EconSource: Fitch Affirms Turkey’s Investment Grade Rating, Outlook Stable

Turkey retained its investment grade ranking at Fitch Ratings with a stable outlook as the ratings company said the country’s government balance sheet remains “strong” amid a deteriorating political environment. Fitch affirmed Turkey’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) at ‘BBB-‘ and ‘BBB’, respectively. The rating is in line with Moody’s Investors Service, while Standard & Poor’s rates the Turkey’s sovereign debt as junk. “The general government balance sheet is strong and fiscal discipline has been maintained through the electoral period,” Fitch said in a statement. At the same time, “the political environment has deteriorated,” Fitch said, adding that the momentum for reforms has slowed. “External vulnerabilities remain a feature of Turkey’s sovereign credit profile but have not weakened materially since our last review,” the statement read. [Reuters, Bloomberg, Hurriyet, 9/19/2015]

Moody’s expects Iraq’s economy to grow by 8 percent in four years
In a statement on Sunday, Moody’s predicted that Iraq’s oil production will increase at a rate of 10 percent annually to reach about 5 million barrels per day by 2019. Along with a recovery of non-oil sector growth, Moody’s said this will help to raise Iraq’s gross domestic product (GDP) by about 8 percent per year between 2016 and 2019. Despite the increase in oil exports, Moody’s said Iraq’s fiscal deficit will remain at about 15 percent of GDP. Financing this deficit may raise the government’s debt ratio to about 79 percent of GDP by the end of 2016. The statement noted that Iraq’s economy suffers from a lack of diversification, as oil accounts for 50 percent of GDP. [Shafaq News, 9/20/2015]

Gulf firms under pressure from low oil price, according to Standard & Poor’s
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are under pressure as governments reduce spending in response to a slump in oil revenues, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) ratings services said on Monday. “Corporate and infrastructure companies in the GCC face a weaker operating environment at present on the back of lower oil prices,” S&P said in a report. Low oil income has slowed government expenditures on which these companies largely depend, the report said. World oil prices have dropped by more than 50 percent since June 2014, which has led GCC members to scrap some infrastructure projects, according to S&P. “We observe, however, that GCC governments continue to invest in large public sector infrastructure projects,” said S&P credit analyst Karim Nassif. “Still, the longer the oil price remains near current low levels, the higher the likelihood of seeing more infrastructure projects postponed or dropped,” he added. Meanwhile, S&P affirmed Qatar’s AA/A-1+ short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings. [AFP, The National, 9/21/2015]

Saudi Arabia’s crude stockpiles at record high as exports fall
Saudi Arabia’s crude stockpiles rose to a record in July after exports declined for the third time in four months. Commercial petroleum stockpiles increased to 320 million barrels, the highest since at least 2002, from 319.5 million barrels in June. Crude exports slumped 1.2 percent to 7.28 million barrels per day (bpd) after hitting a record 7.9 million bpd in March. Overseas shipments have declined every month since then except in June. “It seems that the Saudis are determined to keep their market share at above 10.2 million barrels a day,” said Essam al-Marzouq, Kuwait-based independent oil analyst and former vice president at Kuwait Petroleum International. “In the case when exports are down, they will not scale back on production and will store the crude at home or even abroad.” [Bloomberg, 9/20/2015]

Telecom Egypt appoints new chairman
Egypt’s state-owned landline telecom monopoly Telecom Egypt has appointed Waleed Gad as its new chairman, the company said in a statement on Monday. Mohamed Salem, the company’s former chairman who was appointed last May, resigned on Saturday shortly after a new government was sworn in by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He said he had faced many obstacles in trying to improve the company’s performance. Egypt owns an 80 percent stake in the company, which faces increasing competition from rivals in the mobile sector. The company’s efforts to acquire a unified license that would allow it to enter the mobile sector have been delayed due to disagreements between the government and mobile carriers Mobinil, Etisalat, and Vodafone Egypt. Telecom Egypt, which has a 45 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt, agreed last year to pay EGP 2.5 billion for the unified licence. [Reuters, 9/21/2015]

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