Much of the IMF’s new report on the Mideast’s economic outlook won’t come as a surprise to those living in the region since oil prices have been halved following highs of over $100 a barrel in mid-2014. All Gulf Arab countries have cut back on generous subsidies that kept gasoline prices low, while some have reorganized government agencies and halted construction projects. With oil prices expected to remain low, the IMF report estimates growth across Gulf states to be around 1.7 percent this year, while regionally “little improvement” is expected in 2017. It suggests only Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will be able to see budget surpluses by 2021, while the war against the extremist group Islamic State, Yemen’s civil war and the Syrian conflict continue to weaken confidence in the region. “Some countries Saudi Arabia , Bahrain and Oman start from a position where they have to make more of an adjustment to be able to balance their budget in five years,” Ahmed told the AP in an interview Tuesday. only 1 medical school interview“They all do have policies that they’re articulating that will help them get there, but they will entail difficult choices.” Among those tough choices will be cutting public sector salaries and jobs in Saudi Arabia and Oman, he said. Meanwhile, Iran’s economy has charged ahead through boosting oil production close to levels seen before Western nations imposed economic sanctions over its contested nuclear program. Iran will have to modernize both its banking system and its manufacturing industry, as well as allow more foreign direct investment in the country, to continue that growth. “The big challenge for Iran is can you sustain that 4-, 5-percent growth over the medium term or is it just a one-time increase you get?” Ahmed asked.
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EPS dropped 3% in headline terms; excluding a charge for restructuring, it was exactly flat Y/Y at $1.24. It now expects GAAP EPS for the full year of $5.65-$5.75, and adjusted EPS of $5.90-$6.00 (above consensus for $5.60). Excluding the year-ago impact of Costco, adjusted revenues grew 5% as cardmember spending rose, as did net interest income and net card fees. Revenues fell 5.1% on an unadjusted basis. Effective tax rate for the quarter was 34% vs. a year-ago 35%. Return on equity came to 26%, down from a year-ago 27%. Conference call to come at 5 p.m. ET.
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