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State Bank of Pakistan maintains interest rate at 5.75%

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): The interest rate remains unchanged, at 5.75% announced State Bank of Pakistan Governor Tariq Bajwa on Saturday.

While addressing a news conference, the central bank governor said the national economy was undergoing expansion given the rise in fiscal activity. He added the service sector has grown by 6%, while there has been a significant improvement on the construction front.

However, the rate of inflation is expected to rise to 5.5% from 4.5%.  The announcement has been made after a meeting of SBP’s Monetary Policy Committee members.

Earlier on May 20, the Monetary Policy Committee held a meeting during which decision was taken to keep the interest rate unchanged at 5.75%. According to the minutes of the meeting, the current account deficit, inflation, loans to the private sector and economic stability were the factors that made the committee reach the conclusion.

Also during the meeting, the committee had discussed there was no margin left to lower the interest rate.

The interest rate has been at 5.75% since 2016.

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PSX closes on bearish note following Panama case hearing

KARACHI (PPI): The KSE-100 index decreased by 217 to reach the 45,418-points level at close of trade on Wednesday.

During the first half of trading, the US Dollar’s value fell by 9 paisas in the interbank market.

The unexpected decline in the USD’s value from Rs105.39 to Rs105.30 during early trading hours was followed by a 126-points increase in the KSE-100 index, which crossed the 45,762 points level during the day.

A special implementation bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, began hearing the Panama Papers case early Wednesday. The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) is expected to react to the socio-political situation as the hearing proceeds.

Earlier on July 11, the PSX reacted negatively to Monday’s damning report against the prime minister and his family by the Panama case Joint Investigation Team to drop by over 2,153 points to reach 44,120 points on Tuesday.

Investors took a cumulative hit of Rs425 billion, informed sources, adding that share value of as many as 305 companies fell.

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Dollar remains hobbled by Trump

LONDON (AFP): The dollar s travails extended into Wednesday as Donald Trump faces a battle to push through his much-vaunted economic agenda, but equity traders took the news in their stride.

The euro eased slightly on Wednesday against the dollar, having surged the previous day to a near 15-month pinnacle at $1.1583 — last seen in May 2016.

However, after a blistering rally in the months following Trump s November election win — fuelled by bets his tax cuts and big spending plans would fan inflation — the greenback remains hobbled by a congressional logjam and a series of crises engulfing the White House.

A crucial blow was struck Monday when it was clear his Republican party would not be able to muster enough senators to pass controversial healthcare reforms, throwing into doubt his ability to pass big-ticket measures.

With inflation stuck below the Federal Reserve s two percent target and prospects fading of any economic reforms, traders are questioning whether the Fed will raise interest rates for a third time this year. Just months ago there had been bets on four increases.

“The market has been waiting for the Trump failure cascade to begin and yesterday s health care headlines once again bring into question the administration s ability to enact on their key legislative promises, leaving investors in limbo and the dollar sagging,” analyst Stephen Innes at trading firm Oanda.

The greenback was only marginally up against its major peers but remained stuck near multi-month lows, with the euro enjoying some support from expectations the European Central Bank will soon begin to reduce stimulus.

The bank will hold its next policy meeting Thursday and boss Mario Draghi s statement will be pored over for clues about its timetable as the eurozone economy continues to improve.

“As the ECB meeting gets closer… attention will increasingly focus on the likelihood of any further hawkish commentary from the central bank that could squeeze the euro even higher against the dollar,” noted IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.

Key figures around 1100 GMT

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1528 from $1.1554 at 2100 GMT Monday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3027 from $1.3040

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.00 yen from 112.08

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,393.90 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: FLAT at 12,434

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,181

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,141.80

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 20,020.86 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 26,672.16 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.4 percent at 3,230.98 (close)

New York – DOW: DOWN 0.3 percent at 21,574.73 (close)

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 20 cents at $49.04 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 14 cents at $46.54

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FBR alerts taxpayers to fake, harmful emails

ISLAMABAD (NNI): Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday alerted the taxpayers to fake, harmful emails-cum-notices being sent to them regarding anomalies in their tax returns.

A statement by FBR has denied any association with these emails being sent from a fake email address do-not-reply@fbrgovpk.com which has no connection with FBR’s email domain.

These fake emails inform the targeted taxpayers the tax returns filed by them do not match their sources of income and further advise them to contact the Commissioner Inland Revenue at the earliest. These emails also reportedly carry attachments infected by harmful viruses and malware.

This nefarious activity apparently by some hackers is a type of spamming used to send viruses and malware to the general public and taxpayers. The taxpayers and the general public are advised to ignore such fake emails and refrain from clicking any link provided in them. The receipt of such fake emails should be immediately reported to the authorities concerned.

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PSX gains 1,113 points after Panama case hearing, Qatari minister visit

KARACHI (NNI): Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) 100-index has gained 1,113 points on Tuesday as the market closed on a 35,636 figure.

Experts believe that today’s Panama case hearing followed by the Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani ?Pakistan visit has positively motivated the investors. The value of stocks has piled up to Rs. 192 billion.

The Pakistan Stock Exchange’s benchmark KSE 100-Index skyrocketed by 2.50 percent, or 1,113.15 points, to 45,636.36 points, the highest level in Financial Year 2018, on Tuesday when compared with 44,523.21 points reported on Monday.

During the three-day bullish streak, the main index has accumulated 1,852.81 points after losing 2,490.26 points in the earlier three trading sessions largely due to the political turmoil in the country.

The KSE All-Share Index surged by 2.11 percent or 656.75 points to 31,839.58 points, the KSE 30-Index jacked up by 2.70 percent, or 626.53 points, to 23,843.63 points, the KMI 30-Index jumped by 3.16 percent, or 2,385.89 points, to 77,903.34 points, whereas the Islamic All-Share Index increased by 2.38 percent, or 512.06 points, to 22,060.95 points.

During Tuesday’s trading session, the main index moved in a healthy range of 1,170.18 points as it touched an intraday peak of 45,668.88 points as against an intraday trough of 44,498.70 points.

Market volumes more than doubled with an augmentation of 110.29 percent or 83.03 million shares to 158.32 million shares on Tuesday when compared with a trading of 75.29 million shares posted on Monday.

Market capitalization improved by 2.11 percent or 192.38 billion rupees (1.80 billion U.S. dollars) to 9.33 trillion rupees whereas trade value was bolstered by 115.13 percent or 4.82 billion rupees to finish the trading day at 9.00 billion rupees.

Among 373 active scrips on Tuesday, the prices of 307 issues advanced, 56 depleted, whereas values of 10 other companies stayed unchanged.

TRG Pakistan Limited, Karachi Electric Limited, and Aisha Steel Mills Limited were the top traded companies with turnovers of 11.25 million shares, 8.91 million shares, and 7.10 million shares, respectively.

Philip Morris Pakistan was the top price gainer of the day with an increment of 125.85 rupees to close at 2,645.00 rupees while on the other hand, Bata Pakistan led the major price shedders with a decrement of 73.00 rupees to 3,100.00 rupees. (1 U.S. dollar = 106.85 rupees).

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Govt taking measures to improve customs procedures: Dar

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said Tuesday that comprehensive measures were being taken to improve and upgrade customs procedures in Pakistan in line with international standards.

The Minister was talking to Visiting Secretary General, World Customs Organization (WCO), Kunio Mikuriya who called on him here Tuesday. Dar said that the government has also taken steps for the facilitation of cross-border and regional trade.

Welcoming the visiting dignitary, Minister Dar stated that Pakistan had a long standing relationship with the WCO and we would continue to play an active role in further strengthening it.

He apprised the Secretary General about the measures being taken to improve and upgrade customs procedures in Pakistan in line with international standards. He also shared with him steps being taken for facilitation of border regional trade and said that regional integration was a priority of the government.

He said Pakistan fully supported all measures for enhancing regional connectivity and cooperation and, promotion of regional trade was a major area in this regard. Referring to CASA 1000, TAPI and the Integrated Transit and Trade Management System Projects, he said that these initiatives would further integrate the Pakistan economy with the region.

Minister Dar shared with the visiting diginitary an overview of Pakistan’s economy and said that having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government was now fully focused on higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He also shared with the Secretary General government’s efforts for improving the ease of doing business through trade and investment facilitation.

Secretary General WCO, Kunio Mikuriya stated that Pakistan’s active participation in the WCO was highly appreciated. He suggested that Pakistan should post permanent representative at the WCO headquarter to further augment this participation.

The Secretary General said that the improvement in system of Customs in Pakistan in the recent years was very visible and impressive . He said his organization would like to enhance cooperation with Pakistan especially in the areas of capacity building and further improvement of the systems in line with WCO guidelines.

Both sides expressed agreement on having greater Pak-World Customs Organization cooperation and linkages in the future. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar Khan, Chairman FBR, Tariq Mahmood Pasha, senior officials of Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

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Foreign investment in Pakistan slightly rises

KARACHI (PPI): Foreign investment in the country recorded a small rise of 9 percent during financial year ended June 30, 2017 after security situation improved and fresh inflows from China crossing one billion dollars level.

Foreign investment in Pakistan during July 2016-June 2017 amounted to 2.157 billion dollars as against 1.976 billion dollars of the preceding year.

Major chunk of foreign investment arrived from China amounting to 1.185 billion dollars during the preceding fiscal year. Second country which contributed most was Netherland which bought Engro Foods worth 463 million dollars during the previous year. Another stepping stone which boosted the investment was buying of Dwalance by Turkey group which helped improved flows amounting to 135 million dollars.

The performance from the foreign investors buying and selling stocks at local capital market was quite poor..
Foreign outflow during the preceding year was 531 million dollars as compared to 320 million dollars of the preceding year.

The root cause of foreign selling during the earlier part of the fiscal year was political situation joining to Panama issues and afterwards, the local bourse up gradation from frontier market to emerging market, which led to heavy foreign selling in the month of May.

All eyes on election 2018, outcome of Supreme Court hearing, rupee fluctuation and performance of the key economic indicator to decide the foreign investment in the stock market and other industrial areas. Investment from China has been pouring in but the amount is limited and burden on the economy has been larger than expected because of widening trade deficit.

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CPEC to weigh on foreign currency reserves situation: Moody’s

NEW YORK (AFP): Moody’s Investors Service has raised several questions pertaining to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said the mega project would widen the current account and could weigh on the foreign currency reserves situation.

In a report, Moody’s raised four questions related to CPEC and also gave replies or analysis pertaining to these questions. To a question that how will the CPEC initiative affect Pakistan’s credit profile, Moody’s said, “CPEC, a large package of Chinese-funded and operated investment projects, will increase Pakistan’s competitiveness and lift potential GDP growth by relieving critical infrastructure constraints. Higher capital formation will support the country’s economic strength.”

“However, CPEC will also increase government debt and external pressures as CPEC-related imports contribute to a widening current account deficit and bilateral loans increased leverage. The terms and conditions of financing inflows will be important mitigates of future balance of payments pressures,” it said.

Talking about the impact of the recent widening of the current account deficit on Pakistan’s credit profile Moody’s said, “The widening deficit adds pressure to Pakistan’s balance of payments position and could weigh on future foreign-exchange reserves adequacy, which would increase external vulnerability risk.”

About the credit implications of the recent currency devaluation, the corporation said, “We consider the July 5 devaluation and subsequent reversal an indicator of the policy challenges posed by rising external pressure.”
“Greater exchange rate flexibility would sustain export competitiveness and contribute to a more durable accumulation of foreign exchange reserves over time, which would help to strengthen external buffers.

The resulting reduction in external vulnerabilities would support Pakistan’s credit profile. However, we expect any shift in exchange rate management to be gradual,” it said.

In response to the affect of completion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program on the prospects for further fiscal consolidation, Moody’s said, “Pakistan’s very narrow revenue base and high debt burden restrict its fiscal strength.

The government successfully implemented fiscal consolidation under its most recent IMF program, narrowing the fiscal deficit to 4.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in FY2016 from 8.1 percent at the start of the program in FY2013.”

“Moving forward, we expect further consolidation to be challenging, as revenue shortfalls and pressures for higher development spending in advance of the 2018 general election test fiscal discipline. Reforms that improve government revenue generation will strengthen the fiscal position,” the corporation said.

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KSE 100-index bounces back after morning’s 1,000-point fall

KARACHI: After falling over 1,000 points early Wednesday, the Pakistan Stock Exchange bounced back later in the day, with the KSE 100-index settling at 43,980 points around 2pm. When the index dropped by over 1,000 points in the morning, it was feared that Wednesday’s performance would mirror the day before’s, when the index plunged over 2,100 points.

Analysts blamed the uncertainty surrounding the prime minister’s future in light of the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday for the recent declines.

Nearly all leading opposition parties have called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign from his post. Even though senior government officials, in a press conference on Tuesday night, asserted that the premier will not be resigning and instead prove his innocence in court, the stock market continues to dip.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing the case following the JIT’s report submission on July 17. Stock market experts said the market is reacting to the political uncertainty prevalent in the country.

On Tuesday, the KSE 100-index declined by over 2,100 points representing a loss of Rs425 billion, with share values of 305 companies falling as a result.

On Monday, the day the JIT report was submitted, the KSE-100 index experienced a gain of 2.33% or 1,051.66 points, to close at 46,273.81 points.

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Moody’s affirms Pakistan’s B3 rating, maintains stable outlook

NEW YORK (NNI): Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the Government of Pakistan’s B3 issuer and senior unsecured ratings, and maintained a stable outlook.

Pakistan’s medium-term growth outlook is strong, supported by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to address critical infrastructure constraints, and the continuing effects of macrostability-enhancing reforms started under the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program in 2013-16.

However, the government’s debt burden is high and fiscal deficits remain relatively wide, driven by a narrow revenue base that also restricts development spending. In addition, foreign exchange reserve adequacy, albeit stronger than a few years ago, would still be vulnerable to any significant increase in imports. Domestic politics and geopolitical risk also continue to represent a significant constraint on the rating.

The decision to maintain the stable outlook on Pakistan’s B3 rating reflects broadly balanced risks related to these two sets of factors Concurrently, Moody’s has affirmed the B3 foreign currency senior unsecured ratings for The Second Pakistan Int’l Sukuk Co. Ltd and The Third Pakistan International Sukuk Co Ltd.

Pakistan’s Ba3 local currency bond and deposit ceilings remain unchanged. The B2 foreign currency bond ceiling and the Caa1 foreign currency deposit ceiling are also unchanged. These ceilings act as a cap on the ratings that can be assigned to the obligations of other entities domiciled in the country.

The outlook for growth has strengthened as a result of increased macroeconomic stability due to reforms started during the three-year IMF EFF program and following the launch of the CPEC project in 2015.

In the fiscal year ended June 2016 (FY2016), real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth reached 4.5 percent, up from 4.1 percent in both FY2015 and FY2014. Moody’s expects such growth rates to be maintained or exceeded in the next few years. By contrast, the median rate of growth for B-rated sovereigns was just 2.7 percent in 2016.

From a macroeconomic stability perspective, the IMF program succeeded in fostering fiscal deficit reduction, more rigorous inflation management and the rebuilding of foreign exchange reserves. While further progress will be challenging, as fiscal metrics remain weak and reserve adequacy is relatively fragile, our baseline assumption is that the steps that the authorities have taken in the last 3-4 years will not be reversed.

Continued government commitment to reform implementation will help to reinforce fiscal and monetary discipline, preserving recent macroeconomic stability gains.

Moody’s expects that real GDP growth will rise towards 6 percent over the next few years, as the economic benefits of the CPEC gradually materialize and past policy reforms continue to support economic potential. The CPEC will increase Pakistan’s competitiveness and lift potential GDP growth by relieving supply-side constraints, particularly in power and transport infrastructure, and by catalyzing private sector investment.

However, security related issues and a weak track record of public project implementation suggest the pace of project execution will be relatively slow. Therefore, while the CPEC will support Pakistan’s credit profile, Moody’s expects the economic impact to materialize more slowly than the government envisions, resulting in real GDP growth closer to 5.5 percent over the next two years, compared to government forecasts for 6.0 percent growth in FY2018, rising to 7.0 percent by FY2020.

Despite relatively robust GDP growth, weak government revenue generation poses fiscal constraints. It limits growth potential by curbing the government’s capacity to spend on physical and social infrastructure development.

General government revenues were equivalent to only 15.5 percent of GDP in FY2016, lower than most of Pakistan’s rating peers. This reflects the government’s narrow tax base, linked to very low per-capita incomes, along with weak tax compliance and administration, despite some improvements related to IMF program reforms.

At 67.6 percent of GDP in FY2016, the government’s debt burden is materially higher than the B-rated median of 52.6 percent. Moody’s expects the debt burden to remain broadly stable over the next two years.

Further fiscal consolidation, after the deficit narrowed to 4.4 percent of GDP in FY2016 from 8.1 percent of GDP in FY2013, will be challenging. The government had set fiscal deficit targets of 3.8 percent of GDP for FY2017 and 3.5 percent for FY2018.

However, despite relatively disciplined spending, revenue collection has fallen short of the target in the first half of this fiscal year. As a result, in June 2017, the government revised its FY2017 and FY2018 deficit targets to 4.2 percent and 4.1 percent of GDP, respectively.
Moody’s expects the fiscal deficit to widen to about 4.7 percent of GDP in FY2017 and 5.0 percent in FY2018 despite the government’s intention to advance fiscal consolidation.

The government’s revenue projections for FY2018 are based on GDP growth projections that we consider to be optimistic. Meanwhile, development spending, particularly related to CPEC power infrastructure investments, combined with political pressure ahead of the 2018 general election to maintain power subsidies, which are currently budgeted for about Rs 103 billion, will weigh on the public finances.

Large fiscal deficits and a reliance on short-term debt have also contributed to very high gross borrowing requirements. At about 32.0 percent of GDP, Pakistan’s projected gross borrowing need for 2017 is one of the highest among rated sovereigns. Meanwhile, with nearly 31 percent of outstanding government debt in foreign currency in FY2016, Pakistan is exposed to marked changes in the cost of refinancing debt, should the local currency weaken abruptly.

In addition, debt affordability metrics, which include interest payments as a percentage of revenues and GDP, are very weak for Pakistan relative to its peer group. At around 28 percent of revenues in 2016, Pakistan spends nearly three times as much revenue on interest payments as the median of B-rated sovereigns at about 10 percent.

Although foreign exchange reserve buffers have increased nearly fourfold since the onset of the IMF program and cover more than the full amount of external debt payments, they are still low in relation to current account payments and have been declining since their recent peak around September 2016. As of April 2017, import coverage had fallen from a high of about five months in mid-2016 to below four months. This is only slightly above the IMF’s three-month minimum adequacy level.

As a net oil importer, Pakistan has benefited from lower global oil prices, but the uptick in prices last year, combined with an increase in imported CPEC capital goods, widened the trade deficit. In addition, worker remittance inflows from abroad, which amount to nearly 7.0 percent of GDP, have declined. As a result, the current account deficit has widened and external pressures are building. Moody’s expects the current account deficit to grow to about 2.7 percent of GDP in FY2017 and 2.9 percent in FY2018 from 1.2 percent in FY2016.

In response to mounting external pressure, in March 2017, the central bank introduced a 100 percent cash margin requirement on certain imported consumer goods. Meanwhile, on July 5, 2017, after nearly two years of stability, the Pakistani rupee depreciated by about 3 percent following foreign exchange market intervention by the central bank. The intervention responded to mounting external pressures and deterioration of export competitiveness, following persistent real effective exchange rate appreciation.

The Pakistani rupee has retraced much of its recent depreciation. Greater exchange rate flexibility would contribute to a more durable accumulation of foreign exchange reserves over time, which would help to strengthen external buffers and export competitiveness. The resulting reduction in external vulnerabilities would support Pakistan’s credit profile.

However, while Moody’s believes this to be the central bank’s medium-term objective, we expect any shift in exchange rate management to be gradual, as the government will likely want to avoid abrupt currency and other price movements, in particular in advance of the 2018 general election.

The stable outlook represents our expectation of balanced upside and downside risks to the sovereign credit profile. Support from multilateral and bilateral lenders has bolstered Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves and progress on economic reforms, and there is potential for further strengthening in growth and policy effectiveness beyond our current expectations.

Meanwhile, successful implementation of the CPEC project has the potential to transform the Pakistani economy by removing infrastructure bottlenecks, and stimulating both foreign and domestic investment.

However, downside risks also exist. In particular, the economic benefits of CPEC are still highly uncertain and power supply may continue to constrain growth to a greater extent than we currently envisage.

Moreover, the fiscal costs related to the project and, more generally, development spending could raise Pakistan’s debt burden more rapidly and significantly than we expect.

In addition, recent indications of renewed increases in external pressure could develop into greater external vulnerability.

Meanwhile, political event risk remains high in Pakistan, due to recurrent terrorist attacks.