18 AprKiatnakin shifts focus to large developers

The small Kiatnakin Bank (KKP) has shifted its focus to extending project finance to large property developers.

The move is aimed at mitigating potential risk amid the weak economic recovery and purchasing power plagued by swelling household debt.

The bank began expanding into the large corporate customer base this year to maintain performing assets and gradually push into project finance for residences.

A competitive rate is its main strategy in driving loan growth.

Kiatnakin Bank expects 15% growth in its property-related lending this year due to its small base, said Sarawut Charuchinda, first executive vice-president for commercial lending.

Property-related loans outstanding total 27.2 billion baht, all of them extended to small and medium-sized developers.

Commercial loans account for 26% of the banks total lending at 185 billion baht.

Retail loans amounting to 130 billion baht or 70.1% of total credit dominates Kiatnakin Banks lending portfolio, and automobile loans totalling 124 billion represent the banks biggest portion of retail loans.

Non-performing commercial loans stand at 10% of total commercial loans of 48.1 billion baht.

Even though Kiatnakin Bank has concentrated much more on large property developers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) remain its focus.

With the pre-emptive measures, the bank will lend only to existing and new borrowers with presales of 30-40%.

It also caps borrowers debt-to-equity ratio at 2-3 for low-rise projects and 3-3.5 for high-rise ones.

Some SME developers have lower debt-servicing ability due to the sluggish economy, Mr Sarawut said.

The bank then needs to monitor them closely to provide financial assistance immediately in order to prevent their debts from turning sour.

None of the SME developers has asked the bank for debt restructuring this year.

Despite the lacklustre economy, loan demand for residential projects remains solid.

The bank estimates the combined value of new residential projects located in Greater Bangkok will surge 17% to 400 billion baht this year.

Pent-up demand delayed from last years political chaos and the expansion of urbanisation alongside the mass-transit system are expected to underpin the growth in residential projects value.

KKP shares closed last Fridayon the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 38.50 baht, down 50 satang, in trade worth 65.4 million baht.

18 AprBankrate: Mortgage Rates Retreat to Nearly 2-Year Low

5/1 ARM: 3.08% — up from 3.06% last week (avg. points: 0.19)

Bankrates national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of this weeks move in mortgage rates, go to http://www.bankrate.com/mortgagerates.

The survey is complemented by Bankrates weekly Rate Trend Index, in which a panel of mortgage experts predicts which way the rates are headed over the next seven days. This week the majority of panelists, 60 percent, expect mortgage rates to remain more or less unchanged in the coming week. Thirty percent predict further declines in mortgage rates and just 10 percent forecast a rebound in mortgage rates over the coming week.

For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, go to http://www.bankrate.com/news/rate-trends/mortgage.aspx.

About Bankrate, Inc. (NYSE: RATE)

Bankrate is a leading publisher, aggregator, and distributor of personal finance content on the Internet. Bankrate provides consumers with proprietary, fully researched, comprehensive, independent and objective personal finance editorial content across multiple vertical categories including mortgages, deposits, insurance, credit cards, and other categories, such as retirement, automobile loans, and taxes. The Bankrate network includes Bankrate.com, CreditCards.com, InsuranceQuotes.com and Caring.com, our flagship websites, and other owned and operated personal finance websites, including Interest.com, Bankaholic.com, Mortgage-calc.com, CreditCardGuide.com, CarInsuranceQuotes.com, Insweb.com, CreditCards.ca, and NetQuote.com. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of over 600 local markets, Bankrate generates rate tables in all 50 US states. Bankrate develops and provides web services to over 100 co-branded websites with online partners, including some of the most trusted and frequently visited personal finance sites on the Internet such as Yahoo!, AOL, CNBC, and Bloomberg. In addition, Bankrate licenses editorial content to over 500 newspapers on a daily basis including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

For more information contact:
Kayleen Yates
Senior Director, Corporate Communications
[email#160;protected] 
(917) 368-8677          

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bankrate-mortgage-rates-retreat-to-nearly-2-year-low-300066847.html

SOURCE Bankrate, Inc.

18 AprMoney has many in a spin

The survey, conducted for Money by the Beddoes Institute, a financial consultancy, asks 10 questions. Based on the answers, survey respondents are put into one of three categories – strong, average and vulnerable to making mistakes when managing money.

About one third of respondents agreed with the survey question: Solving problems with intuition and gut feel has served me well.

About 40 per cent agreed that: No one can talk me out of something I know is right.

And about a third agreed they would rather have $50 today than wait a year to collect $100.

Adam Tucker, the director of the Beddoes Institute, says the results show many people have a propensity for superficial decision-making. That, combined with a determination to maintain a course of action is a concern, he says.

We know from our research that we all overestimate our own abilities, Dr Tucker says.

And intuition is a poor substitute for thinking through the facts carefully, he says.

We all have biases that lead us to make mistakes in financial decision-making. Some of them appear to be hard-wired in our brains. They are instincts that were needed in our early evolutionary history for survival.

We are always on the lookout for risks, which means we can be too risk-averse and miss opportunities.

We also have a tendency to chase past performance: that is, to extrapolate past performance into the future whether it is chasing the top-performing shares, managed funds or superannuation funds.

Psychological research shows we tend to trust better-looking people even though, of course, there is no relationship between looks and trustworthiness.

Drew Hickey, a financial adviser with Navwealth, says the survey results show Australians are fairly optimistic and trust their instincts.

However, its really hard to assess your own financial strategy objectively, Hickey says.

They overlook important areas like reducing and eliminating debt, believing they can push this down the road and everything will be fine, he says.

Of course, we are all vulnerable, including even the most financially literate, to procrastination and inaction and to making mistakes to the detriment of our financial health.

It is often doing the simplest things that can make the biggest difference. It can be something as simple as doing a budget, Hickey says.

Trying to build a financial future without a budget is like trying to build a house on sand, he says.

If you do not know what money comes in and what money goes out, you wont have a strong foundation to build anything, he says.

Hickey says good, objective advice from someone who is not emotionally tied to your current strategy can confirm whether you are on the right track.

Troy Theobald, director of financial services and financial planner at Robina Financial Solutions, says gut feel is not a great way for people to manage their financial futures.

Most people could do with good, ongoing financial advice, particularly when it comes to saving for a comfortable retirement.

People can expect to live for 30 years or more in retirement, he says. And a lot will change over that time.

Look at what has changed, including technology, over the past 30 years, Theobald says.

Anyone who did not make changes in their financial strategy over the past 30 years is unlikely to be in good financial shape today, he says.

Further changes to the age pension and superannuation rules are likely, Theobald says.

A good adviser will know the changes and help clients make adjustments where necessary to maximise financial opportunities, he says.

@jcollett_money

18 AprSmart Money: Financial Literacy for Students

FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH – FOCUS ON STUDENTS

#1 – TEACH STUDENTS ABOUT FINANCIAL RECORDKEEPING

This is a good age for your student to begin maintaining a checking and/or savings account.

Teach your student how to balance bank accounts.

Consider rolling coins, collecting refunds from beverage containers, etc. and depositing the funds into a bank account.

Begin to introduce the notion of interest income (and interest expense).

If your student expresses entrepreneurial tendencies, teach ways to maintain financial records for the endeavor.

#2 – EXPOSE STUDENTS TO ELEMENTS OF HOUSEHOLD FINANCES

Each family will need to determine its comfort level with the details that are shared.

Consider sharing the family tax returns. This may become necessary for older students financial aid applications.

Possibly disclose your pay record and explain amounts withheld for taxes, health insurance, retirement savings, etc.

You may choose to share the family budget to demonstrate the costs of running a household.

Communicate your success stories in addition to lessons you have learned from financial mistakes.

Parents should take this opportunity to lead by example (this will also help parents revisit their own fundamentals!).

#3 – EDUCATE STUDENTS REGARDING DEBT

Expose students to the types of debt used in the household (mortgage, automobile loans, credit cards, etc.).

Explain appropriate ways for consumers to wisely utilize debt.

Educate students regarding the risks of excessive and/or inappropriate debt.

Consider providing examples of real-life lessons learned in your household.

#4 – DEVELOP BUDGETING AND SAVING HABITS

Set a plan for saving, giving and spending.

A minimum recommendation is saving 10% and allocating the remainder between giving and spending.

Some families may consider more aggressive allocations to saving and/or giving (eg 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3).

Saving will have greater meaning if the child has specific goals.

Consider at least one short-term and one long-term goal.

Perhaps you could offer an incentive match for amounts that your student saves?

Reinforce behaviors of restraint and patience regarding purchases.

Continue to solidify the difference between true needs and mere wants.

An allowance may be appropriate to develop the connection between working and earning.

#5 – INTRODUCE THE CONCEPT OF TAXATION

This age is not too early to discuss the role of government and the ways that tax revenues fund governments.

Sales tax on purchases is arguably the most straightforward lesson for introducing taxes.

If a child is saving for a purchase, illustrate that the amount to be saved is greater than the sticker price.

Parents may introduce the concept of income taxes, withholding and income tax returns for older students.

Courtesy:

Christopher Harper, CPA, MBA

Senior Manager | Hungerford Nichols

www.hungerfordnichols.com

18 Apr5 things to watch when Wells Fargo, Bank of America report earnings this week

After a tough fourth quarter, the nation’s biggest banks will reveal this week whether they managed a turnaround in the first three months of 2015.

First-quarter earnings season for the largest banks kicks off Tuesday, when Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase amp; Co. report their results. Charlotte’s Bank of America will release its earnings Wednesday.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup – three of the four largest US banks – disappointed investors in the fourth quarter as they posted lower profits compared with the same period the year before. Only Wells Fargo posted higher earnings.

Here’s what to watch for when the latest quarterly numbers come out:

1. How’s the mortgage business?

Big banks are major mortgage lenders and depend heavily on their home-lending operations. But their mortgage revenues have taken a big hit in recent years in large part because mortgage rates started rising in 2013, causing their refinancing business to decline.

Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo reported lower mortgage originations in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter the year before. The figures they and other banks release this week will show whether they posted better mortgage results in the first three months of this year – the start of the typically busy spring homebuying season.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo have laid off thousands of mortgage workers nationwide in recent years as refinancing activity has waned and as fewer borrowers have fallen behind on mortgage payments, creating less need for employees who handle delinquent loans. Some of those layoffs have been in the Charlotte region.

Wells Fargo employs roughly 23,000 locally across various business lines, and Bank of America employs about 15,000.

With Wells Fargo being the nation’s biggest mortgage lender, CEO John Stumpf is likely to discuss the state of the US housing market Tuesday, as he usually does when the lender releases its earnings each quarter. Mortgages are crucial to Wells’ fortunes with about 8 percent of its total revenues in 2014 coming from mortgage banking.

2. What’s the economy looking like?

The nation’s biggest banks can serve as a barometer for the health of the broader US economy. During Bank of America’s fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Brian Moynihan said the economy was improving, but he also described an “ongoing slow economic sluggishness.”

During Wells Fargo’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Stumpf said he was optimistic about progress the economy was making, but he also noted that the economy was not experiencing “breakout” growth. Stumpf said US job gains as well as accelerated growth in gross domestic product were among signs of strength in the US economy in 2014.

3. Will Bank of America’s legal costs go up or down?

Since the financial crisis, Bank of America has spent billions to resolve litigation, much of it stemming from its purchases of Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. Those legal costs have weighed heavily on its earnings.

The lender said a $16.65 billion settlement it struck last year with the US government over toxic mortgages resolved a significant portion of its outstanding mortgage-related legal matters. But investors continue to closely monitor the bank’s legal costs and will be paying attention to the latest legal figures disclosed in its earnings report.

Quarterly earnings reports are also where Bank of America, like other companies, tends to disclose any new legal challenges. So, the bank’s investors will be looking out for that, too.

4. Will Bank of America say anything about its latest ‘stress test’?

Bank of America surprised some analysts and investors last month when it disclosed that the Federal Reserve wants it to correct issues the regulator found at the bank during its annual “stress test.” The test is designed to determine the losses major banks might suffer in a hypothetical economic downturn.

The Fed said Bank of America would meet a range of minimum capital ratios under two hypothetical recession scenarios. And it gave the bank permission to repurchase $4 billion in common stock. But the regulator also told the bank it needed to fix “deficiencies” and “weaknesses” in its capital planning process – as well as resubmit its capital plan – by Sept. 30. Moynihan could face questions on the matter from analysts during the bank’s earnings conference call Wednesday.

5. Did their trading businesses improve?

A slump in trading business at Bank of America, JPMorgan and Citigroup contributed to the lower overall profits for those banks in the fourth quarter. Market volatility spiked in the fourth quarter, resulting in banks seeing lower demand for securities and commodities trading, among other things.

In its outlook for the first quarter, analysts at Keefe, Bruyette amp; Woods said they expect big banks to report improvements in their trading business. But the banks’ results will also reflect the challenges they still face growing profit margins at a time when interest rates remain low, KBW said.

17 AprVOLTA FINANCE – ANNOUNCEMENT OF 13 APRIL 2015 INVESTOR CALL

*****
  
Guernsey, 8 April 2015 -Following the publication of the Semi-Annual Report and Accounts 2015, Volta Finance Limited will host a conference call for analysts and shareholders on Tuesday the 13th April 2015 at 10:30 (France time) / 9:30 (UK time) to give them the opportunity to have a direct contact with Directors of the Company and the Investment Manager.

Investors calling from the UK may access the conference by dialing +44 (0) 203 427 1912
Investors calling from France may access the conference by dialing +33 (0) 1 76 77 2228
Confirmation code : 7955905

Investors calling from other countries can call either one of these numbers.

*****

ABOUT VOLTA FINANCE LIMITED

Volta Finance Limited is incorporated in Guernsey under The Companies (Guernsey) Law, 2008 (as amended) and listed on NYSE Euronext Amsterdam. Its investment objectives are to preserve capital and to provide a stable stream of income to its shareholders through dividends. For this purpose, it pursues a multi-asset investment strategy targeting various underlying assets. The assets that the Company may invest in either directly or indirectly include, but are not limited to: corporate credits; sovereign and quasi-sovereign debt; residential mortgage loans; automobile loans. Volta Finance Limited`s basic approach to its underlying assets is through vehicles and arrangements that provide leveraged exposure to some of those underlying assets.

Volta Finance Limited has appointed AXA Investment Managers Paris an investment management company with a division specialised in structured credit, for the investment management of all its assets.

ABOUT AXA INVESTMENT MANAGERS

17 AprPutting your tax refund to good use

(NEWS CENTER) — You still have about a week and a half to file your taxes, but for those who have already done it, the IRS says as of March 14th theyve sent out more than 61 million refunds! And those refunds add up to about 179 billion dollars. If youve gotten a piece of that total, you may be tempted to go on a shopping spree.

But certified financial planner Sarah Halpin with the Danforth Group of Wells Fargo Advisors sat down with NEWS CENTERs Jackie Ward to tell you how to be financially savvy with your tax refund.

Watch the video above for the full interview.

Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund Check March 2014

Consider taking 10% of a tax refund check and just have fun spending it. Then use the remaining 90% towards one of 5 tips below which can have longer term financial benefits.

Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt

Eliminate high-interest debt by paying off all or a large percentage of your credit card balances. Using your refund to pay off a balance with an 18% interest rate is like earning 18% on your investments! Reducing or eliminating debt can also help your credit rating and improve your monthly cash flow.

Rebuild Your Emergency Fund

Many people raided their emergency funds over the past year and have had little extra money to restore them. You could use your refund to start rebuilding your fund, which can help you avoid landing in credit card debt if you have an emergency. Generally, you should have at least five to six months living expenses easily accessible in a money-market account or a savings account that earns interest as an emergency fund.

Make an Extra Mortgage or Car Loan Payment

Pay off your mortgage faster and reduce the balance on any car loan with this years tax refund check. Reducing the loan balance on these accounts can also reduce your monthly payments, or at least shorten your debt repayment period. Making a larger, lump sum payment toward a mortgage or a car loan payment can also increase your net worth because you will be carrying less debt.

Boost retirement savings.

If you have earned income, you have until April 15, 2014 to contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA for 2013 (or $6,500 if age 50 or older). If your 2013 modified adjusted gross income is $127,000 or less if youre single, or $188,000 or less if youre married filing jointly, then you can contribute fully or partially to a Roth IRA, which lets you withdraw the money tax-free in retirement. If you earn too much for a Roth, you can contribute to a nondeductible traditional IRA, then convert it to a Roth.

Talk to your financial advisor and/or your tax advisor to see what makes sense for your situation.

Revise Your Tax Withholding

Though it might seem nice to get a refund, it actually means that you were giving the government an interest-free loan for the year. Wouldnt it be better to have a bigger paycheck instead of lending Uncle Sam all that money interest-free every year? Use a tax withholding calculator and check with your employer to see whether you can adjust your tax withholding and give yourself an instant pay raise.

17 AprTelling seniors to report elder abuse

SOMERSET #x2014; At the Somerset Council On Aging center on Monday morning, Assistant District Attorney Courtney Cahill told senior citizens about the symptoms of elder abuse and asked them to keep their eyes and ears open to help their families, friends and neighbors with such cases.

Elder abuse is very under reported because nobody wants to report it, said Cahill who is prosecuting a man in Somerset for neglect that contributed to the death of his 88-year-old mother.

Cahill, the chief of the domestic violence unit and works on cases of crimes against people of disabilities and elder abuse, which can often overlap, said victims of elder abuse oftentimes will not report it because they do not want to be placed in a nursing home. So, she said the abuse continues because of fear.

Cahill said there are multiple types of elder abuse that include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse and self neglect. She said the fire chief and police chief in Somerset worry about elderly people who live alone.

Cahill said physical abuse can include not just hitting someone, but also restraining someone, over medication and under medication. She said emotional abuse can include intimidation through yelling and threatening. She said people think of bullying happening in elementary schools, but said it also happens to senior citizens. She said ignoring somebody is emotional abuse.

Cahill said there have been a lot of cases of healthcare givers sexually abusing people with disabilities because they can not speak out for themselves.

Cahill said neglect or abandonment is another form of abuse.

Sometimes neglect is unintentional, but they dont know the needs of the people they are taking care of, Cahill said.

Cahill said a lot of times abuse happens because a relative who is doing the caretaking is overwhelmed but thinks he or she is doing a good job. Cahill described an awful case in Hanover where a man was duct taping his father to a chair and putting food and drinks where he could reach them while he was watching television while the son was at work. She said the son did not think he was doing anything wrong because he provided all of those things.

But its not OK, Cahill said.

Cahill said financial exploitation of senior citizens can involve stealing checks by forging names and cashing them. She said bank tellers often know people who are taking care of senior citizens so dont know there is such a problem. She said people taking care of senior citizens have access to Social Security numbers or Medicaid numbers that they can use to steal someones identity so that they can use it to obtain credit cards, automobile loans or mortgages. Cahill said the elderly in the United States lost about $2.9 billion to fraud each year.

Its a lot of money, she said.

Cahill said elderly women are twice as likely to fall for financial fraud as men, especially if they have Type A personalities who want to make decisions right away. She said a lot of times they get scammed soon after losing a spouse or leaving a home.

Cahill said there are scams done with books and magazines where they are sent to a person and then a person calls up asking if the person remembered ordering them. She said to beware of receiving unsolicited items.

Cahill told the senior citizens never to wire money when somebody they do not know calls them on the phone and asks them to do that.

That is the key, Cahill said. You dont have to wire money anywhere. I think western Union is still in business just because of scams.

Cahill said if people they dont know call them up asking for money, just to hang up on them.

You have a license to be rude, Cahill said.

Cahill also told the senior citizens about fraud and abuse of healthcare. She said doctors sometimes bill for services that have not been provided and get kickbacks for providing certain equipment and medications to patients who do not need them. She said if a new medication a doctor has put them on costs $70 or $80 more than the previous medication they had been taking for the same problem, they should question it.

Cahill said if a person taking care of an elderly person is not properly trained, they need to speak up. She said certified nurses assistants who provide home health care is one of the fastest growing fields, but said the CNAs do not always have the proper training. She said if the CNA is supposed to in the home for two hours because that is how long they are being paid for, the family member paying for it should make sure that time has been spent. She said senior citizens often have a lot of pride and may tell CNAs to go home early.

Cahill told the people in the room on Monday that if they see elder abuse, they need to report it, even if their friend gets mad at them, because that friend will eventually be a friend again.

Cahill told the audience to watch for bruises with finger prints because those would not have come from bumping up against the wall. She said if people hear an increased number of arguments between caregivers and elderly, that could be the start of abuse.

Cahill said if a person has not seen a friend for a long time, that could be a sign of abuse. She said if people do not want to see people who they have been friends with, are depressed, are jumpy or have change of attitudes, those could be signs of emotional abuse that could lead to physical abuse. She said some of those signs also can point to sexual abuse. Cahill told the people in attendance at her presentation that if a friend changes their routine, they should ask them why. She said a person who had been well groomed who is not anymore, is losing weight or is dehydrated could be being abused. Cahill said if a person always kept a house clean and is not anymore, that could be a sign of self neglect or caregiver neglect. She said those also can be signs of the onset of dementia or Alzheimers disease. Cahill said a person not using a furnace when it is cold is a sign of self neglect.

Cahill said signs and symptoms of financial neglect can be a person who regularly goes to lunch with someone saying they can not go to lunch anymore, not having the electricity on in their home or not paying bills. She said a person who decides to change a will for someone they have not talked about in a long time may be being financially exploited. Cahill said if a person does not have access to their checking accounts and ATM accounts anymore, they may have experienced financial exploitation.

Cahill said people need to make sure there are not hidden fees on bills. Cahill said it is really hard for someone to confide in someone that they have been abused. She said it may take a couple of conversations, but if the person will not say anything and a person can clearly see that person has been abused, it should be reported. She said reports can be made anonymously.

Cahill said reporting elder abuse does not necessarily mean someone will be arrested and put in prison. She said her office will work with the senior citizen to make sure the abuse stops and that person is OK.

Of course, we want to hold our offenders accountable, but one of our goals is also victim safety, Cahill said.

Cahill said victims can not be forced to get services at a Council On Aging or in other places. But she said the person talking to the person should try to make it like it is the victims idea to get help, so that they do not feel like they are losing their independence.

At the COA center on Monday, Cahill and Eric Poulin, a program manager for community affairs for the Bristol County District Attorneys Office, also passed out brochures about elder abuse and numbers to call to report abuse. They also gave the seniors information from a federal campaign called Pass It On to prevent financial fraud.

The presentation was sponsored by Somerset Triad, a group of representatives from the Bristol County Sheriffs Office, Somerset police and fire departments and Council On Aging who work on issues to protect senior citizens and improve their quality of life. Some of the people who attended the presentation also included Triad President Arlene Silvia, Triad Vice President Tom McDonald and Triad Secretary Eileen Chmielewski, Fire Chief Scott Jepson, COA Director Traci Thibault and Monique Stylos who is in charge of Triad for the Sheriffs Department. Police Chief George McNeil arranged for Cahill to make the presentation at the COA.

Cahill told the people at the presentation on Monday to go home to talk to their friends and neighbors about what they learned about elderly abuse so they could also help identify it.

You have to intervene, Cahill said. You cant be silent. We talk about the silent bystander. You cant be the silent bystander.

17 AprBank lending to Saudi private sector records healthy growth

 

Bank lending to the Saudi private sector recorded a healthy growth in February, according to economic researchers.

Economic data was strong for February, reflecting the impact of the royal decrees issued in January, stated the Saudi Chartbook of April 2015, released by Jadwa Investment.

Cash withdrawals from ATMs recorded a significant monthly increase in response to the two months’ salary bonus, said the report.

The withdrawals grew by 43.4 percent year-on-year, its fastest since April 2011, when a similar bonus was also announced.

PMI points to a healthy expansion in the nonoil sector, according to the Jadwa report. PMI rose to 58.5 in February, reflecting a strong start to non-oil private sector activity in 2015.

Cement production and sales enjoyed a strong start to 2015, with February production and sales up by 14.1 percent and 12.2 percent year-on-year respectively, despite a seasonal monthly slowdown.

In February, government deposits and reserves fell by $8 billion (SR30 billion) and $27 billion (SR100 billion) respectively, indicating that the government remains committed to maintaining a high level of spending. The elevated spending was partially financed by a drawdown from foreign reserves, which fell by $20 billion in February.

According to the chart book, foreign reserves were probably used to finance additional government spending during the period. Oil revenues — estimated at $11.5 billion in February — were not sufficient enough to mitigate the impact of higher spending on foreign reserves.

Money supply grew at its fastest monthly rate in 26 months as the elevated level of government spending was felt through the domestic economy. Deposits increased significantly as a result of the two-month salary bonus, while currency outside banks also grew at its fastest rate since August, 2011.

M3 grew by 4 percent, month-on-month, its fastest in two years, reflecting the elevated level of government spending in the domestic economy.

Deposits also increased significantly in February, with demand deposits growing by 5.6 percent, also the highest month-on- month growth in two years, boosted by the salary bonus.

The high level of liquidity was also reflected in currency outside banks, growing by 7.8 percent, month-on-month in February, the highest monthly growth since August, 2011. 

Bank lending to the private sector recorded healthy growth in February, growing by 0.8 percent month-on-month, and 11.4 percent year-on-year but the high growth in deposits caused the loan-to -deposit ratio to fall back to its December 2014 level, at 79.4.

Bank holdings of SAMA bills fell for the third consecutive month in February.

“Nonetheless, we expect bank holdings of SAMA bills to rise in coming months to absorb the excess liquidity in the economy,” the Jadwa researchers said their report.

The report said that SAMA introduced changes to consumer lending data, both current and historical, to correct for data on real estate lending, financial leasing, and margin lending. As a result, total consumer loans are now lower for each of the nine years (2005-2013), with the gap widening to its greatest extent in 2013.

Under the new classification, real estate lending, financial leasing, and margin lending have been excluded from consumer loans. The new data now excludes real estate financing from the renovation and home improvement category, causing the new total value of renovation and home improvement loans to fall significantly in recent years.

The exclusion of financial leasing also means that the cars and automobile loans category is now lower. The difference between old and new data in this category widened in recent years to reach SR27 billion in 2013.

CPI slowed for the sixth consecutive month, reaching 2.1 percent year-on-yea in February, the chartbook added.

Both the core index and foodstuffs continued to slow while housing inflation rose. Foodstuffs continued to slow as international food prices continued their deflationary trend, according to the report.

The acceleration in housing inflation was mainly pushed by a rise in rentals for housing. Foodstuffs slowed to 1.7 percent, year-on-year, as international food prices continued their deflationary trend while housing inflation rose, pushed by rental inflation, which accelerated to 4 percent, year-on-year.

The value of nonoil exports continued to decline in January, reflecting the impact of lower prices, since volumes exported recorded a monthly increase from 3.7 million tons in December to 3.9 million tons in January. 

The value of imports have also recorded a decline in both monthly and year-on-year terms. January imports declined by 9.4 percent month-on-month and 9.1 percent year-on-year.

While imports recorded a decline, new LOCs opened point to a stable level of imports in coming months.

The report said that global oil prices remained depressed in March. Oil prices were down marginally, month-on-month, in March as ample global supply continued to weigh down both WTI and Brent. Brent averaged $56 per barrel in March compared to $58 per barrel a month earlier. US oil production continued to outweigh domestic demand leading to continued growth in commercial crude stocks.

According to the report, Saudi Arabia’s output is likely to increase in the near future as the Yasref refinery is fully online. Bad weather again hampered exports and Iraqi production in February whilst Libyan supply was affected by internal conflict.

Latest data for January shows that colder weather and a drop in Iraqi exports led to Saudi exports rising to 7.5m bpd.

Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) was down in March as a combination of persistently low oil prices, instability in Yemen and the possibility of sanctions being lifted from Iran had a negative impact on sentiment among investors, said the chartbook.

The TASI recorded its first drop after two consecutive months of positive performance.

“Although the TASI dropped in March we expect a recovery in April as the opening up of the Tadawul is announced,” said the researchers.

Performance in the month down by 4.6 percent but this was the same story across regional markets too, according to the chart book.

Average daily turnover declined by 4.8 percent in March, reflecting more subdued investor activity related to lower oil prices and uncertainty in regional geopolitical events. Real estate, banks and petchem sectors dominated daily turnover.

Copyright: Arab News  2015 All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

17 AprFBI places Scots businessman Afzal Khan on ‘most wanted’ list

The offences allegedly took place while Mr Khan ran Emporio Motor Group in New Jersey

On its website, the FBI states: From approximately December 2013 to September 2014, Khan allegedly obtained loans for vehicles that were never delivered, obtained loans for vehicles without proper title, and issued insufficient funds checks.

Khan also allegedly offered to sell vehicles on consignment and then neither returned the vehicles nor provided any funds for the vehicle sales.

One financial institution has an estimated exposure of $1.7m in automobile loans.

The FBI also stated that additional fraudulent loans, and about 75 individual victims, had also been identified.

According to the agency, Mr Khan has a scar on his right arm and has used the aliases Afzal Ahmad Khan, Bobby Khan and Robby Khan.

It is thought he could travel to the United Arab Emirates, Canada, the United Kingdom or Pakistan.