Turkey's inflation hits 20-year high; Spain's jobs market improves — Macro Snapshot - Arab News

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RIYADH: Turkey’s annual consumer inflation leapt to a 20-year high of 61.14 percent in March, data showed on Monday, fueled by rising energy and commodity prices as the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine conflict compounds the impact of the lira’s plunge last year.
Inflation has surged since last autumn, when the lira slumped after the central bank launched a 500 basis-point easing cycle sought by President Tayyip Erdogan.
Month-on-month consumer prices rose 5.46 percent, the Statistical Institute said, just below a Reuters poll forecast of 5.7 percent. The annual consumer price inflation forecast was 61.5 percent.
Spain’s jobs market improves
Spain’s labor market withstood soaring inflation and a crippling truckers’ strike in March to see a drop in unemployment, data showed on Monday, helped in part by reforms aimed at cutting the use of temporary contracts.
The number of people registering as jobless in Spain slipped 0.09 percent in March from February, or by 2,921 people, leaving 3.11 million people out of work, Labour Ministry data showed.
Spain added 23,998 net jobs during the month, a 0.12 percent rise from February.
Consumer prices spiked 9.8 percent in March in Spain, pushed up by energy and fresh food, after the country suffered two weeks of transport workers’ strikes that brought factories to a halt and emptied supermarket shelves.
Inflation soars in Poland
The National Bank of Poland  is likely to raise its main interest rate by 50 basis points to 4.00 percent on Wednesday, a Reuters poll showed, but with inflation surging into double-digits economists say a bigger hike is possible.
Consumer price inflation in the largest economy in the EU’s eastern wing hit 10.9 percent in March, statistics office data showed on Friday, as the war in Ukraine drove a surge in fuel and food prices. 
 At its March sitting, the Polish central bank’s Monetary Policy Council responded with a bigger-than-expected 75 basis point hike, but with the zloty having firmed by more than 7 percent from the lows hit in the early days of the war, most economists believe rate-setters will opt for a smaller increase this time.
“We see 50 basis points, with upside risk,” said Rafal Benecki, chief economist at ING in Poland.
Germany and Russian oil, gas
Germany will face a steep recession if there is a stop to imports or delivery of Russian gas and oil, a top German bank lobby warned on Monday.
Europe’s largest economy is heavily dependent upon Russia for energy, and nations’ banks echoed concerns over possible energy disruption expressed by big names in industry in recent days. Read full story
Christian Sewing, the CEO of Deutsche Bank, said in his role as president of Germany’s BDB bank lobby that banks expected sharply slower growth this year of around 2 percent due to the war in Ukraine.
BOJ urged to hike interest rates
Japan’s central bank should hike interest rates to ensure the country will not fall out of lockstep with the rest of the world in its monetary policy, an associate of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida whose ideas likely inspired the premier’s economic policy framework said.
Kishida’s government should unleash as much as $400 billion in public spending over the next five years to boost medical and anti-disaster investment, businessman George Hara also told Reuters in an interview..
The vision of Hara, who heads an organization that aims to reduce poverty around the world, likely served as a backbone of Kishida’s “new capitalism” agenda through which the premier is pushing for greater wealth distribution.
Philippine peso gains, Malaysian ringgit slips
The Philippine peso rose to a five-week high on Monday, buoyed by improved manufacturing data and the central bank’s recent hawkish tone on gradually normalizing liquidity pressures, while the Malaysian ringgit led losses among emerging Asia currencies.
The peso advanced 0.3 percent, hitting its highest since March 1, while the Malaysian ringgit eased 0.3 percent despite a rise in oil prices, as investors kept a watchful eye on the International Energy Agency’s plan to follow the United States in releasing oil reserves.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in a meeting late last month left key interest rates unchanged, but highlighted its readiness to temper increased pricing pressures as it raised inflation forecasts. The currency has gained 1.8 percent since the announcement.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabian GDP is expected to grow at 6.7 percent in 2022, as the country recovers from the pandemic, forecasted tax and audit advisory firm KPMG in a recent outlook report.    
It added that the growth in GDP will be catalyzed by a sharp rise in oil production and an ongoing recovery in the non-oil economy. 
Real GDP growth may slow down in 2023
The report further stated that trends in 2022 are expected to continue into 2023, although real GDP growth will slow to 3.9 percent as base effects limit the year-on-year expansion. 
This comes after the real GDP in Saudi Arabia is estimated to have grown by 3.3 percent in 2021, following a contraction of 4.1 percent in 2020. 
The KPMG reports added that annual average inflation in Saudi Arabia will rise by 2.7 percent and 1.7 percent in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
Unemployment rate to ease
As Saudi Arabia continues its increased focus on non-oil sectors, the total unemployment rate is expected to continue to trend downwards, averaging 6.3 percent in 2022 and 6 percent in 2023, compared with an estimated average of 6.6 percent in 2021. 
“Despite expectations for a robust economic performance over the next two years, the rapid rehiring process that has already occurred as the domestic economy reopened, will limit the headline improvement in the unemployment rate,” the report noted. 
Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Sunday, up 0.64 percent to $42,782 as of 08:30 a.m. Riyadh time.
Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $3,254, up 1.21 percent, according to data from Coindesk.
Tesla, Block and Blockstream to mine bitcoin off solar power
Electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc., payments firm Block Inc. and blockchain company Blockstream Corp. will collaborate to mine bitcoin using solar power in Texas, Blockstream CEO Adam Back said on Friday.
Tesla is building the solar power infrastructure and providing its Megapack batteries, Back added.
Blockstream and Block, which was previously known as Square, had said in June that they were collaborating to build an open-source and solar-powered bitcoin mining facility in the United States.
EU targets Russian crypto wallets
The European Union on Friday targeted crypto wallets, banks, currencies and trusts in its fifth package of sanctions on Russia to close potential loopholes which could allow Russians to move money abroad.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, EU-based crypto exchanges were already required to apply sanctions that bar transactions from targeted individuals, but there were concerns that loopholes remained.
The EU on Friday said it was extending the prohibition to deposits to crypto wallets.
“This will contribute to closing potential loopholes,” the EU’s executive European Commission said in a statement.
Crypto wallets allow individuals to keep the password that gives them access to cryptocurrencies safe and to send, receive and spend cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
Honduras SEZ adopts bitcoin as legal tender
A special economic zone, or SEZ, on a tourist-centric island on Honduras’ Caribbean coast has adopted bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legal tender, officials of the zone said on Thursday.
Called “Honduras Prospera,” the special zone was established in 2020 to help encourage investment and has administrative, fiscal and budgetary autonomy.
“Prospera’s flexible regulatory framework enables crypto-innovation and the use of Bitcoin by residents, businesses, and governments,” Honduras Prospera said in a statement.
The SEZ will also let municipalities, local governments and international firms issue bitcoin bonds from the area’s jurisdiction.
(With inputs from Reuters)
RIYADH: Chicago wheat, corn and soybean futures firmed on Friday after the US Department of Agriculture assessed global supply and demand, reflecting what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had on Black Sea exports.
Soybean and corn futures remained elevated, supported by reduced production in South America and questions of US acreage decisions as planting neared.
The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade, or CBOT, gained 33 cents to $10.58-1/4 per bushel, adding 7.49 percent, its biggest weekly gain since March 4.
CBOT soybeans added 43-1/2 cents to end at $16.89 per bushel, firming 6.7 percent, its biggest weekly addition since July 2, 2021.
CBOT corn firmed 10-1/2 cents to $7.60-3/4 a bushel, ending the week up 4.49 percent, its most significant weekly increase since the week ended March 4.
Palladium rises
Palladium rose 11 percent on Friday on renewed supply concerns after trading in the metal from Russian refineries was suspended in London over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Palladium, used by automakers in catalytic converters to curb emissions, rose 7.8 percent to hit its highest since March 25 following the announcement by the London Platinum and Palladium Market, a trade association that accredits refineries.
Palladium rose to $2,408.50 en route to its first weekly gain in five. 
Spot gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,941.94 per ounce and was up 0.9 percent for the week, while US gold futures rose 0.4 percent to $1,945.6.
EU closes borders for some Russian cargo vehicles
European Union countries sharing borders with Russia and Belarus have barred some cargo vehicles registered in the two countries from entering since Friday due to sanctions, the Russian customs service said on Saturday.
The EU on Friday formally adopted new sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products, while also preventing many Russian vessels and trucks from accessing the bloc.
The Russian customs service said that vehicles used as international transport that have Russian and Belarusian number plates would not be able to move goods on EU territory.
US curbs Russian access to foreign fertilizers and valves
The US on Friday broadened its export curbs against Russia and Belarus, restricting access to imports of items such as fertilizer and pipe valves as it seeks to ratchet up pressure on Moscow and Minsk following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
(With inputs from Reuters)
RIYADH: Oil prices rose 2 percent on Friday but notched their second straight weekly decline after countries announced plans to release crude from their strategic stocks.
Brent crude futures settled up $2.20, or 2.19 percent, at $102.78 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude futures rose $2.23 to $98.26.
For the week, Brent dropped 1.5 percent while WTI slid 1 percent. For several weeks, the benchmarks have been at their most volatile since June 2020.
Germany to stop Russian oil import
Germany could end Russian oil imports this year, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, signaling the urgency driving Europe’s biggest economy to wean itself off energy from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
Scholz was responding to a journalist’s question about whether he felt a sense of shame that EU countries were paying Russia billions of euros for fossil fuels.
“We are actively working to get independent from the import of Russian oil, and we think that we will be able to make it during this year,” Scholz said during a news conference in London with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Ukraine calls for more sanctions
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s aggression was never limited to just Ukraine and the whole of Europe was a target as he urged the West to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy products and to supply Ukraine with more weapons.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has banned all imports from Russia, one of its key trading partners before the war with annual imports valued at about $6 billion and called on other countries to follow and impose harsher economic sanctions on Moscow.
“Today we officially announced a complete termination of trade in goods with the aggressor state,” Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday.
“From now on, no Russian Federation’s products will be able to be imported into the territory of our state.”
RIYADH : Saudi-based dairy giant Almarai has recorded a 9-percent increase in profit for the first quarter of 2022 on the back of higher revenue.
Net profit rose to SR420 million ($112 million) from SR385 million a year ago, a bourse statement revealed.
Results were attributed to a hike in revenue of 23.6 percent and gross profit of 7.8 percent, even as selling and administration expenses went up.

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