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Uncertainty in Saudi Arabia as Dozens of Princes are Arrested

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Just a few days back we were impressed by the steps taken by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He played a major role in allowing women to drive and in allowing women to attend sports events from next year. He, then, announced the construction of a hi-tech city ‘NEOM’, which was a move to generate additional income for Saudi Arabia and wean the economy away from its dependency on oil.

Key observations

  1. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cracks down on corruption
  2. Dozens of Prince, former ministers, business executives and government officials arrested
  3. A move widely looked as consolidation of power
  4. Uncertainty has increased
  5. We withdraw our previous recommendation of buying the ETF KSA

We expect crude oil prices to rally in 2018, which should benefit the oil-rich Kingdom in the short-term. As both the short-term and the long-term picture started to improve, we expected Saudi Arabia to make a quick recovery. In order to benefit from this, we had recommended a long position in KSA iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia Capped ETF, which has a significant exposure to Saudi Arabia. However, the events of the last few days have forced us to reassess our call.

The Rise of the Crown Prince

Prince Salman, also known as MBS was an obscure figure just a few years back. However, since his father King Salman ascended the throne, he has quickly risen in stature. In June of this year, the King named Salman as the crown prince and removed the then existing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of all his duties by a royal decree.

This move cleared the way for MBS to ascend the throne if the octogenarian King Salman abdicated his throne. With power in his hands, it was expected that the new Crown Prince will implement his Vision 2030 plan with ease. However, last week, MBS made an aggressive move to consolidate his power further.

On Saturday, the King formed a new anti-corruption committee with the Crown Prince as its head. Within hours of its formation, the committee arrested 11 princes, 4 former ministers and hundreds of high ranking officials on allegations of corruption. They are being housed at Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, which has been closed for outside public.

The Saudi Council of Ministers said that the arrests were ““based on specific evidence of criminality and acts that were intended criminal transgressions and resulted in unlawful gain.”

However, experts believe that with this move, the Crown Prince wants to purge all rivals and fire a warning shot at any other possible dissidents.

Will this move ensure that Saudi Arabia stays corruption free?

Unlikely. In Saudi Arabia, the royal clan is more or less above the law. The sources of their income are never revealed and for years they have enjoyed government patronage in various businesses.

Even the current purge is unlikely to reach the royal family members who are loyal to MBS.

In fact, in 2016, MBS had purchased a 440-foot yacht priced more than $500 million. Neither has he disclosed the source of his funds nor will be asked about it.

The recent anti-corruption drive will only shift the power from his rivals to the members who are close to the Crown Prince.

Young Saudi population in support of the anti-corruption drive

The Saudi millennials are likely to support the arrests. They have long despised the unwritten immunity extended to the royal family.  The current move offers a confidence that no one is above the law and it will benefit the nation in the long-term.

Absence of opposition is not a positive development

The Crown Prince has stated that he will steer the nation towards a moderate version of Islam, unlike his predecessors who have followed the hardline. With most of his rivals arrested, decision making can become faster and will help MBS to push aggressive reforms.

However, the involvement of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the aggressive confrontation with Iran, and the boycott of Qatar have all been inappropriate decisions taken by MBS. With no opposition in future, he may make a blunder that can be detrimental to the nation and also to the region.

Investors are Likely to Be Wary

Vision 2030 can be successful only with the support of the private sector. With some of the top businessmen like billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of investment firm Kingdom Holding; Amr al-Dabbagh, chairman of builder Red Sea International; and Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, founder of Al Tayyar Travel arrested, their businesses are likely to be affected.

Additionally, the foreign investors are unlikely to be interested in projects until this whole drama comes to an end. This can delay many existing projects.

The royal unity will be tested

For the past many decades, power has been divided among the various branches of the Saudi royal family. This has kept them together.

However, the recent purge is unlikely to go down well with the royal clan. Though voices may be silenced now out of fear, it is likely to rear its head sometime in the future. A bloody coup or power struggle can’t be ruled out.

We don’t want to invest in uncertainty

Considering the uncertainty, we would like to withdraw our recommendation to invest in the future growth of Saudi Arabia. The risks far outweigh the potential benefits. We shall keep a close eye on the developments and reassess our call if things change for the better. For now, please don’t invest in the ETF KSA.

Will the Princes park their wealth in cryptocurrencies

Thousands of bank accounts have been frozen in this anti-corruption drive. Saudi Arabia’s attorney-general Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb has said that the current exercise is only Phase one. So, we may expect more such drives in the future, especially if MBS faces any opposition to his decisions.

The combined wealth of the persons who have been arrested totals more than $33 billion. The remaining members of the royal family and wealthy businessmen are likely to remain on the edge. Considering the situation, it is reasonable to expect at least some money to find its way into cryptocurrencies.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 9 rated postsRakesh Upadhyay is a Technical Analyst and Portfolio Consultant for The Summit Group. He has more than a decade of experience as a private trader. His philosophy is to use technical analysis for momentum trading and fundamental analysis for long-term positions. Rakesh likes to keep himself fit by lifting weights and considers himself to be a spiritual person.




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Market Overview

U.S. Stocks Rise as Fed Confirms Dovish Pivot

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U.S. stocks extended their gains Wednesday after the Federal Reserve offered further reassurance that it will hold off on raising interest rates for the time being. Cryptocurrencies reported a mixture of modest gains and losses as volumes backed off from their yearly highs.

Stocks Extend Rally

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 63.12 points, or 0.2%, to close at 25,954,44. The blue-chip index has risen in five of the past six sessions and looks poised to reach 26,000 this week.

The broad S&P 500 Index finished up 0.2% to 2,784.70. Materials stocks led six of 11 primary sectors higher, with most of the gains concentrated in primary industry.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index pared gains to finish flat at 7,489.07.

Stocks are in the midst of an eight-week rally, but the following chart spells trouble for the S&P 500 Index.

Fed Puts on the Brakes

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday provided more details as to why it decided to be patient with normalizing monetary policy. In the official transcript of last month’s meeting, Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members cited stock market volatility and weaker global economic growth as the main obstacles standing in the way of policy normalization.

According to the minutes, there were a “variety of considerations that supported a patient approach.” Additionally, “a patient posture would allow time for a clearer picture of the international trade policy situation and the state of the global economy to emerge and, in particular, could allow policymakers to reach a firmer judgment about the extent and persistence of the economic slowdown in Europe and China.”

The Fed’s dovish pivot last month allowed the stock market to extend a bullish revival that began just after Christmas. Central bankers will hold their next policy meeting next month. The March interest rate statement will be accompanied by a revised summary of economic projections covering GDP, unemployment and inflation.

Crypto Markets Flatline

The combined value of all cryptocurrencies hovered north of $135 billion on Wednesday, where it was little changed compared with the previous day. Markets succumbed to a fresh wave of selling overnight, as bitcoin and the major altocins reported modest declines. By the early morning, most of the losses had disappeared.

Trading volumes dipped below $30 billion but were well off the highs from Tuesday. An influx of capital into the crypto ecosystem could make for volatile trading conditions in the near term.

Bitcoin was last seen trading at $3,983.49, according to CoinMarketCap, an aggregate data provider. The bitcoin price is trading hands well north of $4,000 on Bitfinex.

Ethereum’s price was little changed at $147.83. XRP edged down 1.7% to $0.30275. EOS extended its rally, climbing 5.3% to $3.84. Read more: Litecoin, EOS, Binance Coin, Maker: Altcoins Leading the Charge.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Market Overview

USA is Ready to Invest in Crypto

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Hi Everyone,

In our ongoing effort to bring crypto to the general public, we’ve done yet another survey, this time focusing on online traders in the USA.

The results are clear as day, the United States is more than ready to invest in crypto.

Definitely make sure to read the full report with all the jaw-dropping stats and the methodology of the poll. This is extremely encouraging.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

  • US-China trade deadline: 9 days | Days to Brexit: 37
  • Unsustainable Trajectory
  • Crypto Rally Stalls

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of February 20th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Traditional Markets

Everyone will stop what they’re doing at 2:00 PM New York time today to take in the FOMC‘s meeting minutes. During their last meeting, the Fed did a complete 180 on policy, which many have pointed to as a complete capitulation to the market’s desires. So, when they release the minutes of that meeting it will be extremely interesting to hear what they have to say.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there will not likely be any final deal between the US and China by March 1st. It’s also becoming increasingly clear that this deadline was never very significant in the first place. Trump has indicated that he’s willing to let the deadline slide if significant progress is being made, and many feel that it is, however, until we get final confirmation of that it will remain in our countdown above. It wouldn’t be the first time Trump changed his mind at the last moment.

As well, I’ve decided to leave the Brexit countdown timer set for March 29th, the day Article 50 kicks in, rather than the new self-imposed deadline that Parliament put on their Prime Minister.

Markets are now returning to their normal levels of volatility.

Trajectory Unsustainable

After crashing in January and making a huge comeback in January, financial markets are now remarkably average.

The 200-day moving average (blue line) shows us the average price of the last 200 days and is one of the most widely watched indicators among technical analysts. Here we can see that the Nasdaq 100 is now at this level.

Many analysts were quick to point out that if we ignore 2018 and look only at the stock market performance from January 1st, we’re actually seeing stellar results.

Some pundits even take this a step further. Here’s a graph posted by @StockCats who pointed out that the current trajectory of the markets does look a bit unsustainable.

Crypto Rally Stalled – Where to Next?

Let’s face it, these last few days have been amazing. However, even within this longest crypto bear market of all time, there have been rallies before that ended up fizzling out. So, even though it’s possible we go to the moon from here, it certainly pays to be cautious.

One thing that’s interesting to me is the different spins that some of the mainstream media are putting on this. The Independent is saying that it’s because of the Galaxy S10 Crypto Wallet…

…while Bloomberg is saying that…

Forbes, on the other hand, seemed to focus on the altcoin markets.

For me, it’s pretty clear that this whole thing began due to a shortage in Ethereum creation. As I explained in an interview with BlockTV yesterday, the creation of new Ether tokens has been severely limited lately. Especially for those of you who are less inclined to look at graphs and charts, feel free to watch the recording here.

For hose of you who do like charts, check this out. This supply shortage while demand remained consistent caused Ethereum’s price to rise dramatically and the rest of the cryptos followed. By today, we’re going on sheer momentum. After months of depressed prices, it’s about time we had a real rally in this market.

As I’m writing, it does seem that we may be getting a continuation of the rally but it’s still too early to tell. Let’s see where the day brings us.

Wishing you an excellent day. As always, please continue sending in your valuable feedbacks, questions, comments, and insights. It is always useful and always appreciated.

Best regards,

Mati Greenspan
Senior Market Analyst

Connect with me on….

eToro: @MatiGreenspan Twitter: @MatiGreenspan LinkedInMatiGreenspan |Facebook:MatiGreen

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 152 rated postsSenior Market Analyst at Etoro.com.




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Market Overview

Walmart Earnings Propel Stocks Higher; Crypto Market Cap Hits $135 Billion

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U.S. stocks extended their rally on Tuesday, as a positive earnings surprise from Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) propelled the major indexes higher. Cryptocurrencies maintained their upward edge with EOS, Stellar and Binance Coin leading the gainers.

Relief Rally Continues

The major indexes overcame a tepid start to finish sharply higher on Tuesday. The broad S&P 500 Index rose 0.2% to 2,779.76, its seventh gain in the past eight sessions. Eight of 11 primary sectors finished in positive territory, led by materials. Consumer stocks also outperformed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up most of its gains to finish only moderately higher. The index closed at 25,891.32, having gained 8.07 points, or 0.03%.

Shares of Walmart Stores rose 2.2% after the retail giant reported better than expected quarterly results. For its fiscal fourth quarter, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company reported per-share earnings of $1.41 on sales of $133.79 billion. Both figures topped analysts’ median estimate.

Steady performances for information technology and communication stocks lifted the Nasdaq Composite Index to higher ground. The tech-heavy benchmark climbed 0.2% to 7,486.77.

The Dow extended its winning streak to eight weeks on Friday. Read more: Stocks Surge on U.S.-China Trade Optimism; Dow Notches Eighth Consecutive Weekly Gain.

U.S.-China Trade Talks Resume

China’s trade envoy has arrived in Washington to resume high-stakes negotiations with the Trump administration this week. Both the U.S. and China are upping the ante ahead of a self-imposed trade-deal deadline on Mar. 1. President Trump says he may let the deadline “slide” if both sides make progress toward a new deal.

The latest round of talks between the U.S. and China wrapped up on Friday in Beijing. The White House said the two-day meeting was “detailed and intensive.”

“Both sides will continue working on all outstanding issues in advance of the March 1, 2019, deadline for an increase in the 10 percent tariff on certain imported Chinese goods,” the White House said Friday in a statement.

Return of the Crypto Bulls?

Crypto markets flashed green on Tuesday, as bitcoin clawed back above $4,000 for the first time since early January. The largest cryptocurrency by market cap and trading volume reached a session high of $4,083.50 on Bitfinex. To negate the downtrend, bitcoin’s price must cross above $4,200.

In terms of percentage gains, Binance Coin was the best-performing major on Tuesday. It rose 12.7% to $10.88, where it held firm to tenth spot on the market-cap index.

EOS climbed 5.5% to $3.66. Stellar Lumens advanced 12.7% to reach $0.0912.

At the time of writing, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is $135.5 billion. Trade volumes have surged to $33.9 billion, with all major exchanges reporting a significant increase in turnover since Sunday.

Read more: Crypto Markets are Up $16 Billion Since Sunday; What’s Behind the Rally?

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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