• Monday, 29 January 2018
  • Published inJanuary 2018

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Country Risk Update 
Risk Indicator – DB4b
Risk Level – Moderate
Ratings Trend – Stable
Kuwait’s business opportunities should increase as the government targets a more diverse economy with its national development plan. A pending resolution of the Divided Zone dispute with Saudi Arabia will boost its oil production capacity. 

Market Overview

SABIC’s Profits Fall 18.6% in Q4 2017
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) has reported net profits of $980 million for its fourth quarter 2017, a 18.6% drop compared to last year’s results for the same period ending December 31. In a statement made to the Saudi Stock Exchange, the Riyadh-based petrochemicals company said the slide was due to lower production and fewer products sold, caused by the planned turnarounds at certain plants (a “turnaround” meaning a plant is taken offline to be revamped).In addition to reduced output and less sales, SABIC also recorded impairments against assets of the Saudi Iron and Steel Company (Hadeed), a wholly-owned subsidiary, amounting to $93 million.

GCC Construction Sector Faces Challenges Despite Improved Market Sentiment
Business sentiments across GCC’s construction sector have improved over the year despite challenging economic conditions, a new study has found.According to the Pinsent Masons GCC Construction Survey, construction sentiment has improved by approximately 7% (from 32% to 39%) over the last year. Almost 38% of respondents to the survey are expecting the country to provide the most opportunity over the next 12 months. This is compared to the 35% who answered the same in 2016. The improvement comes as the sector faces payment delays and cash flow problems, mainly due to the low oil prices.

Egypt’s New Bankruptcy Law A Boost For Banks
In January 2017, the Egyptian parliament approved the country’s first-ever bankruptcy law — another important step in ongoing efforts to revive its economy. In addition to encouraging local and foreign investment in Egypt, the new bankruptcy law should be a welcome development for banks.For lenders in Egypt, the new law provides more options to deal with troubled companies, making loan workouts more flexible and faster, according to a report published by Moody’s. The law will also speed up the liquidation of non-viable companies, which will increase recovery amounts.Previously, Egypt didn’t have a specific law governing bankruptcy. Instead, the courts handled bankruptcy on a case-by-case basis with debtors facing jail terms.

Oil Price Passes $71 For First Time Since 2014
The oil price shot past $71 per barrel on Thursday, January 25 for the first time since late 2014, helped along by OPEC’s supply cuts and ten consecutive weeks of declining U.S. crude oil inventories.Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, opened at $70.95 a barrel on Thursday before rising as high as $71.21, its highest price since December 2014. A barrel of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hit $66.52 per barrel on Thursday after opening at $65.88, another three
year high.Meanwhile, as of Wednesday, the price of OPEC’s basket of fourteen crudes stood at $67.61 a barrel.The steady rise in oil price recently is providing further fiscal relief to the Arabian Gulf countries and Russia, which rely heavily on oil to balance their budgets. 

Luxury Goods Titan Arnault Now Richer Than Zuckerberg After Record LVMH Results
LVMH, the world’s leading luxury products group, announced record sales on Thursday of 42.6 billion Euros ($52.9 billion) in 2017, up 13% over the previous year, as all divisions turned in strong performances. Its net profit popped 29%.The news sent LVMH’s stock up 5% on Friday. The biggest beneficiary of the announcement is LVMH’s longtime chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault, who owns more than 5% of LVMH’s stock. His fortune jumped $3.5 billion in just hours and was at $77.9 billion by noon on Friday. He is now the fifth richest person on the planet, up from number 11 last March when FORBES published their annual rankings of the World’s Billionaires. 

Commodity Tracker

Business Events this Week In UAE

Dubai Chamber Business Best Practice 3rd Seminar
Dubai Chamber of Commerce
29 January 2018
Business Updates

Dun & Bradstreet – D&B Credit
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