Economics Editor, Europe, Middle East and Africa
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Nov 3, 2015

Gulf’s private-sector growth slows as price of oil falls

DUBAI, Nov 3 (Reuters) – The private sector in the two
biggest Gulf Arab economies grew at the slowest pace in years in
October, corporate surveys showed on Tuesday, indicating low oil
prices are starting to slow business activity across the region.

The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia Purchasing
Managers’ Index for last month dropped to 55.7, its lowest level
since the survey began in August 2009, when the world’s top oil
exporter was grappling with the global financial crisis.

Oct 31, 2015

Saudi Arabia slams S&P decision to downgrade its debt

DUBAI, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia criticised a decision
by a leading credit rating agency to downgrade its debt, but it
may struggle to reassure markets worried by the damage which low
oil prices are doing to the kingdom’s finances.

Standard & Poor’s cut its ratings for Saudi Arabia’s
long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit on Friday
by one notch to ‘A-plus/A-1′, citing a “pronounced negative
swing” in the government’s budget balance.

Oct 29, 2015

Middle East funds turn negative on equities -survey

DUBAI, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Middle East fund managers have on
balance turned negative towards equities in the region because
of low oil prices, instability in the global economy and the
prospect of monetary tightening, a monthly Reuters survey shows.

The survey of 14 leading investment firms, conducted over
the past week, shows 21 percent expect to cut their regional
equity allocations in the next three months, and 7 percent to
raise them.

Oct 21, 2015

IMF may offer major loan to Iraq in 2016, official says

DUBAI (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund may provide a large loan to Iraq in 2016 to help stabilize the country’s finances as it grapples with low oil prices and the Islamic State insurgency, a senior IMF official said.

An IMF team will discuss with Iraqi officials early next month how to create a Staff-Monitored Programme for Baghdad – an arrangement under which the Fund would monitor Iraq’s economic policies, said Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department.

Sep 30, 2015

Mideast funds heavily favour UAE equities in region -survey

DUBAI, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Middle East fund managers favour
United Arab Emirates stock markets over other bourses by a large
margin as the region struggles with low oil prices and an
unstable global environment, a monthly Reuters survey shows.

Gulf stock markets are in a difficult period as cheap oil
slashes the state revenues of energy exporting countries and
begins to tighten liquidity in banking systems.

Aug 30, 2015

Saudi credit default swaps fall sharply on oil price recovery

DUBAI, Aug 30 (Reuters) – The cost of insuring against a
Saudi Arabian sovereign debt default has dropped sharply in the
past few days because of the rebound of global oil prices,
market data showed on Sunday.

Last Monday, five-year Saudi credit default swaps
soared as high as 120 basis points, from around
60 bps late last month.

Aug 20, 2015

Saudi riyal forwards hit as cheap oil erodes confidence

DUBAI, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s riyal fell in the
forwards market on Thursday as oil prices dropped and Saudi
equities fell, prompting some traders to hedge against the risk
of the riyal’s peg to the U.S. dollar eventually coming under

One-year dollar/Saudi riyal forwards jumped as high
as 305 points, their highest level since March 2003, from
Wednesday’s close of 250 points. The move signalled traders were
increasingly locking in rates to protect themselves against
potential riyal depreciation over the next 12 months.

Aug 16, 2015

Saudi money market turmoil shows bank jitters over bond issues

DUBAI, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Turmoil in the Saudi Arabian money
markets suggests that financing the government’s budget deficit
in an era of cheap oil may not be smooth as banks worry about
the risk of a liquidity squeeze.

The government sold 20 billion riyals ($5.3 billion) of
riyal bonds to banks last Tuesday to help to cover a huge
deficit caused by low oil prices. It was only the second
sovereign bond issue since 2007; the first, placed with
quasi-sovereign institutions, occurred in July.

Aug 12, 2015

Former Saudi official presses for change in managing oil wealth

DUBAI, Aug 12 (Reuters) – A former senior official at Saudi
Arabia’s central bank says he believes the kingdom may soon
change the way it manages its oil wealth as part of efforts to
protect its financial reserves in an era of cheap crude.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) manages the vast
bulk of petrodollars earned by the world’s top oil exporting
country; net foreign assets at the central bank totalled $664.5
billion in June.

Aug 9, 2015

Saudi data suggest budget squeeze may be several years away

DUBAI, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Pressure on Saudi Arabia’s state
finances is mounting as oil prices fall but the latest official
figures suggest the world’s top crude exporter still has at
least several years before it faces a budget crunch.

Brent oil sank last week below $50 a barrel, near
six-year lows, from $70 three months ago. That promises to
increase the rate at which the kingdom is drawing down its
foreign reserves to cover its budget deficit.

    • 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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