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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 Update: U.S. Stocks Under Pressure Following Trump-Putin Summit as Oil Prices Hit Three-Month Low

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U.S. stocks finished mixed to lower on Monday, with sectors tied to commodities shouldering the majority of the losses following a major rout in oil prices.

Stocks Mostly Lower

The large-cap S&P 500 Index fell 0.1% to close at 2,798.43, with eight of 11 primary sectors finishing in the red.

Energy stocks were the worst performers, falling 1.2% as a cluster, as oil prices plunged to their lowest levels in three months. Materials and industrials followed suit.

Declining technology shares bumped the Nasdaq Composite Index from all-time highs. The index closed down 0.3% at 7,805.72.

Dow industrials bucked the downtrend, gaining 44.95 points, or 0.2%, to 25,064.36.

The CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the VIX, jumped more than 5% on Monday to close at 12.83. The so-called “fear index” briefly traded at six-month lows on Friday.

Trump-Putin Summit a “Good Start”

U.S. President Donald Trump says his meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was a “good start” in normalizing strained relations between the two superpowers.

Prior to the meeting, President Trump blamed previous administrations for the worsening relationship between both countries. Trump doubled-down on that message in a joint session following the meeting.

“I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think that we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time, frankly, before I got to office,” Trump said.

Although it’s not entirely clear what the two leaders talked about, various news sources have confirmed that talks went into a working lunch after two hours of closed-door talks. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton confirmed that the meeting had no set agenda.

Many within the Washington camp wanted the meeting to be cancelled after 12 Russian military agents were charged with hacking the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Cryptocurrency Market Recovers

Bitcoin and other crypto-assets swung back into positive territory Monday amid reports that BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset managers, has assembled a working group to explore digital currency adoption.

Cryptocurrencies added $15 billion in market capitalization over 24 hours, with the bulk of the gains occurring shortly after the BlackRock report hit the airwaves. The total market peaked near $271 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, as trade volumes spiked 34% to $13.8 billion.

The bitcoin price reached a high near $6,690 as trade volumes topped $4.9 billion. The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is closing in on last weekend’s swing high near $6,900. Prices have failed to breakout of the $7,000 ceiling in well over a month.

In terms of percentage growth, bitcoin cash was the best performer in the top-ten, rising 9.5% to $795.

Ethereum prices jumped 5.6% to $477 while EOS gained 8% to $8.02.

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Analysis

US Opens New Front in Trade War as Oil Plunges

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Financial markets are relatively calm today, with most of the major stock benchmarks being virtually unchanged after the weekend. The energy segment is experiencing the most activity as the volatile correction in crude oil prices continues. Besides that, the Euro’s relative strength is notable, but summer trading conditions remain dominant across the board, with low volumes and choppy intraday price action in most of the asset classes.

Shanghai Composite, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

There seems to be no stopping in the global escalation of trade tensions, as amid the Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin, the US launched an official probe concerning the retaliatory tariffs of its largest trade partners. The move could deepen the standoff not just between the US and China, but the EU and its other allies as well, and global growth is already weakening, so with further trade troubles growth could grind to a halt.

S&P 500 Futures, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

While global stocks are still well off their highs, and Chinese equities remain in bear market territory, the main US indices are holding on to their recent gains, with the Nasdaq being the by far the strongest benchmark globally. The slightly weaker S&P 500 is also trading at a 4-month high despite trade war fears, and as the first earnings reports of the second quarter were slightly better than expected, with Bank of America beating today before the bell, bulls are still in control on Wall Street.

As for economic news, the much awaited US Retail Sales report delivered a small positive surprise, and last month’s figures were also revised higher. The report helped risk assets during the US session, even as the disappointing Chinese Industrial Production number weighed on investors sentiment earlier on.

Dollar Index, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Despite the bullish numbers, the Dollar lost a bit of ground against its major peers, although forex markets were less active today than recently and the most traded pairs traded in relatively tight ranges after Friday’s hectic session.

Oil Back Below $70 per Barrel as Commodities Remain Weak

WTI Crude Oil, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Crude oil prices are sharply lower yet again, with the WTI contract leading the way lower as tight short-term supply conditions got better in Canada, and the general weakness in the global commodity segment infected the market oil. The IMF’s report on weakening global growth, and the chatter about the release of some of the global strategic oil reserves also weighed on oil, and the WTI contract is now at $68 per barrel after trading as high as $75 just one week ago.

Copper, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Elsewhere in the commodity space, it has been a quiet Monday session, with gold drifting slightly lower after a weak rally in early trading, as selling pressure is still apparent among precious metals. Copper, which also has been suffering in recent weeks as Chinese assets got slammed lower, is still consolidating above the strong long-term support zone that we pointed out last week.

Featured image from 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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4.6 stars on average, based on 292 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Slowly but Surely

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Hi Everyone,

In a country that has seen an estimated 99% devaluation of their currency over the last year, even $1 is seen as a lot of money.

These images that recently surfaced on Reddit are reportedly showing a donation of just $230 that has been channeled into Venezuela through a cryptocurrency called Nano.

Of course, it’s incredibly difficult to verify the authenticity of such photographs, but having the username and subreddit written on paper in some of the shots helps things.

As we’ve stated before, the real world adoption of cryptocurrencies is happening now on the ground in places where it’s needed most, and Venezuela is argua bly one of those places. The success story highlighted above is hardly an isolated incident. The group Eat BCH has been doing this since last year.

A quick look at the Local Bitcoins volume there shows another spike in peer to peer transactions over the past week. Notice how volumes peaked in April of 2017, then died down during the peak of the bitcoin hype in November/December but are now rising again steadily.

The last bar on the chart shows a total of 590 BTC, which at today’s prices is $3.8 million, which may not seem like much but in the current economy of Venezuela is actually huge.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

  • Trump Meets Putin
  • China Growing Slowly
  • Quiet Crypto

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of July 16th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Traditional Markets

All eyes on Helsinki this morning as President Trump prepares for his closed-door meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Putin is still beaming after hosting a very successful World Cup and President Trump is coming from a rather controversial European tour. The fact that they’re even having this one on one meeting is emboldening critics who say that the two are in collusion.

One of the things to watch out for is crude oil. Trump has been rather critical of OPEC’s efforts, urging them to do more to push down the price. The price of gas in the United States has been rising lately and it is putting pressure on his base.

Russia has so far maintained that the surge in pricing is due to Trump’s new sanctions on Iran, which have reduced supply in the market.

Last Wednesday, oil slid 4.8% (purple circle) from the top of its massive bull run that has been playing out over the last year.

China Slowly

Markets in Japan are closed today in observance of Marine Day. Perhaps it’s for the best as Asian stocks are taking a hit.

For a change, the narrative isn’t necessarily about the trade war either, at least not on the surface. China’s GDP growth figures announced early this morning highlighted the lackluster economy. Here we can see GDP growth rate since 2003. What’s clear from this graph is that a reading of 6.7% is really on the low end.

However, even though low, the numbers weren’t unexpected. As indicated by the brown bar in the above chart, the numbers were exactly as forecasted. The China50 index is currently 24% off of its peak from January 24th, so today’s action isn’t that much of a hit in the grand scheme of things.

The Nasdaq, on the other hand, hit another new all-time high on Friday, while the precious metals resumed their descent.

Quiet Crypto

Prices in the crypto market have remained stable over the weekend. In fact, the price of bitcoin hasn’t moved much at all since early June.

As we’ve stated before, slow-moving prices are a good thing for cryptocurrencies. The more you can count on a stable exchange rate, the more likely people are to use the asset as a store of value.

The downward sentiment on Bitcoin is also showing signs of abating. As we can see in the graph below, the strongest trendline from this pullback (dotted blue line) was broken in early April, and the second strongest (yellow line) has been broken at the start of July.

Some chartists theorize that we could be in for another leg down towards $5,000 a coin, which wouldn’t surprise me if it does happen but could also be done in a calm manner that would not indicate any further downward pressure.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions, comments, feedback, or additional insight.

Wishing you an amazing weekend!

This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be investment advice or recommendation.

The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro.

Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose.

Cryptocurrencies can widely fluctuate in prices and are not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework.

Best regards,
Mati Greenspan
Senior Market Analyst

Connect with me on….

eToro: @MatiGreenspan | Twitter: @MatiGreenspan | LinkedIn: MatiGreenspan | Facebook:MatiGreenspan

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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