Eve Of Destruction!

new-london-busThe RTA confirmed that the US$ 545 million Dubai Water Canal will officially open on schedule next month. Final touches, including refilling the canal with seawater, along with completing the walkways and pedestrian bridges, are being made. There are also four hotels, a shopping mall, 450 outlets and luxury housing planned around the waterway.

Select’s 14th project in Dubai Marina, located close to Bluewaters Island, was launched this week. The 31-storey building, costing US$ 123 million, will house studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments, with prices starting at US$ 156k, US$ 245k and US$ 354k respectively.

The latest launch from Damac is Akoya Selfie – a 3-bedroom villa project, with prices starting at US$ 327k. Located in a golf community, it will form part of the company’s Akoya Oxygen master development.

As intimated in an earlier blog, August hotel occupancy rates for UAE hotels – up 2.1% to 73.4% – provided the only good news for the industry. In contrast, all other indicators headed south, including average daily room rates down 8.8% to US$ 126 and revenue per available room by 6.8% to US$ 93.

Rolaco Group has signed a management agreement with Intercontinental Hotels Group to open a 402-key Holiday Inn in Dubai Science Park. The hotel will open in 2019 and will then bring the number of Dubai hotels, under the IHG umbrella, to 30 – 19 of which are already open.

Al Habtoor Motors has signed a partnership deal with Wrightbus International which will soon see the New London Routemaster on Dubai’s highways.

Gitex Shopper started on Saturday and the World Trade Centre Halls will busy for a week, as major high street retailers offer a multitude of bundle deals and discounts to make up for a sluggish 2016.

As part of Dubai’s strategy to increase the number of medical tourists to 500k by 2020, the Dubai Health Authority has announced the building of the 1k-bed Rashid Medical Complex. The 10-storey building will house 250 wards, out-patient clinics and a 5-star hotel.

Global Student Accommodation has teamed up with Singapore-based SIG to acquire a US$ 900 million UK student property portfolio from Oaktree Capital Management. The deal for the Dubai-based student accommodation provider includes the acquisition of nine properties, with 7.15k beds, and a further five (3.63k beds) in the pipeline. The company also bought The Student Housing Company and will use this brand for all its UK student accommodation halls.

With August passenger traffic up 6.1% to 7.7 million (a new monthly record), Dubai International has already welcomed 52.3 million this year – and is well on the way to surpass last year’s total of 78.0 million. Aircraft movements, at 33.8k, were 2.7% lower but YTD is up by 2.9% to 276.2k. As expected, monthly cargo was down by 3.1% to 207.4 tonnes but still 2.4% higher at 1.68 million tonnes YTD.

August air cargo demand in the Middle East fell 1.8% year on year its slowest pace in over seven years, as capacity rose by 6.9%. Sluggish global growth is seen as the main drag factor as trade opportunities weaken and local airlines are meeting increased competition from European airlines on Europe-Asia routes.

Work has started on the DP World Solar Programme that involves the installation of 88k solar panels on all its Dubai buildings. By the end of next year, it is expected that phase 1 will provide clean energy for 3k residences and on completion will save 22k tonnes of carbon and supply 40% of JAFZA’s energy requirements.

Aramex and Australia Post have formed a JV e-commerce company, with the Dubai-based logistics firm owning 60% of the Singapore-located entity, Australia Post’s Star Track International; acquisition costs were US$ 48 million.

As part of its July US$ 3 billion bond programme, MAF Holding listed a US$ 300 million bond tap on Nasdaq Dubai. The funds will be used for expansion purposes in the group’s different sectors including malls, retail, leisure and residential.

Drake & Scull is trying to reach an amicable settlement to its long-standing 9-year, US$ 53 million dispute with Lamar Investment and Real Estate in Saudi Arabia. The Dubai contractor has a 20% direct and 10% indirect stakes in the Lamar Towers project.

The DFM opened the week at 3474 and shed 3.5% (80 points) to close on 3354 by Thursday (06 October 2016). Volumes, on the last day of trading, were down to 200 million shares, valued at US$ 88 million, (cf 310 million shares for US$ 119 million, the previous Thursday). Bellwether stocks, Emaar Properties lost US$ 0.05 to US$ 1.88, with Arabtec also down by US$ 0.02 at US$ 0.38.

Having climbed US$ 2.92 last week, Brent crude continued heading north, climbing US$ 3.27 to US$ 52.51; gold tanked, sinking US$ 75 to US$ 1,251 at Thursday’s (06 October 2016) close.

Apple Inc has lost a major battle in which a Texan court has ordered it to pay VirnetX Holding Corp US$ 302 million for using its patented internet security technology, without approval. This is the second case between the two companies, with the same court finding in favour of Apple in a US$ 626 million August 2015 hearing.

Following reports that Disney and Alphabet were not going to bid for Twitter, a 10-year old company that has never turned in a profit, its shares fell nearly 19% in early Thursday trading. The online social networking service’s shares were trading at just over US$ 20, giving it a market value of US$ 14.3 billion.

This week’s US$ 6 billion asset management merger between the US Janus Capital and UK’s Henderson Global Investors will see the new entity managing US$ 320 billion in assets. The all share deal will also result in a cost cutting exercise and improvement in the companies’ overall global presence.

A 4-month Indian tax amnesty, which ended last month, saw 64.3k people declare US$ 9.5 billion in undeclared assets and income. The Modi government approached 700k suspected tax evaders earlier in the year, advising them that if they came clean and paid a penalty no further action would be taken by the authorities. Unfortunately, this represents a fraction of the total of “black” money, locked in overseas tax havens, thought to be at least US$ 500 billion.

Despite the marked slowdown in the global economy, Macau has bucked the trend and reported September gambling revenue of US$ 2.3 billion, up 7.4% – its second consecutive month of growth, following two years of decline.

Latest PMI figures from China indicate a firming in the manufacturing sector, with a September reading of 50.4 whilst new export orders saw a month on month rise of 0.4 to 50.1. The good news is that the economy is growing but this has to be tempered with the fact that there is too much industrial overcapacity, its debt levels are far too high, a property bubble will inevitably burst and the authorities still have no idea how to cope with the burgeoning shadow banking sector.

US construction data for August proved disappointing reading with a surprising month on month spending deficit of 0.7%; both private and public construction expenditure fell – by 0.3% and 2.0% respectively.

As its August imports (1.2% higher at US$ 228.6 billion) rose more than its exports (0.8% higher at US$ 187.9 billion), the US trade deficit widened by US$ 1.2 billion to US$ 40.7 billion; market expectations pointed to a narrowing of the gap to US$ 39.0 billion. Despite this hiccough, GDP growth is expected to reach 2.5%.

The September UK Markit manufacturing PMI indicates a rise from 53.4 to 55.4 – the biggest monthly jump and highest reading in over two years. The expansion was most noticeable in output and new orders and will make a positive impact on Q3 GDP, as well dampening hopes of a rate rise this year. Following PM May’s assertion that she would trigger Article 50 by next March (and the almost inevitable ‘hard’ Brexit), sterling has sunk to its lowest level in over 30 years, trading on Thursday at US$ 1.261, whilst the FTSE 100 surged above the 7000 level.

Meanwhile, the 19-country eurozone continues to struggle with the latest PMI for manufacturing and services sliding 3 notches to 52.6. Sluggish growth, near zero inflation levels and political uncertainty among the big players – Germany, France, Spain and Italy – has not helped consumer confidence. The end result is that the bloc will be lucky to see GDP expansion of more than 1.5% this year and even less in 2017.

YTD Q3
% %   Unit 30 Sep 16 30 Jun 16 31 Mar 16 31 Dec 15 30 Sep 15 30 Jun 15 31 Dec 14
24.43% 22.13% Gold US$ oz 1,319 1,080 1,242 1,060 1,114 1,174 1,186
29.79% 17.31% Iron Ore US$ lb 61 52 55 47 57 62 73
32.01% -1.33% Oil – Brent US$ Bar 48.05 48.70 37.52 36.40 48.70 63.05 57.33
21.77% 25.83% Coffee US$ lb 151 120 128 124 121 131 161
6.25% 21.43% Cotton US$ lb 68 56 58 64 60 68 62
39.29% 32.12% Silver US$ oz 19.25 14.57 15.45 13.82 14.57 15.68 15.77
2.80% -7.56% Copper US$ lb 2.20 2.38 2.18 2.14 2.38 2.62 2.88
4.94% 2.82% AUD US$ 0.77 0.74 0.77 0.73 0.70 0.77 0.82
-12.13% -2.11% GBP US$ 1.30 1.33 1.44 1.48 1.51 1.57 1.56
3.40% 1.44% Euro US$ 1.12 1.11 1.14 1.09 1.12 1.12 1.21
27.20% 12.77% Rouble US$ 0.02 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.01
10.53% 18.95% FTSE 100 6,899 5,800 6,175 6,242 6,061 6,521 6548
-12.81% 1.34% CS1300 3,253 3,210 3,214 3,731 3,195 4,409 3532
6.07% 9.49% S&P 500 2,168 1,980 2,060 2,044 1,887 2,063 2091
10.25% 2.18% DFMI 3,474 3,400 3,356 3,151 3,593 4,087 3774
1.70% 48.77% ASX All Ord 5,436 3,654 5,083 5,345 5,021 5,451 5415

From the above table, there has been YTD growth in all 16 indicators except for sterling and the CSI300. Commodites have performed spectacularly – probably indicating that the worse is behind us. Interestingly, most of the growth has occurred in Q3, except for Brent and copper which both headed south, whilst all other commodities showed impressive growth levels. Maybe after all, we are not on the Eve of Destruction!

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