09 Aug 2020

CBE Head Says IMF, World Bank Funding for Africa Not Enough to Address COVID-19 Impact

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CBE governor Tarek Amer

Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer has said the amount of funding provided to African nations by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, around $3 billion, is not enough to support them amid the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus.

Speaking during the 2020 African Caucus Meeting of the Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, which took place in Cameroon on Thursday, Amer stressed that the amount of funding must be tied to tangible economic indicators, like the African market's imports from developed countries, in order to achieve practical results in facing the ramifications of the pandemic.

Amer said that Africa's imports from developed countries amounts to $549 billion recently, covering both commodities and services.

Amer also called on the IMF and the World Bank to pave the way for talks between African nations and the Group of Seven (G7) over illicit financial flows from Africa to developed countries, saying these transfers deplete African nations of the hard currency needed to secure vital imports like food.


Egypt's Foreign Reserves up 0.3% MoM in July

Egypt's net foreign reserves saw a minor gain of 0.3 percent in July to end the month at $38.3145 billion, compared with $38.2016 billion at the end of June, the Central Bank of Egypt said on Thursday.

The country's foreign reserves began rebounding in June after three consecutive months of decline on the back of the coronavirus pandemic.

In July, Egypt received $2 billion from the International Monetary Fund, the first tranche of a one-year $5.2 billion Stand-By Agreement (SBA) loan to help the country weather the impact of the pandemic.

Previously, in May, Egypt had secured a $2.77 billion emergency loan from the IMF under its Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). The country also sold $5 billion in Eurobonds in May.

The CBE used $9.5061 billion in foreign reserves over March, April and May to offset the impact of the coronavirus on the economy.

At the end of February, reserves had stood at a record $45.5098 billion.

Suez Canal Revenues up 4.7% in Five Years Since Expansion

Suez Canal revenues in the five years since the inauguration of the expanded canal have increased 4.7 percent, said authority head Osama Rabie on Thursday.

Revenues amounted to $27.2 billion over the past five years, compared with $25.9 billion in the five years before the expansion.

Revenues so far this calendar year have reached $3.3 billion, said Rabie.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi inaugurated the expanded canal in 2015.

The expansion, hailed as a major national project, cost $8 billion.

Suez Canal revenues slightly dipped to $5.72 billion in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, compared with $5.75 billion a year before. The decrease was attributed by Rabie to the fall in international trade as a consequence of the pandemic.

Egyptian Gold Prices Reflect International Dip After Weeks of Record Gains

Gold prices in Egypt dropped yesterday, reflecting the dip in international markets a day earlier.

Twenty-one-karat gold was down to EGP 910 ($57) per gram on Saturday, EGP 12 per gram less than the day before. The gold pound traded at EGP 7,280.

Prices dropped in the international markets on Friday at the end of nine consecutive weeks of record gains amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The slip came in the wake of a positive jobs report in the US which encouraged investors to direct their funds to the dollar.

Spot gold dropped by 1.36 percent to $2,035 per ounce on Friday, while US gold futures fell 2 percent to $2,028.

"The thought process would be that with the slightly better than expected jobs number, the economy is slowly regaining its footing and, hypothetically, we would then see a lesser need for stimulus," David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures, told Reuters.

Oil Prices Drop 2% on Friday Amid Resurgence of COVID-19 Cases

Oil prices dropped by around 2 percent on Friday, limiting weekly gains, amid worries about a resurgence in coronavirus cases. 

Brent crude dropped 69 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $44.40 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 73 cents, or 1.7 percent, to close at $41.22 a barrel.

Brent rose 2.5 percent for the week, while WTI was up 2.4 percent. 

This came as talks between US lawmakers over another round of stimulus faltered, with President Donald Trump threatening to withdraw White House representatives from talks and issue executive orders instead to meet economic needs. 

In addition, American energy companies slashed the number of oil and natural gas rigs to a 15-year low of 176, the lowest number since July 2005. 

According to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), money managers upgraded their net long US crude futures and options positions in the week until August 4 by 8,096 contracts to 368,643. 

JP Morgan Praises Egypt's Economic Reforms: Finance Ministry

Egypt's economy was the only economy in the Middle East and Africa that managed to retain the confidence of international credit agencies and investors amid the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting the success of its economic reforms, JP Morgan has said, according to the Egyptian finance ministry.

JP Morgan referred to the evaluations made by the three largest credit ratings agencies, Standard & Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch, the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Most recently, Fitch Ratings affirmed Egypt's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'B+' with a Stable Outlook.

Egypt embarked on an economic reform program in 2016 through an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that included austerity measures and monetary reforms. 

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Egypt has secured two new loans from the IMF, a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) and a Stand-By Agreement (SBA), at a total value of $8 billion.

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Sukuk Issuance to Fall 5% This Year on COVID-19 Crisis: Moody's

The worldwide issuance of sukuk could drop by 5 percent this year to $170 billion as a result of the economic crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus, according to a report issued by Moody's Investors Service on Thursday.

"The decline will be partly limited by the financing needs of Gulf Cooperation Council countries because of lower oil prices and the pandemic," said Nitish Bhojnagarwala, VP-Senior Credit Officer at Moody's. 

"We expect issuance will rally in the second half of the year to around $90 billion, led by sovereigns in the Gulf."

However, the dip has not yet offset a surge in issuances in 2019.

The drop in 2020 issuances has so far come from Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Middle Eastern issuances have increased by 7 percent.

The report expects the Gulf countries to increase their issuances in the second half of this year as the drop in oil prices increases their financial needs.


CBE Allows Local Banks to Own Unlimited Shares in Electronic Payment Companies

The Central Bank of Egypt issued a decision on Thursday allowing banks to own shares in payment service providers and electronic payment companies without a maximum limit.

The move comes in light of the current developments in the banking market, which have led to the emergence of companies operating in the field of financial service provision.

The CBE had prohibited local banks from owning shares of non-financial companies worth more than 40 percent of the company's issued capital, while permitting owning shares of financial companies without a maximum limit.

Bombardier to Start Manufacturing Mobile Units for Cairo Monorails This Month

Bombardier intends to start manufacturing mobile units for the monorail project this month, Egypt's General Manager Ahmed Eldamanhoury told Al Borsa.

The company finalized the first phase of electrical and mechanical design of the planned monorails in July, he added.

Bombardier will deliver the New Administrative Capital monorail within the scheduled 34 months which began in August 2019, while the 6 October City monorail will be delivered within 42 months starting from January this year.

One of the new monorail lines will run from Cairo to the new capital, and the other will run from the capital to 6 October City.

The company has received the first batch of the units for the new capital monorail and plans to implement about 35 percent to 40 percent of it by the end of 2020.

It will be responsible for the operations and maintenance of the monorail system for 15 years, with the option to extend for an additional 15 years.

Orascom Development Egypt Sells Parcel of Land in El Gouna Worth $6.5 Mn

Orascom Development Egypt has signed a contract to sell a parcel of land in El Gouna worth EGP 104.8 million ($6.5 million), as part of its strategy to gain value from land that is currently unused, the company told the bourse on Thursday. 

The 40,600 meter-plot was sold to Mangroovy Hotels, which owns the Mangroovy Residence in the Red Sea resort city. Through the purchase, it aims to develop its services at the resort.

Orascom Development Egypt announced last week that Omar El Hamamsy will take over as CEO of the company starting next month.

HSBC Egypt Profits Drop 24% YoY in H1 2020

HSBC Egypt's pre-tax profits declined by 24.4 percent year on year during the first half of 2020 to $155 million, down from $205 million in the corresponding period last year, according to Al Mal. 

The bank's total lending increased by 14 percent in the same period, while deposits increased 5 percent. 

HSBC Group has said previously that its profits after tax decreased 65 percent year on year in the first half of 2020 to $4.3 billion, and its revenues fell by 9 percent year on year to $26.7 billion.

Orange Egypt Posts 6% YoY Rise in H1 2020 Revenues

Telecoms operator Orange Egypt saw a 6.41 percent year-on-year increase in revenues in the first half of 2020, the company stated on Thursday.

The company's revenues hit EGP 8.3 billion ($520.1 million) in the first half of the year, up from EGP 7.8 billion in the first six months of 2019.

As of the end of June, Orange has 27.6 million cellphone subscribers and 1.4 million users of its home internet and landline services.

Egyptian Fintech Start-Up ElGameya Secures Six-Figure Pre-Seed Investment

Egypt-based financial technology start-up ElGameya has raised a six-figure pre-seed investment, led by AUC Angels, the company told MENAbytes on Thursday, without disclosing the exact size of the sum.

The move is the start-up's first institutional investment round.

The fintech start-up aims to digitalize the existing Egyptian practice of rotating savings associations, known in Arabic as gameya.

The round was also joined by Cairo Angels and Alex Angels.

A graduate of AUC Venture Lab's Fintech Accelerator, ElGameya was founded in 2018 by CEO Ahmed Mahmoud.

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'RiseUp From Home' Digital Event (courtesy of RiseUp)

RiseUp to Hold Digital 'RiseUp From Home' This Week

Egyptian entrepreneurship-focused company RiseUp will holding its first digital event, RiseUp From Home, on August 13-15.

Organized under the theme "Got Grit?" the event aims to help entrepreneurs in the region and other attendees learn from real cases on how various start-ups and companies have managed to overcome challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.

It will focus on five tracks: smart capital, creative culture, tech for humans, emerging tech, and people.

"During three days of talks, panels, and workshops at #RiseUpFromHome, you will learn tactics to hone your company's grit in the face of external and internal shocks, as well as your own grit as an entrepreneur, a leader, and a changemaker navigating today's volatile business climate," read a company statement.

Some of the speakers set to participate in the digital event include Google's Product Strategy Scott Jenson, Pepsico's SVP and Chief Design Officer Mauro Porcini, Vezeeta's Amir Barsoum, and Careem's Managing Director-Global Markets Ibrahim Manna, among others.

The digital event's tickets are priced at EGP 275 ($17).

RiseUp has not yet confirmed whether it will hold its flagship event RiseUp Summit in December, with Abdelhameed Sharara, co-founder and CEO of RiseUp telling MENAbytes last week that the company will make a decision later this month.

Egypt News

Senate Elections Kick Off Today for Egyptians Abroad

The election for Egypt's new Senate will begin today for citizens abroad, who will post their votes to their diplomatic mission.

Postal voting and will close on Monday, the National Election Authority (NEA) said.

The body has said there will be an election silence, beginning yesterday.

Egyptians abroad who registered on the NEA's website between July 25 and July 31 will be allowed to download ballot papers, cast their votes and send them via mail on Sunday and Monday.

Lasheen Ibrahim, the chairman of the NEA, said that candidates' campaigns were being allowed to use posters, billboards, loudspeakers and social media platforms, but conferences were prohibited in order to prevent large gatherings amid the coronavirus.

Voting in Egypt will take place on August 11-12.

Run-off rounds in the vote will be held on September 8-9 in Egypt, and on September 6-7 for Egyptians abroad. The final results will be announced on September 16.

Telecom Egypt has launched a hotline, 141, which will allow voters in Egypt to find out the location of their polling station, their sub-station number and their number in the electoral register, Youm7 reported yesterday, citing a company official.

The upper chamber will have 300 members, one third of which will be elected via a closed-list system, one third through an individual system, and the final third named directly by the president.

Members' tenure is set at five years. Women will make up at least 10 percent of the body.

Egypt Sends Second Batch of Aid to Lebanon

Egypt sent 14 tons of aid, including medicine and food, to Lebanon via plane yesterday in the wake of the major explosion in Beirut, the second such batch of assistance.

Egypt's ambassador to Lebanon, Yasser Elwy, oversaw the delivery of 1.5 tons of medical aid to Rafik Hariri University Hospital.

Elwy said that the Egyptian aid airlift will be maintained for the coming few days to send further support to the Lebanese people.

The dead bodies of three Egyptians who were killed in the Beirut explosion were repatriated yesterday, to be buried in their hometown in Gharbiya.

Egypt has also received the dead bodies of the two Egyptian construction workers who were shot dead by a Saudi last month, following an altercation at the construction site in the kingdom where they worked.

Ethiopia Won't Agree to GERD Deal With Specific Water Quotas for Egypt, Sudan

Ethiopia said it cannot sign an accord on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that requires the flow of specific quotas of water from the dam through to the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan.

In a press conference on Friday, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said Addis Ababa has affirmed its commitment to take into account the worries of downstream countries about drought conditions through a proposal presented by the country at the latest African Union-sponsored trilateral talks.

Mufti said that while Ethiopia takes the worries into account and is considering the drought issue, it still cannot sign a binding deal that outlines specified water quotas for Egypt and Sudan.

He stressed his country's commitment to continued negotiations to solve outstanding issues, and to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the rules of filling the dam.

Mufti also told The Ethiopian Herald that attempts by the US and the World Bank to pressure Ethiopia into signing a "lopsided" agreement are going to damage the talks on the GERD with Sudan and Egypt.

"Not only do the US and World Bank's acts hurt the bilateral relations, they also damage the ongoing trilateral talks. No pressure would halt the construction of the dam, Ethiopia's resolve to realize its flagship project," he said.

Egypt and Sudan on Tuesday requested the suspension of tripartite talks with Ethiopia over its mega-dam on the Blue Nile for "internal consultations" on an Ethiopian proposal that they said runs contrary to agreements made in earlier meetings.

Egypt, Greece Sign Maritime Demarcation Agreement Designating Exclusive Economic Zone

Egypt and Greece have signed a maritime demarcation agreement designating an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean for the two states, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced on Thursday during a visit by his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias to Cairo.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Shoukry said the agreement opens new prospects for further regional cooperation in the field of energy, adding that the friendly relations between the two countries are a key factor in maintaining the security and stability of the region.

"We will move forward in maximizing the utilization of the resources in the Mediterranean," he said, stressing the depth of relations with Greece.

Dendias described the agreement with Egypt as "historical," adding that it is within the framework of international law.

He said that the agreement is the "absolute opposite of the illegal, void and legally unfounded" 2019 memorandum of understanding on maritime boundaries signed by Turkey and Libya's Government of National Accord.

The new agreement between Egypt and Greece sparked a response from Ankara, which said that the exclusive economic zone falls in the area of its continental shelf and that it considers the agreement null and void.

Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez wrote on Twitter that Turkey's response was "surprising" as it hadn’t seen the agreement or its details.

Earlier this month, Egypt has said that a planned seismic survey by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean constitutes "an attack" on its sovereign rights.

Turkey's move has sparked conflict with Greece and Cyprus over drilling rights, with Ankara saying at the time that it could pause the survey pending talks.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey had resumed its energy exploration plans in the eastern Mediterranean after Greece failed to keep its promises about activities in the region.

Egyptian, US Foreign Ministers Discuss Need for Ceasefire in Libya

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed the need to support a ceasefire in Libya with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephone call on Thursday.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said the two ministers exchanged viewpoints on the proposed solutions to the crises facing the region.

Shoukry stressed Egypt's firm stance on the Libyan issue, and the efforts made to support the path of a peaceful settlement through the Cairo Declaration, which is part of the Berlin conference's conclusions.

Libya has been split since 2014 between two rival administrations, the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar, in the east, and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west.

The discussion between the two ministers also touched on the latest Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam updates, the subject of ongoing negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia that have yet to result in a comprehensive agreement.

In July, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed during a phone call to back a ceasefire in Libya and avoid escalation in order to pave the way for talks and a political solution.

Egypt Reports 167 New COVID-19 Cases

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Egypt on Saturday was 167, bringing total infections since the outbreak of the virus in February to 95,314, according to the health ministry.

A total of 21 deaths were reported yesterday, giving a total death toll of 4,992.

The total number of recoveries has reached 51,672.

The number of reports of suspected coronavirus plunged to 4,620 in July, down from 16,564 in June, said Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Saturday. 

Madbouly stressed the importance of maintaining precautionary measures to avoid a relapse in the spread of the disease.

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Egypt to Require Negative Coronavirus Test for Some Travelers

Non-Egyptian passengers will soon be required to provide a negative PCR coronavirus lab test in order to enter the country at certain airports, although most tourists will be exempt from the decision.

The requirement will not be applied to foreigners flying directly to Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, Hurghada, Marsa Allam, Matrouh, or transit passengers at these airports, according to the decree issued by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Friday.

Passengers' test results should date from a maximum of 72 hours prior to the date of their arrival in Egypt.

The requirement will be implemented starting August 15.

Egypt's airports reopened on July 1 after three months of closure.

New Deputy Tourism Minister Appointed

Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany yesterday named Bassam Fayed as an assistant minister for financial and administrative affairs, succeeding Hany Mamdouh.

El-Enany has assigned Fayed to supervise the ministry's financial and administrative affairs and its affiliated bodies.

Fayed will also follow up on the ministry's restructuring and budget drafting files.

Fayed holds a bachelor's degree in military sciences.

Govt Has Received 600K Building Violation Reconciliation Requests: Minister

Egypt's Local Development Minister Mahmoud Shaarawy announced on Friday that around 600,000 building owners have submitted requests to reconcile with the government over building violations.

The process to make a deposit payment for the reconciliation process began on July 15, with the deadline set for September 30.

Owners are required to pay a deposit to ensure their commitment to completing the process.

Menoufiya governorate has seen the highest number of reconciliation requests, the minister said, followed by Qalioubiya, Alexandria, Beheira, Sharqiya and Assiut.

The minister revealed that the government has demolished 9,609 building violations in urban areas and 20,447 on agricultural land between March 25 and August 4.

Egypt has referred around 12,641 building violations to the military prosecution, Shaarawy added.

Cabinet Spokesman Nader Saad said previously that deposit payments for violations of architectural drawings have been set at EGP 5,000 ($313) and EGP 20,000 in rural and urban areas respectively. 

Deposit payments related to roof violations are set at EGP 20,000 ($1253) in rural areas and EGP 80,000 in urban areas. 

Those who build without permits are obliged to pay a deposit of EGP 40,000 ($2506) in rural areas, EGP 160,000 in urban areas and EGP 250,000 in main governorate cities and new cities. 

Small Plane Crashes at El Gouna Airport, Killing Both Pilots

Two pilots died on Thursday when their two-seater plane crashed on the runway at El Gouna Airport after a test flight.

The Apollo Fox aircraft, belonging to Airman Sky Sports company, made a forced landing, according to a civil aviation ministry statement. 

Civil Aviation Minister Mohammad Mannar Ennaba has formed a committee to investigate the causes of the incident, a ministry statement read.

Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy has also ordered an investigation into the incident, and a team from the Red Sea prosecution office inspected the scene.

Petroleum Tanker Fire on Cairo's Ring Road Injures 8

A petroleum tanker caught fire when it overturned on Cairo's Maadi Ring Road yesterday morning, resulting in the injury of eight people and the torching of seven cars.

The general prosecution has formed an engineering technical committee to inspect the scene and prepare a report on the cause of the accident, which took place in front of Sama Towers.

The petroleum ministry denied that the tanker was connected with any public sector body or company, saying instead that it belongs to a private firm that imports solvents for paint manufacturing.

Science and Technology

Bank Audi to Launch New Mobile, Internet Banking Services

Bank Audi is preparing to launch a new digital services package, including an online banking system and mobile applications, it said last week.

Managing Director Mohamed Bdeir said the new services will keep pace with Egypt's move towards digitalization.

Customers will be able to reduce visits to branches by using the new services, said Iman Badr, the bank's head of product development.

Over the past months, Egypt's banking sector has been working to expand its digital offerings, especially amid rising demand for online services in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the government's push for digitalization.

Huawei to Suspend Manufacture of Kirin Chipsets Amid Heightened US Pressure

Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Company has said it will suspend the manufacture of its flagship Kirin chipsets in September, financial magazine Caixin reported yesterday, amid growing pressure on the firm from the US. 

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Consumer Business Unit, said during a company event that the US pressure on Huawei's supplies has made it impossible for the firm's HiSilicon chip division to continue manufacturing the chipsets. 

"From September 15 onward, our flagship Kirin processors cannot be produced," Yu said, according to Caixin. 

"Our AI-powered chips also cannot be processed. This is a huge loss for us," he added. 

The announcement comes amid heightened pressure by the US to force Huawei out globally, arguing it acts as a spy for the Chinese government through the data it acquires. The Chinese giant denies the claims.

TikTok Threatens Legal Action Against Trump's Executive Order Ban

Chinese-owned app TikTok has threatened legal action against US President Donald Trump's executive order that essentially bans it from the country if it is not sold to an American company within 45 days.

"We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process," the company said on Friday.

"This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth," read the statement, promising to "pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts."

China's foreign ministry on Friday accused the US of using national security as a cover to exert hegemony.

Trump revealed his intention to ban TikTok amid concerns that its Chinese ownership represents a national security risk because of the personal data it handles.

Software giant Microsoft stated on Sunday that its CEO, Satya Nadella, has been in discussions with Trump about a potential TikTok purchase, and that it may invite other "American investors" to participate on a minority basis.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Net Wealth Hits $100 Bn

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said that his net wealth has reached $100 billion, an increase of about $22 billion this year.

The statement came after Facebook launched Reels, a new video service within Instagram that is similar to rival TikTok, in the US and over 50 other countries on Wednesday.

The coronavirus pandemic has been good for tech giants as users have spent more time on social media amid quarantine measures.

Facebook's share value increased by more than 6 percent on Thursday.

Zuckerberg holds a 13 percent stake in the company.

Uber's Food Delivery Business Doubles While Rides Continue to Plunge

Uber Technologies Inc saw customers of its food-delivery service globally order twice as much in the second quarter of the year, but demand for ride-hailing trips has only marginally recovered from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The company recorded an adjusted loss in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $837 million the second quarter of 2020. 

Its shares fell 2.9 percent to $33.72 in trading. 

Uber's ride-hailing trips, which account for nearly two-thirds of company's revenue, maintained a 75 percent fall versus last year. 

It reported a $1.8 billion net loss in the second quarter, including lay off charges of 23 percent of its global workforce. 

Active platform users globally nearly fell by half year-on-year from 99 million to 55 million users. Its revenue in the second quarter plunged 29 percent to $2.24 billion versus last year. 

Its food delivery business Uber Eats saw its revenue rising twofold to $1.2 billion, anchored by greater demand for delivery.

Stock Market

EU Stocks End Week up, US & Global MSCI Down

The pan-European main stock index, Stoxx 600, ended the trading week 0.3 percent up on Friday, while the US benchmark index S&P 500 closed 0.23 percent down and the MSCI world index fell 0.55 percent.

Economic reports from Europe came in better than expected and company data beat previous estimates, prompting investors to shift focus.

In the US, a decision by President Donald Trump to block US transactions with the owners in China of the WeChat and TikTok mobile applications has raised investors' concerns over rising tensions between the world's two largest economies.

In Egypt, the benchmark EGX30 index ended the week on Thursday up 1.06 percent to 10,817 points amid a turnover value of about EGP 765 million ($47.9 million).

Non-Arab foreign investors were net sellers to the tune of EGP 87.5 million ($5.5 million) while Egyptian investors were net buyers to the tune of EGP 53 million.

Leading the main index's gains were Commercial International Bank and Citadel Capital, which increased by 1.83 percent to EGP 64.05 ($4.02) per share and 3.93 percent to EGP 1.559 a share respectively.

The broader EGX70 EWI index gained 0.57 percent.


Lebanese Protesters Break Into Govt Buildings; Death Toll From Beirut Blast Hit 158

Angry Lebanese protesters broke into and vandalized government buildings, including foreign, energy and economy ministries as well as the Association of Lebanese Banks, fueled by rage over last week's huge explosion in Beirut.  

Demonstrators have called for the resignation of the country's politicians and holding them accountable for negligence. 

A policeman was killed during the ensuing clashes after falling into an elevator shaft while being chased by protesters, a police spokesman said. Over 100 people were injured during the violent protests.

Reuters reported that police forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, who tried to break through a blocked street that leads to the parliamen building.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Kataeb Party announced the resignation of its three MPs, with the party leader Samy Gemayel calling on other lawmakers "to resign so that the people can decide who will govern them, without anybody imposing anything to them."

Lebanese authorities have arrested 16 people while investigating Port of Beirut explosion, Fadi Akiki, government representative at the military court, said on Thursday according to state media.

While the cause of the blast is not clear, Lebanese officials said 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate had been stored where the explosion took place.

Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah denied on Friday accusations that the group had stored any weapons at the Port of Beirut prior to the explosion.

The death toll from the Beirut explosion has totaled 158 so far, with more than 6,000 injured and 21 missing, Lebanon's health ministry stated.

With the participation of various world leaders, a donors' video conference organized by France and the UN to plan and mobilize aid for Lebanon will be held today.

French President Emmanuel Macron assured the Lebanese people, during his visit to Beirut on Thursday, that the aid to rebuild the city will not fall into "corrupt hands."

He called on political officials to conduct reforms, warning of driving the country deeper into crisis.

Meanwhile, Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who is participating in the video conference, said that he aims to mobilize Arab efforts to back Lebanon.

Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay announced that his country is ready to help rebuild the Port of Beirut, and offered support through Turkey's Port of Mersin, saying that it is ready to provide customs clearance and warehousing services until the Port of Beirut is rebuilt.

The Canadian government launched a relief fund for Lebanon yesterday, where it will match donations made by Canadians to aid those impacted by the explosion. It will cover water supply, sanitation, food and shelter, Canada's International Development Minister Karina Gould announced at a press conference yesterday.

The fund, through which the government will provide up to Can$2 million ($1.49 million), is part of a $5 million support the government promised last week.

Lebanese economy could plunge by double the rate following the Beirut blast, amid forecasts that the country's GDP could see 20-25 percent decline, which is below the 12 percent forecasted by the IMF earlier in April, Reuters reported on Friday, citing analysts.

Virus Roundup: Italy's Cases Surge 38%; British Airways to Lay Off Thousands of Staff

Italy's daily coronavirus cases soared 38 percent on Friday, with 552 new cases, the highest daily increase since May.

The northeastern region of Veneto saw nearly a third of the new cases, at 183.

The region's governor, Luca Zaia, said the new infections were from holidaymakers who had returned home from Spain, Peru, Malta, Croatia and Greece.

"Vacations are a risk," Zaia said. "Everyone must decide where they want to go on vacation, but it's also true, that by us, for a couple of weeks now, we're seeing a concentration of patients who were infected on vacation," he added.

Three more patients died on Friday, bringing the death toll from the pandemic in the country to 35,190.

Meanwhile, French authorities said on Saturday they will make wearing a mask mandatory in busy outdoor areas in Paris starting Monday under new measures aimed to stem the spread of the virus. 

Tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees were not listed in the order. 

Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 is expected to hit 100,000 on Saturday and to continue to climb as most Brazilian cities reopen shops and dining even though the pandemic has yet to peak.

The country reported its first cases at the end of February, with the death toll taking three months to reach 50,000 people and only 50 days to climb to 100,000.

Brazilian public health experts have warned that reopening key sectors will worsen the outbreak.

Russia reported 5,212 new cases of the virus on Saturday, bringing its tally to 882,347, the fourth largest globally.

A total of 129 people have died across the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 14,854.

Separately, the UK has recalled up to 741,000 coronavirus test kits manufactured by Northern Ireland-based Randox Laboratories from its national test and trace program as a precautionary measure.

It has instructed the program, which is run by the National Health Service (NHS), not to use the kits over worries they may not meet required safety standards.

In airline news, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said its losses hit $758 million in the first half of 2020 as passenger traffic plunged by around 60 percent due to the virus outbreak.

Its core operating loss was up approximately 30 percent from $586 million in the corresponding period in 2019. Its total revenues plunged 38 percent to $1.7 billion, although cargo revenue was up 37 percent to $490 million.

British Airways is laying off thousands of its staff as it pushes ahead with a plan to slash its workforce by 29 percent over the pandemic, amid opposition from unions.

It said in April that it will be required to slash up to 12,000 of its 42,000 staff to overcome the pandemic crisis.

Around 6,000 of its staff had decided to take voluntary redundancy, while thousands of others are set to receive letters on their fate with the company.

Lufthansa and Air France-KLM have also announced job cuts.

In technology news, Facebook announced it will allow employees to work from home until mid-2021.

"Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021," a Facebook spokeswoman said.

The announcement comes weeks after Google also extended last month its coronavirus remote work provision until the end of June 2021.

Plane Crashes at Airport in India, Killing 18

An Air India Express plane slid off the runway at Calicut airport in India on Friday, causing the death of at least 18 people, including both pilots. 

The flight was repatriating Indians from Dubai amid the coronavirus pandemic and had 190 people on board.

At least 30 people were seriously injured.

The plane "went down 35-feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told CNN.

Puri also tweeted that the plane "overshot the runway in rainy conditions."

Investigations will be carried out by the country's Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, he added. 

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