2 Brief Overview Fiscal deficit improves, though picture remains bleak when we exclude grants Fiscal deficit improves, though picture remains bleak when we exclude grants International MENA Region Local Economy Amman Stock Exchange Amman Stock Exchange Local Debt Monitor Local Debt Monitor Prime Lending Rates Prime Lending Rates Markets overview New and analysis US: Choppy week for Treasuries; consumer sentiment added to Fed “tapering talk” Eurozone: Bonds drop as slump persists into longest recession for the region Japan: Abenomics begins to show impact Major Indices: Consumer sentiment boosts stocks Commodities and Currencies: brighter US data and a stronger dollar put a damper on investor appetite for safe havens as Gold Central Bank Meeting Calendar Interest Rate Forecast The Week Ahead Egypt: Unemployment increases in first quarter; treasury yields continue to rise GCC News Highlights GCC interbank rates Comparative MENA Markets UK: BoE upgrades its UK growth assessment China: Recovery remains fragile
4 US Treasury bond rates: Choppy week for yields after data gave mixed signals Economic data released over the past week have been a mixed bag. While weakness was evident in the manufacturing sector, retail sales surprised on the upside and consumer sentiment climbed to its highest level in years. The strong data bolstered expectations that the Federal Reserve will be able to start winding down its bond-buying program this year. Nevertheless, the back and forth speculation over Fed “tapering talk” meant US Treasuries had a choppy week. The 10-year yield rose 7bp on Friday to 1.95%, having risen to within a whisker of 2% earlier in the week.
5 US inflation and sentiment,,, The sluggishness of the U.S. economy seems to be keeping a lid on inflation. Consumer prices fell 0.4% in April, the second straight month of declines, the Labor Department said Thursday. Over the past year, prices have risen just 1.7%, omitting food and energy, below the roughly 2% level that Federal Reserve officials consider healthy for the economy. While tame inflation is good news for consumers, it also reflects the considerable slack in the economy. Until the economy starts firing on more cylinders, with more workers getting jobs and factories ramping up production, U.S. companies will find it hard to raise prices without losing customers. The slowing price growth—and the risk of deflation, however small— gives the Federal Reserve more room to continue its easy-money policy, designed to boost growth. The Fed could also increase the amount of bonds it is buying to help push more money into the economy and perhaps lift inflation toward its target. The biggest factor behind the falling inflation numbers is a persistent drop in energy prices, including gasoline, which fell in price last month before stabilizing. April 1.7%
6 Retail sales surprises on the upside fuelled by cheap gas Lower-priced gas allowed Americans to step up their spending at retailers in April, from cars and clothes to electronics and appliances, boosting the economy. The rebound from a weak March suggests consumers remain resilient in the face of higher taxes and could continue to drive economic growth this spring. Retail sales edged up 0.1% in April, the Commerce Department said Monday. That’s an improvement from a 0.5% decline in March, the largest drop in nine months. The April gain was stronger when taking out the effect of lower gas prices, which reduced sales at gas stations 4.7%. When excluding gas station sales, retail spending rose 0.7%. And core retail sales, which exclude gas, autos and building supplies, increased 0.5%. Economists pay close attention to core sales because they strip out the most volatile categories. Consumers increased their spending in April, despite paying higher Social Security taxes that has reduced their paychecks this year. Their spending likely will add to economic growth in the April-June quarter. Consumer spending makes up roughly 70% of economic activity.
7 Americans gain confidence in the economy U.S. consumers' view of the economy turned much brighter in early May, as rising real estate values and record stock prices boosted household wealth. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment increased to 83.7, the highest since July 2007, from 76.4 in April, a report today showed. The early-May increase implies consumers are looking past the drag coming from federal spending cuts. Offsetting that negative has been rising equity prices, strengthening housing markets and falling gasoline prices. The strong data, along with signs of continued strong private consumption, bolstered expectations that the Federal Reserve will be able to start winding down its bond-buying program this year, backing away from an exceptionally easy monetary policy stance that has weighed on the dollar. Markets are focused on when the Fed will begin tapering its bond purchases, and any sign of improvement in the U.S. economy adds to expectations that the central bank can begin to phase out its monetary stimulus program.
8 Mixed data shows weakness in manufacturing and housing sector On the other hand, weakness is evident in the manufacturing sector, with manufacturing production growth running at a meager 0.9% annualized rate over the past three months and the regional PMIs received so far indicate that the weakness extended into May. Moreover, construction of new homes sank last month far more than expected, a sign of weakness for a part of the economy that has been in recovery mode. Overall housing starts fell 16.5% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday, primarily due to a big drop in multifamily construction. The figures were the weakest since November, but still nearly 36% above the same month last year. Nevertheless, analysts weren't too discouraged by the data, saying that likely represented temporary fluctuations. One piece of evidence that construction is likely to rebound: The number of new building permits, an indication of future construction, rose to the highest level since June 2008. They increased 14.3% to an annualized rate of 1.02 million, in April.
9 US politicians have more room to work on budget deal, as deficit falls faster than expected Finally, there was good news on the US fiscal situation from the Congressional Budget Office. The budget office sharply cut its estimate of the current fiscal-year deficit by more than $200 billion, on higher-than-anticipated tax receipts and big payments to the Treasury from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage financiers. Accordingly, the CBO took down its projected 2013 budget deficit to 4% of GDP and it expects the deficit to decline to 3.4% in 2014 and to 2.1% in 2015. This will be enough to stabilize government debt to GDP in the next few years and take the pressure off politicians to implement further fiscal tightening. A side-effect is that the date when the debt ceiling becomes binding is not likely to be reached until October (prior estimate was mid July), which gives politicians some more time to work on a budget deal. That has left nothing on the horizon to force Congress’s hand until it needs to raise the debt ceiling, a statutory borrowing limit. But because of strong tax receipts and the sequestration spending cuts, it might not need to tackle that issue until October or even later.
10 European yields fall after data shows that eurozone is still in recession Weak eurozone growth data – and the possibility of further European Central Bank easing to stimulate growth – helped push up German bond prices. The Bund yield ended the week at 1.31%, down 2 basis points on the day and 7bp on the week. Meanwhile, persistent strong demand continues for peripheral bond yields, as investors show an increased appetite for bonds that offer a pick-up to low yielding core rates. Spain pulled in massive demand for the sale of new 10-year government bonds on Tuesday. However, the trend is slowing down as the latest data show that the eurozone crisis persists. Spain’s 10-year yield dropped to 4.21% Friday, while Italy’s 10-year yield fell to 3.90%.
11 Eurozone stuck in longest recession Continuing government austerity, banks that can't or won't lend and heavy household debts are weighing on the eurozone. Weak business surveys are challenging official predictions, including from the European Central Bank, that growth will return this year. The euro zone's gross domestic product fell in the first three months of the year at an annualized rate of 0.9%, data out Wednesday showed – a fall of 0.2% compared to the previous quarter. That was the sixth-straight quarter of a recession that began in late 2011, and puts the region in contrast with other recovering economies. U.S. GDP grew at a 2.5% pace in the first quarter, and early Thursday, Japan said its GDP jumped 3.5% in the quarter. U.K. output rose last quarter as well. Depression-like conditions in Southern Europe, combined with slowing global growth, are dragging down the core economies: Germany is barely growing and France is steadily contracting.
12 Eurozone stuck in longest recession The pace of contraction eased in Italy and Spain, but both economies still shrank at annualized rates of about 2% in the first quarter. But French GDP contracted at an annualized rate of 0.7%, which was worse than economists had expected. Germany's economy grew by an annualized 0.3%, less than expected, adding to doubts about the ability of Europe's largest economy to provide the demand that is badly needed to offset shrinking demand in Mediterranean countries. Germany’s recovery may have been delayed by an unusually long winter, which damped construction activity and business confidence, the Bundesbank has said.
13 Weak demand still plagues the region The trade surplus for the eurozone hit its highest level in March since the bloc was formed in 1999, driven by a continued decline in imports that reflects very weak demand at home as well as steadily rising exports. The figures released Thursday indicate that the region's trade surplus increased in the first quarter as a whole, suggesting that weak demand was also responsible for the decline in output during the period. Exports rose in March compared with the previous month, the third such increase in a row, offering some hope for the eurozone as it struggles to escape from its longest postwar contraction. But compared with the previous year, exports were merely flat in March while imports were 10% lower. With global demand likely to remain tepid in coming months, strong export growth will be difficult to sustain, meaning a revival in domestic demand will likely be required before the eurozone can return to sustained growth.
14 Low inflation could mean another rate cut Eurostat said consumer prices fell 0.1% from March, with the annual rate of inflation slowing to 1.2% from 1.7% in March to reach a low last recorded in February 2010. The European Central Bank defines price stability—the maintenance of which is its sole mission—as an inflation rate of just below 2%. The prospects of a second consecutive year of recession in the eurozone and tumbling inflation prompted the European Central Bank to cut interest rates earlier this month to a record low of 0.5%, and declare it was ready to act again if necessary. Accordingly, the continued weakness in domestic demand suggested by the decline in imports, and the continuing fall in prices, makes it likely the central bank will have to act again to stimulate growth.
15 UK economy picking up? Bank of England upgrades its UK growth assessment The Bank of England said in its quarterly report that the economy is likely to grow more rapidly than it thought in February, although the recovery will be weak by historical standards and vulnerable to threats from abroad, such as the crisis in the euro zone, the U.K.'s biggest trading partner. Mervyn A. King, in his last scheduled news conference before retiring from the central bank in July, said the economy would grow faster and consumer prices would increase slower than was anticipated in February. Britain’s economy could grow by 0.5% this quarter after growing 0.3% in the first three months of this year, the Bank of England said. Inflation could peak at 3.1% toward the end of the summer, a lower level than had been expected, to fall below the target from mid-2015, it said. But Mr. King also said it was “no time to be complacent” because inflation remains above the central bank’s target of 2 percent and the labor market is still weak. Threats to a sustained recovery continue to come from outside Britain, especially from the eurozone.
16 But the economy remains fragile, and more stimulus is expected in the coming months Economists expect the bank to continue pursuing stimulus in coming months, particularly once Mr. King steps down, to be replaced by current Bank of Canada Gov. Mark Carney. Mr. Carney has argued for a new communications strategy to hammer home the message that the bank doesn't intend to raise interest rates until the economy has strengthened appreciably. Data released Wednesday showed a rise in U.K. unemployment for the third straight month, highlighting the fragile nature of the recovery. Unemployment as calculated by the International Labor Organization rose 15,000 to 2.52 million, for a rate of 7.8%. Moreover, Workers' pay growth slowed to the lowest annual rate on record, undermining prospects of a sustained rise in consumer spending.
17 Abenomics begins to show impact Japan's economic growth accelerated swiftly at the beginning of this year, the most concrete sign yet that new stimulus policies sparking life in financial markets are starting to lift companies and consumers as well. Japan's economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5% in the first three months of 2013, Japan's Cabinet Office said Thursday, as consumers spent more and exports to the U.S. picked up, lifted by a weaker yen. The expansion was much quicker than the 2.7% increase expected by analysts. The figures early Thursday marked a sharp improvement from the tepid 1% growth rate at the end of last year, which followed six months of contraction. Japan's economy had been in a shallow recession as recently as last year, and the positive data should bolster hopes that the country's economic outlook is brightening, following the implementation of a set policies dubbed “Abenomics”. Since taking office in late December, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has implemented a ¥13.1 trillion ($131 billion) spending package and appointed a new Bank of Japan governor who orchestrated the central bank's plan to pump money into the economy through massive purchases of government bonds to raise inflation to 2% in two years.
18 Full impact of “Abenomics” is still yet to come It is, however, too early to call it a turning point for an economy that has seen numerous false starts, with analysts pointing to the fall in capital spending, which fell 0.7% quarter-on-quarter in the January-March period. Moreover, we have not yet seen the real impact from Abenomics as the effect from a weaker JPY works with a substantial lag and the latest fiscal easing (mainly infrastructure spending) will mainly start to have an impact in Q2. Japanese government bonds edged down on Thursday and Friday, after the yield on 10-year paper rose sharply over the first few sessions of the week to 0.92% – its highest in more than a year.
19 China recovery remains fragile, but so far no severe deceleration in growth Data published this week were a little softer than expected, but still revealed strong growth figures. Industrial production and retail sales both accelerated in April, pointing to overall economic growth of about 7.5% year-on-year. The Chinese economy grew 7.8% last year. The data released for April suggest that the Chinese recovery remains fragile and has lost some momentum, although so far it does not look like a severe deceleration in growth. Growth in industrial production (an indicator for GDP) rebounded slightly in April to 9.3% y/y from 8.9% y/y in March. When looking at the sequential month-on-month trend it does appear that growth in industrial production eased in April consistent with the softer manufacturing PMIs. However, leading indicators like M2 money supply and credit growth remained strong. Moreover, retail sales rose 12.8% in April from the same month a year earlier, compared with 12.6% growth in March.
24 Central Bank Meetings Calendar Expected Rate Decision Current Rate MonthCentral Bank 0.25% June 19US Federal Reserve (FOMC) 0.50% June 6European Central Bank (ECB) 0.50% June 6Bank of England (BoE) 0.10% May 21Bank of Japan (BOJ) 0.00% June 20Swiss National Bank (SNB) 1.00% May 29Bank of Canada (BOC) 2.75% June 4Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) 2.50% June 12Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) Calendar for upcoming meetings of main central banks :
26 Egyptian treasury yields continue to rise Egypt’s government sought bids for 4 billion Egyptian pounds each for 6 and 12 month treasury bills due to be issued the 21 st May but the auction was cancelled. This indicates that either banks do not have sufficient liquidity to bid for the full amount auctioned, or that the Central Bank of Egypt found the rates bid too high and cancelled the auction. This will reflect negatively on the government’s fiscal budget as well as put further pressure on the dire economic situation in the country. The increased pressure is reflected in Egypt’s credit default swaps as five-year contracts have climbed 47 basis points this month to 630, the highest level in a month, according to data provider CMA. Other factors affecting the CDS’s is Egypt’s inability to secure the IMF loan to meet its financing needs. Also, Egypt’s credit rating has been lowered six times at S&P and Moody’s Investors Service since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. However, reports citing an advisor to the finance minister have emerged from Egypt stating that regulations related to law governing sales of Islamic bonds (Sukuk) will be presented next week to specialists in preparation for sale. This should ease pressure on treasury yields and domestic liquidity as it will open new sources of fund for the government. Source: Bloomberg
27 Unemployment rate in Egypt up to 13.2% Egypt’s jobless rate climbed 0.2% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the last quarter of 2012, reaching 13.2% of the country’s total labor force, according to state-run statistics body CAPMAS. The government statistics agency attributed the increase to the slowdown of economic activities. According to CAPMAS, the number of working Egyptians reached 23.6 million, with the total labor force registering 27.2 million. The number of unemployed increased by 63,000 in Q1 2013. In other news, Egypt’s parliament gave a final approval to revise upper 25% income tax bracket to include incomes starting at more than 0.25 million Egyptian pound/year, compared with 10 million pounds previously. This comes despite Egypt’s income from sales tax increased from 161 billion pounds since July 1, 2012 to today, compared to 158 billion pounds for the same period last year. Source: Bloomberg Source: Trading Economics
28 GCC Economic News Highlights Dubai inflation remains low in April despite jump in rents: Dubai’s inflation remained muted in April compared to the previous month despite a jump in rents, as the central bank governor stated inflation is to stay below 2% in 2013. On a monthly basis, the inflation rate was a mere 0.11% for the second month in a row. On an annual basis, inflation edged up to a two year high of 0.9%, compared to 0.6% year-on-year in March. Saudi April inflation inches up to 4% as food prices rise: Saudi Arabia's annual inflation rose slightly to 4% in April compared with 3.9% in March on higher food prices, the Central Department for Statistic and Information said in a statement. The higher inflation was underpinned by food prices which rose 6.2% year-on-year compared to 5.3% in March. However, the cost of housing and utilities in April eased to an annual rate of 3%, compared with 3.1% in March. Saudi Arabia's central bank and the International Monetary Fund have said they expect inflation in the kingdom to peak at around 4.6% this year before slowing again by 2014. Source: Bloomberg Source: Trading Economics
29 GCC Economic News Highlights IMF Says Bahrain’s Growing Debt May Be Unsustainable by 2018: Bahrain must urgently cut spending or risk unsustainable public debt as its fiscal deficit widens and oil prices decline, according to the IMF. According to the IMF, Bahrain needs “gradual fiscal consolidation” equal to 7.7% of economic output over the next 6 budget years to contain its government debt at 40% of GDP. Bahrain’s outstanding debt including interest is about $11.8 billion, with more than $3 billion due this year. The nation’s economy may expand 4.2%in 2013, the IMF said, 2.0% less than the government forecast. Bahrain also managed a better- than-expected budget deficit of 2.6% in 2012, the fund said. Standard & Poor’s cited improvements in the “political, economic and fiscal situation” when it revised the kingdom’s credit outlook to stable from negative in January. Source: Bloomberg
30 GCC Economic News Highlights Fitch affirms ratings for 7 Qatari banks; outlook stable: Global credit rating agency Fitch has affirmed its ratings on seven Qatari lenders with “stable” outlook. Fitch’s view of support is based on a strong history of sovereign support from the central bank including measures to boost capital, as well as asset purchases, as clearly demonstrated in recent years. These strengths are counterbalanced by continued risk with respect to concentrations on both sides of the balance sheet, deteriorating restructured and past due loans at some banks, rapid credit growth and dependency on government-related spending and Qatar’s undiversified economy. Moody's downgrades Kuwait Finance House long term ratings to A1 from Aa3, outlook negative. The rating actions reflect continued asset quality pressures, an increasing reliance on volatile investment income, and the current organizational complexity and overall risk profile inconsistent with global peers. The ratings could be further downgraded as a result of deterioration of asset quality metrics, weakening of its retail franchise, weakening of capital position, and problems resulting from, or failure of, the restructuring exercise.
34 Fiscal deficit after grants narrowed, though outlook before grants remains negative In the first two months of the year, the government recorded a deficit after grants of JD19.1 million compared to JD39.8 million over the same period last year. This positive development is a result of increasing foreign grants by 183.3 million and decreasing domestic revenues by around JD 39.5 million. Moreover, both current and capital expenditures increased, with the increase in current expenditure stems mainly from an increase in military spending and interest payments. Therefore, looking at the fiscal deficit before grants will show that the deficit increased during the first two months of the year to reach JD202 million, compared to JD40 million the previous year. Source: Government Budget Office JD Million February 2013 February 2012 Preliminary Total Revenues and Grants863.9720.15,054.4 Domestic Revenue680.6720.14,727.3 Foreign Grants183.30.0327.1 Total Expenditures883.0759.96,862.1 Current Expenditures842.8740.76,186.2 Capital Expenditures40.219.2675.9 Fiscal Deficit/Surplus Including Grants -19.1-39.8 -1,807.7 (-8.2% of GDP) Fiscal Deficit/Surplus Excluding Grants -202.4-39.8 -2,134.8 (-9.7% of GDP)
35 Shift from internal to external borrowing Public Debt reached around JD 16.7 billion by the end of February 2013, around 69.7% of 2013 GDP according to our calculations, increasing by JD145 million during the year. Domestic debt decreased by around JD 143.7 million during the first two months of the year, compared to the end of 2012, while external debt increased by 288 million JD. By not borrowing internally, the government will ease pressure on JOD liquidity, and by borrowing externally, the government will boost foreign reserves and inject new JOD in the market. The figures reflect the shift in the government’s policy towards external debt this year: JD Million February 2013 20122011 External Debt5,220.44,932.44,486.8 Percent of GDP22.3%22.5%21.9% Internal Debt11,505.011,648.08,915.0 Percent of GDP48.1%52.7%43.5% Public Debt16,725.016,581.013,401.8 Percent of GDP69.7%75.5%65.4%
36 Amman Stock Exchange For the period 12/05 – 16/05 ASE free float shares’ price index ended the week at (2017.7) points, compared to (2031.2) points for the last week, posting a decrease of 0.66%. The total trading volume during the week reached JD(53.1) million compared to JD(39.9) million during the last week. Trading a total of (54.4) million shares through (24,868) transactions The shares of (169) companies were traded, the shares prices of (48) companies rose, and the shares prices of (81) declined. Top 5 losers for the last week Stock % chg Industrial Industries & Match/jimco (78.75%) Al-safweh For Financial Investments Co. (30.97%) United Arab Investors (20.00%) Jordan Poultry Processing & Marketing (20.00%) Int'l Arabian Development And Investment Trading Co. (13.58%) Top 5 gainers for the last week Stock % chg Sura Development & Investment Plc 18.18% The Investors And Eastern Arab For Industrial And Real Estate Investments 16.67% Akary For Industries And Real Estate Investments 13.96% South Electronics 11.11% Ubour Logistic Services Plc 10.71%
37 Local Debt Monitor Latest T-Bills As of May 19, the volume of excess reserves, including the overnight window deposits held at the CBJ JD(2,658) million. Yield (%)Size - millionMaturity DateIssue Date3 months T-Bills 2.898%5014/03/201214/12/201129/2011 2.844%5012/03/201212/12/201128/2011 Yield (%)Size - millionMaturity DateIssue Date6 months T-Bills 3.788%5014/08/201214/02/201202/2012 3.433%5023/01/2012 01/2012 3.232%5008/06/201208/12/201127/2011 Yield (%)Size - millionMaturity DateIssue Date9 months T-Bills 4.285%7504/12/201204/03/201205/2012 4.229%7529/11/201229/02/201204/2012 4.169%7522/11/201222/02/201203/2012 Coupon (%)Size - MillionMaturity DateIssue Date1 year T-Bills 5.345%7515/04/201415/04/201304/2013 6.750%7026/02/201426/02/201303/2013 6.750%5014/02/201414/02/201302/2013 6.750%7027/01/201427/01/201301/2013
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