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Nasdaq Dubai to launch futures trading; Gulf nations hike rates after Fed move

Editor's note: The publication of this feature was delayed due to technical issues.

* The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates raised interest rates, effective today, on certificates of deposit in line with the increase in U.S. dollar rates, after the U.S. Federal Reserve Board's decision to hike rates by 25 basis points. The central bank also increased by 25 basis points the repo rate for borrowing short-term liquidity.

* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority also raised its repo rate, to 300 basis points from 275 basis points and its reverse repo rate to 250 basis points from 225 basis points. The Central Bank of Bahrain hiked its key rates by 25 basis points, but kept its one-month deposit rate unchanged at 3.25%, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Kuwait maintained its discount rate at 3.0%.

* Sub-Saharan Africa-focused financial group Atlas Mara Ltd. reported nine-month profit attributable to shareholders of $30.6 million, up from $15.8 million a year ago, noting that it expects full-year results to exceed the reported year-to-date profit. Meanwhile, unit ABC Holdings Ltd. completed the partial IPO of African Banking Corp. of Botswana Ltd. on the Botswana Stock Exchange, selling 20.5% to institutional and retail investors. The offering raised $28 million in gross proceeds at a multiple of 1.5x book value as of June 30.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Nasdaq Dubai will launch futures trading on the MSCI UAE equity index on January 15, 2019. The index currently comprises 11 companies that are among the largest in the UAE, including First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC.

* Noor Takaful CEO Rajesh Sethi said the company does not plan to go public any time soon, Al Bayan wrote.

* A draft law prepared by the United Arab Emirates' Securities and Commodities Authority has proposed for the exemption of trading commission in securities from taxes, state news agency WAM reported. It also proposed changing the authority's name to Capital Markets Authority.

* Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority Governor Ahmed al-Kholifey said the regulator has no plans to impose any hurdles on money transfers or change the riyal exchange rate, saying the government has enough tools to protect the local currency, Argaam reported.

* Capital Intelligence Ratings revised the outlooks on the long-term foreign-currency and financial strength ratings of Saudi Arabia-based National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. and Samba Financial Group to stable from negative, while affirming their ratings. The A+ financial strength rating of Banque Saudi Fransi was also affirmed, while the outlook on the bank's ratings was revised to stable.

* CI Ratings revised to stable the outlook on Saudi British Bank and affirmed its A financial strength rating. The rating agency affirmed the A- financial strength rating of Alawwal Bank and revised the outlook to stable from negative. Also affirmed were Arab National Bank's and Riyad Bank's financial strength ratings at A and A+, respectively, with stable outlooks, while the outlooks on their foreign-currency ratings were revised to stable.

* Moody's affirmed the B2/B3 long-term domestic- and foreign-currency deposit ratings of Bahraini lenders BBK BSC and National Bank of Bahrain BSC, as well as the B2/B3 long-term domestic- and foreign-currency senior unsecured and issuer ratings of Khaleeji Commercial Bank BSC and Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC. The outlook on Khaleeji Commercial Bank's long-term ratings remains negative, while the outlooks on those of the other three lenders were changed to stable from negative.

* A.M. Best affirmed the A (Excellent) financial strength rating and "a" long-term issuer credit rating of Qatar Insurance Co. SAQ and its Bermuda-based primary subsidiary, Qatar Reinsurance Co. Ltd. The outlook of these ratings is stable.

* Burgan Bank KPSC said it obtained approval from the Central Bank of Kuwait to issue unsecured bonds in Kuwaiti dinar at up to 150 million dinars, according to Mubasher.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* A.M. Best revised the outlooks to negative from stable and affirmed the B+ (Good) financial strength rating and "bbb-" long-term issuer credit rating of Lebanon-based Arab Reinsurance Co. SAL.

* Mohamed Omran, head of Egypt's Financial Supervisory Authority, said microfinance clients should be covered by insurance policies that cover death and total disability, Al-Masry Al-Youm wrote.

* Commercial International Bank (Egypt) SAE has established corporate venture capital firm CVentures, which would primarily focus on investing in financial technology startups and financial services platforms.

* Egypt signed a $1 billion agreement with the World Bank to support development of the country's private sector, Egypt Independent reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Madagascar held a run-off presidential election yesterday, with former presidents Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina vying against each other, the Associated Press reported. Provisional results are expected within a week.

* Access Bank PLC said it has concluded plans with some partners to raise $250 million in additional capital, as it moves ahead with its planned merger with Nigerian peer Diamond Bank PLC, according to Pulse Live Kenya.

* A.M. Best affirmed the B (Fair) financial strength rating and "bb" long-term issuer credit rating of Ghana Reinsurance Co. Ltd., with a stable outlook.

* Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Inc. dismissed as "unfounded" allegations in some media publications that the pan-African lender overstated its income statements and balance sheet by applying incorrect exchange rates to improve its financial results, especially in Nigeria.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said South Africa, which is currently struggling with rising debt and weak economic growth, has not requested for a financial aid program from the fund, Reuters wrote.

* The World Bank expects Mozambique to boost financial inclusion and stability in the coming years, O País wrote. The institution approved a $40 million donation to the African country to improve the access of citizens to basic services.

* Lawmakers in Cameroon amended the country's tax laws to require health and life insurers to pay VAT on insurance premiums, according to Financial Afrik.

* The IMF approved the disbursement of about $99 million to Gabon after completing the third review of its extended credit facility arrangement for the country. The latest release brings total disbursements under the arrangement to roughly $395.9 million.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Punjab National Bank officials arrested; Bursa Malaysia names CEO

Europe: Natixis, Sydbank profit warnings; Lloyds CEO faces heat; Italy budget deal

Latin America: Agrobanco revival push gets OK; Inverlink, BTG Colombia to open real estate fund

North America: Ex-Goldman banker banned for life; Citi sees $180M loss on loans to Asian fund

Global Insurance: Marriott breach losses; Japan Post-Aflac deal confirmed; new reinsurer launched

Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Padraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.