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Monday, 12 April 2021

TONIGHT: Ramadan times and TV guide, Lavrov is in town; Agthia has plans for Egypt; more Ethiopia antagonism

We’re literally hours away from Ramadan, and we hope you have a blessed, restful, productive, safe, and festive 30 (or 29) days. Who says we can’t have it all.

So, when do we eat? Maghreb prayers are at 6:21pm in the capital city tomorrow. You’ll have until 4:01am to finish sohour tonight.

As a reminder: Bank hours will run 9:30am-1:30pm through the holy month (9am to 2pm for staff), while the EGX is also on shorter hours, with the opening bell at 10am and last trades by 1:30pm.

The epic Ramadan news slowdown has begun, with nothing of particular note coming in the local and foreign press save Agthia interest in Egypt, Suitera’s USD 100k investment, and more antagonism from Ethiopia. We dive deeper into these in the Speed Round below.

And since it is that season, we thought we’d run our inaugural Ramadan TV guide. Scroll down to Worth Watching to see how you may want to kill brain cells while you digest.

*** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:


THE BIG STORY ABROAD: Iran is pointing the finger of blame at Israel for the attack yesterday on its Natanz uranium enrichment facility, which caused power outages and possibly damaged a centrifuge, Reuters reported. Israel, which strongly opposed the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran that the Trump administration pulled out of in 2018, has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attack. Tehran’s accusation comes two days before its diplomats are set to meet with officials from China, Russia, the EU and the US in Vienna to resume talks on lifting sanctions and returning Iran to full compliance with the nuclear program.

THE BIG GLOBAL MACRO STORY- A rally in US treasury yields could make a comeback after a two-week pause as auctions for USD 271 bn-worth of new debt kick off today and a closely watched inflation report is due to be released, reports Reuters. Expectations of weak demand and inflation data seen marking the beginning of consumer prices and record producer prices could send borrowing costs a notch higher, potentially reversing a recent lull in the market as yields have been falling since the start of April, investors tell the newswire.

REMINDER- Higher treasury yields is bad news for EMs: The rally on US government bonds and a stronger greenback have been the biggest drag on the EM recovery story in the first quarter of 2021, Eva Szalay writes in an op-ed for the Financial Times. This is increasingly proving itself a problem for central bankers in the developing world as it could force many of them to hike their own rates sooner than they would have otherwise liked. Policymakers in South Africa, Brazil, and other countries would need to raise rates much faster to keep domestic inflation in check, and this “can kill off budding economic recoveries,” says Ed Al-Husseiny, a senior rates and currencies analyst at Columbia Threadneedle.

Need a refresher on why higher borrowing costs aren’t ideal for us? Look no further than our recent deep-dive into the issue, which focuses on what higher US bond yields mean for Egypt and the wider EM-verse.

Increasingly, EM economies have been deploying asset purchase programs to boost money supply, which could prove useful in helping shield EMs from outflows in the event higher US yields draw investors westwards. We have more on EMDE asset purchase programs in The Macro Picture below.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

“Summer hours” will come into effect for retail stores and restaurants as of this Saturday, 17 April. This means retail shops can close at 11 pm (instead of 10 pm during the winter), while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1 am (instead of midnight currently). We have more details on the winter vs. summer hours here.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) might exit stage left by 2026, when they will no longer be classified as “sustainable investments” under draft EU policies, Reuters reports. Once touted as a transition technology that was on par with all-electric vehicles, PHEVs are now seen as “worse than the technology they’re replacing,” experts tell the newswire. PHEVs’ produced four times the emissions they were approved for, and when used in combustion engine mode used more fuel than a standard car. Manufacturers will not be allowed to label PHEVs as sustainable investments beyond 2025, while rules on emissions will increase the costs of production.

Automakers already lining up excuses: Automakers not yet in EVs are now using this to stall on green commitments, arguing that PHEVs (which they claim is their only transitional tech) are almost certainly looking at a drop in investor interest in the next few years as production costs are expected to shoot up. “A battery electric car is not yet practical,” Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark said, highlighting consumer concerns for a full range of EVs and charging infrastructure.

The benefits of a tiny country: Bhutan only needed 16 days to vaccinate 93% of its adults, bringing the tiny Buddhist kingdom’s total vaccination coverage to 63% of its population — just behind Seychelles, which has inoculated 66% of its 100k residents, reports the Associated Press. Bhutan, which has a population of 800k people, got its hands on AstraZeneca doses in January, but only started its rollout in late March to coincide with dates in Buddhist astrology.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

For those not partaking in some Ramadan viewing, the Oscar-nominated short film Two Distant Strangers is out on Netflix. It’s GroundHog Day meets identity politics, as the film follows a Black man stuck in a time loop, forcing him to relive a deadly run-in with an aggressive white police officer. The Oscars are coming up soon, with the date for the prestigious award show set for 26 April, so you might want to get caught up on some nominees.

⚽ The English Premier League’s *awful* Gameweek 31 is coming to an end today. West Brom is playing against Southampton at 7pm while Brighton and Everton will go at it at 9:15pm.

La Liga will see Celta Vigo play against Sevilla at 9pm while Serie A’s solo match of the day is Benevento versus Sassuolo at 8:45pm.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

The Natural Hair Fest is on until 8pm tonight at Maadi’s Club 7, bringing together some of the country’s best natural hair care brands in one place to show off their products and services.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Girl Decoded by Egyptian-American scientist Rana El Kaliouby is a must-read for tech nerds. El Kaliouby is the CEO of Affectiva, the pioneering firm in the new field of Emotion AI, which allows our technology to understand humans the way we understand one another. The book makes a strong case for why we must make AI systems more equitable, diverse, and human, while also recalling El Kaliouby’s own journey as an Arab Muslim within the region and when she moved to the West. She has long believed that we need to “humanize technology before it dehumanizes us.”

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Hydrate a lot at Sohour if you’re observing Ramadan: It’s about to get hotter out there. Tomorrow and Wednesday are our last days in the 20s before the mercury goes all the way to the 40s next week. Expect daytime highs of 26°C and nighttime lows of 13°C tomorrow and say sayonara to winter.

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