Qatar international reserves rise to $34.8bn in April: QNB. Qatar’s international reserves stood at $34.8bn in April compared to $34.3bn in March, QNB said in its latest ‘Qatar monthly monitor’.
QNB expects months of import cover to average 5.7 months for the year, which is above the IMF recommended minimum of three months for a fixed-exchange rate regime, it said.
Qatar oil production picked up to 621,000 bpd in March from 545,000bpd in February, QNB said. Brent crude oil prices fell by 2.1% month on month in May, reaching $50.3/b, due to concerns over rising US production.
“We forecast Brent crude prices to average $55/b in 2017,” it said.
Broad money supply (M2) expanded for its third consecutive month, growing at 5.7% in April from 2.4% in March. This was helped by foreign currency deposits, which posted positive growth for the first time in 20 months; foreign currency deposits grew 8% from -0.5% in March. The report showed that overnight interbank rates picked up to 1.52% in April from 1.36% in March; the 3-month interbank rate rose to 1.92% from 1.7% while the 1-year interbank rate stayed flat at 2.35%.
The Qatar Central Bank hiked its policy lending and deposit rates in March, in line with the US Federal Reserve rate hike; the lending rate rose to 5% from 4.75% while the deposit rate rose to 1.25% from 1%. Bank deposits grew 16.4% year-on-year in April compared to 13.8% in March, it said.
The share of non-resident deposits to total deposits continued to fall, reaching 24.3% from 25.2% the previous month. Non-resident deposits grew 56.1% year on year, slowing from over 100% growth two months prior. Private sector deposits, QNB said, grew steadily at 12.1% year-on-year compared to 11.2% in March while public sector deposits just crossed into positive growth territory, 0.3%, after being in contraction for 28 months. Bank assets grew 12.4% year on year in April to QR1.31tn, compared to growth of 12.3% in March. Domestic assets slowed slightly to 10% year-on-year in April from 10.6% in the previous month due to a contraction in interbank lending. Foreign asset growth accelerated to 23.6% year-on-in year April, from 22.2% in March.
Loan growth slowed to 9.1% year-on-year in April from 10.8% in March owing to a slowdown in loans to the public sector Loans to the public sector (around 40% of total domestic credit) grew 15.9% year-on-year versus 19.3% growth in the previous month.
Private sector loans grew by 5.3% year-on-year while foreign credit grew by 6.7%. According to QNB, Qatar’s trade surplus remained flat at $2.7bn in April. Exports grew 25.1% year on year to $5.2bn, helped by the recovery in oil and gas prices, while imports fell 12.5% year on year. Japan was the largest export market, with a share of 14.9% of total exports, followed by South Korea and India; the US, China and the UAE were the top three countries of origin for imports.