IMF - Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today at the conclusion of a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
"It has been a great pleasure to visit Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where I had the privilege of meeting His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We discussed the economic outlook and current policy developments in Saudi Arabia. I had fruitful discussions with the Minister of Finance H.E. Mohammed Aljadaan and Governor of the Saudi Monetary Authority (SAMA) H.E. Ahmed Alkholifey. I was also pleased to participate in the Future Investment Initiative conference, where I exchanged views with Saudi and global business leaders on economic policy priorities and new models for innovation. I was delighted to meet with Saudi women business leaders, researchers, lawyers and activists. We discussed the recent progress in strengthening women's rights in Saudi Arabia as well as ways to further boost female labor force participation and entrepreneurship.
"Saudi Arabia had made good progress in initiating its ambitious reform agenda. Fiscal consolidation efforts are beginning to bear fruit. Progress with reforms to improve the business environment are gaining momentum, and a framework to increase the transparency and accountability of government is in place. Effective prioritization, sequencing, and coordination of the reforms is essential, and they need to be well-communicated and equitable to gain social buy-in to ensure their success.
"Fiscal adjustment is continuing, with the government containing expenditures and raising additional revenues. A large, sustained, and well-paced fiscal adjustment is needed in the coming years to continue to respond to the effects of lower oil prices on the budget. However, given the strong fiscal buffers, the availability of financing, and the current cyclical position of the economy, fiscal adjustment should be gradual.
"Saudi Arabia is also undertaking reforms to reduce constraints to women entering the workforce. These include subsidizing transportation and childcare costs, expanding the availability of childcare facilities, encouraging greater use of teleworking, and recently, deciding to allow women to drive. Additional incentives to female employment could include supporting female entrepreneurs through dedicated programs under the small and medium enterprise (SME) initiatives, and offering temporary fiscal incentives to help businesses build or reconfigure work spaces to accommodate women in line with social norms.
"I would like to thank the authorities for their generous hospitality."
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API - American Petroleum Institute reported that the first four months of this year saw U.S. petroleum demand average 750 thousand barrels a day above the same period in 2017 despite higher prices, a sign of solid economic activity. April also saw the U.S. produce a record 10.5 million barrels per day (MBD) of oil.
IMF - “Egypt’s growth has continued to accelerate during 2017/18, rising to 5.2 percent in the first half of the year from 4.2 percent in 2016/17. The current account deficit has also declined sharply, reflecting the recovery in tourism and strong growth in remittances, while improved investor confidence has continued to support portfolio inflows. In addition, gross international reserves rose to $44 billion by end-April, equal to 7 months of imports.
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REUTERS - Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $79.57 per barrel at 0310 GMT, up 27 cents, or 0.3 percent from their last close. Brent broke through $80 for the first time since November 2014 on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $71.62 a barrel, up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement.