Mena News

 

  Abu Dhabi NBAD prices USD750mn bond on strong demand
Aug , 07 , 2012  
  National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) has launched a seven-year, USD750mn bond, after receiving strong demand. The final spread of 180 basis points over midswaps is tighter than the initial price guidance of about 200 basis points over midswaps, reflecting the strong demand. Orders worth about USD4.5bn were booked for the regulation transaction.
 

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  Saudi Ports Authority signs SAR615mn deals to develop ports
Aug , 07 , 2012  
  Saudi Arabia's Ports Authority has signed contracts worth 615 million Saudi riyals ($164 million) for the development of the King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam, Dhuba Port in Tabuk, King Fahd Industrial Port in Yanbu and Yanbu Commercial Port, according to a report on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, or SPA. Included in the contracts is a project to establish a power plant valued at SAR192.3 million, the duration of which will be 24 months, Abdul Aziz Al-Tuwaijri, president of the authority, said, according to SPA.
 

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  NBK Capital recommends “Hold” on Alhokair
Aug , 06 , 2012  
  NBK Capital issued a report on Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., defining the stock’s 12-month fair value at SAR 92.5, compared to its market price of SAR 90, and recommending a “Hold”. Q1-12/13 sales grew 19% Y-o-Y to SAR 865 million (11% higher than forecasts). EBITDA stood at SAR 139 million (14% Y-o-Y increase), beating forecasts by 8%. The Tadawul-listed company plans to expand further and open more than 200 new stores across all locations during the remainder of FY2012/13, including further penetration into the lucrative CIS region with the launch of operations in Armenia in 3Q2012/13. The investment arm of the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) stated; “Overall, we expect FY2012/13 sales to grow by 19% YoY to SAR 3.8 billion (2% higher than our earlier forecast). However, we expect continuous pressure from SG&A expenses due to ongoing expansion and forecast EBITDA growth of 16% YoY to SAR 623 million (3% higher than our earlier forecast)”. “We have increased our fair value to SAR 92.5 from SAR 86.5 earlier, which represents a 3% upside from the last close. Correspondingly, we assign a “Hold” recommendation from an “Accumulate” earlier”, it added.
 

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  KSA private sector receives more orders
Aug , 06 , 2012  
  The Saudi British Bank (SABB) has published the results of the headline SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for July 2012 — a monthly report issued by the bank and HSBC. It reflects the economic performance of Saudi Arabian nonoil producing private sector companies through the monitoring of a number of variables, including output, orders, prices, stocks and employment. July data signaled a slight slowdown in the rate of expansion of Saudi Arabia's nonoil private sector economy. Output and new orders both grew at weaker rates, though job creation was maintained at a pace that was unchanged since the previous monthly survey period. Meanwhile, rates of input and output price inflation were the weakest in 2012 so far. Business conditions facing KSA private sector firms continued to improve during July, as signaled by the seasonally adjusted SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia PMI posting 58.1. Output levels and new order intakes both increased at slower rates in July. Nevertheless, rates of growth in each case were still marked overall, with businesses continuing to add to their payroll numbers as a result. New orders placed with KSA private sector businesses from international clients increased again during July. This finding implies that the domestic economy remained a key factor behind ongoing expansion. July saw backlogs of work decrease for the first time since last September, and for only the second month in a period that stretches back over two-and-a-half years. That said the rate of decline was only marginal overall. In line with the trends in activity and new business, purchasing activity and pre-production inventory levels at Saudi Arabia nonoil private sector firms both increased at slower rates during July. Meanwhile, data showed that suppliers' delivery times shortened for the twelfth consecutive month, and at a rate that was the steepest since April. Reports from survey respondents suggested that a combination of competition among vendors, buyer demands and improved payment practices had led to faster lead times. Input price inflation eased in July to the slowest since last December, as both purchase prices and labor costs grew at slower rates. In fact, salaries and wages increased only slightly on average over the month. Output price inflation also eased to a seven-month low in July, and was only modest compared to the historical trend. .
 

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  U.S. service sector grows at slightly faster rate in July
Aug , 06 , 2012  
  While respondents' comments were mixed, the results of the Institute for Supply Management's survey of activity in the service sector in the month of July showed continued growth at a slighter faster rate. The ISM said its non-manufacturing index crept up to 52.6 in July from 52.1 in June, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the service sector. The increase surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge down to a reading of 52.0. Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said, "According to the NMI, 11 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in July. Respondents' comments are mixed and vary by industry and company." The report, released Friday, showed that the non-manufacturing business activity index jumped to 57.2 in July from 51.7 in June, indicating an acceleration in the pace of growth. The new orders index also climbed to 54.3 in July from 53.3 in June, while the inventories index rose to 54.5 from 53.0 in the previous month. On the other hand, the report showed that the employment index fell to 49.3 in July from in 52.3 in June, indicating the first month of contraction in employment in the service sector since December 2011. The employment index is in stark contrast to data released by the Labor Department earlier in the day showing that the service-providing sector added 148,000 jobs in July With regard to inflation, the ISM said its prices index surged up to 54.9 in July from 48.9 in June, pointing to a turnaround for prices in the service sector. Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "In the context of a slowing, mediocre economy, a number that reflects about 80% of U.S. economic activity such as this coming in slightly better than expected and staying above 50 (in contrast to ISM mfr'g) is a relief to the markets today." Wednesday morning, the ISM released a separate report showing that its index of activity in the manufacturing sector rose by less than expected and continued to point to a contraction in the sector. The ISM said its purchasing managers index inched up to 49.8 in July from 49.7 in June, although a reading below 50 indicates a contraction in manufacturing activity. Economists had been expecting the index to climb to a reading of 50.2. With the index stuck below 50, it pointed to just the second month of contraction in manufacturing activity since July of 2009.
 

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  US economy generates 163,000 jobs in sign of resilience
Aug , 06 , 2012  
  The US economy generated jobs last month at the fastest pace since February, a sign it is resilient enough to pull out of a midyear slump and grow modestly even as the rest of the world slows down. The 163,000 jobs employers added in July ended three months of weak hiring. But the surprising gains weren't enough to drive down the unemployment rate, which ticked up to 8.3 percent last month from 8.2 percent in June - the 42nd straight month the jobless rate has exceeded 8 percent. The United States remains stuck with the weakest economic recovery since World War II. The latest job numbers, released Friday by the Labor Department, provided fodder both for President Barack Obama, who highlighted improved hiring in the private sector, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who pointed toward higher unemployment. "It's not especially weak, but it's not especially strong," said Scott Brown, chief economist at the investment firm Raymond James. Investors focused on the positive. The Dow Jones industrials surged 217 points. Three more monthly jobs reports will come out before Election Day, including the one for October on Friday, Nov. 2, just four days before Americans vote. No modern president has faced re-election when unemployment was so high. President Jimmy Carter was bounced from office in November 1980 when unemployment was 7.5 percent. In remarks at the White House, Obama said the private sector has added 4.5 million jobs in the past 29 months. But he acknowledged there still are too many people out of work. "We've got more work to do on their behalf," he said. Romney focused on the increase in the unemployment rate, as did other Republicans. "Middle-class Americans deserve better, and I believe America can do better," he said in a statement. The economy is still struggling more than three years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. The collapse of the housing market and the financial crisis that followed froze credit, destroyed trillions of dollars in household wealth and brought home construction to a halt. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic output, remains weak as Americans pay down debts and save more. From April through June this year, the economy expanded at a listless 1.5 percent annual pace, a slowdown from the January-March pace of 2 percent. The job market got off to a strong start in 2012. Employers added an average 226,000 a month from January through March. But the hiring spree was caused partly by an unseasonably warm winter that allowed construction companies and other firms to hire earlier in the year than usual, effectively stealing jobs from the spring. The payback showed up as weak hiring - an average 73,000 a month - from April through June. Then came the 163,000 new jobs in July, beating the 100,000 economists had expected. Now that the warm weather effects have worn off, economists expect job growth to settle into range of 100,000 to 150,000 a month. That would be consistent: The economy has added an average of 151,000 jobs a month this year. But that hasn't been enough to bring unemployment down. At 8.3 percent, unemployment was as high in July as it had been in January. The unemployment rate can rise even when hiring picks up because the government derives the figures from two different surveys. One is called the payroll survey. It asks mostly large companies and government agencies how many people they employed during the month. This survey produces the number of jobs gained or lost. The other is the household survey. Government workers ask whether the adults in a household have a job and use the findings to produce the unemployment rate. Last month's uptick in joblessness was practically a rounding error: The unemployment rate blipped up from 8.22 percent in June to 8.25 in July. Worries have intensified that the US economy will fall off a "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year. That's when more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will kick in unless Congress reaches a budget deal. The draconian dose of austerity is meant to force Republicans and Democrats to compromise. If they can't and taxes go up and spending gets slashed, the economy will plunge into recession, contracting at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the first six months of 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The rest of the world is slowing. Much of Europe is in recession as policymakers struggle to deal with high government debts, weak banks and the threat that countries will abandon the euro currency and wreck the region's financial system. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Thursday the bank is preparing to buy government bonds to help drive down borrowing costs in debt-ridden countries like Spain and Italy. The high-powered economies of China, India and Brazil are also slowing sharply, partly because Europe's troubles have hurt their exports. In the United States, the Federal Reserve earlier this week passed up a chance to approve new measures to jolt economic growth but signaled it was ready to act if growth and hiring stayed week. That led many economists to predict the Fed would announce a third round of bond purchases designed to push long-term interest rates down and generate more borrowing and spending in the economy. If the previous three months of lackluster job creation were not enough to spur the Fed into acting more aggressively, then Friday's numbers "must surely kill off the possibility of imminent action," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit in London. The job market still has a long way to go. The economy lost 8.8 million jobs from the time employment peaked in January 2008 until it hit bottom in February 2010. Since then, just 4 million, or 46 percent, have been recovered. Never since World War II has the economy been so slow to recover all the jobs lost in a downturn. A broader measure of weakness in the job market deteriorated in July: The proportion of Americans who were either unemployed, working part-time because they couldn't find full-time work or too discouraged to look for work rose to 15 percent from 14.9 percent in June. Nearly 5.2 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more. Eric Kosmack has applied for about 450 jobs since he graduated in January 2011 from Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is looking for a job in accounting to put his mathematics degree to work. He has had three temporary jobs since then, including one that ended Tuesday, but no luck in his search for a permanent one. And many of the jobs he has seen described as "entry level" still ask for one to three years of experience, which he doesn't have. "I understand that they want to find the perfect candidate, but it seems like a long process," he said. Those lucky enough to have jobs aren't seeing their spending power grow. Over the past year, wages have increased 1.7 percent - just matching the rate of inflation. "The glass half full is that this report should ease fears that we're slipping into recession," said Michael Feroli, an economist JPMorgan Chase Bank. "The glass half empty is that the labor market generally still stinks when thinking about things that matter for people's well-being, like wage growth." Government cutbacks continued to weigh heavily on the job market. The economy lost 9,000 government jobs last month and 660,000 over the past two years. Private companies have picked up part of the slack. In fact, private payrolls are higher now than they were when Obama took office in January 2009. In July, private sector job gains were broad-based. Manufacturing added 25,000 jobs, the most since March. Restaurants and bars added 29,000. Temporary help services added 14,100 jobs. Retailers hired 7,000 more workers. Education and health services gained 38,000. Tania Dougherty, owner of the Little Wine Bus in New York, has two tour guides and wants to hire at least three more because more companies are booking her daylong winery tours for employee outings. After the financial crisis hit in 2008, companies cut back on bonuses, raises, vacation days and other perks, Dougherty said. But employers are now recognizing they need to spend more money on their workers to retain them, she said. "They want to show them a good time," Dougherty said. "People are working longer hours. It's a way to reward employees. They deserve the day out, and companies are realizing that."
 

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  Brent crude ends up nearly 3 pct on big gain in U.S. jobs
Aug , 05 , 2012  
  Brent crude oil futures settled higher, rallying on strong growth in U.S. jobs in July that brightened the oil demand outlook in the world's biggest oil consumer.
 

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  ECB holds rates to assess inflation, growth risks
Aug , 05 , 2012  
  The European Central Bank held its main interest rate at a record low of 0.75 percent, waiting to see whether inflation and the Euro-zone economy slow further before deciding on any fresh cut in borrowing costs. Euro-zone inflation held steady at 2.4 percent in July - just above the ECB's target of close to but below 2 percent. The ECB also left the interest rate on its deposit facility at 0.0 percent - a low it went to for the first time last month to encourage banks to lend overnight to other banks, where they receive a higher rate, currently about 0.1 percent. The ECB held its marginal lending facility - or emergency borrowing rate - at 1.50 percent.
 

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  U.S. July nonfarm payrolls rise by 163,000
Aug , 05 , 2012  
  The United States added an unexpectedly strong 163,000 jobs in July, even though the jobless rate ticked up to 8.3 percent. Job gains in May were revised upward slightly, but those in June were revised downward a bit.
 

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  Three new tourism projects for Sharjah
Aug , 05 , 2012  
  Sharjah will get three new tourism projects as part of the emirate's plans to develop the tourism sector. The three major environmental and tourism projects included the Al Hafya Educational Reserve Centre, an enclosure for mountain dwelling animals covering an area of 800 meters in 4 meters, the first-of-its-kind exhibition centre that will remain open throughout the year showcasing predator birds and animals, and a purpose-built recreational water park project for families.
 

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