Mena News

 

  Sterling weakness extends as economic woes pile up
Jul , 27 , 2012  
  The pound fell on Thursday, hurt by growing expectations of further monetary easing by the Bank of England and risks that UK could lose its prized top-notch credit rating on the back of a rapidly deteriorating economic outlook. The UK economy contracted sharply in the second quarter, data released on Wednesday showed, serving investors a grim reminder of the problems the country faces and triggering concerns over a rating that is already on negative watch. Given the deeper-than-expected recession, pressure on the government to ease its tight fiscal policy and deficit-cutting measures will build and could threaten safe-haven flows into UK gilts. That in turn would hurt the pound, traders said. Analysts said sterling would be vulnerable to more weakness as the market starts to price in the prospect of further quantitative easing by the BoE or even a cut in the bank rate by 25 basis points. Against the dollar, the pound was slightly lower on the day at $1.5490, not far from a two-week low of $1.5458 struck earlier in the day. Traders cited offers to sell at $1.5500 with near-term support at $1.5393 - the low struck on July 12. "We could see sterling drop to $1.5300 in the near term as investors price in chances of a rate cut and further easing by the BoE," said Stuart Frost, head of Absolute Returns and Currency at RWC Partners, a fund management house. "At lower levels, though, we could see some support from central bank diversification flows." The euro held on to the previous day's gains, trading near a one-week high of 78.54 pence and well above Monday's trough of 77.56 pence, its weakest since late 2008. It was last flat on the day at 78.40 pence with offers to sell at 78.50 pence. Many analysts do not expect sterling to stray too far from its recent high against the euro, given fears about whether Spain will need a full bailout or Greece leave the euro zone. Also offering a glimmer of hope to the UK is recent data which is showing some signs of a modest expansion. Nevertheless, most investors are likely to stay clear of the pound in the near term unless data shows a sustained pick-up in economic activity. "The rapidly deteriorating economic outlook for the UK and the subsequent softening of the official fiscal austerity targets increases the risk of sovereign rating downgrade in coming months," Valentin Marinov, a currency strategist at Citi wrote in a note. "Needless to say, this could make it difficult for sterling to decouple from the beleaguered euro."
 

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  Iraq banns Chevron over Kurdistan deal
Jul , 25 , 2012  
  Chevron has been banned from bidding for exploration licenses by Iraq's federal government following its acquisition of oil interests in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of the country last week. In a statement, Iraq's oil ministry said Chevron's investment in the Kurdistan region of Iraq was "illegal and illegitimate" as it announced "the disqualification of Chevron company" from doing business in the south and centre of the country and barred it "from signing any deals with the federal oil ministry and its companies".
 

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  Brent steady above USD103 on worries about Euro-zone, U.S. economies
Jul , 25 , 2012  
  Brent remained steady above USD103 a barrel on early Wednesday, July 25, as worries about oil demand from the troubled Euro-zone and the United States offset any gains to prices sparked by concerns about oil supply from the Middle East.
 

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  German private sector contracts for 3rd month in July –PMI
Jul , 25 , 2012  
  Germany's Markit composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) slipped to 47.3 this month from 48.1 in June, according to a flash estimate released. A PMI index tracking the manufacturing sector slid to 43.3 from 45.0 last month, well below the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of 32 economists that the index would rise to 45.3 and undershooting even the lowest estimate for a drop to 44.5. The services sector fared little better, with business activity contracting at the fastest pace since last September with a reading of 49.7 compared with 49.9 last month, slipping below the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of 30 economists for a neutral reading of 50.0.
 

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  Euro-zone downturn continues in July as outlook darkens –PMI
Jul , 25 , 2012  
  Markit's Euro-zone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a combination of the services and manufacturing sectors and seen as a guide to growth, held steady at 46.4 this month, missing expectations for an uptick to 46.5. The index for the Euro-zone's manufacturing sector fell to 44.1 from 45.1, well below the 45.3 forecast and it lowest since June 2009. The output index fell to 43.6 from 44.7, its lowest reading since May 2009. The factory new orders index slumped to 42.9 from June's 43.5, despite firms cutting prices for the second month to try and drum up custom.
 

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  Dubai's Abraaj Capital exits IHH healthcare investment via IPO
Jul , 25 , 2012  
  Dubai-based Abraaj Capital, the Middle East's largest buyout firm, said it has exited its investment IHH Healthcare Bhd after Asia's biggest hospital operator by market value listed on stock exchanges in Malaysia and Singapore. "Today's announcement marks the successful conclusion of an outstanding partnership and a natural closure of the investment cycle of Abraaj Capital 's USD2bn Infrastructure and Growth Capital Fund and USD500mn Abraaj Buyout Fund II," said Arif Naqvi, the founder and group chief executive of Abraaj.
 

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  Saudi Fawaz Alhokair co. inks SAR730mn deal to buy NESK group
Jul , 25 , 2012  
  Saudi Arabian retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co. said it has signed a share-purchase agreement to buy NESK Group for Trading Project LLC for SAR730mn Saudi (USD194.7mn). The acquisition will be financed mainly via a long-term loan, Alhokair said in a statement posted on the Saudi bourse website.
 

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  Kuwait's Zain owns 37 percent of Zain Saudi after rights issue
Jul , 25 , 2012  
  Zain has raised its stake in loss-making unit Zain Saudi, the Kuwaiti telecoms operator said, oversubscribing to the affiliate's USD1.6bn rights issue following a tepid response from other shareholders. That raised Zain's stake in Saudi Arabia's No. 3 operator to 37 percent from 25 percent, marking a reversal in strategy for the Kuwait firm whose attempt to sell its entire holding failed last year.
 

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  Egypt's finance ministry allocates USD100mn for fuel purchases
Jul , 24 , 2012  
  Egypt's finance ministry said it has allocated an additional USD100mn to the petroleum ministry for fuel purchases in an effort to ease ongoing fuel shortages in the local market. Momtaz Al Saied, the country's finance minister, said in a statement that the ministry has also taken "urgent measures" to ensure that other commodities are available in the market. The additional funds bring the total amount allocated to the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation, the state oil company, to USD6.1bn since the fiscal year 2010-2011, the minister said.
 

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  Brent climbs above USD104 after China data; Europe eyed
Jul , 24 , 2012  
  Brent crude climbed above USD104 per barrel on early Tuesday, July 24, as China, the world's top energy consumer, showed signs of improvement in its economy, though fears of a Spanish bailout curbed gains.
 

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