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Worker at Pearl GTL, Qatar flickr/royaldutchshell

Worker at Pearl GTL, Qatar flickr/royaldutchshell

Among the greater macro-economic shifts which we can expect for this new century, is the disappearance of major business channels as we have known them, and the appearance of new ones. The next one may well be Chinese countries establishing an industrial business stronghold in Gulf countries, namely Qatar. Unencumbered by governments, be it their own or the ones in client countries, Asian countries are reaping the spoils. This trend seems to be setting in, and will therefore investor choices heavily, for years to come.

Since the 1990s, Asian firms started slowly turning away from their initial markets, to address emerging countries, in the hope to stabilize and find new growth areas. The jackpot turned out to be Qatar. Here is a non-comprehensive list of large industrial deals performed in Qatar over the past few years, by Asian firms.

10 km away from Doha, a new high-tech desalination plant is to be built, “RAF A2” (1), to bring an additional 36 million gallons of fresh water to the capital, daily. The 500 million-dollar project is just the start. Not only will maintenance and upgrades pad the envelope for the engineering companies, but as Qatar’s population expands, the total fresh water production level is to be brought to 350 million gallons per day (from a current 328) in 2018. Of the three firms selected to build the plant, one is Spanish (Acciona), and two are Asian (Mitsubishi – Japan, and TCL – Thailand). These firms owe their success to their state-of-the-art water technology (reverse osmosis (2)), which Qatar simply doesn’t master – nor will they anytime soon, given the state of their technology.

In 2011, the Hyundai engineering corporation (3) was handed three-quarters of a billion dollars, to build the giant Hamad hospital complex (4). In view of the FIFA world cup, Doha knows it will be under international spotlights in 2022, and scrutinized both on its industrial development and on its human rights observance. It therefore chose to build a giant hospital complex, with special attention brought to women (gynecology and obstetrics) and children, so as to be able to process the increased attendance and improve its international image. Again, being utterly enable to build such a complex (or even draft requirement specifications), it called upon the Korean engineering firm which, 2 years before, had won the Gold Medal for “top civil engineering structure”, thanks to the Ma-chang great bridge.

In the lower (yet not less lucrative) B2C segment, Samsung backlashed at business analysts recently, who had predicted record losses in smartphone sales on all emerging markets, Qatar included, by posting record profits (5) unexpectedly.

Samsung is the most telling examples: in 2012, Samsung landed a deal (6) which was considered “unusual”, to say the least. The Qatari Lusai Real Estate Development company tasked Samsung with building a new city. This mega-project included the construction of power plants, highways (some buried), bridges, and utilities networks. The amounts associated to the deal were left undisclosed, but one can guess an order of magnitude, given the scale of the order and Qatar’s financial reserves. Samsung knows it can rely on this market in the long term, because Qatar may be sitting pretty for the moment, but it is at the dawn of a national challenge. Doha knows oil and gas reserve will not last forever, and needs to diversify its economy. In 2015, Qatar’s revenues still depend almost exclusively on fossil fuel. In short: Qatar needs to build a country, and it doesn’t have the first engineer to do it. Luckily for Korea, Samsung has them all.

How does Samsung do it? It reined in Qatari officials. As one of the most commercially voracious companies in the field, Samsung is one of the few businesses which remains unimpressed with Qatari money. In fact, the Samsung Corporation is worth more than all of Qatar. And Qatar needs Samsung a lot more than Samsung needs Qatar. Over the years, the Korean firm has built a solid credibility base and influence network. With these weapons at hand, Qatari decision-makers are afraid to displease Samsung, which would be well able to pull the rug under anyone’s feet, something that scares Qatari officials.

Although it may be hard for some readers to believe, these truths are supported by the fact Samsung even reined it its own government. In 2012, in an article named “South Korea, the Republic of Samsung” in the Washington Post, Woo Suk-Hoon wrote “You can even say the Samsung chairman is more powerful than the President of South Korea. [South] Korean people have come to think of Samsung as invincible and above the law”. In the following presidential debate, Lee Jung-Hee, one of the candidates, added: “Samsung has the government in its hands. Samsung manages the legal world, the press, the academics and bureaucracy”. The Korean success story has arrived to the ears of enough people for everyone to know that no one contradicts Samsung and walks away.

Asian countries, namely Samsung, built their empire on peddling goods to the western world, namely North America and Europe. Now that these markets have reached maturity, Asian industrial firms have turned to new ones to consolidate and further expand. They still have the technical know-how which gave them their initial success. Except now, they have deep pockets and the authority that comes with it. In the next major industrial deal, Qatar’s public works authority, Ashghal, is due to select its engineering firm to expand and upgrade the capital’s water network (the so-called Idris project). Given the influence Asian companies have developed to coax Qatari officials (including Nasser bin Ali Al Mawlawi, Ashghal’s president) into handing over their national industry deals, it is very likely that and Asian firm will once again be selected. This is something investors about to choose their engineering vehicles should keep in mind.

References

(1) http://www.water-technology.net/projects/ras-abu-fontas-raf-a2-seawater-desalination-plant/
(2) https://www.espwaterproducts.com/about-reverse-osmosis/
(3) https://eng.hec.co.kr/
(4) https://www.hamad.qa/EN/Pages/default.aspx
(5) http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/business/international-business/359273/samsung-electronics-tops-q3-smartphone-sales-in-emerging-markets
(6) http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-16336-samsung-inks-major-infra-deals-for-lusail-city/

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Economy

How to Trade Shares for Beginners

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Although expectations had been modest for 2019, the stock markets around the world had been active in 2019 and the positive returns seen so far have exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. Supported by easy monetary policies around the world, as well as by positive economic expectations for 2020, stocks continue to move, which makes a significant number of people deciding to start investing. Since stock trading is much harder than most of them think, let’s see some of the most important things beginners must consider in order to accelerate their learning curve.

Stick with the most liquid shares

Finding “the next big thing” is one of the illusions that seduces most of the beginners. They spend a significant amount of time looking for those companies that will have huge returns over the next months of years. Not even the most-skilled stock traders are able to do that, so why do you think you will?

Instead of looking for those shares, stick with the companies that already have a leading position in the industry. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Boeing are just some of the names that are popular at the time of writing, and looking at their performance in the long run, so far, they’ve managed to impress.

Study educational materials

Beginners fail to understand that share trading is a skill-based endeavor and study is one of the most important parts of the process. Study as many educational materials as you can and gain as much knowledge as possible because you’ll definitely need it. This guide and other similar ones will introduce you to share trading and help you understand the basic concepts. Remember this axiom: “Around 90% of the traders lose 90% of their capital in their first 90 days of trading”. Education is one of the main factors why beginners stumble into the same mistakes over and over again. You don’t want to be in the same position as most of the people who don’t learn and spend time to sharpen their skills.

Build a portfolio

Closely linked to our first tip, building a portfolio of uncorrelated assets is one of the most important things to consider, if you want to limit the damages of your mistakes. No matter how good you are, in trading, you won’t make money all the time. Diversification will help you minimize the effects of some losing trades. Don’t concentrate all the risk in a single stock and instead pick at least three or four names that might perform positively in the near-term.

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Economy

Saudi Arabia halves oil production: How long will it last, and will it affect oil prices?

Saudi Arabia announces it will halt 50% of its oil production. This Vestle news article will explore the possible financial impact.

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saudi halves oil production

Since recent drone airstrikes crippled Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil processing facility in mid-September, the country – the world’s No. 1 exporter of oil* – has been forced to close half the plant while reconstruction takes place. While no casualties resulted from the attack, the real harm is finally coming to light, as the impact on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry is becoming clearer. This Vestle news article explores this important topic.

Aramco estimates that the closure will affect almost 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, which amounts to roughly 5% of the world’s daily oil production. To help you put that into perspective, consider that Saudi Arabia produced 9.85 million barrels a day in August 2019. And it’s not just oil production that will suffer. Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman also indicated that the closure has forced a temporary halt in gas production, limiting the supply of ethane and natural gas by 50% as well.

One particular detail that those with an eye on the financial markets might find interesting is that the attacks took place at a time when Saudi Arabia continues to progress toward taking Saudi Aramco public – a first for the kingdom’s global-reach energy sector. How much money are we talking? As the world’s most profitable oil company, it’s estimated to be valued at around $1.5 trillion.**

Will this affect oil prices?

The short answer, according to some people, is probably yes. With Saudi oil output expected to dip below 50%, the outages present “an extreme risk situation for oil,” according to Paul Sankey, managing director for Mizuho Securities. However, measures have already been put into place. Depending on how long it takes for Saudi Arabia to recover the damaged facility, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is aiming to suspend production cuts to help temper the impact of the ongoing crisis. On the trading side, the International Energy Agency is expected to release strategic oil stocks, and US President Donald Trump has already authorized the release of oil from the US petroleum reserve.***

In the weeks just after the drone strikes, the price of WTI Oil on the Vestle platform showed a 13% increase, followed by a 12% decrease over the following two weeks. Also during that time, Bloomberg reported that the spread between WTI and Brent widened to 37%, which could be an indication that the oil spike might affect global prices more than other oil giants, such as the United States. Furthermore, a representative from Goldman Sachs estimates that the global benchmark for Brent Oil could rise above $75 a barrel if the plant shutdown lasts for more than six weeks.****

Will it get any worse?

Some people fear the Aramco incident represents the potential for a broader regional conflict that could escalate to the point that it affects Gulf oil production as a whole. CFRA Research oil analyst Steward Glickman said, “Oil prices are now likely to bake in a much higher geopolitical risk premium than had been absent in much of 2019.” With the recent bombing in June of oil tankers in the Gulf of Hormuz not so distant, it’s no wonder some analysts like Glickman like are raising their eyebrows. ***

Considering all the different factors that play into this situation—the global, financial and geopolitical—there’s no telling what kind of turns it will take. The only thing to do is keep an eye on the news for the political side of it, and financial sites like Vestle to see what kind of ripples such an event is making in the financial markets.

Oil prices and the financial markets

Volatility such as that recently experienced by both WTI Oil and Brent Oil can present both opportunities and risks for informed traders, such as those who invest in Contracts for Difference or CFDs, which essentially means trading on the price movement of a particular instrument without owning the underlying asset. At Vestle, you’ll find hundreds of tradable CFD instruments, from commodities like oil and natural gas to popular stocks, indices, ETFs and crypto. And thanks to a selection of trading signals, market indicators and our economic calendar, access to important financial info for global situations like this is right at your fingertips.

 Sources

*https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/12/investing/us-oil-exports-saudi-arabia/index.html

**https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/14/saudi-arabia-is-shutting-down-half-of-its-oil-production-after-drone-attack-wsj-says.html

***https://eu.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/09/16/saudi-arabia-oil-attack/2341141001/

****https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-15/oil-prices-jump-19-after-attack-cuts-saudi-arabian-supplies

Vestle (formerly known as ‘iFOREX’) is the trading name of iCFD Limited, licensed and regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) under license # 143/11. The materials contained on this document have been created in cooperation with Vestle and should not in any way be construed, either explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, as investment advice, recommendation or suggestion of an investment strategy with respect to a financial instrument, in any manner whatsoever. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 83.7% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. Any indication of past performance or simulated past performance included in this document is not a reliable indicator of future results. Full disclaimer: https://www.vestle.com/legal/analysis-disclaimer.html

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Economy

Fears of a 2019 European Economic Slowdown Loom

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Although the spotlight is on the trade war between the United States and China, one aspect that is currently ignored by the media is represented by signs of weakness in the European continent.

Germany slows down

After posting a -0.3% GDP contraction in the third quarter of 2018, the economic indicators released from Germany in 2019 cannot support a positive economic picture. The manufacturing sectors continue to show signs of weakening, with the Markit PMI Composite now at 51.6, down from 52.3.

Industrial Production had been contraction by 1.9% in November, and both imports and exports had been down by 1.6% and 0.4%, respectively. DAX trading had also suggested there is growing concerns among investors and the main German stock index peaked out in July 2018, being now down by 15%.

Germany relies mostly on exports, being the third exporter in the world, only surpassed by the United States and China. That is why the weakness we see in Germany is actually a symptom of what’s happening in other European countries as well.

Italy and France not too encouraging

The new populist government in Italy, formed by La Lega and The Five Star Movement faced a serious challenge to get the EU’s approval for the 2019 budget, as the already high debt-to-GDP ratio (currently at 131.8%) raises concerns on whether the country will be able to meet its debt obligations in the future.

There are also serious concerns about the banking sector, which despite mergers and acquisitions, and huge capital available from the ECB, were unable to solve their problems which emerged after the 2008 financial crisis. The future of Italy is very uncertain, and analysts predict that the new government will not be able to meet their economic promises, given that we are at the end of a business cycle.

Speaking of France, the problems are social at the present time. President Macron was unable to stop the “Yellow Vests” protests, despite promises to increase the minimum wage and the overall standard of living for the very poor. France’s debt-to-GDP ratio currently stands at 97%, but given the latest promises, there are concerns whether the country will manage to keep the budget deficit below 3% in 2019, as the European treaties demand.

Although there’s a single currency in Europe, in terms of fiscal policy things were very fragmented, which is why the economic recovery had been very slow and the reason why investors predict Europe will face the greatest challenges to solve its economic, political, and social problems.

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