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U.A.E. Economy to Expand 3.2% in 2010 with Oil at $85 a Barrel

2010-05-30

The United Arab Emirates’ economy may expand as much as 3.2 percent this year with crude oil prices around $85 a barrel, according to Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri.  If oil prices are at $75 a barrel, the Arab world’s second- largest economy will grow between 2 and 2.5 percent this year, al-Mansouri said at a press conference in Dubai today. That’s above the International Monetary Fund’s estimate of 1.3 percent for 2010.  The U.A.E.’s economic growth slowed last year to 1.3 percent, according to the U.A.E. government’s annual economic report, as credit conditions tightened, global trade slowed and demand for commodities weakened.  “Given the state of the global economy, the OPEC-mandated contraction in the oil sector and the problems in Dubai, I’m very surprised the economy showed growth last year,” Simon Williams, a Dubai-based economist at HSBC Holdings Plc, said in an interview today. “I’m still forecasting growth of 2 percent this year.”  Crude oil for July delivery yesterday fell 58 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $73.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. This month’s 14 percent decline was the biggest decrease since December 2008, when prices touched $32.40. Oil in New York dropped more than $12 a barrel in May as the euro’s retreat reduced the appeal of commodities as an alternative investment. The cut increases concern that Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis will worsen and undermine the global economic recovery.  “What we are seeing now is a drop in the price of oil from $80 down to $68, $67, then up to $70, $75,” al-Mansouri said. “This kind of fluctuation and this kind of range we have to take into account. I would be very comfortable with a figure of $80.”  The U.A.E. government expects oil prices between $70 and $90 a barrel in the “short term,” according to the government’s annual economic report released today. Al-Mansouri said oil prices will be between $80 and $85 a barrel this year and in 2011.  The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ fifth- largest producer plans to increase output to meet a 4 percent rise in Asian demand this year and next, according to the annual report. In May, U.A.E. production was unchanged at 2.32 million barrels a day from April, according to Bloomberg data. U.A.E. banks don’t have much “direct” exposure to the European sovereign debt crisis, al-Mansouri said.  Banks in the U.A.E. faced a shortage of funds after the global credit crunch blocked access to foreign money and investors betting on a currency revaluation withdrew cash from the emirates. The government has offered liquidity facilities to banks, lowered the repurchase rate and is discussing a law to allow the federal government to issue debt.  “Oil price trends will be significant, but the ability of U.A.E. banks to restart lending and of local corporates and financials to raise funding from overseas will be more important,” HSBC’S Williams said.  U.A.E. inflation will ease to 1.1 percent this year, after slowing to 1.6 percent in 2009 from 12.3 percent in 2008, the government said in its report today.


 

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