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Abu Dhabi Stocks Lead Gulf Equity Gain as Banks Prepare to Merge - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi stocks led gains across Gulf Arab equity markets as two of the emirates biggest banks approved plans to merge, stoking investor speculation there will be further consolidation in the sheikhdom.

The ADX General Index rose 1.2 percent to the highest level since April. National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC added 4 percent and First Gulf Bank PJSC climbed 2 percent as the lenders plan to merge in the first quarter of 2017, according to a joint statement on Sunday. Dubais DFM General Index increased 0.8 percent.

Four days after Abu Dhabi said it will also combine two of its flagship investment companies, the banks laid out details of the plan to create one of the largest lenders in the Middle East with $175 billion of assets. The merger of equals, which is expected to deliver cost synergies of approximately 500 million dirhams ($136 million) annually and is subject to shareholder approval, comes as the industry battles falling profits because of lower government spending, slower economic growth and a decline in asset quality.

To read the banks investor presentation on the deal, please click here.

Betting for further consolidation is dominating trading sentiment, said Talal Touqan, the head of research at Abu Dhabi-based Al Ramz Capital LLC, a brokerage and investment bank. The IPIC-Mubadala, NBAD-FGB prospective merger deals are spurring a speculative wave towards identifying other qualified names. Hence, the focus is turned towards banking stocks.

Gulf Gains

The combination may pressure other lenders in the United Arab Emirates to pursue mergers, Dubai-based investment bank Arqaam Capital Ltd. said last month. The following Abu Dhabi shares contributed most to gains on the emirates benchmark index:

FGB climbed to 12.85 dirhams, the highest level in two weeksNBAD, the U.A.E.s second-largest bank by assets, rose to 10.05 dirhams, the highest level since September 2015Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC advanced 3.8 percentUnion National Bank PJSC jumped 5.9 percent to a six-month highSharjah Islamic Bank PJSC increased 3.3 percent

About 32 million shares traded on Abu Dhabis main gauge, 38 percent below the average in the past 20 days. The measure is one of three benchmark indexes across the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to rise this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bloombergs GCC 200 Index, a gauge of the biggest and most liquid stocks in the bloc, advanced a fifth day, the longest winning streak since October. The measure added 0.3 percent, taking its five-day increase to 0.9 percent.

Omans MSM 30 Index advanced 0.6 percent on Sunday and Qatars QE Index climbed 0.4 percent. Kuwaits SE Price Index rose 0.1 percent, and Bahrains BB All Share Index added 1.1 percent.

Some Arab markets will close during the week for a religious holiday. Saudi Arabias Tadawul All Share Index is closed all week, markets in the U.A.E., Oman and Kuwait will shut from Tuesday.

Israel Reforms

Israels TA-25 Index gained 1.1 percent at 1:15 p.m. in Tel Aviv, the most in almost two weeks as 22 companies rose and three dropped.The Israeli Cabinet is scheduled to discuss a reform for the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Sunday, which would turn the bourse into a profit-making entity.

Israeli natural gas explorers Delek Drilling - LP and Avner Oil Exploration - LP advanced after the partners said they are going ahead with a drilling plan at the Tamar-8 field offshore Israel.The Tel Aviv Oil & Gas Index rose 1 percent.

Shares in Delek Group Ltd., the countrys largest energy company, rose the most in almost one week. Delek signed a non-binding deal to sell its controlling stake in Phoenix Holdings Ltd. to Chinese Fujian Yango Group for at least 1.85 billion shekels ($480 million). Phoenix shares rose 4.2 percent, set for the biggest increase since February.

Egypt Devaluation

In Cairo, the EGX 30 Index advanced 0.3 percent on trading volume about a third below the 20-day intraday average. The market will be closed from Tuesday to Thursday.

Egypt is suffering from a dollar shortage that has caused the local pound to trade at a 20 percent discount on the black market compared with its official rate. A weaker local currency boosts the competitiveness of Egyptian exports, Central Bank Governor Tarek Amer said in an interview with the state-owned Ahram newspaper.

The country can no longer delay the implementation of economic reforms and must tolerate its consequences in order to benefit in the medium term, he said.

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Probation, fine for misdemeanor illegal insurance sales - Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Three insurance agents, including two local people, were each ordered to pay $500 and placed on three years probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges related to selling insurance illegally, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Insurance said Tuesday.

Lindahl Larry Lucas, Jr. of Santa Clarita, his sister Kelly Ann Lucas of Littlerock, and Elaine Christie Edey of Newhall pleaded guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court April 5 to the charges against them, said Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the Insurance Departments Enforcement Bureau.

Lindhl and Kelly Lucas were each charged with knowingly providing false information and concealing material facts in attempts to hide the unlicensed agent activity of Edey, Kincaid said.

The Lucas siblings, both licensed insurance agents who work for Lucas Insurance Services Inc., pleaded guilty to the charges, she said.

Responding to a complaint, Department of Insurance investigators found Lindhl Lucas, owner of Lucas Insurance Services, allowed and encouraged employees to advise clients about insurance and sell insurance products without proper licenses, Kincaid said.

Edey was previously licensed, but her licensed expired in 2008 and she continued to sell insurance despite her expired license status, which is illegal, she said.

Edey pleaded guilty to transacting without an insurance license.


on Twitter @jamesarthurholt


With deadline looming, Washington insurance website down most of Saturday - The Seattle Times

Trying to meet the Sunday-night deadline to sign up for health insurance on Washingtons state exchange?

Oops! System down, system down.

Those trying to apply for a new health plan on its website were greeted Saturday, beginning around 5:30 a.m., with this message:

How to sign up

On the phone: 1-855-923-4633, 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday. Also, TTY/TDD: 1-855-627-9604.

By email:

On Facebook:

Call an insurance broker or agent or an in-person navigator: A list of people can be found by ZIP code using the customer support link on

Thanks for your patience. Washington Healthplanfinder is currently unavailable due to an unplanned outage with DSHS Eligibility Services. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please check back later.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The problem occurred as people face both a deadline to get insurance and to avoid steep fines if they dont sign up. This year the penalty for skipping the Affordable Care Act mandate to have insurance is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under age 18 or 2.5 percent of annual income, whichever is higher.

The system problem kept Washington Healthplanfinder from figuring out whether someone coming to the site would qualify for tax credits or Washington Apple Health (Medicaid).

The exchange was posting updates on the outage, and by 7:40p.m. Saturday the website was back up.

Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the exchange, said planned maintenance would bring Washington Healthplanfinder offline overnight from 11:59 p.m. to 3 a.m., but after that it was to be available Sunday until midnight.

The exchange website has experienced problems before, especially during startup.

Marchand had a bit of hopeful news for frustrated customers: If people cannot select a health plan because of an operational issue with our system, there could be an extension. That will be determined, though, by health-benefit-exchange staff after reviewing specific applications.

Over-the-phone help also will be available Sunday through the Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

As of midweek, more than 190,000 people had signed up for health insurance on the exchange.

Meanwhile, well, there is this advice from HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey:

Look Dave, I can see youre really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.


What You Need To Know About Personal Finance

One of the most difficult things for most adults is finding a way to effectively manage their finances and make sure that they can make all their ends meet. Unless you're earning a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, you've probably been in a situation where money is tight. The tips bellow will give you ways to manage your finances so that you're never again in a situation like that.

Look into a better plan for your cell phone. Chances are if you have had your cell phone for at least a couple of years, there is probably something out there that will benefit you more. Call your provider and ask for a better deal. Alternatively, look around and see what is being offered.

Before committing to a specific lender for financing, shop around. Talk to several loan officers, and always get terms on paper. You can also let the loan officer know of other rates you have been quoted, giving them a chance to compete for your business. Be sure to not only compare interest rates, but additional fees and charges as well.

When working with any personal finance company, watch out for scammers. As a general rule of thumb, if any offer sounds too good to be true then it usually is. If they do not offer any contract at all completely avoid their deals or promotions, just read all of the fine print in the contracts, and.

You can better understand where your money goes when you write down how much you spend every day. However, if you put this into a notebook that you can just shut and put away until you deal with it later, you may find it just gets ignored. Purchase a big whiteboard and place it in a visible spot. Write down everything you spend on that. It will be center and front during your daily activities and hard to avoid.

Make note of free financial services whenever they are mentioned. Banks often tell their customers about free services they offer at the most inopportune times. The wise customer does not let these opportunities slip away. For example, the customer can make note of the offer and come back to take advantage of it at a better time, if a teller offers the customer free financial planning services when he or she is in a rush.

Shoveling snow can be a grueling job that many people would gladly pay someone else to do for them. If one does not mind talking to people to find the jobs as well as being willing to shovel the snow obviously one can make a great deal of money. If a blizzard or big winter storm hits, one services will be especially in demand.

Many companies offer a matching program if you put money into a 401k. This is an excellent way to save money, and also gain some extra for the future. It is best to take free money whenever you can get it, and this is one of the best ways of doing that.

Going to stores that are about to go out of business or be turned into a different store, can often produce items that can be bought at a greatly discounted price. Getting items you need or can resell at a higher price can both benefit your personal finances.

Selling an older laptop is a way for individuals in difficult financial situations to make a little bit of extra cash. When electronics are working, or you can repair them, they sell for better money than broken. Even if the laptop is broken you can still sell it, at least it might be enough for a tank of gas.

Recycle and reuse to save big bucks. Why constantly add to the environmental problems associated with manufacturing and landfills? Anything that can possibly be reused should be reused. It's not shameful to do this. It is admirable and practical not just from an environmental standpoint but also from a personal finance standpoint.

Make sure you always pay your rent on time. Landlords are more likely to help tenants who are in good standing with them. If you make them wait extra time to get there rent then you can guarantee that when you have a problem they will not be in a rush to help you.

Never be shortsighted when buying something with credit, if you hope to control your finances. Regardless if you're buying a car, a home, or just a television set, pay close attention to what the payments are going to be like down the road. Add up the interest and figure out how much you're paying in total. Be aware of the total implications.

A great personal finance tip that can help you keep your expenses down is to always make sure you eliminate services you have no use for. You're just wasting money if you're paying every month for text messaging if you own a cell phone and you don't use text messaging.

A great personal-finance tip is to hold on to your clothes as long as possible. You don't need to go out and buy a completely new wardrobe every single year to stay and look fashionable. Part of fashion is coming up with your own ideas, and you can definitely do that with older clothes.

Carry at least ten dollars in cash or a debit card. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act lets merchants set a minimum amount for credit card transactions. The minimum amount cannot be more than ten dollars and does not apply to debit cards. Previously, some merchants inflicted minimums in violation of credit card agreements.

Review all of your insurance coverages. Many people don't check to see if they're paying too much for one or all of their policies. Another thing is that many people have been tricked into buying more coverage than they need. Do your research and make sure that you have just enough for your personal situation.

Make a list of your bills and put it in a prominent location in your home. This way, you will be able to always have in mind the dollar amount you need to keep yourself out of financial trouble. You'll also be able to look at it when you think of making a frivolous purchase.

As you can see, the tips in the article above can be helpful in minimizing the stress of dealing with your personal finance plan. Using this helpful information, you can immediately get on with solving the problems you face. Then you can get out and enjoy life!


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