EconSource: Oil Prices Surge After Saudi Air Strikes in Yemen
Brent crude oil soared more than 4 percent towards $59 a barrel on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies began a military operation in Yemen. The air strikes against Houthi rebels, who have driven President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi from Yemen’s capital of Sana’a, could stoke concerns about the security of Middle East oil shipments if the conflict widens. In order to export to Europe, Arab producers have to ship oil past Yemen’s coastlines via the Gulf of Aden to get to the Suez Canal.

[Reuters, 3/26/2015]

Iraq plans oil sales from reserves and new production contracts

According to Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq plans to raise emergency funds by pre-selling oil reserves for the first time. It will kick off economic reforms by revising its oil contracts with major Western companies. Zabari further added that details of the volumes and value of the sales, known in the industry as pre-financing, are still to be finalized. Iraq needs cash to fund its military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and to compensate for revenue lost to the slump in world oil prices. The switch will move Iraq for the first time from service contracts where oil companies are paid a set fee to production-sharing contracts where revenues are divided in a percentage split. [Reuters, 3/25/2015]

Some UAE employees report 36 percent pay hike

According to the results of a global research, professionals in the UAE and the rest of the MENA region, particularly in the field of finance, saw more than 30 percent increase in their paychecks in 2014. The hefty pay hike is not across the board, but the average total compensation for management accounting and finance professionals in the MENA region increased by 36 percent to 147,028 dirhams ($40,030), roughly more than 12,000 dirhams a month in 2014. The salary adjustments have been attributed to the positive economic outlook in the region and the growing need for skilled finance professionals, especially those who have the knowledge and expertise in budgeting, planning, and cost control. [Gulf News, 3/26/2015]

Moroccan central bank keeps interest rate flat

Morocco’s central bank, said it is maintaining its benchmark interest rate at 2.5 percent because inflation will remain subdued. The bank’s quarterly report revealed that inflation reached 1.5 percent on average in the first two months of 2015, slightly higher than the forecast in December when it predicted 1.2-1.3 percent inflation in the first quarter of 2016. The bank, which cut its interest rate twice by 50 basis points in 2014, said that the country’s current account deficit is expected to drop to 4 percent of GDP in 2015, from 5.9 percent a year. [Morocco World News, 3/25/2015]

Also of interest:
Welcome to Startup Egypt | WSJ
Egypt business environment retains investment hurdles, says World Bank economist | DNE
World Bank praises Saudi Arabia for fighting graft | Al-Arabiya
Oman swings to $937 million budget deficit in 2014 | Reuters
Abu Dhabi’s non-oil trade in fourth quarter reaches 39.4 billion dirhams | Gulf News