Saudi trims rate by 100 basis points

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s central bank slashed its benchmark lending rate by 100 basis points yesterday, the second reduction in a month to keep credit markets moving and boost domestic liquidity after inflation receded. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama) reduced the repo rate to three per cent from 4pc and cut the cash reserve requirement local banks have to make on demand deposits to 7pc from 10pc, a Sama spokesperson said. “These measures are taken against the backdrop of receding inflationary pressures and ensuring that adequate system liquidity is available to meet steady domestic demand,” he said. Banks to merge ABU DHABI: The UAE will merge state-run Emirates Industrial Bank with Real Estate Bank, a lender that will take over two Dubai mortgage firms. The official WAM news agency said the move was approved by a ministerial body yesterday. UAE Finance Ministry said earlier that two of Dubai’s biggest property lenders, Amlak and Tamweel, will be merged under a government-owned bank. Trading in both companies’ shares were suspended after the UAE’s finance ministry said it would supervise the merger under the federal government’s Real Estate Bank to ensure a fair valuation and protect shareholders. The combined market value of the firms is 2.5 billion UAE dirhams ($681 million) – roughly one-third of their worth since the two Dubai-based companies first announced merger plans in October 4. BNH celebrates MANAMA: Bahrain National Holding Company (BNH) celebrated the official launch of one of its associates, Gulf Insurance Institute (GII). The institute is geared towards graduating insurance specialists in Bahrain, said a statement. Through the GII, and other training institutes, awareness will be generated towards the need for insurance qualified individuals. The GII has also launched an Internet-based learning portal for its students and members. This exclusive portal offers educational resources such as reading materials, assignments and quizzes. The portal also allows online forums and lecturers through a messaging service. Gulf stocks plummet KUWAIT CITY: Most stock markets in the Gulf slumped on the week’s opener yesterday as intervention by governments failed to restore sentiment among investors worried by global financial turmoil. All seven regional markets dropped, with Dubai, Doha and Saudi shares leading the way. “I think there is much negative sentiment in the Gulf bourses because of the flurry of (bad) news from the international markets,” Global Investment House economic research head Faisal Hasan said. He believes it may be some time yet before markets in the Gulf region start to recover strongly. “I think we are near to the bottom, but stocks are likely to remain volatile for some more weeks,” the analyst said.