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Tuesday, 5 January 2021

What we’re tracking on 5 January 2021

Good morning, friends, and welcome to a particularly busy Tuesday on this holiday-shortened week.

Two big stories are vying for your attention here at home:

#1- Meet our natural-gas-powered future. The domestic press features wall-to-wall coverage of the Sisi administration’s drive to convert the nation’s cars, trucks and buses to run on cleaner-burning natural gas — which we just happen to have in abundance. The multi-bn EGP initiative includes subsidized funding from the Central Bank of Egypt to help roll out a national network of filling stations, convert qualifying existing vehicles, and get junkers off the roads. We have more in the news well, below.

#2- The international press has declared we’re all making up with Qatar today, ending the nearly four-year-old smackdown led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Reuters quotes a Trump administration official as saying the deed is done, with the pact set to be signed in Al Ula, KSA, today, while the Financial Times says Saudi has already agreed to open its land, air and sea borders with the statelet. We have more in the news well, below, and in Last Night’s Talk Shows.

And two big stories dominate the global news agenda:

#1- US stocks celebrated the arrival of 2021 with a sell-off. Equities had their worst day since October on the first trading day of the new year as investors grew concerned about rising covid cases and the outcome of today’s Senate run-off vote in Georgia. More than 80% of companies listed on the S&P 500 lost value yesterday, dragging the index down 1.5% by the end of the session.

It’s red as far as the eye can see in Asian markets this morning, but this may not (yet) be the great selloff some have been salivating over in the past couple of weeks: Futures suggest Wall Street is likely to open in the green today, as will much of Europe.

#2- The handover of power from Agent Orange to the Biden administration enters a high-tension phase today. What you need to keep your eye on:

  • Those two key run-offs in Georgia today;
  • The National Guard is being called out to maintain order during a pro-Trump protest in Washington, DC, that Trump has called for today and tomorrow;
  • Congress gathers tomorrow to certify the results of the Electoral College vote amid what the New York Times calls an “insurgency from inside the Oval Office.”


It’s PMI day: Purchasing managers’ index figures for December are due out here at around 6:15am — just a few minutes after we land in your inbox. Egypt’s private sector continued to grow in November, albeit at a slower pace than in October, when business activity expanded at the fastest pace since August 2014.

December saw strong PMI growth across the world: US manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in six years, with the gauge (pdf) climbing to 57.1 in December from 56.7 in November as equipment and machinery manufacturers ramped up investment. Eurozone output also accelerated (pdf) to 55.2 during the month, from 53.8 in November, while in China the manufacturing PMI (pdf) fell back slightly from November’s 10-year high to reach 53.

Other key data releases to keep your eye on over the next several days:

  • Foreign reserves data for last month should be out later this week.
  • Inflation figures for December are due out on Sunday, 10 January.

PSA- Look for heavy fog coming into Cairo and within the Greater Cairo Area, the national weather service said as authorities ordered temporary closure of 10 roads including the Cairo-Ismailia, Ismailia-Port Said, and Ain Sokhna highways. It looked pretty nasty last night.


State-owned investment bank NI Capital is planning to launch new investment funds “within days” to attract fresh local and international investments, according to a Planning Ministry statement out following a meeting between Minister Hala El Said and NI Capital CEO Mohamed Metwaly.

The government’s fuel pricing committee will announce new rates when it meets on Sunday, 10 January, Oil Ministry Spokesperson Hamdy Abdelaziz said on the airwaves (watch, runtime: 1:51). The committee, which meets quarterly to review fuel prices under pricing mechanism that pegs prices to Brent crude and global exchange rates, left prices unchanged at its most recent meeting last October.


Is Steve coming to town? Reports in December suggested US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was due in town this week as part of a tour that would also take him to Sudan, the UAE, Israel, and Qatar. His weekly schedule shows him comfortably in DC.

PSA- We’re heading towards a long weekend as the nation observes Coptic Christmas on Thursday. The private and public sectors are off for the day, the cabinet and Manpower Ministry confirmed yesterday. Look for announcements soon from the CBE and the EGX closing the nation’s banks and the stock market.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

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