EconSource: IMF Says Saudi Arabia May Issue Government Bonds This Year

The Saudi government may resume issuing bonds this year, easing downward pressure on the country’s foreign reserves caused by low oil prices, a senior official from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said after talks with Saudi officials. Bond issues would signal a large shift in Saudi economic policy, however Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf has said it is a possibility. Riyadh has been focusing on paying down its obligations; public debt fell to $11.8 billion at the end of last year, just 1.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The government last issued a development bond in 2007. Meanwhile, data showed Wednesday that growth in Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector slowed to a twelve-month low in May as expansion of both output and new orders slackened. [Reuters, 6/3/2015]

Iraq sees 100,000-bpd export boost from Basra Heavy oil
Iraq’s oil exports, already running at record highs, may rise a further 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) this month due to the launch of a new Basra Heavy crude grade, Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said on the sidelines of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) seminar in Vienna. He said creating a new heavy oil stream has allowed Iraq to revive some fields that had been shut to maintain the quality of the Basra Light grade, which had come under criticism from some buyers over varying quality specifications. Exports rose to a record 3.145 million bpd in May, of which about 2.7 million went through the southern Basra terminals. Speaking at the seminar, Mahdi cited optimism regarding OPEC’s current strategy. [Reuters, 6/3/2015]

Egypt business activity steadier in May as employment rises
Business activity in Egypt’s private sector, excluding oil, shrank for the fifth month in a row in May but edged closer to expansion as employment rose. The HSBC Egypt Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 49.9 in May, almost touching the 50 mark. Scores above 50 signal growth in business activity.  Meanwhile, employment rose for the first time in six months, with some companies saying they raised staffing levels because of new projects. Unemployment currently stands at 12.8 percent according to the Egyptian government’s statistics agency, but analysts believe actual unemployment may be higher. [Reuters, 6/3/2015]

IMF says Tunisia has margin to lower oil prices
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief for Tunisia Amine Mati said that in light of declining global oil prices, Tunisia has a margin to lower oil prices on the local market. Speaking at a hearing held between the IMF mission and members of the Tunisia’s House of People’s Representatives, Mati added that Tunisia should find ways to support marginalized groups should it decide to lower oil prices. An IMF review mission has begun a series of consultations with government officials and representatives from political parties and civil society groups to evaluate the progress of Tunisia’s reforms. The review is scheduled to end on June 10, ahead of the IMF’s Executive Board meeting in late July. [All Africa/TAP, 6/2/2015]

Also of interest
Saudi stocks slip on weaker oil, PMI; Egypt extends rally | Reuters
Core Gulf OPEC members in “consensus” on oil ceiling | Reuters
Saudi Arabia to boost defense spending by 27 percent over five years | Financial Times
UAE non-oil business growth slows marginally in May | Reuters
UAE oil minister says correction not over yet | Reuters
Iraq’s Kurdistan region exported 577,621 bpd oil via pipeline in May | Reuters
Kurdistan stops oil transfers to Iraqi state oil firm SOMO | Reuters
Algeria’s Sonatrach diverts Europe gas to Asia | Reuters