Your 60-Second Financial Markets summary…

Your 60-Second Financial Markets summary…

Global Markets Update:
The Trade wars we mentioned over the past 2 weeks have reflected two bigger geopolitical challenges, the rise of populism and a move to a global economy led by a number of countries. April did not start well for US equities: there were no specific catalysts for a malaise spreading at the very beginning of the week, but then the China-US trade tariff tit-for-tat affected all assets from German stocks to agricultural commodities. The sell off intensified at the end of the week exacerbated by a disappointing US non-farm payrolls report and comments from Federal Chairman Powell, hinting to further interest hikes in 2018. Risk aversion pushed down the 10-year Treasury yield to below 2.8% and sustained gold prices. The contagion reached emerging markets, but European and Japanese stocks were little affected and ended in positive territory. The GCC bourses (except Abu Dhabi and Bahrain) had a positive performance led by KSA still benefiting from the upgrade to emerging market status and the confirmation of the sovereign rating by S&P. Currency markets remained calm apart from a flight to safety into the Swiss franc. The US markets’ blues hit the oil price, despite US inventories falling by 4.6mn barrels (against expectations of a 250,000 increase).
MENA News:
Bahrain announced a major discovery of oil and gas reserves off its west coast, amounting to at least 80bn barrels of tight oil and deep gas reserves in the region of 10-20 trillion cubic feet.
Jordan started awarding citizenship/ permanent residency under the new incentive scheme: investors can apply to be citizens if they make a zero-interest, five-year USD 1.5mn deposit at the Central Bank of Jordan, or buy Treasury bonds of the same value at an interest rate to be decided by CBJ for no less than ten years, or buy securities worth USD 1.5mn from an active investment portfolio, or invest USD 1mn in SMEs for at least five years. To obtain permanent residency, any non-Jordanian can buy property worth at least JOD 200k (USD 282k) without selling or disposing of it in any manner for a period of ten years.
UAE News:
Gold reserves at the UAE central bank are likely to increase by 19.5% YoY to 9mn tonnes this year, according to a Ministry of Economy report. As per central bank data, gold reserves balance was at AED 1.17bn at the end of February (compared to AED 1.152bn at end-Dec 2017).
Lending by UAE banks to the industrial and business sectors increased by 1% year-to-date to AED 7.4bn (USD 2bn) during January-February this year. This reflects a share of 68% of total lending to the private sector, and 51.5% of total funding offered to the public and private sector combined.
The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority awarded two Expo 2020 road project contracts worth AED 1.3bn (USD 353mn) for the third and fourth phase of roads leading to the Expo 2020 site.

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