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Saudi Stock Exchange 3Q-2012 Review



The market remained under the firm grip of volatility compared to last quarter, specifically by the end of the quarter. The market which began its 3Q journey on a strong foot, and rallied for consecutive 2 months (starting from July 18 till mid-September) witnessed heavy profit booking during the last sessions of September. Earnings estimations of either side together with uncertain economic aspects of Euro zone and oil prices fluctuations continued to add volatility to the market. TASI’s initial 3Q bull-run remained quite ephemeral as better expectations of 2Q earnings initially lifted market but soon profit booking actions spoiled the party. However, from this low level, the market got a flood of bulls and started-off one of its best journey from July 18. The benchmark gained 609.95 points within a span of two months, in lieu of all positive news inflow from corporate side as well as from economic circle. Investors remained upbeat during September, ahead of the FOMC’s monetary policy decision with expectations of more monetary easing growing. Sentiment also boosted by hopes that a ruling by a German Constitutional Court on the legality of the ESM will act as catalyst for positive developments. By September 15, 2012, the market board was showing a gain of around 9% over June 30 closing. As the party was cheering all these gains, the benchmark came under the firm grip of bears, mainly due to earning concerns and Muthanna-logouncertainty in oil markets, which in turn affected sentiment; particularly in the banking and petrochemical sector. The falling spree-post September 15, gained a further pace by the month end and the market lost 326 points (4.56%) within last two weeks of the month. Saying so, by 3Q end, TASI managed to save some of its earlier gains and ended the period with a 1.94% (129.92 points) gain only. In totality, Year 2012 is witnessing a sort of alternate session of peak and trough as in 1Q, it added 22.09% but lost 14.36% in 2Q. The index touched its quarter-peak on September 01, to reach 7,179.49 and touched its low on July 18, at 6,555.91, reflecting a range bound of 623 in the quarter, which is clearly reflected in its double digit volatility. On the country news side, government has drawn mega plans across the board for the public welfare. The Kingdom has approved USD 72 billion worth of infrastructure projects in Year 2012 and see no full stop. In the Healthcare, Saudi Arabia plans to open 132 new hospitals – adding 26,700 beds to its current healthcare landscape, in next two years. On the construction side, the list is too long in terms of water, residential, solar and roads construction projects, especially for 3 big cities of Mecca, Riyadh and Jeddah. In a nutshell, despite of IMF projecting a small deficit by 2017 and growing affiliation of the Saudi market to Global downfall and slowdown, we believe the long term story for the country remains intact given the emerging role of private industry as well as improving job scenarios, living standard and controlled inflation.
Across the Market
Despite 1Q-12 strong earnings, the market embraced a downswing mainly due to Eurozone crisis as well as by sliding oil prices.


a. Of tabulated 15 sectors, with an exception of the Banks & Financial Services plus Cement sector, all 13  sectors witnessed black signs on their boards, mainly buoyed by strong oil prices and active interest of Saudi government on infrastructure plans.

b. The benchmark witnessed one new listing; Catering in the Agriculture & Food Industries on July 09, 2012, thus taking total tally to 156.

c. On the Sector Indices front, the Cement was the worst performer, as it lost 4% on the Index front as well as 0.8% on the market capitalization front. Out of 10 listed stocks, 7 witnessed a quick erosion in their market cap, especially sector’s bellwethers like Southern Province (sharing 21% of sector market cap), Saudi Cement (sharing 20.5% of sector market cap) and Yamamah Cement (sharing 13.6% of sector market cap) lost 0.75%, 2.49% and 11.45% respectively. Hail cement was the only double digit gainers for the month as it added 11.18% in the market cap. During the quarter, Southern Province announced about the delay of the operation of the third mill in Jazan Plant, which dragged down the price level.

d. On the market capitalization side, the market cap mirrored the overall index performance; as out of 15, baring 3 namely – the Cement, Petrochemical and Banks 12 sectors added value in their market cap in a range of 1.5% to 43.9%. The Petrochemical sector remained an exception as it grew by 0.2% on Index level but contracted by 0.3% on the market cap side. Such odd behavior is mainly due to fall in SABIC and Saudi Kayan which reported a dip of 1.89% and 12.08% q-o-q basis. Overall market capitalization soared to SAR 1.371 trillion, from SAR 1.337 trillion a quarter ago. 3 major sectors namely, Banks & Financial Services, Petrochemical and Telecommunication continued to account for 66% of total market capitalization. Lower than 68% a quarter ago.

e. The Insurance sector remained the best performer on both the fronts; as it surged 35% on Index level while added 44% on the market cap corner. Amana Co-Operative reported a whopping gain of 662.76% in the quarter while Allied Co-Operative Insurance almost tripled its market cap in the period. In addition, Gulf General and Saudi Arabian Co-Ops Insurance inflated by 124% and 100% respectively, thus provided a booming impetus to Insurance.

f. Following the Insurance, Multi-Investment sector remained another outperformer in the period, gaining 19% in its market cap, mainly due to robust performance of its bellwether Kingdom Holding Co. which added SAR 8.71 trillion alone (19.42%) in the total sector addition of SAR 9.46 trillion.

g. Out of 156 stocks, as of October 11, 39 stocks announced their 3Q earnings. As per Gulfbase, total market earnings (announced so far) reached SAR 25.28 billion, up by 2.55 from a year ago. The improvement in earnings is a clear proof that market remained a lead indicator of better sentiments in the course.

Latest 9M-FY2012 Earnings Snapshot
Earnings Remain Flat Till Report Writing


Banking, the market heavyweight, remained the biggest booster for total market earnings by sharing 58.74% of total announced earnings till the report writing date. As per the latest earning status (source: Gulfbase), in the banking space, Bank Al Jazeera was the best outperformer as it reported a growth of 10.9.35% in its bottom line on y-o-y basis. On contrary, Banque Saudi Fransi was the lone lender to witness a drop in its net profit by 1.87% on annual basis. Islamic lender, Alinma bank, reported a robust growth of 78.3% in its bottom-line for the 9M-2012. In the Petrochemical space, Methanol Chemical Co. remained an exception to the matrix by reporting a surge of 63% in its net profit whereas all other reported a dip, led by Saudi Kayan and Sahra Petrochemical. Saudi Kayan reported a net loss of SAR 577.82 million as against a net loss of SAR 59.5 a year ago whereas Sahara reported a net profit of SAR 139 million, way down from a net profit of SAR 407 million a year ago. In totality, these two sectors jointly shared 77% of total market earnings so far. The Cement sector also performed quite well as 6 out of 10 listed entities announced their earnings for 9M and reported a surge of 17.45%, in which Yanbu outshined all others in terms of profit growth during the period. In the Agricultural side, Almarai continued to dominate the sector with its robust earnings, as the dairy products producer reported a total net profit of SAR 1.07 billion, up by 5.67% from a year ago.

* *
Market Movers
Small Caps Dominated Both the Ends


Market Momentum


a. The top gainers remained a diversified group; with a combination of companies from the Real Estate; Telecommunication; Banking and Petrochemical sector. However; activities across the above counters were largely driven by news flows (either Q2FY12 earnings or specific company announcements)

b. Dar Alarkan Real Estate Dev Co was the most active stock as it reported a jump of 9.2% in its 6M-2012 net income, which was welcomed by investors. In other development, the company disclosed that it had fully repaid USD 1 billion Sukuk- due in July. These two news acted as catalyst for the company’s market cap, which saw a run of 23.5% during the quarter.

c. Mobile Telecommunications Co – Zain KSA followed Dar Al Arkan post the capital restructuring during the quarter. The mobile operator increased its capital through a rights issue to dilute its accumulated losses as well as to ease the “debt to equity” stretching ratio.

What Lies Ahead
The Saudi economy is bursting by surplus despite few economic issues surfacing to hinder economic pace. Let’s look-upon some promising key economic developments of this economy:
? As per SAMA (Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency), the current account surplus has widened to USD 158bn in 2011, equivalent to 27.5% of GDP; up by 137.4% on y-o-y basis.? The Construction sector is booming, primarily driven by new contracts awarded totaled USD 72bn, up by 140.0% y-o-y.
? The country’s external position remains safe, by two P’s – Price and Production pertaining to Oil. Firstly, oil prices is about to remain strong in near term and even if it drops, the fall will limit oil price near USD 100/barrel. Secondly, the country increased its production by around 11% in 2011 and continue to enhance it further by 5% approximately in 2012, in a bid to ease out pressure on oil prices. Jointly, these two factors are poised to strengthen the economic position of Saudi Arabia.
? Total foreign reserves reached USD 605bn by July 2012, up by 19.7% y-o-y basis, meaning that SAMA is continued to divert majority of its surpluses towards reserve assets.
? Overall PMI continue to hang above 50, which separates expansion from contraction. Definitely, this PMI number is in sharp contrast to recently figures appeared on the board from China and Euro Zone, which are firmly below 50.
? Concern: Economic growth with this pace is certain to slow down based upon certain assumptions like declining oil prices post a stability in the ME region, stabilizing oil production after 2 years of spurt to meet demand and continuity of rising import bill to quench the thirst of infrastructure needs. In totality, Saudi Arabia is doing her best to diversify its economy away from oil. Keenness to approve and quick implementation of major infrastructure projects in three big cities; namely Riyadh, Jeddah and Mecca in addition to kick-off several housing projects to eliminate housing issues are live examples of government determination. Not only this, the country is also searching new avenues to generate electricity through solar channel so as to reduce oil consumption for electricity generation. As per a recent report from Business Monitor Index, clearly states that BMI’s infrastructure team expects this growth to average 9.2% in real terms in 2012 and further estimate this sector to grow by average 5.6% from 2012 to 2016. Need not to say that activation of new Mortgage Law from October 2012, will further boost the lending sentiments.
We reiterate our last report wordings the Saudi economy is certainly showing a lot of improvement and discipline as reflected in a smart growth of non-oil related sectors. The economy has marked a real GDP of 4.1% and 7.1% in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and we believe it will continue to grow with all corners contribution.
However, as a concern, this growth may slow down- backed by certain issues as highlighted in our foresaid paragraph and the economy may grow within a range of 5 to 5.5% in 2012 and may decelerate“below 5%” in 2014.
Report Contributor

Prepared by:
Shoyeb Ali, Vice President, [email protected]

Muthanna Research
For further enquiries, kindly contact us at:
Muthanna Investment Research
Safat Square, Baitak Tower, 32nd Floor, Kuwait
Tel : +965 2298 7000
mail: [email protected]




Top 8 Tax Scams to Watch Out For



Top 8 Tax Scams to Watch Out For 1

It is tax time and that means finding the best way to file your taxes and to get a refund of any amount you’ve overpaid. Unfortunately, tax time also means plenty of scammers are thinking of new and clever ways to try and get their hands on your money or on your personal information (which they can use to get money).

Those who specialize in IRS tax scams are clever and can be very convincing. Your first line of defense is to always know what to be looking for in terms of common tax fraud in order to avoid being another victim.

8 Most Common Tax Scams

Protecting yourself from IRS tax scams can be tricky if you’re not aware of what the threats are. A good tax scam seems legitimate, and that is what makes them dangerous. Always be on the lookout for the eight most common tax scams, including:

  • IRS Phone Scams
  • Fake IRS Emails
  • Fraudulent Tax Preparers
  • Fraudulent Tax Refunds
  • Fake Charities
  • Set Up Offshore Accounts
  • Empty Promises
  • Frivolous Returns

To know what exactly you need to watch out for, let’s look at them in more detail.

1. IRS Phone Scams

If someone calls you claiming to be from the IRS, it is almost certainly one of many IRS phone scams. The IRS will never call you to demand money for back taxes or to confirm your personal information, so be immediately alert. Never give personal information over the phone, and don’t head to the bank to follow the demands for money.

If you do wind up on the end of an IRS phone scam, don’t become flustered by aggressive tactics by the fake “agent”. They are good at sounding threatening and demanding information or payments. Remain calm and ask for contact information. Tell the scammer you’ll call them back with the information. Either the scammer will give you fake information or he will work to avoid leaving any information at all. Regardless, don’t call him back. Simply report the call to the local police or the IRS.

2. Fake IRS Emails

Another very common fake IRS scam is phishing, or sending fake IRS emails, in a ploy to gather personal information. Fake emails will look authentic and will ask you to click on a link or to log in to a fake IRS website. The purpose of these emails is to simply gather your personal information to be used for other fraudulent purposes.

Just like with IRS phone scams, you should be immediately wary if the IRS appears to send you an email. The IRS does not contact citizens through email. All official IRS communication will come through standard mail. If you do find a fake IRS email in your inbox, forward it to the IRS. The IRS investigates these scams and has a dedicated email address for this very purpose: [email protected].

3. Fraudulent Tax Preparers

Some scam artists show up in a suit, open a storefront and offer to prepare your tax return for you. These tax preparers appear by all accounts to be absolutely legitimate, and many go to great lengths to convince customers of their years of experience and authenticity.

As a fraudulent tax preparer, however, the person is not legitimate. The scam artist can use your tax return in many ways for his own benefit. He can inflate your refund and skim off the top. He can charge outrageous fees for filing on your behalf. He can file your return correctly this year and gather all of your information to make a fake return for his benefit next year.

If you are going to have someone else prepare your taxes, be sure to look carefully through tax service reviews. Tax service reviews are available on many different websites that offer feedback on companies and services. These reviews will give you a very good idea about the legitimacy of the business and the reliability of the preparer. If a company doesn’t have any tax service reviews on any website, like e.g, or BBB, that may be a sign that it’s a pop-up company that will disappear as soon as the scammer has what he wants.

4. Fraudulent Tax Refunds

Another very popular tax scam starts well before the tax season. To file a fraudulent tax return, the scammer must gather all pertinent personal information including a social security number. He then uses the information he gathered to file a fake tax return on your behalf. Naturally, he’s not going to send you the refund he’s claiming – that goes into the scammer’s pocket.

The best way to prevent a fake tax return is to guard your personal information close at all times. If nobody is able to steal your identity, they can’t file a tax return. Another good step is to file your own tax return as early as possible. That way, even if your information was stolen somehow, you will get your refund correctly and the IRS will be alerted when someone files a second return using your information.

5. Fake Charities

Charitable donations are tax-deductible if you’re itemizing your deductions. This creates possibilities for scammers to take advantage of others who are looking to reduce their tax burden and increase their refund by making donations. Fake charities can take on many shapes and forms.

Some may appear conveniently around tax time or be affiliated with fraudulent tax preparers. The claim is that by donating to a fake charity you will help others and reduce your own tax liability. Instead, you’re giving someone free money and you won’t be able to deduct the donation as it’s not a real charitable organization. Other fake charities involve you in a scam by promising to give you back your donation as soon as the tax return is filed, for example. It goes without saying that claiming a donation you didn’t actually make is tax fraud and highly illegal.

At the advice of his tax preparers, a famous country singer Willie Nelson moved some of his money into tax shelters and charities to help reduce his tax bill. The IRS grew suspicious of the moves and investigated. In one of the most famous IRS cases in the United States, Willie Nelson was hit with a tax bill in the millions when his charities and shelters were found to be invalid.

Willie didn’t have the funds to make the payments, so the bill continued to grow until the IRS finally grew so frustrated they raided and seized all of Willie Nelson’s properties including a recording studio, a ranch, and his home. Even that wasn’t enough to pay the bill, so eventually, Willie made a deal with the IRS. He recorded an album and all proceeds from that album went directly to the IRS to whittle away his debt. Willie did file suit against the accounting firm that advised the tax shelters in the first place, but the two parties settled out of court.

6. Set Up Offshore Accounts

Some tax scams sound good but require your participation in illegal activities. For example, you may meet an unscrupulous tax “professional” who offers to help you move some of your money into an offshore account.

This sounds legitimate as many people use offshore accounts for valid reasons, but by moving your funds into an offshore account with the intent of hiding that income from the IRS, you’re committing tax fraud. Additionally, if you’re working with a shady professional, it’s highly likely that neither you nor the IRS will see your extra income ever again. And you can still wind up with a legal case with your money stolen and gone.

7. Empty Promises

The tax preparer who encourages you to sign a blank tax form is nobody you want to work with. These preparers encourage you to simply sign the form because he or she is going to work out the numbers for you so that you can get the highest possible refund. If you do this, you are almost certainly subjecting yourself to tax filing scams.

Signing a blank tax form is potentially worse than simply signing a blank check for a stranger. Not only are you at risk of losing your personal information and any refund you might be owed, but you are also at risk of legal action by the IRS for signing your name on a refund that is almost certainly going to contain false and fraudulent information.

8. Frivolous Returns

The IRS sees a ridiculous number of what they call “frivolous returns” every year. A frivolous return is a tax return that is filed with the intent of simply wasting time. These frivolous claims have already been thrown out in court, so filing a tax refund making a frivolous claim is simply opening yourself up to additional action by the IRS including fines of at least $5,000. The top “frivolous claims” include:

  • Refusing to pay taxes on moral or religious grounds
  • “Opting out” of paying taxes
  • Invoking the First Amendment to “protect” you from taxes
  • Claiming only Federal Employees pay federal taxes
  • Claiming you have no income and therefore no tax liability (when you clearly do)

Top 3 Tips on How to Protect Yourself from IRS Tax Scams

Protecting yourself from tax fraud is a matter of being vigilant and mindful that there is always a possibility of something going wrong. Work with a trusted advisor or study up and file taxes yourself to avoid the uncertainty of allowing others to handle your financial matters. Often a bit of knowledge goes a very long way.

1. Know How the Tax System Works

One of the most common negative IRS reviews is that the tax refunds aren’t released immediately. In many IRS complaints, customers complain that they don’t get their refunds immediately.

While frustrating to wait, the IRS is usually very clear about processing times and has never sent refunds immediately after the filing window opens. The government doesn’t move quickly and reviews of documents and financial information submitted in your returns are necessary.

Additionally, relying on others to help you file your taxes every year can open you up to the possibility of fraudulent activities. Reviewing the tax codes and reading through the laws and requirements may not be exciting, but it will give you at least a basic understanding of how the process works so that you can look out for problems if you are trusting someone else with your information and money.

2. Always Read Carefully

The safest way to file your taxes is to do them by hand on the original IRS paper forms and to mail them using certified mail. Many people don’t choose to do this, however, as it can be very tedious and confusing if you do not know the tax system backward and forwards.

Instead, many filers rely on tax software and paid tax preparers. When using software or allowing someone to use the software on your behalf, it never gets too comfortable. There might be hidden fees in the software or glitches to overcome.

Reviewing choices carefully as the software takes you from screen to screen is a good way to avoid accidentally accepting hidden fees. Another option to avoid paying for fees you aren’t comfortable with is to simply abandon the return on one piece of online software and to try again with another – there are multiple tax return software options available.

3. Always Look for Tax Filing Scams

If you always expect to find a scam, you’ll never be surprised when one appears. Even tax preparers who have been in business for years can have some deceptive business practices that others assume are necessary or haven’t noticed them at all.

Tax time can be exciting if you’re entitled to a large refund, but it can be stressful if you don’t feel in control of the tax filing process. Educate yourself on the risks and tax scams that exist, and always exercise caution when choosing a method to file your taxes. Your personal information is closely tied to your money, so protecting both of them is often simply a measure of keeping your eyes wide open and using your knowledge to avoid traps and scams.

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These 5 Payments Trends Once Seemed Revolutionary. In 2021, They’ll Continue to Become the Norm



Real-time payments – mitigating the security risks to capitalise on the opportunities

By Warren Hayashi, President, Asia-Pacific, Adyen.

The pandemic forced brands to transform their businesses in ways that are here to stay

After a year of such great uncertainty, attempting to predict the future may seem risky. But even as brands and retailers faced unprecedented upheaval in 2020, one constant has held true. The pandemic has accelerated trends toward digitisation—and that’s as true in payments as in so many other areas of business and society. The stark reality of needing to avoid close contact with others has driven transformations for retailers and brands in a matter of months that in the past might have taken years. In the process, behaviours and expectations have changed for good.

As 2021 begins, much uncertainty remains but we feel confident that the digital transformation of payments will only get faster. Even after the pandemic has receded and consumers have the option to go back to their old behaviours, many won’t. The rapid increase in e-commerce seen under COVID-19 will persist, especially among previously digital-hesitant consumers. Merchants can no longer assume that their digital customers are limited to younger, tech-savvy shoppers. As brands have shown flexibility during the pandemic, consumers have also come to expect the flexible arrangements to continue. On that note, these are the key trends in payments that should be top-of-mind for brands and retailers in Singapore and Asia Pacific in 2021:

  1. Contactless will extend its reach into every corner of retail

From the start, the pandemic forced merchants to find ways to minimize the amount of physical contact necessary to complete a transaction. Customers and workers alike sought to avoid handing over credit and debit cards, touching keypads, and handling cash. According to our 2020 Agility Report 58% of APAC respondents preferred to use contactless payment methods because of hygiene concerns.

Our data also showed that the use of services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay has significantly increased over the last year too. Research from Kantar reiterates this, revealing that the frequency of e-Wallets transactions in Southeast Asia rose from an average of 18% pre-COVID-19 to 25% post-COVID-19[1], indicating a shift from one payment method to another.

In the post-pandemic world, the transition to contactless will only become more widespread now that the bar has been raised among consumers for what checking out can be, from one-click payments to same-day delivery options. Not to mention, the value of QR codes has also been made apparent in anchoring a seamless experience, not just at point-of-sale but at multiple points along the customer journey too, such as viewing menus and placing orders. The pandemic may have driven the change in behavior, but the superior user experience will cement contactless as the new normal.

  1. The distinction between offline and online will fade into irrelevance

As countries went into different forms of lockdown, many shoppers were unable to enter brick-and-mortar stores throughout 2020. Unifying offline and online became an issue of survival for retailers, who quickly pivoted to make app-powered deliveries and self-pick up options a reality.

Even while most physical stores in Singapore have opened their doors to consumers again, the digital infrastructure will remain in place. Many shoppers continue to prefer the convenience of deliveries and expect the options to continue, and retailers will find they’re able to forge better customer relationships thanks to the rich data generated by digital transactions.

One of the biggest learnings for the industry is the need to rethink the traditional split between offline and online stores. With lines increasingly blurred, retailers will benefit from adopting a unified commerce approach where brand interactions on and across all channels are important.

  1. The membership model will reign in retail and also in food and beverage

The membership model is another emerging trend for 2021. Amazon Prime is a great example of this, where customers pay an annual fee that in effect encourages them to buy more from Amazon in an effort to ensure they’re getting their money’s worth from their Prime memberships. Quick-serve restaurants especially are seeking to seize some of that flywheel effect. In addition to improved incremental spend, membership programs enable QSRs to get to know their customers in ways that were never possible when they were just anonymous faces standing in line.

Meanwhile, subscription passes encourage loyalty and more frequent use. Our 2020 Agility Report found that 38% of Singapore respondents (compared to 27% in APAC and 22% in Europe) signaled their interest in using these for products, including food passes, to reduce the amount of times they need to shop. Expect to see more retailers offering memberships in 2021 as brands seek to own the customer relationship and the data that goes along with it.

  1. Installments will become an everyday way to pay

The twin forces of increased convenience and tightened household budgets have brought pay-by-installment options mainstream, a trend that will only grow in 2021. Machine learning algorithms have become more adept than ever at assessing risk instantaneously, making it easy to offer “buy now, pay later” options right at checkout. For small and mid-ticket items, shoppers know that, say, instead of paying $100 now, they’ll pay $25 per month for four months. That kind of transparency makes it easier for shoppers on the fence to commit, which appeals to merchants hoping to avoid the dreaded abandoned shopping cart.

In 2021, providers of “buy now, pay later” options themselves will start to diverge, as some focus on higher-end, multi-year agreements, while others seek to offer installment plans for shopping baskets as small as $50. For households increasingly accustomed to paying by the month for everything from streaming services to food delivery premium memberships, installment plans start to look like subscriptions that just happen to have a fixed end date.

  1. The checkout-less experience will draw shoppers back to brick-and-mortar

In 2020, the appeal of an in-store experience offering limited human contact took on a new dimension, accelerating interest in doing away with the checkout counter altogether. For instance, in Singapore, BHG is looking to expand its endless aisle offering. By using interactive screens in-store, customers are able to check on inventories across all of BHG’s stores and e-commerce platform and can opt to have items to be delivered directly to their homes.  Post-pandemic, shoppers will still find appeal in the human touch. The physical store continues to be relevant, especially in Asia Pacific and eliminating checkout counters frees staff to interact with shoppers in a more personal way, while also making lines a thing of the past.

In 2021, more stores will find various ways to make checkout a less prominent part of how people shop in-store. Multiple providers are creating their own versions of checkout-less experiences, where instead of going to the counter, customers will scan their items with their phones’ cameras, pay via app, and head out the door—a combination of increased trust and decreased friction that helps cultivate customer loyalty. In the case of Love, Bonito in Singapore, if customers are unable to find a particular item in store, they can go to an iPad within the premises, buy it online and have it shipped to their homes.

Across the five trends, this paradigm shift in the retail sector is underpinned by the under-tapped potential of technology to elevate the customer experience. Looking ahead in the new year, we expect retailers to increasingly harness digital solutions. Not only does this streamline operations, it also gives retailers the flexibility to pivot in line with changing preferences, and provide a seamless consumer journey across multiple channels.

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Bitcoin heads for worst weekly loss in months



Bitcoin heads for worst weekly loss in months 2

By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Bitcoin wavered on Friday and was heading toward its sharpest weekly drop since September, as worries over regulation and its frothy rally drove a pullback from recent record highs.

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency fell more than 5% to an almost three-week low of $28,800 early in the Asia session, before steadying near $32,000. It has lost 11% so far this week, the biggest drop since a 12% fall in September.

Traders said a report posted to Twitter by BitMEX Research suggesting that part of a bitcoin may have been spent twice was enough to trigger selling, even if concerns were later resolved.

“You wouldn’t want to rationalise too much into a market that’s as inefficient and immature as bitcoin, but certainly there’s a reversal in momentum,” said Kyle Rodda, an analyst at IG Markets in Melbourne, in the wake of the BitMEX report.

“The herd has probably looked at this and thought it sounded scary and shocking and it’s now the time to sell.”

Bitcoin was trading more than 20% below the record high of $42,000 hit two weeks ago, losing ground amid growing concerns that it is one of a number of price bubbles and as cryptocurrencies catch regulators’ attention.

During a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, Janet Yellen, President Joe Biden’s pick to head the U.S. Treasury, expressed concerns that cryptocurrencies could be used to finance illegal activities.

That followed a call last week from European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde for global regulation of bitcoin.

Still, some said the pullback comes with the territory for an asset that is some 700% above the 2020 low of $3,850 hit in March.

“It’s a highly volatile piece,” said Michael McCarthy, strategist at brokerage CMC Markets in Sydney. “It made extraordinary gains and it’s doing what bitcoin does and swinging around.”

Second-biggest cryptocurrency ethereum intially slipped to a one-week low on Friday before rising 6% late in the Asia session to $1,177.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; editing by Leslie Adler & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – Iran’s oil exports have climbed in recent months and its sales of petroleum products to foreign buyers...

Nissan to source more UK batteries as part of Brexit deal 'opportunity' 16 Nissan to source more UK batteries as part of Brexit deal 'opportunity' 17
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By Costas Pitas LONDON (Reuters) – Nissan will source more batteries from Britain to avoid tariffs on electric cars after...

Muted recovery for UK retailers in December ends worst year on record 18 Muted recovery for UK retailers in December ends worst year on record 19
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By David Milliken and Andy Bruce LONDON (Reuters) – British retailers struggled to recover in December from a partial coronavirus...

Chinese phone maker Honor partners with key chip suppliers after Huawei split 20 Chinese phone maker Honor partners with key chip suppliers after Huawei split 21
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By David Kirton SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – Chinese budget phone maker Honor said on Friday it had signed partnerships with...

Oil down $1 as China COVID-19 cases trigger clampdowns 22 Oil down $1 as China COVID-19 cases trigger clampdowns 23
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By Noah Browning LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Friday, retreating further from 11-month highs hit last week, weighed...

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