering territory staked out by Turkey and Libya in a similar agreement last year.

EU gets selective amnesia and forgets what happened with appeasement: The EU is prepared to offer Turkey incentives to resolve the dispute and avoid confrontation, but could also impose sanctions on if mediation fails, a senior official in Brussels said, describing this as a “carrot and stick” approach, according to Bloomberg. EU leaders are set to discuss the plan in a summit on 24-25 September.


Other international news worth knowing about this morning:

  • An official delegation from the UAE will visit Israel for the first time on 22 September, a little more than a month after the two countries normalized ties, Reuters reports, citing unnamed official sources.
  • Khashoggi killers escape death penalty: A Saudi court has handed the men found guilty of dismembering journalist Jamal Khashoggi sentences ranging from 7-20 years in prison, Bloomberg reports.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson revived the possibility of a hard Brexit yesterday, saying he’s prepared to do away with a trade agreement if the UK’s demands aren’t met. This came after he gave EU negotiators a 15 October ultimatum to reach a post-Brexit agreement, according to Sky News.

US ELECTION WATCH- The US is scrambling to ramp up in-person voting while also taking into consideration covid-19 precautions with less than 60 days until election day, according to the New York Times. The preparations include integrating malls and arenas as voting options and contingency plans in case the pandemic gets worse. While mail-in voting seems like a safe alternative, Republicans — fueled by President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory that postal ballots lead to voting fraud — are planning on physically visiting the polls. Trump’s claims were accompanied by cutting additional post office funding to derail mail-in voting, angering Democrats who are leaning towards the alternative to avoid a spike in cases at the voting booths.

Meanwhile, both Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are zippingto key states to rally last-minute voters, according to Reuters. Yesterday, Biden sat down with union workers in Pennsylvania during the US’s Labor Day holiday.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS- The first of three US presidential election debates is on 29 September, with the others following on 15 and 22 October. Americans vote on 3 November.

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