THIS MORNING: Summer hours start on Saturday + What’s up with J&J and AstraZeneca’s jabs?
Happy Thursday, everyone. We hope you’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend after we get through today.
It’s a moderately heavy morning for news as we approach the end of the week, with news of investment from Carrefour, the latest on the nation’s fast-growing non-bank financial services sector, and the potential for rapprochement with Turkey. We have the details on all of this and more in this morning’s news well, below.
***CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from yesterday’s edition of EnterprisePM:
- Coming in from the cold? Turkey and Egypt could soon hold direct talks to restore diplomatic ties.
- M&A Watch: EFG Hermes and the SFE are closer to acquiring a controlling stake in the currently state-owned Arab Investment Bank after EFG’s board approved the move.
- Infrastructure finance for Luxor: Egypt will receive at least EUR 108 mn from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to install wastewater utilities in rural Luxor, after Cabinet approved the finance in its weekly meeting yesterday.
** So, when do we eat? We’ll break today’s fast at 6:22pm. You’ll have until 3:57am to finish gulping down your coffee (or sohour, if you prefer).
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-
We were supposed to be getting more information yesterday on the new construction licenses + building code. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said earlier this month that his government would hold a presser before 15 April to explain the new system for the granting of construction licenses. The system is set to kick off a pilot phase on 1 May, before fully rolling out at the start of the fiscal year on 1 July.
“Summer hours” come into effect for retail stores and restaurants on Saturday. 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.
YOUR MORNING MUST READ- A single day’s delay of vaccination puts more lives at risk than vaccines (clots or not) ever could, argues Financial Times contributor and Undercover Economist author Tim Hartford in a thought-provoking piece on why we should embrace vaccines despite possible risks. The chance of developing a fatal blood clot — which has not been conclusively proven to be linked to any vaccine — is maybe one in 1 mn, meaning 67 people would die if the UK vaccinated its entire population of around 67 mn, Hartford argues.
And while even one vaccine-related death seems like one too many, look at the death toll from the virus itself: At no point was the UK’s covid-19 death toll below 67 during the winter wave between October and March, meaning that covid is killing more people in a single day than vaccine-related complications might throughout the entire campaign. Though we can logically understand this, issues with trust, control, and the media saturation with the blood clots data is likely to keep some people from getting a jab, despite statistics encouraging otherwise.
The EU is turning to BioNTech/Pfizer… Pfizer and BioNTech are expected to deliver 50 mn doses of their vaccine to the EU earlier than expected, moving forward their initial delivery target to 2Q2021 instead of 4Q2021, according to a European Commission statement. The announcement means the EU will be receiving a total 250 mn doses of the vaccine between April and June.
…as doubts over AstraZeneca continue… Denmark has become the first European nation to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine completely due to the possible links between the vaccine and blood clotting. Several European governments have restricted the use of the vaccine to over-60s due to fears that younger people may be more susceptible to adverse reactions. Norway may follow suit today when it announces its decision on whether to continue with AstraZeneca.
…and Johnson & Johnson remains unresolved: US health experts have held off on making new recommendations on the J&J covid vaccine, which was suspended earlier this week due to potential links to blood clotting, according to NBC News. Many said they required more information to rule on the safety of the vaccine, the rollout of which will remain frozen while the investigation continues.
On the flipside, the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine may provide wider protection for over-80s than Pfizer/BioNTech, according to the results of a University of Birmingham-led study comparing the two. Those who had received the AstraZeneca shot had a stronger antibody response, and the AstraZeneca jab prompted a T-cell response in 31% of elderly participants, compared to only 12% of those who had received the Pfizer shot.
What a difference a year makes: Oil demand is expected to grow in 2021 to 96.7 mn bbl/d despite major oil consumers such as Brazil and India still grappling with surging covid-19 cases, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its latest Oil Market Report. The IEA said its optimistic (for producers, not so much for our warming planet) outlook is based on the accelerating global economic recovery, but warned that the deteriorating health situation in some of the world’s biggest consuming countries means that the oil recovery “remains fragile.”
Do you remember negative oil prices? It is almost a year to the day that global oil markets were staring into the abyss after a historic day of trading sent US crude prices negative for the first time in history. The initial wave of lockdowns caused one of the worst demand shocks in living memory, which combined with an oversupply crisis due to a Saudi-Russia price war to force global benchmarks to endure one of their worst periods in history.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
iSheep, take note: Apple is running a virtual event on Tuesday, 20 April at which pundits think it will unveil AirTags and a new iPad Pro with an improved display and faster processor, among other goodies. The headline: Spring Loaded. The event will stream at 7pm CLT on Apple’s website and on YouTube.
EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso could visit Egypt later this month, Al Masry Al Youm reported this weekend following a meeting with Egypt’s ambassador to the UK Tarek Adel. This would be her first official visit to Egypt since she was appointed to head the bank in November.
The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to discuss interest rates on Thursday, 29 April.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.