What we’re tracking on 4 March 2021
Good morning, nice people. Congratulations on making it through another workweek. Today can neither be classified as busy nor slow — but there’s plenty of big news and important stories to keep your eye on as they unfold.
THE BIG STORY HERE AT HOME: Diplomacy continued to dominate the news cycle since we last wrote to you yesterday afternoon, but you can expect our vaccination program to take over as the Health Ministry begins rolling out jabs to the elderly and those with chronic illnesses who registered on its website. You’ll find chapter and verse on both stories in the news well, below.
THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY: There isn’t one. It’s one of those rare mornings where the global press is divergent in its coverage. Among the front-page stories:
- Scientists are reassessing their views on covid-19 and the outlook for the end of the pandemic with the emergence of new variants. (Reuters)
- Protests in Myanmar are escalating, with security forces killing at least 34 people yesterday. (Associated Press)
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo isn’t quitting over [redacted] harassment allegations, but has issued an apology to the women aides who accused him. (WSJ)
- The US House passed a police reform bill named for George Floyd, who was murdered on video by a police officer last year. (Washington Post)
- Non-oil private sector conditions worsened for the third consecutive month in February, but at a milder rate.
- Telecom Egypt is planning to connect landlocked and coastal African countries to Europe through a giant subsea system.
- The FRA wants listed companies to justify stock splits.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-
The LNG carrier that arrived yesterday at the Damietta liquefaction plant will set sail this evening or tomorrow morning, as it needs no more than 36 hours to load the shipment, El Watan reports, citing unnamed Oil Ministry sources. The carrier — which marks the second to leave the facility since it resumed operations last month — will then make its way to China with some 157k cbm of LNG on board, industry sources said yesterday. The plant was brought back to life recently, after operator Eni last year reached an agreement with the government and its former partner Naturgy.
OPEC+ may unexpectedly maintain production curbs at its meeting today. Or at least so say three OPEC+ sources, who tell Reuters that the cartel may opt against beginning to taper off supply cuts. Despite oil prices rising to pre-covid levels, market demand remains fragile, they say. The market has been expecting OPEC+ to boost production by 500k barrels per day in April and Saudi Arabia to add another 1 mn barrels.
SIGN OF THE TIMES- CIB processed more than double the number of mobile banking transactions in 2020 than it did in 2019, with the number of transactions soaring 118% worth a total of EGP 53 bn. The leading private sector bank also logged a 35% y-o-y increase in users of its personal internet banking service increased by 35%, according to a report picked up by Al Mal. CIB customers accounted for 28% of POS transactions and 19% of online transactions during the year, according to the report.
PSA- Leave the umbrella at home, but bundle up: Our favorite weather app suggests we won’t see any rainfall across the capital (of which there were scattered sightings yesterday) but the cold spell is likely to continue going into the weekend.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
It’s Day 4 of the EFG Hermes Virtual Investor Conference: The conference is headlined as “Frontier Emerging Markets Regaining Momentum” and brings together executives from 197 companies and more than 700 investors from 253 global institutions to exchange insights on the current state of frontier and emerging markets. The event runs until next Tuesday, 9 March.
It’s also the fourth and penultimate day of the Aswan Forum for Peace and Development, which wraps tomorrow.
Key data points in the coming days and weeks:
- Foreign reserves figures should be out within the next few days.
- Inflation data will drop on Wednesday, 10 March.
- The Central Bank of Egypt will discuss interest rates on Thursday, 18 March.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.