Oil Gains on China Economic Data, Strong Demand Forecast

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks at a Tullow Oil explorational drilling site in Lokichar, Turkana County, Kenya, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A worker walks at a Tullow Oil explorational drilling site in Lokichar, Turkana County, Kenya, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
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Oil Gains on China Economic Data, Strong Demand Forecast

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks at a Tullow Oil explorational drilling site in Lokichar, Turkana County, Kenya, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A worker walks at a Tullow Oil explorational drilling site in Lokichar, Turkana County, Kenya, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

Oil prices rose on Wednesday as China's factory output and retail sales beat expectations, a day after the International Energy Agency (IEA) raised its oil demand growth forecast for this year.

Brent futures rose 18 cents, or 0.2%, to $82.65 a barrel by 0647 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude advanced 15 cents, also 0.2%, to $78.41, Reuters reported.

China's October economic activity perked up as industrial output grew at a faster pace and retail sales growth beat expectations, an encouraging sign for the world's second-largest economy.

The IEA joined the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) in raising oil demand growth forecast for this year, despite projections of slower economic growth in many major countries.

"It (IEA) sees oil demand remaining healthy. It raised its forecast due to better-than-expected consumption in China," ANZ Research said in a note on Wednesday.

A softer US inflation reading that bolstered expectations for an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve next spring sent the US dollar down to a two-and-a-half-month low against a basket of other currencies. A weaker dollar can boost oil demand by making crude cheaper for buyers using other currencies.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release its first oil inventory report in two weeks on Wednesday. EIA did not release a storage report last week due to a systems upgrade.
For the week ended Nov. 10, analysts forecast energy firms added about 1.8 million barrels of crude into US stockpiles, according to a Reuters poll, in line with from the American Petroleum Institute out Tuesday.



Global Financial Company Northern Trust Moves its Regional Headquarters to Riyadh

The regional headquarters program has so far attracted 200 foreign companies. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The regional headquarters program has so far attracted 200 foreign companies. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Global Financial Company Northern Trust Moves its Regional Headquarters to Riyadh

The regional headquarters program has so far attracted 200 foreign companies. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The regional headquarters program has so far attracted 200 foreign companies. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Northern Trust Corp. has become one of the first major global financial institutions to establish its regional headquarters in Riyadh, which strengthens the Saudi government’s efforts to have international companies manage their operations in the Middle East from the Kingdom.
The American financial services company, which manages assets worth $1.3 trillion, obtained a license from the Saudi Ministry of Investment to establish its Middle Eastern base in Riyadh.
Speaking to Bloomberg, a company spokesman said that Northern Trust continues to achieve “significant growth” throughout the region through its offices in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, explaining that the establishment of the regional headquarters for the Middle East and North Africa region in Saudi Arabia reflects the continued investment in infrastructure, capabilities and expertise in the region.
The Kingdom announced on Tuesday that it would provide a new tax incentive package for a period of 30 years to foreign companies whose regional headquarters are located in the Kingdom, including exemption from income tax.
The Saudi News Agency (SPA) said that the Ministry of Investment - in coordination with the Ministry of Finance and the country’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority - announced “the provision of a new tax incentive package, for a period of 30 years, to support the program to attract the regional headquarters of international companies.”
This step comes to “encourage and facilitate the procedures for international companies to open their regional headquarters in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the agency added.
The Regional Headquarters Program was launched in 2021, which is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Investment and the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, which calls on international companies to move their regional headquarters to Saudi Arabia, to transform the country into a leading regional hub for multinational companies.

 

 

 

 


COP28 Sees Calls for Balance, Realism in Dealing with Energy File

Expo Dubai hosts the COP28 summit (Reuters)
Expo Dubai hosts the COP28 summit (Reuters)
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COP28 Sees Calls for Balance, Realism in Dealing with Energy File

Expo Dubai hosts the COP28 summit (Reuters)
Expo Dubai hosts the COP28 summit (Reuters)

As the negotiations in COP28 entered the heated stages, discrepancy between countries regarding the position on traditional fuels increased.
While Western states are pressing to adopt a position towards getting rid of fuel, another front appears to be resisting this course, and pushing towards a solution based on treating traditional fuels and the resulting emissions, in order to achieve balanced economic growth.
The latest trend is led by OPEC member states, and is approved by countries with developing or small economies. These countries indicate that their position does not stem from opposition to environmental and climate protection agendas, but rather from the fact that getting rid of traditional fuels will result in a major economic blow that the world will be unable to bear.
A number of officials told Asharq Al-Awsat that this position has nothing to do with the interests of oil producers alone, but rather with the wellbeing of other countries as well.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official from a sub-Saharan African country said: “We do not have sufficient development, and we barely produce electricity using gas and diesel... Now they are asking us to dispense with traditional fuel... Shall we live in the darkness? This is not a fair agreement.”
In the corridors of the conference, news was circulated about an internal memorandum from the OPEC secretariat dated Dec. 6, in which OPEC Secretary-General Haitham Al-Ghais called on the members of the organization to reject any agreement targeting fuel and not emissions.
“It seems that the undue and disproportionate pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences, as the draft decision still contains options on fossil fuels phase out," the letter said, as reported by Reuters.
The letter urged delegations at COP28 to “proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions.”
Although OPEC refused to comment on the matter, Al-Ghais stressed during a session on Wednesday evening the need to pay attention to the idea of tackling emissions, especially since it achieves good results “on the ground” and can lead to the same final results.
On Saturday, an OPEC official said on behalf of the organization’s Secretary-General that the COP28 summit must find “realistic methods” to reduce emissions that need to involve all “energies” and technologies.

 


Egypt's Headline Inflation Dips to 34.6% in November

A woman balances her bowl as she walks in the Old Cairo district of Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
A woman balances her bowl as she walks in the Old Cairo district of Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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Egypt's Headline Inflation Dips to 34.6% in November

A woman balances her bowl as she walks in the Old Cairo district of Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
A woman balances her bowl as she walks in the Old Cairo district of Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation dropped to 34.6% in November from 35.8% in October, pulled down by a slowdown in the rate of food price increases, data from the statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Sunday.
Annual inflation was slightly lower than predicted by analysts. The median forecast of 18 analysts polled had expected a reading of 34.8%, reported Reuters.
Month-on-month, prices rose by 1.3% in November, up from 1.0% in October. Food prices rose by 0.2% but surged 64.5 year on year.
Annual inflation had been working its way upwards for two years, hitting a record high of 38.0% in September. The November figure was the lowest since May.


Fitch Affirms Tunisia at CCC-, Expects Growth to Fall to 0.9%

A square in the Tunisian capital (Reuters)
A square in the Tunisian capital (Reuters)
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Fitch Affirms Tunisia at CCC-, Expects Growth to Fall to 0.9%

A square in the Tunisian capital (Reuters)
A square in the Tunisian capital (Reuters)

Fitch Ratings on Saturday affirmed Tunisia's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at "CCC-," also expecting growth to fall to 0.9% of GDP in 2023 from 2.4% in 2022.
The agency said Tunisia's 'CCC-' rating reflects the heightened uncertainty around the government's ability to meet its large budget financing needs - revised up in the absence of progress on key subsidy reforms - and increasing debt maturities.
It added that the affirmation balances Fitch’s revised assumption that an IMF program is unlikely to be reached in 2024 with the better than expected resilience of international reserves despite the limited availability of external funding.
Also, Fitch expects GDP growth to fall to 0.9% of GDP in 2023 from 2.4% in 2022, as a result of the sharp contraction of the rain-fed wheat production, impacted by rain shortfalls.
“We project a mild recovery to 1.5% average in 2024-2025, supported by a favorable base effect,” it said.
The agency expects growth will remain constrained by the high sovereign risk impacting the business environment and investor sentiment, high inflation (expected to average 9.3% in 2023), and the increasing crowding-out impact on the private sector from the government's high financing needs.
Fitch also assumed that fiscal financing needs to be consistently at or over 16% of GDP (over $8 billion) per year in 2023-2025 compared with 14% (about $6 billion) in 2022, and well above the 2015-2019 average of 9%.
This, it said, results from persistent wide budget deficits, and increasing domestic and external debt maturities, at about 10% of GDP per year in 2024-2025.
The agency also noted that domestic maturities are pushed up by the government's increasing reliance on shorter-term domestic financing to compensate for scarce external financing. External maturities are higher, partly because of upcoming Eurobond repayments (850 million euro in February 2024, and $1 billion in January 2025).
Therefore, Fitch said it expects external financing to reach about $2 billion by year-end.
“We do not expect Tunisia to access an IMF program in 2024, constraining external financing prospects."
In its baseline assumptions, Fitch also said the Tunisian government would need to raise the equivalent of 12% of GDP in domestic financing in 2023-2024 to cover the financing gap.
“We see this as a stretch to the domestic market capacity to absorb the public sector financing needs. Exposure to the public sector already represents more than 20% of the banking system's total assets, reaching up to 40% for some public banks,” it said.
The agency then noted that the sector has limited liquidity and banks' ability to fund the government increasingly relies on central bank purchases of government debt on the secondary market.


China-Saudi Investment Conference to Kick off in Beijing Next Tuesday

Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase investments and trade exchange worldwide. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase investments and trade exchange worldwide. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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China-Saudi Investment Conference to Kick off in Beijing Next Tuesday

Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase investments and trade exchange worldwide. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase investments and trade exchange worldwide. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

China will be hosting the China-Saudi Investment Conference in Beijing next Tuesday, SPA said on Saturday.
The Ministry of Investment is organizing the event in coordination with the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME).
The event will take place on the sidelines of a visit by Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih to China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from 7 - 12 December 2023.
This conference aims to enhance the existing strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and China in investment, trade, and the economy. It is aligned with the Kingdom's Vision 2030, which seeks to strengthen strategic partnerships and advance trade and investment activities in various fields.
The conference also supports the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to connect Asia with Africa and Europe.
More than 700 attendees, including high-level government representatives, senior officials, CEOs, investors, and entrepreneurs, are anticipated at the conference. Their focus will center on reviewing and discussing investment opportunities and initiatives aimed at fostering increased cooperation between the two countries.
The conference agenda includes dialogue sessions covering various topics, such as clean energy, finance, investment, mining, metals, tourism, entertainment, food security, agriculture, logistics services, shipping, supply chains, digital economy, artificial intelligence, modern manufacturing industries, and advanced technology through workshops.
In addition to the conference, the minister will embark on visits to several Chinese cities to meet with business leaders in those regions. Technical teams from the Ministry will conduct workshops and field visits in these cities to explore cooperation opportunities aimed at enhancing economic and investment relations. Participation is expected from representatives in both the government and private sectors.
During the recent Asia Future Investment Initiative (FII) Priority Summit held in Hong Kong, the Minister of Investment took part in a symposium. Here, he emphasized the pivotal role of the Middle East region in fostering prosperity among Southern countries. He stressed the significance of energy and digital transformation as tools for achieving development leading the region towards globalization.
The diplomatic ties between the Kingdom and China span over 30 years, with China currently being Saudi Arabia's largest trading partner. The trade and investment between the two nations have shown significant growth in recent years.


COP28 Nears Crucial Hours as Divergence Takes Center Stage

Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, alongside the Singaporean Minister of Environment and the Norwegian Minister of Environment in a press conference on Friday (AP)
Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, alongside the Singaporean Minister of Environment and the Norwegian Minister of Environment in a press conference on Friday (AP)
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COP28 Nears Crucial Hours as Divergence Takes Center Stage

Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, alongside the Singaporean Minister of Environment and the Norwegian Minister of Environment in a press conference on Friday (AP)
Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, alongside the Singaporean Minister of Environment and the Norwegian Minister of Environment in a press conference on Friday (AP)

COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber has urged countries to get out of their comfort zones and work together to reach an agreement before the two-week United Nations climate summit ends.

The scene at COP28 remains dominated by divergence, with the UN Climate Agency releasing a new draft of the conference agreement on Friday.

This draft included a range of options for the future use of traditional fuels, a highly contentious issue at the conference.

In the coming days, countries are expected to focus on this issue in the hope of reaching consensus before the summit concludes on December 12.

Options mentioned in the draft ranged from “gradual phasing out of fossil fuels in line with the best available science” to no inclusion of any language regarding the future use of fossil fuels.

The document also specified the option of “rapid and unconditional phasing out of coal energy this decade, with an immediate halt to the construction of new coal-fired power plants.”

“Let’s please get this job done,” said Al Jaber, opening a plenary session as the summit entered its toughest phase of negotiations.

“I need you to step up and I need you to come out of your comfort zones,” he added.

The President of COP28 appointed eight ministers, half from developed countries and the other half from the Global South, to work on four topics to break the deadlock in negotiations.

Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei of the UAE, on Thursday, on the sidelines of the COP28 summit, emphasized the need for a gradual phase-out of coal.

“I don't believe we should talk about the gradual phase-out of fossil fuels because technologies are also improving. What if we have technology in the future that removes all carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and makes it as clean as any other fuel type? Why fight it before we have an alternative?” said Al Mazrouei.

Since the adoption of the Loss and Damage Fund agreement on November 30, Al Jaber announced that countries had raised over $726 million to inject into the fund, with more expected by the end of COP28.

Pledges at COP28 are still far from the hundreds of millions needed annually to help developing countries adapt to the warming world, including rising sea levels and increased heat waves.


Morocco Joins International Campaign to Phase out Coal

Morocco's flag with a woman's shadow seen on it. AFP file photo
Morocco's flag with a woman's shadow seen on it. AFP file photo
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Morocco Joins International Campaign to Phase out Coal

Morocco's flag with a woman's shadow seen on it. AFP file photo
Morocco's flag with a woman's shadow seen on it. AFP file photo

Morocco on Friday joined an international campaign to phase out coal, as it plans to secure more than half of its energy needs from renewables in the next seven years.

The Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) now counts 60 national governments united by the desire to make a clean break with coal-fired power generation, Reuters reported.

Earlier at the COP 28 climate summit, the United States, the UAE, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Kosovo, Malta and Norway joined the global initiative, PPCA said in a statement.

Morocco "will work together with the PPCA to develop a plan for phasing (coal) out," PPCA said without offering deadlines.

About 70% of Morocco's electricity is generated from coal, with renewable energy representing 20% so far this year, according to official figures.

Morocco plans to raise the share of renewable energy in its energy mix to more than 52% by 2030.

 

 

 

 

 

 


EU Considers Restarting WTO Case Against US Over Steel Tariffs

FILE PHOTO: Chess pieces are seen in front of displayed US and EU flags in this illustration. REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Chess pieces are seen in front of displayed US and EU flags in this illustration. REUTERS
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EU Considers Restarting WTO Case Against US Over Steel Tariffs

FILE PHOTO: Chess pieces are seen in front of displayed US and EU flags in this illustration. REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Chess pieces are seen in front of displayed US and EU flags in this illustration. REUTERS

The European Union is considering reopening a case at the World Trade Organization against the United States over a steel and aluminum dispute that saw the allies hit each other with tariffs on more than $10 billion of goods, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The EU will, however, refrain from immediately reimposing retaliatory tariffs on American goods over the disagreement, the report said.


FAO: World Food Prices Hold Steady in November

Women buy food from a roadside stall in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Women buy food from a roadside stall in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
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FAO: World Food Prices Hold Steady in November

Women buy food from a roadside stall in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Women buy food from a roadside stall in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The United Nations food agency's world price index held steady in November, with lower international cereal prices offset by higher prices of vegetable oils.
The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 120.4 points in November, around October's levels which were the lowest since March 2021.
The November reading marked a 10.7% decline versus last November.
The FAO cereal price index decreased by 3.0% month-on-month in November, lead by a sharp fall in maize prices, while those of wheat declined by 2.4%, Reuters reported.
Vegetable oil prices, however, rose 3.4% from October.
"Palm oil prices rebounded more than 6% in November, chiefly underpinned by more active purchases by leading importing countries and seasonally lower outputs in major producing countries," the FAO said in a statement.
The agency's dairy price index rose 2.2% from October, led by high demand for butter and skimmed milk powder in Northeast Asia, and increased pre-holiday demand in Western Europe.
Sugar prices rose 1.4% month-on-month in November but averaged 41.1% higher than last November thanks to worsening production prospects in Thailand and India.
In a separate report on cereal supply and demand, the FAO raised its forecast for world cereal production this year to a record 2.823 billion metric tons versus 2.819 billion previously - representing a 0.9% increase from 2022.
"Looking ahead to next season, planting of the 2024 winter wheat crop is ongoing in the northern hemisphere and, reflecting lower crop prices, area growth could be limited," said the FAO.
Nevertheless, the agency sees world cereal stocks up 2.7% by the end of the 2024 season, while the cereal stock-to-use ratio is forecast at 30.8% in 2023/24, "indicating an overall comfortable supply level".


Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong Sign MoU on Enhancing Direct Investments

Saudi Arabia and the Hong Kong have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that aims at encouraging direct investments. SPA
Saudi Arabia and the Hong Kong have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that aims at encouraging direct investments. SPA
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Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong Sign MoU on Enhancing Direct Investments

Saudi Arabia and the Hong Kong have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that aims at encouraging direct investments. SPA
Saudi Arabia and the Hong Kong have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that aims at encouraging direct investments. SPA

Saudi Arabia and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that aims at encouraging direct investments.

The memorandum was signed in the presence of Saudi Minister of Investment Eng. Khalid Al-Falih.

The MoU aims to enhance joint direct investments by exchanging rules and regulations related to the investment environment and cooperation in organizing exhibitions and business sessions and exchanging visits and expertise.

The memo was signed during a Saudi delegation’s visit to Hong Kong and elsewhere in China, headed by the minister of investment.