The US dollar enjoyed a mini renaissance in the first half of the month. Asif Hassan / AFP
The US dollar enjoyed a mini renaissance in the first half of the month. Asif Hassan / AFP

US dollar strengthens as geopolitical risks ease



It’s been a wonderful week for greenback long positions, with the US Dollar Index closing at three-month highs on Monday. From April 17 until April 23, the Index gained 1.77 per cent in five trading sessions and has comfortably closed above our upper resistance level of 90.50. The Dollar’s mini renaissance is due to a couple of different factors aligning simultaneously. Easing geopolitical risks, stronger US yields and improving US data combined with weaker global data have seen the dollar take off in the short term.

The last time I wrote, President Donald Trump was gearing up for what seemed like a trade war with China. While those fears have greatly abated, the dollar and equity markets have rallied in the short term. We already saw the president take aim at a new global heavyweight, Opec, when he said that they were keeping oil prices artificially high.

While the recent uptick would have squeezed out weaker US shorts, stronger US short positions would be abreast of the potential for upcoming uncertainty. In my last column, the VIX - an index on the Chicago Board Options Exchange which measures the stock market expectation of upcoming volatility - also known as the "fear gauge" was above 20 levels (the highest in two months). And while we have seen the index drop to below 15 levels in the past two weeks, the move back towards 17 indicates that markets are poising themselves for another bout of volatility that could see more upside moves in dollar assets.

The dollar has also been a big benefactor of the recent upside move in US treasury yields. Over the same period, from April 17 to 23, yields have moved from 2.8 per cent to testing 3 per cent levels. This direct correlation has seen money pouring into US assets and has seen the yield differential widening between US and European, and US and Asian government bonds. This also explains the recent weakness in forex pairs such as the EUR/USD, GBP/USD and USD/JPY. While US yields are improving, their counterparts remain stable and this widening yield differential is seeing hot money pour into higher yielding assets. This logic works particularly well in calm market conditions - calm with no geopolitical risks - however, with the current administration anything is possible and this trade could be short lived.

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Read more from Gaurav Kashyap:

Optimism returns to the markets but volatility is far from over

US dollar weighed down by trade and interest rate policies

Fed has enough ammunition to fire up interest rates once again

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As a result of this recent dollar strength, EUR/USD on the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) has dropped from 1.24 levels to its current 1.22 over the same time period. Technical studies suggest we can expect to see short-term consolidation at the current levels, however I feel there is more room for downside with a move towards 1.2050 level in extension in the next few weeks.

The European Central Bank is convening to announce rates this Thursday and I would not expect a too hawkish approach. On the contrary, the tone should weigh more dovish with the recent poor run of EU numbers. The head of the German Bundesbank has said recently that the economic conditions in Germany during the first quarter have not been brilliant and this is amidst already deteriorating overall EU numbers. Therefore, do not expect ECB chief Mario Draghi’s outlook to improve significantly; instead he will adopt a more conservative tone with regards to the end of their existing quantitative easing programme.

The Japanese yen has also weakened to multi-month lows against the greenback on the DGCX – and this cross has been particularly impacted because of the improving risk sentiment. Watch for upsides in the USD/JPY cross to be capped at 109.62. And finally, gold has been weaker during the recent dollar rally - this perhaps presents the safest long opportunities against a rampant dollar. A move towards 1319 levels may provide good long value, however, an entry at 1308 would provide the best value.

Gaurav Kashyap is a market strategist at Equiti Global Markets

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre V6

Power: 272hp at 6,400rpm

Torque: 331Nm from 5,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 9.7L/100km

On sale: now

Price: Dh149,000

 

TECH SPECS: APPLE WATCH SERIES 8

Display: 41mm, 352 x 430; 45mm, 396 x 484; Retina LTPO OLED, up to 1000 nits, always-on; Ion-X glass

Processor: Apple S8, W3 wireless, U1 ultra-wideband

Capacity: 32GB

Memory: 1GB

Platform: watchOS 9

Health metrics: 3rd-gen heart rate sensor, temperature sensing, ECG, blood oxygen, workouts, fall/crash detection; emergency SOS, international emergency calling

Connectivity: GPS/GPS + cellular; Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Durability: IP6X, water resistant up to 50m, dust resistant

Battery: 308mAh Li-ion, up to 18h, wireless charging

Cards: eSIM

Finishes: Aluminium – midnight, Product Red, silver, starlight; stainless steel – gold, graphite, silver

In the box: Watch Series 8, magnetic-to-USB-C charging cable, band/loop

Price: Starts at Dh1,599 (41mm) / Dh1,999 (45mm)

FIGHT CARD

Featherweight 4 rounds:
Yousuf Ali (2-0-0) (win-loss-draw) v Alex Semugenyi (0-1-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Benyamin Moradzadeh (0-0-0) v Rohit Chaudhary (4-0-2)
Heavyweight 4 rounds:
Youssef Karrar (1-0-0) v Muhammad Muzeei (0-0-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Marwan Mohamad Madboly (2-0-0) v Sheldon Schultz (4-4-0)
Super featherweight 8 rounds:
Bishara Sabbar (6-0-0) v Mohammed Azahar (8-5-1)
Cruiseweight 8 rounds:
Mohammed Bekdash (25-0-0) v Musa N’tege (8-4-0)
Super flyweight 10 rounds:
Sultan Al Nuaimi (9-0-0) v Jemsi Kibazange (18-6-2)
Lightweight 10 rounds:
Bader Samreen (8-0-0) v Jose Paez Gonzales (16-2-2-)

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers

Top 5 concerns globally:

1. Unemployment

2. Spread of infectious diseases

3. Fiscal crises

4. Cyber attacks

5. Profound social instability

Top 5 concerns in the Mena region

1. Energy price shock

2. Fiscal crises

3. Spread of infectious diseases

4. Unmanageable inflation

5. Cyber attacks

Source: World Economic Foundation

The specs

Price, base / as tested Dh100,000 (estimate)

Engine 2.4L four-cylinder

Gearbox Nine-speed automatic

Power 184bhp at 6,400rpm

Torque 237Nm at 3,900rpm

Fuel economy, combined 9.4L/100km

A Dog's Journey 

Directed by: Gail Mancuso

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott

3 out of 5 stars

A Long Way Home by Peter Carey
Faber & Faber

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Blah

Started: 2018

Founder: Aliyah Al Abbar and Hend Al Marri

Based: Dubai

Industry: Technology and talent management

Initial investment: Dh20,000

Investors: Self-funded

Total customers: 40

Bio

Born in Dibba, Sharjah in 1972.
He is the eldest among 11 brothers and sisters.
He was educated in Sharjah schools and is a graduate of UAE University in Al Ain.
He has written poetry for 30 years and has had work published in local newspapers.
He likes all kinds of adventure movies that relate to his work.
His dream is a safe and preserved environment for all humankind. 
His favourite book is The Quran, and 'Maze of Innovation and Creativity', written by his brother.

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.6-litre turbo

Transmission: six-speed automatic

Power: 165hp

Torque: 240Nm

Price: From Dh89,000 (Enjoy), Dh99,900 (Innovation)

On sale: Now

The winners

Fiction

  • ‘Amreekiya’  by Lena Mahmoud
  •  ‘As Good As True’ by Cheryl Reid

The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award

  • ‘Syrian and Lebanese Patricios in Sao Paulo’ by Oswaldo Truzzi;  translated by Ramon J Stern
  • ‘The Sound of Listening’ by Philip Metres

The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award

  • ‘Footnotes in the Order  of Disappearance’ by Fady Joudah

Children/Young Adult

  •  ‘I’ve Loved You Since Forever’ by Hoda Kotb 
COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Straightforward ways to reduce sugar in your family's diet
  • Ban fruit juice and sodas
  • Eat a hearty breakfast that contains fats and wholegrains, such as peanut butter on multigrain toast or full-fat plain yoghurt with whole fruit and nuts, to avoid the need for a 10am snack
  • Give young children plain yoghurt with whole fruits mashed into it
  • Reduce the number of cakes, biscuits and sweets. Reserve them for a treat
  • Don’t eat dessert every day 
  • Make your own smoothies. Always use the whole fruit to maintain the benefit of its fibre content and don’t add any sweeteners
  • Always go for natural whole foods over processed, packaged foods. Ask yourself would your grandmother have eaten it?
  • Read food labels if you really do feel the need to buy processed food
  • Eat everything in moderation
Multitasking pays off for money goals

Tackling money goals one at a time cost financial literacy expert Barbara O'Neill at least $1 million.

That's how much Ms O'Neill, a distinguished professor at Rutgers University in the US, figures she lost by starting saving for retirement only after she had created an emergency fund, bought a car with cash and purchased a home.

"I tell students that eventually, 30 years later, I hit the million-dollar mark, but I could've had $2 million," Ms O'Neill says.

Too often, financial experts say, people want to attack their money goals one at a time: "As soon as I pay off my credit card debt, then I'll start saving for a home," or, "As soon as I pay off my student loan debt, then I'll start saving for retirement"."

People do not realise how costly the words "as soon as" can be. Paying off debt is a worthy goal, but it should not come at the expense of other goals, particularly saving for retirement. The sooner money is contributed, the longer it can benefit from compounded returns. Compounded returns are when your investment gains earn their own gains, which can dramatically increase your balances over time.

"By putting off saving for the future, you are really inhibiting yourself from benefiting from that wonderful magic," says Kimberly Zimmerman Rand , an accredited financial counsellor and principal at Dragonfly Financial Solutions in Boston. "If you can start saving today ... you are going to have a lot more five years from now than if you decide to pay off debt for three years and start saving in year four."

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Mozn

Started: 2017

Founders: Mohammed Alhussein, Khaled Al Ghoneim, Abdullah Alsaeed and Malik Alyousef

Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Industry: FinTech

Funding: $10 million

Investors: Raed Ventures, Shorooq Partners, VentureSouq, Sukna Ventures and others

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

 

match info

Chelsea 2
Willian (13'), Ross Barkley (64')

Liverpool 0

Indoor cricket in a nutshell

Indoor Cricket World Cup – Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.

Zones

A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

Traits of Chinese zodiac animals

Tiger:independent, successful, volatile
Rat:witty, creative, charming
Ox:diligent, perseverent, conservative
Rabbit:gracious, considerate, sensitive
Dragon:prosperous, brave, rash
Snake:calm, thoughtful, stubborn
Horse:faithful, energetic, carefree
Sheep:easy-going, peacemaker, curious
Monkey:family-orientated, clever, playful
Rooster:honest, confident, pompous
Dog:loyal, kind, perfectionist
Boar:loving, tolerant, indulgent  

UAE v IRELAND

All matches start at 10am, and will be played in Abu Dhabi

1st ODI, Friday, January 8

2nd ODI, Sunday, January 10

3rd ODI, Tuesday, January 12

4th ODI, Thursday, January 14

Specs

Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

Primera Liga fixtures (all times UAE: +4 GMT)

Friday
Real Sociedad v Villarreal (10.15pm)
Real Betis v Celta Vigo (midnight)
Saturday
Alaves v Barcelona (8.15pm)
Levante v Deportivo La Coruna (10.15pm)
Girona v Malaga (10.15pm)
Las Palmas v Atletico Madrid (12.15am)
Sunday
Espanyol v Leganes (8.15pm)
Eibar v Athletic Bilbao (8.15pm)
Getafe v Sevilla (10.15pm)
Real Madrid v Valencia (10.15pm)

BACK TO ALEXANDRIA

Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5

FROM THE ASHES

Director: Khalid Fahad

Starring: Shaima Al Tayeb, Wafa Muhamad, Hamss Bandar

Rating: 3/5

Scoreline

Saudi Arabia 1-0 Japan

Saudi Arabia Al Muwallad 63’

DUBAI BLING: EPISODE 1

Creator: Netflix

Stars: Kris Fade, Ebraheem Al Samadi, Zeina Khoury

Rating: 2/5

'THE WORST THING YOU CAN EAT'

Trans fat is typically found in fried and baked goods, but you may be consuming more than you think.

Powdered coffee creamer, microwave popcorn and virtually anything processed with a crust is likely to contain it, as this guide from Mayo Clinic outlines: 

Baked goods - Most cakes, cookies, pie crusts and crackers contain shortening, which is usually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Ready-made frosting is another source of trans fat.

Snacks - Potato, corn and tortilla chips often contain trans fat. And while popcorn can be a healthy snack, many types of packaged or microwave popcorn use trans fat to help cook or flavour the popcorn.

Fried food - Foods that require deep frying — french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken — can contain trans fat from the oil used in the cooking process.

Refrigerator dough - Products such as canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls often contain trans fat, as do frozen pizza crusts.

Creamer and margarine - Nondairy coffee creamer and stick margarines also may contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Overview

What: The Arab Women’s Sports Tournament is a biennial multisport event exclusively for Arab women athletes.

When: From Sunday, February 2, to Wednesday, February 12.

Where: At 13 different centres across Sharjah.

Disciplines: Athletics, archery, basketball, fencing, Karate, table tennis, shooting (rifle and pistol), show jumping and volleyball.

Participating countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Qatar and UAE.

Who are the Sacklers?

The Sackler family is a transatlantic dynasty that owns Purdue Pharma, which manufactures and markets OxyContin, one of the drugs at the centre of America's opioids crisis. The family is well known for their generous philanthropy towards the world's top cultural institutions, including Guggenheim Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate in Britain, Yale University and the Serpentine Gallery, to name a few. Two branches of the family control Purdue Pharma.

Isaac Sackler and Sophie Greenberg were Jewish immigrants who arrived in New York before the First World War. They had three sons. The first, Arthur, died before OxyContin was invented. The second, Mortimer, who died aged 93 in 2010, was a former chief executive of Purdue Pharma. The third, Raymond, died aged 97 in 2017 and was also a former chief executive of Purdue Pharma. 

It was Arthur, a psychiatrist and pharmaceutical marketeer, who started the family business dynasty. He and his brothers bought a small company called Purdue Frederick; among their first products were laxatives and prescription earwax remover.

Arthur's branch of the family has not been involved in Purdue for many years and his daughter, Elizabeth, has spoken out against it, saying the company's role in America's drugs crisis is "morally abhorrent".

The lawsuits that were brought by the attorneys general of New York and Massachussetts named eight Sacklers. This includes Kathe, Mortimer, Richard, Jonathan and Ilene Sackler Lefcourt, who are all the children of either Mortimer or Raymond. Then there's Theresa Sackler, who is Mortimer senior's widow; Beverly, Raymond's widow; and David Sackler, Raymond's grandson.

Members of the Sackler family are rarely seen in public.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

WTL SCHEDULE

DECEMBER 19 (6pm)
Kites v Eagles
Aliassime v Kyrgios
Swiatek v Garcia
Entertainment: Tiesto

DECEMBER 20 (6pm)
Falcons v Hawks
Djokovic v Zverev
Sabalenka v Rybakina
Entertainment: Wizkid

DECEMBER 21 (6pm)
Falcons v Eagles
Djokovic v Kyrgios
Badosa v Garcia
Entertainment: Ne-Yo

DECEMBER 22 (6pm)
Hawks v Kites
Thiem v Aliassime
Kontaveit v Swiatek
Entertainment: deadmau5

DECEMBER 23 (2pm)
Eagles v Hawks
Kyrgios v Zverev
Garcia v Rybakina
Entertainment: Mohammed Ramadan

DECEMBER 23 (6pm)
Falcons v Kites
Djokovic v Aliassime
Sabalenka v Swiatek
Entertainment: Mohammed Ramadan

DECEMBER 24 (6pm)
Finals
Entertainment: Armin Van Buuren

End of free parking

- paid-for parking will be rolled across Abu Dhabi island on August 18

- drivers will have three working weeks leeway before fines are issued

- areas that are currently free to park - around Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Maqta Bridge, Mussaffah Bridge and the Corniche - will now require a ticket

- villa residents will need a permit to park outside their home. One vehicle is Dh800 and a second is Dh1,200. 

- The penalty for failing to pay for a ticket after 10 minutes will be Dh200

- Parking on a patch of sand will incur a fine of Dh300

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2


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