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Thursday, 13 January 2022

THIS MORNING: Afcon chaos; US inflation highest since 1982; New EU rules for green investment could go global

Good morning, friends, and happy Thursday to you all. We hope the week has been kind to you and that you’re looking forward to unwinding this weekend.

Four days in and Afcon 2021 has been nothing if not entertaining: There were incredible scenes in Cameroon yesterday as Tunisia’s meeting with Mali devolved into chaos in the final five minutes when Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe twice blew the full-time whistle before the 90 minutes were up. Mali had taken a 1-0 lead through a controversial penalty decision before the chaotic denouement, which saw the ref call full time on the 85th minute, hand a straight red card to Mali forward El Bilal Toure, and blow the whistle again in the 89th minute as the Tunisians were searching for an equalizer. It took a full 20 minutes before the officials decided to resume the game, only for the Tunisians to refuse to take to the field, handing Mali the victory. Check out Bein Sports’ coverage of the late-game fiasco here (watch, runtime: 2:12), while Eurosport has footage of the Malian coach being pulled out of the post-match presser to restart the game.

PSA- It’s going to be a cold weekend: Temperatures across the country are set to dip over the weekend, according to the Egyptian Meteorological Authority, which forecasts the mercury to dip as low as 7°C in the capital between today and Monday. The authority is forecasting wind and a chance of light to moderate rain over the next four days.

Look for daytime highs of 15-16°C over each of the next five days, our favourite weather app tells us.


WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

The World Youth Forum wraps up today. Planning Minister Hala El Said took center stage yesterday, speaking on how the Sisi administration’s Decent Life initiative is a crucial policy in alleviating poverty in Egypt (watch, runtime: 2:25). You can check out the full agenda for the forum here (pdf), and we have more on yesterday’s events in Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

Annual inflation in the United States for December was the highest it has been since 1982 at 7%, up from 6.8% a month before amid supply bottlenecks, labor shortages, and unprecedented liquidity flowing through the economy from pandemic-related stimulus, fresh data released yesterday shows. Core inflation — which strips out volatile food and energy prices — stood at 5.5%, its highest since 1991.

But equities took it in stride: US stocks rose on Wednesday as the inflation figures came largely in line with analysts’ expectations, quelling fears of even higher price hikes that could have forced the Federal Reserve to unwind its stimulus program more swiftly, Reuters reports. Investors were reassured by expectations that inflation will peak by mid-year, helped by an easing of bottlenecks and planned interest rate hikes from the Fed, which the bank’s head Jay Powell on Wednesday insisted would not harm the economy.

Also still broadcasting the “inflation is transitory” line: IMF head Kristalina Georgieva, who yesterday said US inflation would start to decline by the second quarter of the year as the supply squeeze eases.

The news is everywhere in the global business press this morning: Reuters | Bloomberg | FT | WSJ | CNBC.

It’s a mixed open in Asia this morning: Shares in China, Japan and South Korea are down but the Hang Seng and Australia’s ASX are marginally in the black. The futures markets are also mixed, with shares in Europe poised to see early gains but the US on course to open in the red.

ICYMI- Annual inflation here at home is lower than it is in the US. We hit 5.9% in December (from 5.6% in November), ending a two-month downward trend, according to Capmas figures released earlier this week. A slower-than-expected rise in food and beverage costs led to a more muted rise in the annual headline figure than most analysts had anticipated.

MEANWHILE- Fortune thinks Facebook Meta may “soon” have to sell Instagram and El Whats as the US Federal Trade Commission prepares to take Meta to court over antitrust allegations. Two Democratic operatives have taken to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal to position Hillary Clinton as a potential 2024 candidate for the US presidency

WEEKEND MUST READ-

SOUND SMART- A proposed EU taxonomy could soon become the world’s gold standard for green investment, the Economist reports. The rules will set out criteria to measure the quality of purportedly green investments — and their stringency and detail could make the taxonomy the last word on sustainable investing globally. European banks and green fund managers will have to disclose how their investments align with the rules, in a step that is set to reduce greenwashing, increase confidence in sustainable assets, and force more climate data into the public domain.

Expect some controversy: The draft text has prompted backlash after it classified some nuclear power and gas projects as “green” (which, coincidentally, wouldn’t be so bad for our own energy hub ambitions). Some energy experts also question whether the taxonomy is enough to steer funds towards the right investments, arguing that it creates no incentive for companies to back poorly-funded sustainable assets.

What’s next? The taxonomy is currently under review by experts and is expected to be published in its final form later this month — after which it would become law by the summer, unless a supermajority of EU countries or the bloc’s parliament move to block it, Reuters reports.

Speaking of nukes: The UAE’s Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) is set to produce 85% of Abu Dhabi’s clean energy by 2025, CEO Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi said at a conference yesterday, according to Reuters. ENEC owns Abu Dhabi’s Barakah nuclear power plant, the Arab world’s first. The plant is expected to generate 5.6 GW of power and prevent more than 21 mn tonnes of carbon emissions a year once fully operational, according to the Abu Dhabi government.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

SODIC shareholders will vote on the company’s new board of directors at an extraordinary general meeting on Sunday, 16 January. The formation of the new board comes after an Emirati consortium of real estate giant Aldar Properties and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ in December acquired 85.5% of SODIC in an allcash, EGP 6.1 bn transaction.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is due in town from 20-21 January on an official visit, during which he will meet President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

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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