Wednesday, 19 May 2021

THIS EVENING: Stocks are having another bad day, BTC is still under pressure — and Gaza is still being bombed

Well, folks, that’s another work day in the books, and while Egypt’s role in trying to broker a ceasefire in Gaza leads the news, we have plenty of business news as the community shrugs-off the post-Eid blues and gets back to work.

HAPPENING NOW- Outside of Egypt, stonks are having a bad hair day. The EGX30 closed up 0.2% today, but benchmark indexes in Frankfurt, London and Paris joined the EuroStoxx600 in the red today — each of them is down at least 1.3% in trading as we head toward dispatch time. Futures suggest Wall Street will match that slide, with the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq all set to open in the red later this afternoon. Look for tech stocks to lead the decliners.

Also: BTC is back below USD 40k again, hovering just under USD 38k after a brief rally overnight that saw it inch back above the USD 40k mark, according to a price quote at dispatch time. The currency tumbled 14% to fall below the USD 40k handle for the first time since February, continuing a major sell-off that began a week ago, CNBC reports. China’s clampdown on crypto and the Elon Musk guy’s tweets have sent BTC on a rollercoaster ride. Meanwhile, Ether — the second-largest cryptocurrency — fell almost 16% to USD 3k, while the joke that is Dogecoin was also down 16%. The sell-off has erased some USD 270 bn of value from the cryptocurrency market over the past day.

And: Lots of our readers are on video calls right now. It’s day two of Renaissance Capital’s annual MENA Investor Conference and the penultimate day of HC Securities virtual event on Egyptian equities (pdf). Both wrap up tomorrow.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Shares of Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) will begin trading on the EGX tomorrow under the ticker IDHC after the London-listed company completes its dual-listing of a 5% stake.

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

  • More share sales in the pipeline: As many as five companies could sell shares on the EGX later this year, EGX boss Mohamed Farid told CNBC.
  • More economic optimism: Renaissance Capital has upgraded its forecast for Egypt’s 2021 economic growth to 4.2% from 2.8%, which it says will be driven by the transport, tourism, and education sectors.
  • Speed Medical is eyeing a 25% stake in healthcare software developer DG Well + is planning to set up a consumer finance arm.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- France has been pushing for a UN Security Council resolution to end the violence in Gaza, China’s UN ambassador and council president, Zhang Jun, told the Associated Press. The AP says Washington is blocking the security council from issuing a statement calling for a halt to the violence, insisting that “it would not help diplomatic efforts to end the conflict between Israel and Hamas.” France joins Egypt, which has been trying to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Some 219 people have been killed and 1.5k injured since 10 May with no clear sign of a ceasefire in view, Reuters adds. We have more on Egypt’s diplomatic efforts in the news well below.

The most recent violence saw Israeli airstrikes kill six Palestinians after 52 aircraft hit targets in Rafah and Khan Younis.

FOR TOMORROW- The El Gouna International Squash Open 2021 will kick off tomorrow and run until 28 May. Fans will be allowed to enter the stands, with the first few match days without charge and tickets to be sold for the semis and finals. You can also watch the matches live on PSA Squash YouTube page. The event is supported by our good friends at CIB.

ALSO: The CIB PSA World Tour Finals will run on 22-27 June in Cairo.


For our fellow iSheep: There are lots of new Macs coming later this year, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has owned the market for Apple leaks since he was (literally) in his teens. Gurman says we can look forward to redesigned MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Pro desktops, all of them with next-generation versions of Apple’s home-grown processors. The faithful can read all about it here.

For the first time ever, bank finance for renewable energy projects could this year outpace funding lenders have made available for fossil fuels. In the past five years, lenders made about USD 3.6 tn in funding available for fossil fuel projects — or triple what they provided to green energy initiatives. Now, Bloomberg says “data covering almost 140 financial-service institutions worldwide shows at least USD 203 bn bonds and loans to renewable projects and other climate-friendly ventures through May 14, compared with USD 189 bn to businesses focused on hydrocarbons.” Read more here and or check out Five takeaways from global banks’ green vs. fossil financing.

Over half of single-use plastic waste “thrown away globally” was traced to just 20 polymer firms, with not more than 2% of feedstock being recycled, the first-ever Plastic Waste Makers Index showed. The Australian study also showed that as many as 100 companies are the source of 90% of global single-use plastic production. Production of these “throwaway” plastics like face masks, medical equipment and shopping bags is set to grow 30% in the next five years, fueling their contribution to global warming and ocean pollution. The biggest culprits: US energy giant ExxonMobil, contributing 5.9 mn tonnes to global plastic waste in 2019, followed by US chemicals company Dow and Chinese petrochemical producer Sinopec.

The UAE’s push for gender representation on boards could be hindered by cultural values, as women shun posts that require staying out late or interacting closely with men, Fatma Hussain, the only female on the board of Aramex, told Bloomberg. The UAE passed a law back in March requiring companies to have at least one female board member and since it became effective in April, only 16 listed firms have added women to its highest ranks including Dana Gas, Du, and Emaar.

Dr. Google will really, truly see you now. Bad news for all of our MD friends frustrated by folks Googling to find their own diagnosis: Google is launching an AI solution to help folks self-diagnose skin conditions, writes The Financial Times. The tool, Derm Assist, will be rolled out in Europe this year before launching globally to aid people suffering from conditions ranging from acne to melanoma. Users will be asked to upload an image of the condition to Derm Assist and an AI agent will generate a list of possible matching conditions, explains a Google blog post.


The Underground Railroad is out on Amazon Prime. Based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of the same name, the series follows a young black girl named Cora as she escapes her Georgia plantation by using an underground railroad system. Through Cora, audiences get a glimpse of how terrifying the reality of slavery was in the US before the Civil War. The 10-episode show was filmed by Barry Jenkins (Oscar-winning director of Moonlight) and has been commended for its aesthetic style that blends symbols and haunting imagery. The New York Times and Arts Desk give it a thumbs up.

The Premier League is going strong today with six matches: Everton will play Wolves, Newcastle against Sheffield, and Tottenham against Aston Villa, all at 7pm. An hour later, at 8pm, you can catch Crystal Palace going up against Arsenal, Burnley and Liverpool competing, and West Brom against West Ham.


Amazon executives Colin Bryar and Bill Carr break down Amazon's principles and practices in Working Backwards. The duo use their experience working up the ranks from the early days of Amazon to shed light on the innovation and culture that was needed for the firm to become what it is today. They reveal Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles used to inform decision making and give insight into how consumers behave — both theories that have been used to come up with growth plans and new products.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re looking at daytime highs of 39°C in the capital and nighttime lows of 19°C tomorrow, according to our favorite weather app.

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