The US shutdown temporarily ended after 35 days. The shutdown cost at least USD 6bn to the economy…

The US shutdown temporarily ended after 35 days. The shutdown cost at least USD 6bn to the economy…

Global Markets Update:
Most global equity markets closed slightly higher on strong earnings reports (especially from US tech firms), Trump’s short-term shutdown deal to reopen the government, and reports that the Fed was considering an early end to balance sheet shrinking helped the markets. In the region, most markets closed higher, with the Abu Dhabi index gaining on comments that the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) board would discuss its potential merger this week. The dollar retreated last week, while the euro bounced back from a 6-week low after Draghi’s dovish statements, and the BoJ’s inflation forecast cut sent the yen (briefly) to a three-week low versus the dollar. Oil prices gained after concerns of oil supply following the threat of US sanctions against Venezuela, while gold price hit a 7-month peak on the weaker dollar.

MENA News:
Hotel revenues in Oman increased by 8.5% to OMR 188.7mn (USD 488.9mn) in the first 11 months of the year; hotel occupancy rates also increased by 0.9% to 57% during this period. However, the total number of guests declined by 2.8% to 1.35mn in January-November 2018.
Almost 65k Omanis were hired in the private sector last year after an expat visa ban was implemented on 87 professions.
The IMF lowered its growth forecast for Saudi Arabia this year to 1.8% from the October’s estimate of  2.4%. It however raised estimates for 2020 to 2.1%, 0.2 ppts from the previous projection.
Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul is expected to complete listing procedures and be IPO-ready by end of 2020, disclosed Tadawul’s chairperson, on the sidelines of the WEF in Davos.
Saudi Arabia, in an effort to stimulate localization, disclosed that it will provide 30% of the salaries of male and female Saudis working in private sector establishments in the first year.
Saudi Arabia unveiled 7 principles to support investment: ensure equality between Saudi and foreign investors; ensure protection of investments; enable sustainability of investment; provide access to equal investment incentives; implement social and environmental standards and ensure investor compliance with Saudi health, safety and environmental regulations; facilitate access procedures for foreign workers and their families; and ensure a solid transfer of knowledge, technology and enhancement of local human capital.

UAE News:
UAE’s money supply M1 increased
by 1.3% MoM to AED 485.6bn at end-December 2018; M2 increased 1.6% MoM to AED 1.3trn.
Inflation in Abu Dhabi increased to 3.3% YoY in 2018; December inflation was reported at 1.2% YoY and 0.03% MoM in December. Transportation prices were up 8.4% YoY in 2018, contributing towards 35.8% of the inflation growth rate.
UAE, via the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, deposited USD 1bn– the first installment of a USD 3bn financial support package – in Pakistan’s central bank; this funding was announced in December.
The Federal Electricity and Water Authority announced a reduction in retail electricity tariffs for residents in the norther emirates from 45 to 28 Fils per kilowatt, to be enforced as of February 1st this year. Tariffs will remain unchanged for commercial units, hotels, and labour camps.
Dubai plans to source 8% or at least 1000 megawatts of its over-all power requirements from renewable energy sources by next year, according to the CEO and managing director of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.

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SOURCES:
Nasser Saidi & Associates

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