Arab Monetary Fund issues quarterly report
The Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) indicated in its quarterly report on Arab securities markets published Monday (March 8th) that the total market value of Arab securities markets increased last year by 17.4%. The increase was valued at $903 billion compared with $770 billion in 2008.
The AMF also pointed to an increase in the composite index, which measures the performance of Arab securities markets, reaching 8.9% in 2009, equivalent to $196 billion compared to $166 billion in 2008.
However, the AMF noted a drop in the number of companies listed in the Arab securities markets by the end of 2009 to 1,495 companies, compared with 1,542 companies in 2008.
Arab bank assets surpass $1.5 trillion
Adnan Yousef, chairman of the Union of Arab Banks, explained during a lecture given in Dubai on Tuesday (March 9th) at the office of the UAE Bankers Forum, attended by representatives of local, regional and international banks, that the assets of the top 100 Arab banks have exceeded the $1.5 trillion last year. The deposits in those banks reached $1 trillion dollars while the loans were at $831 billion. Shareholders' equities were at $164 billion, and net profits reached $24 billion.
Yousef pointed out that the assets of Arab banks increased by 3.6% last year, while deposits rose by 17%, loans by 6%, and private funds by 19.5%.
The Arab banking sector comprises of 420 banking institutions, of which 60 are Islamic banks, 80 are investment banks and other specialised banking institutions, and 280 are commercial banks.
Dubai World expected to restructure debt
JPMorgan said on Wednesday (March 10th) that it expects Dubai World to restructure its debt over 10 years with a 20% reduction to the amounts owed to creditors, with a guarantee from Dubai's government to stick to the payment schedule.
JPMorgan did not specify how Nakheel (owned by Dubai World) bonds would be repaid, indicating Nakheel may repay them at face value over a longer maturity.
Abu Dhabi to increase infrastructure investment
In the UAE, Shady Shaher, economist for the MENA region at Standard Chartered, on Tuesday (March 9th) projected an increase in infrastructure projects in Abu Dhabi during the next five years by about $300 billion. From that total $68 billion will be reserved for road and traffic development projects.
He added that the Arab region, with its reserves of $1.5 trillion, is considered the second largest currency reserve in the world after China and does not need foreign funds.
Inflation drops in Egypt
The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics in Egypt noted said in a report published Wednesday (March 10th) that the inflation rate dropped during February reaching 12.8% compared with 13.6% in January. The agency expects the rate to rise again. The agency noted a slight drop in food prices, one of the most important gauges for measuring inflation, reaching 21% in February, compared with 22% in January.
Lebanon's Central Bank counters excess liquidity
Riad Salameh, governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, said during a meeting of the Parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee Wednesday (March 10th) that "the bank has issued up until now 21,700 billion lira worth of certificates of deposit in order to absorb the excess liquidity in the local banks, compared to 9,100 billion lira which it carried until the end of 2008." Salameh said the bank issued certificates of deposit worth 12,600 billion lira in 2009 and additional treasury bonds worth 8,700 billion lira. The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Lebanon helped absorb 30,400 billion lira in excess liquidity at the local banks.