3 US Treasury bond rates 10-year treasury yields dropped slightly since last week. On Monday there was a burst of tension surrounding the political situation in Spain and Italy and added to concerns that the euro crisis might escalate again. However, yields edged up slightly on Friday as strong trade data from three of the world’s largest economies, has raised hopes for growth prospects in 2013 and ended a volatile week on a positive sentiment. Similarly, the spread between 10-year and 2-year Treasury notes fell by 5 basis points, an indication that political uncertainty still weighs on global recovery.
4 US trade data point to strong momentum into 2013 The U.S. trade deficit shrank in December as exports rose and imports fell, suggesting slight economic growth late last year instead of the previously estimated contraction. The U.S. deficit in international trade of goods and services decreased nearly 21% to $38.54 billion from a revised $48.61 billion the month before, the Commerce Department said Friday. The decline was the biggest in nearly four years. Oil exports hit a record high, while the amount of imported oil dropped to its lowest level since 1997. Friday's report suggests exports—a key engine of the U.S. recovery—are finding their footing after stalling last year amid a slowdown in the global economy. Demand for U.S. goods is growing as China's economy picks up and Europe claws its way out of recession. Yet economists and corporate executives remain worried about how much exports will help the recovery this year. Earlier this month, the Institute for Supply Management said manufacturers' exports expanded in January at a slower pace than December. Still, the shrinking December gap means the economy probably expanded in the fourth quarter, rather than contracting at an annualized 0.1% rate, as the government recently reported. For all of 2012, the trade gap fell 3.5% to a deficit of $540.4 billion from $559.9 billion in 2011. Q4: -0.1%
5 US negotiations over spending cuts continue President Obama on Tuesday called on Congress to pass a small package of spending cuts and tax changes to delay the start next month of deep reductions in domestic and defense spending that could deliver a fresh blow to a fragile economic recovery. With time running out, Obama said, Congress should adopt measures to postpone the automatic spending reductions, known as the sequester, for a few months. Without any action, the cuts, worth $1.2 trillion over a decade, are scheduled to start March 1 and are causing deep anxiety among government workers and contractors. Congressional Republicans insist that any move to waive those cuts should rely solely on alternative reductions in spending with no additional tax increases. Just before the president’s announcement, the Congressional Budget Office released its economic projections for the year ahead. The nonpartisan CBO said that by the end of 2013, the federal budget deficit will come in under $1 trillion — the first time in five years. The deficit, gap between taxes and spending, is estimated to narrow to $845 billion or 5.3% of gross domestic product in the fiscal year that ends in September, the release said. That is well below the 2009 peak and down from last year's deficit of $1.1 trillion, or 7% of GDP. CBO factored the $85 billion of across-the-board cuts into its projections for 2013. If this is the case, then the debt will be 77% of GDP by the end of the decade. In the end, it will take another $2 trillion in belt-tightening over the next decade to begin to move the federal debt closer to historic levels, according to the CBO calculations
6 Chinese economic data on the upside but transparency could be an issue during Lunar New Year celebrations China's export growth picked up its pace and inflation slowed in January, positive signs for the world's second- largest economy, although the data were likely distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday. The trade surplus narrowed slightly to $29.2 billion in January from a month earlier, but exports and imports both showed robust growth despite a still sluggish global economy, official data showed Friday. Exports climbed 25% after a 14.1% rise in December, while imports jumped 28.8%, well ahead of the previous month's 6.0% increase, according to customs data. Both figures were ahead of expectations. However, questions remain about the figures as the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday tends to be accompanied by a surge in inflation and out-of-kilter trade figures. According to the customs agency's own calculation, exports were up 12.4% on an adjusted basis, while imports rose 3.4%. However, economists said the figures were encouraging, even after adjusting for seasonal effects. Although the Chinese New Year effects may have boosted the trade performance in January somewhat, we believe that the data could also confirm that China's economy continues to gain momentum. Meanwhile, the main measure of consumer inflation eased to 2% in January, after a 2.5% rise in December from a year earlier, in line with economists' expectations. Inflation is expected to pick up in February thanks to increased demand around the New Year holiday, and could be a worry for policy makers later in the year. Continued inflationary pressure could lead the central bank to raise interest rates later in the year, as the central bank in its latest statement emphasized that it will focus on inflation stability and less on stimulating growth. The People's Bank of China hasn't raised rates since July 2011.
7 Peripheral bonds have come under pressure on the back of political headwinds on Monday, with the Spanish illegal payment allegations and the Italian elections a particular concern. Also, the Banca Monte dei Paschi scandal continued to rattle markets. This caused the two countries’ implied borrowing costs to lurch higher. The news from Spain and Italy had captured the attention of investors and was fuelling concerns that the market rally, following Draghi’s “whatever it takes” comment, would not last. Then on Thursday, a sharp fall in the single currency – after some in the market decided to interpret comments from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi as euro bearish – triggered a “risk-off” reaction that swept across asset classes. Friday brought a much calmer environment, as reports of an EU budget deal emerged, and after better news on Ireland’s debt profile. The deal will cap government contributions to the EU budget at €959.99 billion, a €35 billion decrease after adjusting for inflation from the last seven-year budget and down from €1.03 trillion the European Commission, the EU's executive, had originally proposed. Turmoil returned to euro area markets
8 Draghi’s verbal intervention stops rise in euro and interest rates The main event in the euro area this week was the European Central Bank meeting. As expected, the ECB left all rates unchanged and during the press conference Mario Draghi continued to succeed with verbal interventions. Draghi’s tone was fairly dovish and as a result interest rates and the euro exchange rate (EUR/USD) declined during his press conference. These movements followed as Draghi explained that the rise in the short rates reflects a rise in confidence. At the same time he indicated that if short rates go up too much, the ECB will likely respond. Draghi mentioned in the ECB statement the euro exchange rate as a downside risk to inflation, suggesting the ECB could take action to stimulate the economy if the currency's strength further undermines growth prospects and weaker-than-expected exports. The comments led to a plunge in the euro's value, reversing some of its strong gains in recent months. Economists worry that the euro's recent rise will further fragment economic conditions in the 17-member currency bloc. French and Southern European exports face stiff competition from low-cost producers outside the euro zone. In contrast, German exporters tend to focus on specialty machine parts and equipment that are less price sensitive. French President François Hollande on Tuesday said the euro zone should have a "foreign-exchange policy" to keep its currency from fluctuating "depending on the mood of markets." Finally, it became clear that Draghi does not regard the recent currency moves as the effect of deliberate action but as a reflection of policies to revamp economies. Although Thursday's rate decision was unanimous, there were "hints and discussions" about how the ECB could improve financial conditions, Mr. Draghi said, suggesting the door is open to further stimulus measures if needed.
9 Eurozone likely to depend on exports even more, as a strengthening euro could hurt foreign trade This week’s release of the final euro area PMIs confirmed that the euro area is off the bottom and heading towards further moderate improvement. The euro area PMI composite as well as PMI service increased to 48.6 from 47.2 and 47.8, respectively in December. The jump in the aggregate level was driven by an increase in German and Spanish service PMI. On the other hand, there was a decline in the Italian and French service PMI. Even though we are still at recessionary levels, we continue to expect a moderate improvement and that the euro area will escape the recession in the coming months. As further evidence of the divergence between Germany and the rest of the euro, German exports in 2012 expanded 3.4% to a record €1.097 trillion, leaving the country's 2012 trade surplus at €188.1 billion, the second-highest on record, Germany's federal statistics office said Friday. However, Italian industrial production hit a 22-year low last year, as output dropped 6.7% from 2011, Italy's statistics institute Istat said Friday, as the economy remains mired in recession. Meanwhile, retail sales in the 17 countries using the euro fell sharply in December, underscoring domestic weakness in the economy that is likely to hinder a full recovery, despite emergent signs the bloc has passed the deepest point in its downturn. With consumer spending failing to pick up, the crisis-hit region is likely to have to depend on exports if it is to return to economic growth. The European Union's statistics agency said Tuesday that retail sales fell 0.8% in December from November and 3.4% compared with December 2011. For 2012 as a whole, retail sales fell 1.7%, the largest decline since a 2.4% fall in 2009..
10 Euro area auction highlights,,, Despite renewed political concerns in the euro zone about Spain and Italy, Spain sold €4.611 billion ($6.25 billion) in three government bonds due March 2015, January 2018 and January 2029, slightly above the upper end of its €3.5 billion to €4.5 billion target range. However, Spanish funding costs rose, likely reflecting caution following cash scandal allegations against senior politicians within the Spanish government that have been vehemently denied. France's Treasury sold a total of €7.98 billion of three existing government bonds, witnessing very strong demand.
11 Bank of England keeps policy unchanged The Bank of England refrained from adding to stimulus as policy makers kept focus on a credit-boosting program to aid the recovery. The Monetary Policy Committee voted Thursday to maintain the official Bank Rate at 0.5%. The Committee also voted to maintain the stock of asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves at £375 billion. According to its statement, the BoE said that over the past year, there has been considerable volatility in quarterly output growth. The combined output of the manufacturing and services sectors has grown modestly. Business surveys suggest the pace of expansion is likely to remain muted in the near term. The MPC continues to judge that the UK economy is set for a slow but sustained recovery in both demand and effective supply, aided by a further easing in credit conditions – supported by the Bank’s programme of asset purchases and the Funding for Lending Scheme – and some improvement in the global environment. But the risks are weighted to the downside, not least because of the challenges facing the euro area. Meanwhile, Mark Carney, the Bank of England's next governor, told a parliamentary committee Thursday that the U.K. should debate its methods of setting monetary policy, though he sounded skeptical notes about any radical change to the inflation-watching regime that has long been the tool of choice in major economies. Mr. Carney, now the governor of the Bank of Canada, said repeatedly that he thought charging the central bank with holding inflation steady and moderate was the best policy, but he peppered his comments with reflections on how the bank could be more flexible. Speaking to committee member he repeatedly invoked the U.S. Federal Reserve and his experiences at the Bank of Canada, which he has led since 2008. The Bank of England has also bought assets in a massive quantitative-easing program, but its current governor, Mervyn King, has long resisted committing rate setters to future policy. Currently, the Bank of England's sole mandate is to target inflation.
12 Mixed signals on UK economy The economy shrank 0.3% between October and the end of the year; another contraction in the first few months of 2013 would mark the U.K.'s third recession in five years. A recession is typically defined in the U.K. as two consecutive quarters of falling output. The latest business surveys suggest that outcome may be narrowly avoided. A gauge of activity in the dominant services sector rose in January to its highest level in four months. The purchasing managers' index for the sector, published by financial information firm Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, increased to 51.5 from 48.9 in December. January's reading was the highest since September last year, when the index stood at 52.2. A reading above 50 indicates activity is expanding. A separate poll of retailers published by the British Retail Consortium recorded a bounce-back in sales last month after a disappointing December. Another survey of purchasing managers showed factory activity increased in January, albeit at a slower pace than the month before. Construction activity remains subdued. Also data showed this week that the UK manufacturing output rose 1.6% in December from the previous month. Total industrial production increased 1.1%. However, The National Institute of Economic and Social Research cut its 2013 growth forecast to 0.7% from 1.1% this week and said the economy will narrowly escape recession but is at risk of a prolonged stagnation. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Wednesday said that the UK faces a “slow and uneven” recovery, and warmed the government that the consequences of losing market confidence in its economic plans would be sudden and severe, with Britain's high level of indebtedness making any rise in interest rates particularly damaging.
13 Stocks end a volatile week on a positive note after strong trade data
15 Fixed Income Credit Spreads’ Developments Global high yield bonds’ spreads, as calculated by Moody's, widened substantially from 475 bps to 497 bps in the last week. Global Investment grade bonds slightly narrowed from 113 bps to 111 bps in the last week. The difference between financial & industrial bonds’ yields spreads reached a significantly low level last week; mainly due to serious measures adopted by Euro governments to protect the regions' banks.
16 Fixed Income Credit Spreads’ Developments The high yield spreads widened last couple of weeks; amid relatively weak economic figures in the US, and soaring sovereign yields of peripheral European bonds. The widening spreads prove that recent rally in capital markets is due to lower risk free rates, not better economic conditions.
19 Central Bank Meetings Calendar Expected Rate Decision Current Rate MonthCentral Bank 0.25% March 20US Federal Reserve (FOMC) 0.75% March 7European Central Bank (ECB) 0.50% March 7Bank of England (BoE) 0.10% February 13Bank of Japan (BOJ) 0.00% March 14Swiss National Bank (SNB) 1.00% March 6Bank of Canada (BOC) 3.00% March 5Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) 2.50% March 13Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) Calendar for upcoming meetings of main central banks :
21 Egypt foreign reserves critically low Egypt is on the verge of a liquidity crisis, with street violence and political instability keeping away tourists and foreign investors two years after the country's revolution. Political strife has triggered a flight into dollars and other foreign currencies, putting renewed pressure on Egypt’s stock of foreign currency. Egypt's foreign currency reserves dipped to the critically low level of $13.6 billion at the end of January, falling by 10%, the central bank said Tuesday, a day after it took more steps to prop up its battered currency. The number fell short of the critical $15 billion in foreign currency that the International Monetary Fund recommends countries maintain to cover imports for three months, adding to Egypt's economic desperation. Reserves stood at around $36bn before the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. The available policy options for the central bank and the government would be limiting imports and allowing the Egyptian pound to depreciate further. Hisham Ramez, the new governor of the central bank, was reported on Tuesday to have instructed local banks to prioritize access to foreign currency for imports of basic foods, industrial inputs, fuels and medicines. In order to shore up its faltering reserves, the central bank has taken increasingly aggressive measures by allowing a gradual depreciation of the pound. It introduced a system of auctions in which it sold dollars to local banks, and has allowed the pound to slide by 9% against the dollar since the end of December. Source: Bloomberg
22 Political rift adds to uncertainty and impedes economic reform Mr Ramez further tightened the pound’s trading band in the interbank foreign exchange market and reduced the frequency of foreign currency auctions on Monday, apparent moves to slow the currency’s decline. The bank also removed a 1% commission on foreign currency purchases, and reduced the cap on Egyptian depreciation during its foreign currency auctions to 1 piaster (1/100th of a pound) from 0.5%. Banks may now only buy or sell dollars or their equivalent to other banks in a band of 0.01 pounds above or below the weighted average bid at the central bank’s regular currency auctions. In another move, the central bank also signaled it would reduce the number of foreign currency auctions held on a weekly basis to two from three. On Wednesday the pound traded at 6.7 to the dollar on the interbank market according to the central bank website. Egyptian policy makers worry that a rapid, disorderly devaluation could widen the country's budget deficit, which rose to 91.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($13.65 billion), or 5.1% of economic output during the last six months of 2012. The government is now negotiating with the IMF for a much-delayed $4.8 billion loan that could restore confidence in the cratering Egyptian economy. Those talks were put on hold in December amid political turmoil surrounding a new constitution. Egypt is also in talks with the European Union over a $900m loan, along with smaller loans from the US and the African Development Bank
23 GCC economic news highlights Fitch upbeat on GCC infrastructure growth: Fitch Ratings says the MENA construction sector will continue to be supported by government spending with another year of solid economic performance ahead for the region's oil exporters rated by Fitch (Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al-Khaimah). Qatar's international reserves rebound to USD40bn in a year: Favorable energy prices and prudent fiscal management had led to a "rebound" in Qatar's international reserves to $40bn in November 2012 compared with a low of $14bn in November 2011, a QNB report shows. Qatar's "healthy savings" are also reflected in the country generating a surplus in current account balance to $16.6bn in the third quarter of 2012, QNB Financial Services said in the report. This indicates a year-on-year (y-o-y) growth of 9.3%, a good sign of the country's economic activity. A surplus in current account balance is indicative of an economy that is a net creditor to the rest of the world. Qatar posts $26 bn budget surplus in July-Sept: Qatar’s government budget leaped into a large surplus of 94.6 bn riyals ($26.0 bn) in the July-September period, the second quarter of its 2012/13 fiscal year, preliminary central bank data showed on Thursday. The fiscal surplus of the world’s No. 1 exporter of liquefied natural gas was equivalent to 53.9% of gross domestic product in the period, according to the central bank. It was more than double the 42.2 bn riyal surplus recorded in the same quarter of the previous year, and compared with an 18.5 bn riyal deficit in April-June. That put the cumulative surplus at 76.1 bn riyals in April-September.
24 GCC economic news highlights Saudi real non-oil GDP seen declining: Saudi Arabia's real GDP is expected to grow at 3.6% and 3.4% respectively in the near-term on the back of high oil prices as well as a surge in government infrastructure spending and public sector wage growth, the National Bank of Kuwait ( NBK ) said in its latest monthly review, adding that they will continue to generate solid growth going forward. Longer-term growth prospects depend upon enhancing the role of the private sector through structural reforms, it noted. Nevertheless, NBK said it was expecting a 1% drop in real non-oil GDP this year and 2% the following year. Youth unemployment in the Arab region is the highest in the world, the US International Labor Organization (ILO) report named "Rethinking Economic Growth: Towards Productive and Inclusive Arab Societies" released Tuesday said. "As a region, youth unemployment is the highest globally at 23.2%, compared to a world average of 13.9%, and varies significantly within sub-regions," it said. Countries in the region were able to tackle debt and inflation during the 1990's and 2000's, they also managed to spur economic growth and create jobs. However, growth lagged behind global standards and the newly created jobs were focused in the arena of low productivity sectors. Governments paid scant attention to the social consequences of their economic policies. Meanwhile, according to the report, the private sector has remained among the least competitive globally due to low rates of investment as well as a poor regulatory environment. There is also the noted issue of widespread nepotism and corruption. According to the report, economic growth in the next decade is dependent on good governance - which must improve to attract higher rates of investment and enable structural and institutional reforms.
25 Comparative MENA Markets For the period 03/02 – 08/02
27 Local interest rates forecasts and major developments The excess liquidity in the banking system has decreased by more than JD 200 Million since the beginning of 2013. The drop in liquidity is mainly attributed to the issuance of JD 400 million government bonds against redemptions of JD 200 million for the same period (net increase in domestic debt by JD 200).
28 ` FX reserves reach $7.7bn end of January FX reserves increased by 17% in January compared to the end of the year, to reach $7.7 billion, covering4.5 months of imports, an increase of $1 billion from the end of 2012 level of $6.7 billion. The main reason behind the increase was the $1 billion UAE deposit disclosed the previous week. If the UAE deposit was excluded, foreign reserves would have remained stagnant through the first month of the year; which reflects lower external position pressures on the economy. Easing external position pressures will help in improving local currency liquidity in the banking sector. Jordan's economy is forecast to expand 3.5% this year from an estimated 3.0% in 2012, while inflation is projected to fall to 3.9% from 4.5% last year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Though those numbers seem unlikely if the price hikes due to lifting subsidies are taken into account, as inflation in December reached 7.2%. According to reports, Jordan's Egyptian gas supplies have averaged around 130 million cubic feet per day the previous month. However, the actual supplies remain volatile, as reports indicate that some days supplies edge up to 150 mcf and others it drops to around 80 mcf. Nevertheless, last week officials from the Ministry of Energy released statements indicating that average gas supplies did not exceed 100 mcf in the past three months, which again remains far below the 240mcf rate outlined in the gas agreement between Amman and Cairo. The drop in Egyptian gas supplies in 2012 has forced Jordan onto costlier heavy oil imports, which has ballooned the national energy bill to some JD4.4 billion and pushed the cost of electricity subsidies to over JD1 billion. NEPCO losses are estimated to reach JD715 million this year, the figure assumed an average daily Egyptian gas supply of around 140 mcf, however, if levels continued at today’s rates then losses could reach to $1 billion again this year. If this was to happen, then the external position will be under pressure again and likely result in a drop in FX reserves levels. Finance Minister Suleiman Hafez said that Jordan has received an additional grant from Saudi Arabia totaling $200 million, ordered by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. The grant will be used to support the kingdom's budget, the minister said in a statement on Friday. Hafez praised the Saudi support of Jordan, stressing the strong " brotherly'' relations between the two countries at various levels. The grant comes in addition to assistance approved at a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit in December 2011 whereby Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar agreed to extend USD 5 billion over 5 year period to support development projects in Jordan with each state contributing USD 1.25 billion. Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Thursday signed four agreements to finance development projects at a total of $299.4 million (around JD212.36 million). Of the $299.4 million, $42.4 million will be used to finance economic development zones' infrastructure, while $62 million will fund technical community colleges and university infrastructure development projects, Planning Minister Jafar Hassan told journalists following the signing ceremony. A total of $75 million will be used to finance the establishment of Al Shiddiyeh Railway, which is part of the national railway project. The remaining $120 million will be used for the reconstruction of the road linking the central city of Zarqa with the Jordanian-Saudi border at the Omari crossing point. "The Zarqa-Omari project will improve the road and reduce accidents," the minister said. "The agreements are a continuation of previously signed financing deals between the two sides, totalling $487 million, under the first stage of Saudi Arabia's grant to the Kingdom," he added. These funds are earmarked to serve projects in several sectors, including health, education, water and transport, the minister said. The overall first part of the grant amounts to $786.4 million out of Saudi Arabia's $1.25 billion contribution to a $5 billion Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) grant pledged to the Kingdom in 2011 to be paid over five years.
29 Amman Stock Exchange For the period 03/02 – 07/02 ASE free float shares’ price index ended the week at (2028.8) points, compared to (2045.7) points for the last week, posting a decrease of 0.83%. The total trading volume during the week reached JD(44.0) million compared to JD(60.2) million during the last week. Trading a total of (61.8) million shares through (21,232) transactions The shares of (173) companies were traded, the shares prices of (59) companies rose, and the shares prices of (68) declined. Top 5 losers for the last week Stock % chg United Arab Investors (33.33%) The Investors And Eastern Arab For Industrial And Real Estate Investments (20.00%) Al-isra For Education And Investment "plc" (13.44%) Arab Union International Insurance (12.68%) Int'l Arabian Development And Investment Trading Co. (11.36%) Top 5 gainers for the last week Stock % chg First National Vegetable Oil Industries Co. 25.00% Arab Company For Investment Projects 16.67% Intermediate Petrochemicals Industries Co. Ltd. 16.33% Emmar Investments & Realestate Development 12.09% National Aluminium Industrial 10.81%
30 Local Debt Monitor Latest T-Bills As February 10, the volume of excess reserves, including the overnight window deposits held at the CBJ JD(1,731) 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 6.755%7027/01/201427/01/201201/2013 6.750%6024/12/201324/12/201222/2012 6.905%5004/12/201304/12/201221/2012 6.180%7022/11/201322/11/201220/2012
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