The Revolving Doors at the White House Continue…

The Revolving Doors at the White House Continue…

Global Markets Update:
Another volatile week in Trump’s White House as he fired his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, over Twitter. The market continues to price in measured concern. In a week that preludes to the Fed decision on a rate hike, choppy action on US equity markets was driven by the fear of a trade war and its consequences on global value chains. Other major bourses had much better performances with the Topix sustained by a good macro picture and European indices unaffected by the diplomatic crisis between the UK and Russia over the attempted murder of an ex spy with a nerve agent. Regional markets took some solace from a further advance in oil prices and the Qatar index soared on the news that Qatar National Bank would raise its ceiling for foreign ownership. Concerns over a trade war and the reshuffling of the Trump Administration foreign policy team after the sacking of Tillerson, hit the US dollar on major crosses, especially against the yen, but the dollar index covering a basket of currencies, crawled up to finish its fourth consecutive week of gains, the longest positive streak since early October. Oil prices had another banner week, despite US crude inventories added 5.0 m/b, more than double the market’s expectations. It was the largest build up in 7 weeks, but gasoline inventories fell 6.3 m/b. Gold prices, after two weeks of stability, lost ground and went back to levels seen at the beginning of the month, failing to benefit once again from the safe haven effect.
MENA News:
Jordan suspended its Free Trade Agreement with Turkey, citing an adverse impact on the local industrial sector underscored by the “unequal” competition with Turkish products.
Tourism revenues in Jordan grew by 7.2% YoY to USD 735.4mn during January-February this year. In the month of February alone, revenues were up by 4.3% to USD 315.8mn, thanks to a 6.9% increase in tourists.
Local banks in Kuwait plan to increase employment of citizens to 80% in the sector, upon instructions from the central bank of Kuwait. This move is expected to provide 17,000 job opportunities for citizens in the private sector.
After a lull of four years, it was announced that foreign wives and widows of Saudi men can now apply for nationality; applications are to be reviewed by a six-member committee.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai – ranked 62 and 66 respectively – are the most expensive cities in the GCC, according to the EIU’s 2018 Worldwide Cost of Living report. Others from the region include Bahrain (ranked 93), Kuwait and Doha (both ranked 101), Al Khobar, Muscat, Jeddah and Riyadh (all ranked 107). Singapore retains its title as the world’s most expensive city for the fifth consecutive year.
UAE moved up a rank to 20th in the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s 2018 World Happiness Report. Finland was named the world’s happiest while from the region Qatar was ranked 32, Saudi Arabia 33, Bahrain 43 and Kuwait 45.
UAE News:
The Dubai Economy Tracker posted a reading of 55.8 in February (January: 56.0), with wholesale and retail the best performing sub-sector (at 57.3).
Gold reserves at the UAE central bank increased by 4.1% MoM to AED 1.2bn (USD 326.71mn) – the highest for over three years – at end-January. The value of the bank’s reserves of foreign currencies was around AED 326bn at end-January.
Remittances from the UAE grew 2% YoY to AED 164.3bn in 2017, according to the central bank. India was the top recipient of remittances in Q4, with Indian expats sending back AED 14.8bn or 34.3% of the total remittances in Q4 (AED 43.2bn). This was followed by Pakistanis (AED 4.1bn or 7.1% of the total), Filipinos (7.1%), Americans (5.9%), Egyptians (5.5%), Britons (4.2%) and Bangladeshis (3.6%).
Dubai’s Department of Economic Development issued 1646 new business licenses in February 2018, and completed 23,407 transactions in business registration and licensing. Majority of the transactions were related to commercial licenses (62.3%), followed by the Professional (36.6%), Industrial (0.9%) and Tourism (0.6%) categories.

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