Economics Editor, Europe, Middle East and Africa
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Feb 20, 2015

Yemen FX reserves stabilize but borrowing balloons in political crisis

DUBAI (Reuters) – Yemen’s foreign exchange reserves have stabilized after a steep fall due to its political turmoil, but ballooning government debt issuance indicates the country may be moving closer to a fiscal crunch, central bank data showed on Friday.

Shi’ite Muslim Houthi rebels completed a takeover of the capital Sanaa last month while in the south, forces loyal to former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi still appear in charge. Tribal conflicts and al Qaeda insurgency are also disrupting Yemen’s oil and gas exports and other parts of the economy.

Feb 19, 2015

Orascom Construction to raise up to $241 mln in Egypt share offer

DUBAI, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Orascom Construction
plans to raise as much as $241 million in a sale of new shares
in Egypt over the next few weeks, in a move that could help to
re-energise Cairo’s stock market after years of political and
economic turmoil.

The company, which will offer up to 15.8 million new shares
representing 15 percent of its ordinary equity capital, said on
Thursday that it would price the shares at between $13.33 and
$15.23 each.

Feb 12, 2015

Second-tier stocks boost Saudi, other markets narrowly mixed

DUBAI, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Second-tier stocks boosted Saudi
Arabia’s bourse on Thursday as oil prices rebounded from an
overnight tumble, but other Gulf markets were narrowly mixed.
Egypt’s stock index fell but ended well off its lows.

Brent oil slid about 3 percent to below $54 a barrel
on Wednesday but by the time the Saudi market closed on Thursday
it had rebounded to above $56, heartening investors who have
been taking the oil price as their main cue in recent months.

Feb 10, 2015

Confident Gulf bond market shrugs off S&P downgrades

DUBAI, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Confidence that the Gulf oil
exporting states can ride out an era of cheap oil supported
prices of their international bonds on Tuesday after Standard
and Poor’s cut its debt ratings or outlooks for several of the
countries.

Taken together, S&P’s actions were the biggest move by a
rating agency in the Gulf since the price of Brent crude
plunged below $60 a barrel in December, from $115 last June.

Jan 31, 2015

Lavish freebies from Saudi king to buoy economy, markets

DUBAI (Reuters) – A lavish payout to public employees ordered by Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman will help to sustain the kingdom’s consumer boom and reassure financial markets that the government is not slashing expenditure in the face of low oil prices.

On Thursday, Salman ordered the immediate payment of two months of bonus salary to all state employees and pension to retired government workers, in a string of decrees which also reorganized the economic policy-making apparatus.

Jan 23, 2015

New Saudi king to focus economic policy on jobs as oil sags

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s new king is expected to focus economic policy on creating jobs and multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects to prevent tumbling oil prices from causing social tensions or undermining business confidence.

King Salman, who took the throne in the early hours of Friday after the death of his brother King Abdullah, inherits an economy that faces its biggest challenge since the global financial crisis in 2009.

Jan 22, 2015

Growth in Gulf Arab oil states to slow moderately this year: Reuters poll

DUBAI (Reuters) – Cheap oil will slow growth in most Gulf Arab economies this year but heavy spending by governments and healthy private sector activity will prevent any serious slump, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

The poll of 17 economists, conducted over the past two weeks, was the first since global oil prices plunged to near six-year lows, slashing the energy export revenues of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Jan 22, 2015

Growth in Gulf Arab oil states to slow moderately this year

DUBAI, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Cheap oil will slow growth in most
Gulf Arab economies this year but heavy spending by governments
and healthy private sector activity will prevent any serious
slump, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

The poll of 17 economists, conducted over the past two
weeks, was the first since global oil prices plunged to near
six-year lows, slashing the energy export revenues of the
six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Jan 19, 2015

Oil’s plunge to siphon Gulf petrodollars from global markets

DUBAI, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Plunging oil prices could prompt
Gulf Arab sovereign wealth funds to pull tens of billions of
dollars out of global markets this year, with much of the money
expected to come out of U.S. dollar debt and deposits with banks
abroad.

But – in a crucial balancing act for funds tasked with
diversifying their economies away from hydrocarbons – many are
expected to remain active in making long-term investments such
as infrastructure and real estate, with an increasing focus on
developing nations as opposed to sluggish European economies.

Jan 11, 2015

Austerity? Not for us, say rich Gulf states as oil slides

DUBAI, Jan 11 (Reuters) – It’s a weekend morning at the
Dubai Mall, a glitzy complex with 1,200 stores, and the shoppers
are pouring in. A traffic jam has formed in the basement parking
area. With passenger arrivals at Dubai’s airport at record
highs, retailers expect a good month.

The 55 percent plunge of oil prices since last June might be
expected to usher in an age of austerity in the Gulf, which
faces a steep drop in its income.

    • About Andrew

      "Based in London, I manage economics and emerging markets coverage in the EMEA region and reporting on emerging markets in the area. Before moving to EMEA in early 2009 I spent almost 20 years in Asia as a journalist, based in Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai."
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