EconSource: IMF May Agree on $800 Million Loan to Iraq in Weeks

Iraq has requested financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and may reach an agreement within weeks on a loan of about $800 million, a senior IMF official said. The government has projected a budget deficit of about $25 billion this year. Aid from the IMF could ease the pressure and by increasing investor confidence, helping Iraq to raise money from other sources. The aid would likely come in the form of a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), which could lead to a longer term lending program for Iraq if needed. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces besieged inside the country’s largest oil refinery are running low on food and calling for reinforcements to provide relief from ISIS militants that have advanced into the compound. [Reuters, 5/5/2015]

Saudi Arabia issues rules for foreign investing in stocks
Saudi Arabia laid down final rules on Monday for the long-awaited opening of its $590 billion stock market to foreigners, allowing only large institutions to invest in one of the last major bourses to have remained mostly shut to international investors. The rules, which take effect on June 1 ahead of the market’s planned opening on June 15, permit only qualified foreign investors such as banks, brokerages, fund managers, and insurance companies with at least $5 billion in assets under management to invest in the market. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund said the country needs to take significant measures to curb public spending and reduce its reliance on oil revenue. [WSJ, 5/4/2015]

IMF says Egypt economic policies starting to pay off
Egypt’s economic policy reforms are starting to pay off and growth is strengthening although the country still faces a difficult situation, a senior official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. The Fund had held “good discussions” with Egyptian officials in Washington last month and plans to send a technical assistance team to Cairo in early June. Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, said the Egyptian government had not requested an IMF loan, but reiterated that the Fund is ready to provide assistance if asked. [Reuters, 5/5/2015]

Libya’s foreign reserves fell by a quarter last year
Libya burned through more than a quarter of its foreign currency reserves in 2014 to offset a fall in vital oil revenues and keep the country running, official data showed on Monday. The dramatic fall in foreign reserves suggests the oil producing country may be edging closer to financial collapse. A budget crisis has worsened following the closure in December of Libya’s two biggest oil ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. More than a dozen oilfields have been shut this year and oil revenues fell 30 percent. [Reuters, 5/4/2015]

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Egypt banks ordered to sell dollars cheap to curb food inflation | Bloomberg
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Syria central banker says Iran weighs $1 billion credit line |Bloomberg
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