Talk in Davos of ‘high for longer’ as CEOs wrestle with rates

The World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland. WEF
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Updated 19 January 2024
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Talk in Davos of ‘high for longer’ as CEOs wrestle with rates

DAVOS: Business leaders and financiers in Davos this week said they are preparing for “high for longer” borrowing costs, despite markets betting on large-scale interest rate cuts this year, according to Reuters.

Jose Minaya, CEO of global investment manager Nuveen, which manages $1 trillion in assets said markets were “likely overestimating” the extent of rate cuts by central banks and investors need to prepare for a different environment.

“The next ten years are likely going to have lower returns than the previous ten years, you haven’t seen inflation in almost two decades,” he told the Reuters Global Markets Forum.

The US Federal Reserve is gauging whether inflation is sustainably back at its 2 percent target in order to lower interest rates, after 525 basis points of hikes since March 2022.

AlixPartners CEO Simon Freakley said executives globally are “hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” as company boards plan for a high-for-longer scenario, while hoping rates will come down at least toward the end of the year.

The discussion within boardrooms was around having to manage increased interest costs than previously thought and having to accommodate that within their plans and budgets, Freakley said.

“Rates will be slow to come down, and it’s partly because international central banks were slow in taking them up,” said Nicolai Tangen, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management.

“You don’t want to come back to some kind of 70s situation,” said Tangen, who leads the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund with $1.5 trillion in assets, referring to sustained hyperinflation in the 1970s.

US rate-futures contracts are now pricing in a year-end policy rate of around 3.88 percent from the Fed’s current 5.25 percent to 5.50 percent target range, and expecting rate cuts to begin in March.

“March is a very realistic starting point,” said Jan Hatzius, chief economist and head of global investment research at Goldman Sachs, who forecasts five US cuts for 2024.

Nevertheless, some doubt the US central bank will cut interest rates as rapidly as markets are forecasting.

“My personal view is that there’s a better than 50 percent chance that the Fed doesn’t cut rates this year,” Minaya said.

Barclays CEO C.S. Venkatakrishnan said in Davos he saw “maybe one” US interest rate cut by year-end.

“I don’t expect it to turn on a dime. I think if you look at the questions which we were asking ourselves a year ago or two years ago, they’re very different from the questions we ask ourselves now,” he told a Wall Street Journal event at Davos. 


Fossil fuel use, emissions hit records in 2023, report says

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Fossil fuel use, emissions hit records in 2023, report says

LONDON: Global fossil fuel consumption and energy emissions hit all-time highs in 2023, even as fossil fuels’ share of the global energy mix decreased slightly on the year, the industry’s Statistical Review of World Energy report said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Growing demand for fossil fuel despite the scaling up of renewables could be a sticking point for the transition to lower carbon energy as global temperature increases reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, the threshold beyond which scientists say impacts such as temperature rise, drought and flooding will become more extreme.

“We hope that this report will help governments, world leaders and analysts move forward, clear-eyed about the challenge that lies ahead,” Romain Debarre of consultancy Kearney said.

Last year was the first full year of rerouted Russian energy flows away from the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and also the first full year without major movement restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall global primary energy consumption hit an all-time high of 620 Exajoules, the report said, as emissions exceeded 40 gigatons of CO2 for the first time.

“In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged,” Simon Virley of consultancy KPMG said.

The report recorded shifting trends in fossil fuel use in different regions. In Europe, for example, the fossil fuel share of energy fell below 70 percent for the first time since the industrial revolution.

“In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil growth,” Energy Institute Chief Executive Nick Wayth said.

Industry body the Energy Institute, together with consultancies KPMG and Kearney, has published the annual report since 2023. They took over from BP last year, which had authored the report, a benchmark for energy professionals, since the 1950s.

Fossil fuel accounted for almost all demand growth in India in 2023, the report said, while in China fossil fuel use rose 6 percent to a new high.

But China also accounted for over half of global additions in renewable energy generation last year.

“China adding more renewables than the rest of the world put together is remarkable,” KPMG’s Virley told reporters.

Report Highlights

Consumption

  • Global primary energy demand rose by 2 percent in 2023 from 2022, to 620 EJ.
  • Fossil fuel use rose 1.5 percent to 505 EJ, which accounted for 81.5 percent of the overall energy mix, down by 0.5 percent from 2022.
  • Fossil fuel use did not increase in a single European country in 2023.
  • Electricity generation rose by 2.5 percent in 2023, up slightly from 2.3 percent of growth the previous year.
  • Renewable fuel generation – excluding hydro – gained 13 percent to a new record high of 4,748 terawatt-hours.
  • Renewables’ share of the overall energy mix excluding hydro was 8 percent, up from 7.5 percent in the 2022 report.
  • Including hydro renewables accounted for 15 percent of the global mix.

Oil

  • Oil consumption exceeded 100 million bpd in 2023 for the first time ever, following a 2 percent year-on-year rise.
  • Oil supply growth was met by non-OPEC+ producers, with US output gaining 9 percent on the year.
  • China overtook the US as the country with the largest refining capacity in the world last year at 18.5 million bpd, though refining volumes still lagged behind at 82 percent utilization vs the US’ 87 percent.
  • Global gasoline consumption hit 25 million bpd last year, just above its 2019 pre-pandemic level.
  • Biofuels production increased by 8 percent to 2.1 million bpd in 2023, driven by gains in the US and Brazil.
  • The US, Brazil, and Europe accounted for 80 percent of global biofuels consumption.

Natural Gas

  • Global gas production and consumption remained relatively flat on the year in 2023.
  • LNG supply rose by almost 2 percent to 549 billion cubic meters (bcm).
  • The US overtook Qatar as the leading global supplier of LNG after a 10 percent rise in production.
  • Overall European gas demand was down 7 percent on the year in 2023.
  • Russia’s share of European gas supply was just 15 percent in 2023, from 45 percent in 2021.

Coal

  • Coal consumption hit a new high of 164 EJ in 2023, up 1.6 percent on the year, driven by China and India.
  • India’s coal consumption exceeded that of Europe and North America combined.
  • US coal consumption fell by 17 percent in 2023 and has halved in the last decade.

Renewables

  • The record high in renewable generation was driven by higher wind and solar capacity, with 67 percent more additions in those two categories in 2023 than 2022.
  • As much as 74 percent of net growth in overall power generation came from renewables.
  • China accounted for 55 percent of all renewable generation additions in 2023, and was responsible for 63 percent of new global wind and solar capacity.

Emissions

  • Emissions grew by 2 percent on the year to exceed 40 gigatons.
  • Emissions rose despite the slight drop in fossil fuels’ share of the energy mix, because emissions within the fossil fuels category became more intense as oil and coal use rose and gas held steady.
  • The report notes that since 2000, emissions from energy have increased by 50 percent.

Oil Updates – Brent stable as market eyes Middle East war jitters, US inventory data

Updated 32 min 29 sec ago
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Oil Updates – Brent stable as market eyes Middle East war jitters, US inventory data

SINGAPORE: Brent oil futures were little changed in Asia on Thursday, hovering slightly below seven-week highs, as the market weighed geopolitical developments in the Middle East while waiting for US inventory data.

August Brent rose 9 cents to $85.16 per barrel by 9:30 a.m. Saudi time.

Meanwhile, US West Texas Intermediate futures for July, which expire on Thursday, dipped 15 cents at $81.42 per barrel.

There was no WTI settlement on Wednesday due to a US holiday, which kept trading largely subdued. The more active August contract fell 15 cents to $80.56 per barrel.

Brent crude futures edged up in early trade on Thursday as the market digested news of Israeli tanks advancing into Gaza.

Israeli troops, backed by tanks, warplanes and drones, moved farther into the city of Rafah, killing eight people, residents and Palestinian medics said.

“Markets anticipate an escalation in the Gaza crisis to dent the oil supplies from the key producing region,” said Priyanka Sachdeva, senior market analyst at Phillip Nova.

However, the concerns over an inventory build appear to be overshadowing fears of escalating geopolitical stress for now, Sachdeva said.

WTI crude slipped ahead of the US government’s oil inventories report, which was delayed by a day due to the national holiday.

The Energy Information Administration is due to release last week’s oil stocks data at 6:00 p.m. Saudi time on Thursday.

An industry report released on Tuesday showed US crude stocks rose by 2.264 million barrels in the week ended June 14, market sources said, citing American Petroleum Institute figures, while gasoline inventories fell.

“EIA’s weekly oil inventory report will be scoured for any signs of weak demand,” said ANZ Research analysts on Thursday. 


Saudi Arabia set to welcome 300 millionaires in 2024: Henley & Partners

Updated 19 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia set to welcome 300 millionaires in 2024: Henley & Partners

RIYADH: As many as 300 millionaires will flock to Saudi Arabia in 2024 as the Kingdom continues to attract high-net-worth individuals, according to a study. 

In its latest report, Henley & Partners said that Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh as well as Jeddah are becoming “increasingly popular” with immigrant millionaires,especially from North Africa and the Middle East. 

“In our view, these two cities have the potential to mimic Dubai and Abu Dhabi in attracting large numbers of wealthy expats in the future,” said the British consultancy firm in the release. 

According to the analysis, the UAE is continuing its run as the top destination of choice for HNWI, with an estimated 6,700 millionaires expected to make the country their home by the end of 2024.

“For the third year running, the UAE looks set to take first place as the world’s leading wealth magnet, with a record-breaking 6,700 moneyed migrants expected to make the Emirates home by the end of the year, significantly boosted by large inflows from the UK and Europe,” said the British consultancy. 

According to the report, the UAE’s tax-free income, golden visa residency program, and geographic location have made it a favorite destination for migrating millionaires. 

The Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, Dominic Volek, said that 2024 is shaping up to be a watershed moment in the global migration of wealth. 

“An unprecedented 128,000 millionaires are expected to relocate worldwide this year, eclipsing the previous record of 120,000 set in 2023. As the world grapples with a perfect storm of geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainty, and social upheaval, millionaires are voting with their feet in record numbers,” said Volek. 

He added: “In many respects, this great millionaire migration is a leading indicator, signaling a profound shift in the global landscape and the tectonic plates of wealth and power, with far-reaching implications for the future trajectory of the nations they leave behind or those which they make their new home.” 

The UAE is followed by the US and Singapore, with 3,800 and 3,500 millionaires set to live in these countries by the end of this year. 

Canada grabbed fourth place in the list, with a projected 3,200 HNWI flocking to the country, followed by Australia and Italy with 2,500 and 2,200 millionaires coming to these nations, respectively. 

Switzerland came in the sixth spot in the list, with an estimated 1,500 millionaires relocating to the country, followed by Greece and Portugal at 1,200 and 800, respectively. 

The report highlighted that the UK is expected to see an unprecedented net loss of 9,500 millionaires in 2024 — second only to China worldwide and more than double the 4,200 who left the country last year. 

According to the analysis, China is expected to be the biggest millionaire loser globally, with an anticipated net exit of 15,200 HNWIs this year, compared to 13,800 in 2023.


Egypt’s exports surge 9.8% to $16.55bn amid global trade expansion

Updated 19 June 2024
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Egypt’s exports surge 9.8% to $16.55bn amid global trade expansion

RIYADH: Egypt’s merchandise exports soared by 9.8 percent year-on-year in the first five months of 2024 to reach $16.55 billion, according to a top official.     

Exports increased every month over the period, underscoring the north African country’s ongoing expansion in global trade, according to Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Ahmed Samir.   

Notable items that contributed to the growth included fresh and dried citrus fruits valued at $721 million, wires at $353 million, and manufactured petroleum oils at $186 million.      

Key export sectors also included building materials, valued at $3.86 billion, the food industry at $2.64 billion, and chemical products and fertilizers estimated at $2.49 billion.   

Agricultural crops were worth $2.26 billion, according to a statement.   

The ministry aims to bolster exports across all sectors to diverse global markets in the coming phase, emphasizing collaboration between government entities, business communities, and Egyptian exporters to enhance product quality and competitiveness. 

This effort supports Egypt’s target of achieving $100 billion in annual merchandise exports.   

Moreover, the statement revealed that Saudi Arabia emerged as the top market for Egyptian merchandise exports during this period, totaling $1.39 billion. 

Following Saudi Arabia, Turkiye accounted for $1.31 billion, the UAE at $1.13 billion, Italy with $974 million, and the US at $904 million.   

In May, Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics revealed that the value of Egyptian exports to Arab countries surged 8.7 percent year-on-year, reaching $13.6 billion in 2023. 

Saudi Arabia led among Arab nations in importing from Egypt, with exports totaling $2.7 billion during the year, according to the statement issued last month. 

This trend underscores the substantial growth in trade relations, partnerships, joint projects, and development investments between the two countries in recent years.     

Last month, the International Monetary Fund projected that Egypt’s foreign cash inflows would come from five sources, including commodity exports, tourism and Suez Canal revenues, as well as private transfers and net foreign direct investment.      

The fiscal year 2023-2024 total will be around $107.3 billion, compared to about $93.6 billion in 2022-2023.      

However, the IMF anticipates inflows to decrease again in the next fiscal year, dropping below the previous year’s level to approximately $91.2 billion. 


King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status

Updated 19 June 2024
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King Abdulaziz Port boosts infrastructure with new cranes, enhancing global maritime hub status

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Port’s crane capacity has been boosted by 9.7 percent as part of an SR7 billion ($1.86 billion) investment deal.

The facility, operated by Saudi Global Ports Co., has received three automated quay and three rubber-tired gantry cranes, increasing its handling infrastructure.

According to a press release from Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, this addition brings the total number of quay cranes to 18 and gantry cranes to 50, enhancing the Dammam port’s workflow and enabling it to handle large ships efficiently.

These enhancements are made under commercial contracts between Mawani and Saudi Global Ports Co. 

This development is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen King Abdulaziz Port’s position as a competitive and sustainable global hub.

The new cranes can reach a minimum of 25 rows, which facilitates the efficient handling of advanced and large ships. 

Additionally, the use of modern cranes contributes to improving the skills of the workforce, supporting the Saudi ports system and solidifying the Kingdom’s growing role in the global logistics chain.

This upgrade aligns with the goals of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to establish the nation as a global logistics center and a key link between continents.

Saudi ports are experiencing a constant surge in handling shipments. In March, terminals in the Kingdom recorded a 12.48 percent increase in the number of received containers compared to the same period last year, according to official data from Mawani.

The Authority disclosed that terminals in Saudi Arabia received 265,148 standard containers in the third month of 2024, marking an annual increase from 235,738.  

Furthermore, the maritime facilities experienced a 3.77 percent uptick in the volume of handled tonnage, reaching 19.64 million tonnes, in contrast to 18.93 million tonnes recorded in March 2023.    

“This reflects the scale of efforts made to develop port infrastructure and provide the highest levels of logistics services,” Mawani stated in a statement.

The Kingdom’s general shipment volumes reached 804,837 tonnes, solid bulk cargo reached 3.94 million tonnes, and liquid bulk freight reached 14.74 million tonnes.

A report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development revealed that Mawani climbed from 76.16 points in the second quarter of 2023 to 77.66 points in the third quarter of last year, affirming Saudi Arabia’s progress in the maritime sector.

Moreover, the Kingdom has consistently pursued global collaborations in the maritime sector, the latest of which occurred at the second edition of Vision Golfe 2024, held in Paris on June 4.

At the event, Mawani signed an agreement with the French Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty and its Marseille counterpart as part of France and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to excellence in trade and maritime transport.