EQUITY MARKETS FELL
Gulf stock markets may lose steam on Sunday after oil and global equities fell on Friday, although bets on positive fourth-quarter corporate results and dividends may support some stocks.
Oil stabilised for a few days last week and this, coupled with some positive earnings and dividend announcements, helped Gulf stock markets rise in strong trading volumes.
But oil resumed its slide on Friday, with Brent briefly falling below $49 per barrel and ending down for a seventh straight week, although prices recovered slightly from their lows after a sharp drop in the U.S. oil rig count.
Equity markets fell on weak data from Europe, adding to worries about tepid growth around the world. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.5 percent, while U.S. benchmarks Dow Jones and S&P 500 fell 1.0 and 0.8 percent respectively.
Industries Qatar, the Middle East's second-biggest petrochemicals company, said late on Thursday that its board had recommended a 2014 dividend of 7 riyals per share.
This may disappoint investors, as the figure is much lower than the 11-riyal payout for 2013 and analysts' average forecast of 11.13 riyals, and be taken as a negative signal for the region's petrochemical stocks in general.
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U.S. EIA - Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves in the world, in large part because of the heavy oil reserves in the Orinoco Oil Basin. In addition to oil reserves, Venezuela has sizeable natural gas reserves, although the development of natural gas lags significantly behind that of oil. However, in the wake of political and economic instability in the country, crude oil production has dramatically decreased, reaching a multi-decades low in mid-2018.
U.S. BEA - The U.S. current-account deficit increased to $124.1 billion (preliminary) in the first quarter of 2018 from $116.1 billion (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The deficit was 2.5 percent of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, up from 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
WNN - There are 126 operational power reactors in 14 EU Member States, providing more than one-quarter of the bloc's total electricity production. In its Communication on the Nuclear Illustrative Program (PINC) published last year, the European Commission expects nuclear to maintain its significant role in Europe's energy mix up to 2050. This would require investment of some EUR40-50 billion (USD46-58 billion) in nuclear LTO by 2050.
REUTERS - Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was up 50 cents at $75.58 a barrel by 0835 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was 50 cents higher at $65.57.