September 24, 2018

As Global Markets Stabilize, Wall St. Slips

United States stocks fell for a third day on Friday, putting indexes on track for their first negative week since mid-April, on lingering concern the Federal Reserve may scale back its support to the economy.

In afternoon trading, the Standard Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.4 percent, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite Index was 0.3 percent lower.

The three major indexes were on track to post their first negative week in five.

Global markets looked vulnerable to further falls on Friday, with better economic news from Europe doing little to encourage investors who are worried that central bank stimulus may curtailed.

MSCI’s world equity index, which shed 1.4 percent for its second biggest daily loss of the year on Thursday, was virtually unchanged, with losses in Europe canceling out a rise of nearly 1 percent in Japan’s turbulent Nikkei.

Trading has been choppy in the second half of the week as market participants assess the Federal Reserve’s evolving stance toward markets. The Fed’s stimulus measures have been instrumental in a rally that has driven stocks to record highs this year.

“We’ve had some volatility this week that we really haven’t experienced in a month or so, so it’s got a little bit of uncertainty here,” said Joe Bell, a senior equity analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati.

Friday may also be a natural time for investors to take profits heading into the long weekend, with markets closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday, Mr. Bell said.

Even as there is some fear that the Fed will exit too soon, many analysts say the eventual tapering of the central bank’s stimulus will come with an expansion of the economy and corporate earnings, which will continue to support equities.

“A lot of people have only been giving the Fed credit for this rally and not been talking about some of the improvement in the labor market or housing data,” Mr. Bell said. “The economy in general has been on a lot better footing than perhaps people have given it credit for.”

Procter Gamble shares rose 4 percent after the company, the world’s largest household products maker, brought back A.G. Lafley as chief executive Thursday, replacing Bob McDonald, in the midst of a major restructuring.

Abercrombie Fitch was the S.P. 500’s biggest loser in the morning after the teen clothing retailer cut its profit forecast and said quarterly comparable sales fell 15 percent, which it blamed in part on inventory shortages. Its stock lost 10.2 percent.

Shares of Sears Holdings tumbled 14 percent after the company reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday. Sears said cooler spring weather hurt its results.

Over all, the Wall Street’s pullbacks have been short and shallow since November as traders have taken any weakness as an opportunity to increase long positions.

Since Wednesday, the markets have been focused on the possibility that the Fed’s $85 billion per month in bond purchases will be scaled back later this year, in the wake of recent congressional testimony by the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, and the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s latest meeting.

The minutes showed a degree of fracture among the committee’s members “in terms of the approach moving forward, specifically the time frame” of the unwinding of the Fed’s stimulus efforts, said Peter Kenny, chief market strategist at Knight Capital in Jersey City.

The Wall Street losses came despite a Commerce Department report that said durable goods orders rose 3.3 percent last month, exceeding expectations for an increase of 1.5 percent. Previous readings for orders were revised to show a smaller decline in March than previously estimated.

Thursday’s sell-off was concentrated in Japan’s stock market which suffered its biggest one-day percentage drop in two years, but also rattled European and American markets and sent the yen to near two-week highs against the dollar.

Japanese shares have gained nearly 70 percent in the last six months on the back of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s prescription of aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus.

“The fact the market has had such a huge run over a relatively short period has left it incredibly vulnerable,” said Shane Oliver, strategist at AMP Capital.

Europe’s broad FTSE Eurofirst 300 index fell again, declining 0.2 percent after posting its biggest one-day fall in nearly 12 months on Thursday.

Although a key business survey showed sentiment in Germany was better than expected, this reduced expectations the European Central Bank would cut rates.

The Ifo survey found optimism over the economic outlook in Europe’s largest economy may be improving. A view reinforced by earlier data on German consumers.

The euro rose to hit a day’s high of $1.2959 after the German survey data, while German Bund futures cut some of the gains they had seen from the sell-off in equity markets.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/25/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Wall Street Stages Partial Rebound

After beginning the day with a partial rebound from Monday’s steep drop, stocks on Wall Street gave up their gains Tuesday in the course of Congressional testimony by Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman.

In late morning trading, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was essentially flat, while the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.4 percent. The Nasdaq composite index was down 0.1 percent.

In his prepared testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Mr. Bernanke defended the Fed’s bond-buying program and said the economy was growing at a “moderate if somewhat uneven pace.” Senators were questioning him on the prospects for a global currency war and the potential economic effects of the latest budget impasse in Congress.

The major indexes fell more than 1 percent on Monday, with the S.P. 500 recording its biggest daily drop since November. The falloff came as investors fretted that if Italy does not undertake reforms, the euro zone could once again be destabilized. The Euro Stoxx 50 index was off more than 3 percent in late trading Tuesday.

Groups in Italy opposed to economic reforms posted a strong showing in the recent election, resulting in a political deadlock with a comedian’s protest party leading the poll and no group securing a clear majority in Parliament.

“We’ve gone to an environment of political stability to instability, and until we get some type of clarity over who is in charge, which could take days, the market will have renewed concerns,” said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

Still, market participants speculated that a coalition government would eventually emerge in Italy and ease worries about a new euro zone crisis.

The early market gains suggested the recent trend of investors buying on dips would continue. Last week, concerns that the Federal Reserve might roll back its stimulus efforts earlier than expected prompted a sharp two-day decline, though equities recovered most of the lost ground by the end of the week.

“Investors are taking advantage of the drop, and once some kind of coalition government is formed, most of our concerns will be put to rest,” Mr. Hogan said.

Home Depot reported adjusted earnings and sales that beat expectations, sending shares up more than 5 percent.

Macy’s rose 2.6 percent after stating it expected full-year earnings to be above analysts’ forecasts because of strong sales in the holiday period.

For the benchmark S.P. 500, 1,500 points will be watched as a key benchmark after the index closed below it on Monday for the first time since Feb. 4, with selling accelerating after falling below it. An inability to break back above it could portend further losses.

Financial shares may be among the most volatile, as that sector is closely tied to the pace of global economic growth. Morgan Stanley was one of the top percentage losers on the S.P. on Monday, dropping more than 6 percent on concerns about the company’s exposure to European debt. It initially rose 0.8 percent on Tuesday, but was down 0.5 percent by late morning.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 26, 2013

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified the Senate panel before which Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, was testifying Tuesday. It was the Banking Committee, not the Finance Committee.

 

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Group of 7 Says It Will Let Market Decide Currency Values

The statement by the Group of 7 prompted relief in Japan, where policy makers have been under fire for unfairly seeking to give their economy a shot in the arm by bringing down the value of the yen. The statement “properly recognizes that steps we are taking to beat deflation are not aimed at influencing currency markets,” said Taro Aso, the Japanese finance minister.

But a Group of 20 official said that the statement was meant to warn Japan not to target its exchange rates in its efforts to lift its moribund economy, and that concerns about Japan’s policies and the prospect of competitive currency devaluation would be a major topic at a coming G-20 meeting in Russia.

The statement and conflicting follow-ups from economic officials and finance ministries around the world caused significant confusion on Tuesday, with some market participants interpreting them as quelling fears of a so-called currency war and others interpreting them as stoking them. The yen climbed against the dollar and the euro as officials aired their concerns about Japan’s policies.

In a statement, the G-7 nations said they would consult closely to avoid moves that could hurt stability. But they restated a commitment to market-determined exchange rates.

“We reaffirm that our fiscal and monetary policies have been and will remain oriented towards meeting our respective domestic objectives using domestic instruments, and that we will not target exchange rates,” the G-7 said in the statement, which was posted on the Web site of the Bank of England.

Concerns had been mounting in recent weeks about the effects of an ultraloose monetary policy in Japan that has pushed the yen lower against major currencies. The yen’s weakness also had prompted talk of a so-called currency war if other parts of the world followed suit in a competitive devaluation.

Some international economic officials have brushed off the growing accusations of unfair or competitive currency manipulation.

“This increasing talk of currency wars is very much overblown,” said Olivier Blanchard, the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, in January. “Countries have to take the right measures to get their own economies back to health.”

But loose monetary policy designed to increase growth often has the effect of devaluing a currency, thus making a given country’s exports more affordable and its competitors’ exports more expensive. In the past few years, emerging market countries like Brazil have vocally accused slow-growing advanced countries like the United States of unfairly pushing down the value of their currencies with their aggressive monetary policies.

For years, of course, the United States has dinged export-reliant emerging economies, in particular China, for manipulating their currencies, too.

This week, the Obama administration said that it supported countries’ efforts to increase economic growth and lower unemployment, but not by manipulating their exchange rates.

“We support the effort to reinvigorate growth and to end inflation in Japan,” Lael Brainard, the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, said during a briefing Monday. But she emphasized that the G-7 had a “longstanding set of rules” committing its members to float their currencies except during very rare instances of market turbulence.

As some officials in Japan have argued the country should target the value of the yen, some officials in Europe have supported doing the same for the euro. The euro’s rise in value has become a particular concern as it could make exports more expensive and dent growth if demand for European products falls. Those concerns had prompted France to call for some kind of exchange-rate policy.

On Monday, Pierre Moscovici, the French finance minister, said he wanted the Europeans to present a common plan this week during the meeting of finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20 nations to be held in Moscow.

But the head of the German Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, said Monday that the French initiative was a poor substitute for policy overhauls that, if implemented, would do more for growth.

On Tuesday in Brussels, following a regular monthly meeting of E.U. finance ministers, Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, said that there was “no foreign exchange problem in Europe” and that such issues should be discussed at the G-20 meeting in Moscow.

Annie Lowrey reported from Washington.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/business/global/group-of-7-says-it-will-let-market-decide-currency-values.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

For Shares, a Flat End to a Rocky November

Stocks were flat on Friday as politicians remained at odds about how to settle the looming federal requirements for tax increases and spending cuts.

Trading has been choppy in the last two weeks as investors react to statements from policy makers on the state of discussions on how to avert a fiscal stalemate, which many economists say could pull the economy back into recession.

The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was up 0.29 percent in November even as it suffered a slide of more than 6 percent from the month’s high to its low.

“Given the on-again-off-again ‘fiscal cliff,’ it’s rather surprising how resilient this market has been,” said David Rolfe, chief investment officer at Wedgewood Partners in St. Louis.

“Between now and the end of the year, there’s going to be an information vacuum outside the fiscal cliff, and I believe that resiliency will be tested.”

In contrast to the apparent calm in equities, the CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of market anxiety, jumped 5.4 percent, its largest daily gain in two weeks.

The VIX also rose for the week, but posted a 14.7 percent decline for November.

On Friday, President Obama said a “handful of Republicans” in the House of Representatives were holding up legislation to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans to try to preserve them for the wealthy.

Speaking shortly after the president, the House speaker, John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said: “There is a stalemate; let’s not kid ourselves.”

Despite the divisive language, many market participants are betting that a deal will be struck — if only at the 11th hour.

Corporations continue to react to what is expected to be a higher tax burden next year. Whole Foods Market was the latest to announce a special cash dividend, of $2 a share, ahead of expected higher tax rates in 2013.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 3.76 points, or 0.03 percent, to 13,025.58. The S. P. 500 rose 0.23, or 0.02 percent, to 1,416.18. But the Nasdaq composite index dipped 1.79 points, or 0.06 percent, to 3,010.24.

For November, the S. P. 500 rose 0.29 percent, its smallest monthly change since March 2011. The Dow fell 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq gained 1.1 percent.

For the week, though, all three major stock indexes advanced, with the Dow up 0.1 percent, the S. P. 500 up 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq up 1.5 percent.

VeriSign shares dropped 13.2 percent to $34.15 after the company said the Commerce Department approved its agreement with ICANN to run the dot-com Internet registry, but VeriSign won’t be able to raise prices as it did before.

Stock in Yum Brands, the parent of the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut chains, slid 9.9 percent to $67.08 a day after the company forecast a decline in fourth-quarter sales at established restaurants in China.

After maintaining a close relationship for several years, Facebook and Zynga revised terms of a partnership agreement, according to regulatory filings. Now, Zynga, creator of the FarmVille online game, will have limited ability to promote its site on Facebook. Zynga’s stock fell 6.1 percent to $2.46. Facebook’s stock gained 2.5 percent to $28.

Apple’s latest iPhone received final clearance from Chinese regulators, paving the way for a December introduction in a highly competitive market. Its stock fell 0.7 percent to $585.28.

Interest rates were steady. The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note rose 2/32, to 100 4/32, and its yield was unchanged at 1.61 percent.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fair Game: Slipping Backward on Transparency for Swaps

So it is perhaps unsurprising that players in the derivatives market want to thwart one of the worthier aims of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation: to bring transparency to the huge market for instruments known as swaps. Now some in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, are trying to block that goal, too.

Dodd-Frank focused on adding transparency to derivatives in a couple of ways. The area now under fire involves its directive that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission create rules to “promote pre-trade price transparency in the swaps market.”

The idea is that customers should get a clear picture of prices. Right now, many swaps are traded one-on-one, over the telephone. The price is usually whatever the dealer says it is.

When markets are opaque, the risks grow that problematic positions, like those that felled the American International Group in 2008, might once again create financial turmoil and spread through the system. Dodd-Frank sensibly asked that market participants provide trade and position details to regulators so this arena could be monitored better.

That mission has pretty much been accomplished. But a lack of transparency in the market as it relates to swaps customers hasn’t been addressed. And it is here that many on Wall Street, as well as some in Congress, are pushing back.

Opacity hurts customers because they can’t see a wide array of prices. But dealers can — so they have an edge that plumps up their profits. One estimate from the Swaps and Derivatives Market Association puts transaction costs in the swap markets at $50 billion annually. These costs would decline by $15 billion a year, the group recently estimated, if pricing were transparent.

The C.F.T.C. is trying to get there. Dodd-Frank requires it to oversee so-called swap execution facilities that will trade or process derivatives transactions. Late last year, in the interest of price transparency, the commission proposed that entities applying to be S.E.F.’s must agree to provide market participants with the ability to post prices on “a centralized electronic screen” that is widely accessible. One-to-one dealings by phone would no longer be allowed.

Those on Wall Street who favor the status quo are upset, and have found some sympathy in Washington.

Representative Scott Garrett , a New Jersey Republican, has teamed up with Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat, to introduce the Swap Execution Facility Clarification Act. It would bar the Securities and Exchange Commission and the C.F.T.C. from requiring swap execution facilities to have a minimum number of participants or mandating displays of prices. Both mechanisms promote transparency.

Mr. Garrett said the bill directed regulators “to provide market participants with the flexibility” they need to obtain price discovery. This means maintaining the old system that can keep prices in the shadows.

On Nov. 15, a House subcommittee approved the bill by a voice vote.

Because Mr. Garrett opposed Dodd-Frank, his efforts to stop the proposed rule are not surprising. But Ms. Maloney supported Dodd-Frank, so I wondered why she had lent her name to the bill.

In an interview last Wednesday, Ms. Maloney said she had heard concerns about the C.F.T.C. rule from financial firms in her district. “I just felt like that Congress intended multiple competing trade execution platforms and that included voice,” she said. “If you say you can’t have any voice, aren’t you limiting the modes of trade execution?” She also said she was concerned about job losses on Wall Street.

Testifying in the House on Oct. 14 as a representative of the Wholesale Market Brokers Association was Shawn Bernardo, a senior managing director at Tullett Prebon, an institutional brokerage firm. Mr. Bernardo articulated the argument against screen-based trading that would show multiple bids and offers to swaps customers.

“Congress made clear in Dodd-Frank that S.E.F.’s may conduct business using, quote, ‘any means of interstate commerce,’ ” he said. That includes methods that don’t require a centralized pricing platform, he said.

Wall Street firms want to keep providing prices to customers one-to-one. The S.E.C., which governs credit default swaps on single-name issuers, allows the practice. But those markets trade by appointment, compared with most swaps markets, which are overseen by the C.F.T.C.

While many on Wall Street have objected to the C.F.T.C.’s proposed rule, swaps customers like it. The Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a group of manufacturers with combined annual sales of $800 billion, calls transparency in the swaps market “critical.” In a letter to the C.F.T.C. last May, the group urged the commission to be “vigilant in ensuring that swap execution facilities provide an open and competitive marketplace for discovering prices.”

Better Markets, a nonprofit organization that promotes the public interest in financial markets, has also praised the C.F.T.C.’s proposed rule. “It is painfully obvious that the financial crisis, which brought us to the brink of international economic collapse, was in large part the result of a ‘shadow’ or nontransparent financial market,” Dennis M. Kelleher, the chief executive of Better Markets, wrote in a comment letter. “The Dodd-Frank act requires that ‘business as usual’ must change.”

Not if Wall Street can help it. And it is throwing money at Washington to ensure that its views are heard.

IN an interview last week, Gary Gensler, the C.F.T.C. chairman, said he hoped to get the rule through early next year.

“Economists for decades have shown that transparency lowers margins, leads to greater liquidity and more competition in the marketplace,” Mr. Gensler said. “Tens of thousands of companies that use these products, and their customers, the American public, can benefit from more competition in the pricing of these contracts. Transparent pricing is also a critical feature of lowering the risk at the banks, and at the derivatives clearinghouses as well.”

But unenlightened investors can be mighty profitable. As Ferdinand Pecora, the Depression-era prosecutor, is supposed to have said of the events leading to the Wall Street crash of 1929: Pitch darkness was among the bankers’ stoutest allies.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=22e053313fd02878d1b058dca836d06a

Global Stocks Hit by Economic Fears

LONDON (AP) — Downbeat Japanese export and British retail sales figures renewed worries over the state of the global economy on Thursday and hit already fragile confidence in stock markets.

Investors are worried about both the debt situation in both the U.S. and Europe and the pace of the global economic recovery following a run of weak economic data.

Thursday’s news did little to alleviate those concerns.

“Equities are sitting broadly lower …. as market participants worry about the global economic outlook,” said Ben Critchley, a sales trader at IG Index.

In Japan, the finance ministry said July exports fell 3.3 percent from a year earlier to 5.78 trillion yen ($75.6 billion) as a result of the strong yen and the ongoing impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In Britain, official statisticians reported that retail sales rose by only 0.2 percent in July from the month before. That was down on June’s equivalent rate of 0.8 percent and below market expectations for a 0.4 percent rise — in another sign that the British economic recovery is running out of steam.

Later in the day, investors will turn their attention to the U.S. Labor Department’s weekly claims for unemployment benefits. High unemployment is a major reason why growth in the U.S. has stalled and jobs data is carefully monitored for any changes. Monthly inflation data, a manufacturing survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and existing home sales figures were also being released.

With little incentive to buy, the retreat in Asia carried through into the European session and is clouding expectations over the U.S. open later.

Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 1.7 percent to 5,242 while Germany’s DAX fell 2.8 percent to 5,852.32. France’s CAC-40 was down 2.1 percent to 3,189.

Wall Street was poised for a similarly downbeat session — Dow futures were down 1.1 percent at 11,260 while the broader Standard Poor’s 500 futures fell 1.4 percent 1,173.

Investors are also keeping a close watch on developments on Europe after a meeting this week between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel did little to assuage concerns that Europe is managing its debt crisis, which has already led to bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Fears that the crisis may hit Italy and Spain contributed to huge turbulence on stock markets last week.

A bond-buying program by the European Central Bank appears to have calmed fears that the eurozone’s third and fourth largest economies will find it difficult to raise money in the bond markets. Both countries’ ten-year bond yields have fallen by over a percentage point below 5 percent, which is considered manageable.

Given the more benign European debt backdrop, the euro has eked out gains over recent sessions. By mid morning London time, the euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.4396.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 1.3 percent to 8,943.76 after the export figures, while South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.7 percent to 1,853.08.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.3 percent at 20,016.27, while mainland Chinese shares lost ground for a third straight trading day on concerns over a possible interest rate hike and new restrictions aimed at cooling housing prices.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.6 percent to 2,559.47 and the Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1.8 percent to 1,142.91.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 60 cents to $86.97 in Asia. The contract settled at $87.58 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=8fc3c3c88130632aa903eeeb6c4b883f

DealBook: Women Break Down Barriers in Mideast Finance

Hoda Abou-Jamra is the founding partner of a $40 million private equity health care fund that is based in Dubai.Heinz S. Tesarek for The New York TimesHoda Abou-Jamra is the founding partner of a $40 million private equity health care fund that is based in Dubai.

Hoda Abou-Jamra still remembers the meeting when potential investors for her private equity fund thought she was the secretary.

“I would ask a question, and they would answer to the man next to me. I would answer their question, and they would look at him,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t let it bother me. I just stood up straighter and talked louder.”

Women deal makers, financiers and entrepreneurs are a rare breed in the Middle East. As a founding partner of a $40 million health care fund in Dubai, Ms. Abou-Jamra operates in a male-dominated industry globally and a male-dominated work force locally.

In private equity, women account for roughly 9 percent of the senior management positions worldwide, with the share varying from 9.1 percent in Europe to 8.7 percent in the United States, according to a study this year by the industry research firm Preqin. The gender imbalance is even more extreme in the Middle East, market participants say. While few statistics are available on the region’s nascent industry, only 25 percent of women enter the job market at all, compared with nearly 60 percent in the United States.

Ms. Abou-Jamra and other women financial professionals in the Middle East are trying improve the mix. It is a slow process, but they are making headway by creating their own investment vehicles, forging ties with influential players, and generally raising awareness.

“For the gulf states, in the last decade, women have become a lot more entrepreneurial,” said Dina Kawar, the ambassador to France from Jordan, where women account for about 13 percent of all private-sector workers.

Like Ms. Abou-Jamra, Maha Al-Ghunaim found a place at the top by creating a new financial firm, rather than working inside an existing one. At the investment arm of Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund, Mrs. Al-Ghunaim steadily rose through the ranks, reaching the position an assistant general manager. But competition was intense, and she felt her best opportunity for advancement was elsewhere.

“When you are climbing the ladder, you have to balance between speed and safety,” Mrs. Al-Ghunaim said.

So 13 years ago she founded Global Investment House, a Kuwait-based financial firm that began as a brokerage firm and investment bank. She has since expanded into private equity, with four funds overseeing about $1.5 billion.

The barriers for women are both cultural and structural.

“The guys have so much testosterone, I’ve had to learn to be more aggressive to be heard,” Ms. Abou-Jamra said. “I’ve found that unless I participate in boys’ club activities, I’m put aside. You have to be one of the boys to really fit.”

But some Mideast countries ban women from driving or mixing in public spaces with the opposite sex. Strict dress codes are also enforced in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“There are buildings where I walk in, and I’m the only woman there,” said Ms. Abou-Jamra. “Even the secretaries are male.”

Such restrictions made it difficult for Muna AbuSulayman, an entrepreneur and former television personality, to develop her latest ventures, a fashion line and a Facebook application for new parents. Simply registering the businesses with the government took a year, instead of the usual three days, she said.

“Each time, they would ask for something else, another piece of information, but they wouldn’t ask for all of it at the same time,” she said.

One item that held up the process: an address. The country’s law forbids people from using their home for commercial purposes. Ms. AbuSulayman could not use her father’s office either, since it was not licensed to have women employees under Saudi Arabia’s gender segregation rules. She obtained a business address through a brother.

It can be difficult to find capital, too.

Despite the region’s wealth and deep-pocketed investors, women are often reliant on conservative lenders, which are reluctant to give loans to small, women-led firms. When Ms. AbuSulayman and a male counterpart submitted similar applications to the same Saudi Arabian bank, she received a loan roughly a third of the size of the man.

“Applying for a loan, a woman will not get as much as a man,” she said. “My sister decided to sell her catering business when she could not raise the money she needed to expand it.”

Ms. Abou-Jamra went outside of the Mideast to find money for her firm. After meeting with four international private equity firms, she won the backing of the TVM Capital, a German private equity firm focused on the life sciences, to start a health care fund. She has since raised capital from investors like the World Bank’s private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, and the health care unit of General Electric.

Fund-raising in the Middle East was a central topic at a conference in Paris this month. The one-day event, attended by dozens of business people, diplomats and policy analysts, covered how mentorships and social media could play a transformative role in helping women financiers succeed in the region.

“As a woman in the Middle East, as an Arab woman, I found some men were very supportive,” Ms. Abou-Jamra said. “They helped me to not give up.”

Anu Bhardwaj, organizer of the conference, said “like-minded people invest in one another.”

Ms. Bhardwaj’s efforts are tied to a wider campaign by the Women’s Business Forum. Backed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Jordan and the United States, the group is trying to educate women entrepreneurs and executives across the globe.

The group wants to tap into the vast resources of the region’s wealthy women. In the Middle East, women are thought to control billions.

“Widows and divorcées have that kind of money,” Ms. Bhardwaj said, “and they don’t spend it all on eye shadow.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=dff0511063cba6c47b03b82cd5012b38