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WHO raises global virus risk to maximum level

February 28, 2020: The World Health Organization on Friday raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and caused financial markets to plunge.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the risk was being raised to "very high" because of the continued increase in cases and the number of new countries affected in recent days.

These developments "are clearly of concern", Tedros told reporters in Geneva.

But he added: "We still have a chance of containing this virus, if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts."

The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging on every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people travelling or gathering in crowded places.

Switzerland became the latest country to announce drastic measures on Friday, saying all events with more than 1,000 participants would be suspended until March 15.

The ban forced the cancellation of the Geneva International Motor Show -- a major item on the global auto industry calendar -- that was due to start next week.

Carnival celebrations, rock concerts and a major watchmaking trade show also had to be scrapped.

- 'Struggling with containment' -

The virus has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 83,000 worldwide -- the vast majority in China -- since it emerged apparently from an animal market in a central Chinese city in late December.

The number of deaths and new infections has been tapering off in China, following unprecedented quarantine efforts locking down tens of millions of people in the worst-hit cities.

But infections elsewhere have started to surge, with Iran, Italy and South Korea becoming the major new hotspots and cases being confirmed in around 50 countries.

"We see a number of countries struggling with containment," said Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme.

The WHO has voiced particular concern about Africa's preparedness, warning that the continent's health care systems were ill-equipped to respond to a COVID-19 epidemic.

Cases had previously been reported in Egypt and Algeria, but not in the sub-Saharan region until Friday when Nigeria reported its first case: an Italian man in densely populated Lagos.

- Markets tank -

Stock markets around the world have plummeted this week as it has become increasingly clear the virus will take a huge toll on the global economy.

"Stock markets are well on their way to their worst week since the global financial crisis," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda trading group.

Several companies have said they expect the virus to hit their earnings because of weaker demand.

Oil prices also dived four percent to their lowest levels for more than a year, with Brent oil for April delivery sinking as low as $50.05 a barrel.

Analysts have warned that China, the world's second largest economy, will see a major cut in growth this quarter as the country remains largely paralysed by quarantines and containment measures.

- China hope -

Still, signs in China offered hope that the outbreak could be contained.

China reported 44 more deaths on Friday, raising its toll to 2,788, with 327 new cases -- the lowest daily figure for new infections in more than a month.

The main concern for health officials is outside of China, with governments this week forced into increasingly drastic measures in an attempt to battle spiralling epidemics.

The biggest death toll outside China is in Iran, where 34 people have died.

As elsewhere, the virus has mostly killed the elderly or people who had other health conditions.

South Korea also now has the most cases outside China, with more than 2,000 infections and 13 deaths.



Stock markets suffer worst week since financial crisis

February 28, 2020: Global stocks slumped again Friday to mark the largest weekly drop since the 2008 global financial crisis over fears the coronavirus could wreak havoc on the world economy.

Crude oil prices tumbled as well and analysts said that central banks, especially the US Federal Reserve, might have to shift into crisis-resolution mode with urgent interest rate cuts.

But James Bullard, head of the Saint Louis Fed, warned that emergency rate cuts were "not the baseline at this time" for the central bank's policymakers.

And "beyond helping to alleviate the current stock market collapse, there is little any central bank could do to alleviate the potential repercussions of a global pandemic," noted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.

Frankfurt headed the losses in Europe, shedding almost 3.9 percent as the market closed.

Leading European stock markets have lost more than 10 percent in just one week, with London's FTSE 100, which fell by 3.4 percent on Friday, giving up 11.3 percent.

But in New York, the Dow Jones index was 1.1 percent lower in midday trades, while the broader S&P 500 was off by 0.7 percent, coming back from steeper drops at the open.

On Thursday, the Dow suffered its biggest points loss on record, shedding almost 1,200 points as its 4.4-percent drop marked the steepest decline in two years.

The markets in Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo all closed down 3.0 percent on Friday, while Jakarta shed more than four percent.

The VIX "fear" index -- which measures market volatility -- is now at its highest level since the European debt crisis erupted in 2011.

"The panic mode is full on," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

"The coronavirus outbreak has certainly hit businesses, and it might have a longer-than-expected negative impact on company earnings and global growth," she added.

Meanwhile, the Japanese yen continue to benefit from its status as a haven investment in times of economic uncertainty, making solid gains against the dollar.

Yields on 10-year US Treasuries were at an all-time low around 1.17 percent.

Concern that global crude demand will crash meanwhile sent oil prices down again, by 3.1 percent for Brent crude in London and by 4.6 percent for US benchmark WTI crude, though they too appeared to be staging a late rally, of sorts.

"Another day, another sell-off," remarked analyst Stephen Brennock at energy consultancy PVM Associates.

"Risk assets took a significant step lower... as market players continued to squirm with unease over the growing coronavirus crisis."

In addition to central banks, governments also faced pressure to provide support.

French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the virus would be considered "a case of force majeure for companies," meaning they would not be penalised if they failed to meet deadlines on public contracts.

The virus has now proliferated worldwide, emerging in every continent except Antarctica, and prompting governments and businesses to curb travel and public gatherings.

The Geneva International Motor Show was the latest major event to be cancelled after Switzerland banned large gatherings.

The virus has killed more than 2,800 people and infected more than 83,800 since late December.

On Friday, Nigeria reported the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa, as the World Health Organization warned against the "fatal mistake" of complacency.

Iceland reported its first case too.

- Key figures around 1655 GMT -

  • London - FTSE 100: DOWN 3.4 percent at 6,565.80 points (close)
  • Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 3.9 percent at 11,890.35 (close)
  • Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 3.4 percent at 5,309.90 (close)
  • Milan - FTSE MIB: DOWN 3.5 percent at 21,984.00 (close)
  • EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 3.7 percent at 3,329.49
  • New York - Dow: DOWN 1.1 percent at 25,482.50
  • Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 3.7 percent at 21,142.96 (close)
  • Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 2.4 percent at 26,129.93 (close)
  • Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 3.7 percent at 2,880.30 (close)
  • Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.28 from 109.59 at 2200 GMT
  • Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1002 from $1.1001
  • Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2780 from $1.2887
  • Euro/pound: UP at 86.10 pence from 85.36 pence
  • Brent Crude: DOWN 3.1 percent at $50.57 per barrel
  • West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 4.6 percent at $44.94


Weekly SPI Decreases by 1.16 Percent

February 29, 2020 (MLN): The Weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the Combined Group decreased by 1.16% during the week ended Feb 27, 2020 while the SPI increased by 14.6% compared to the corresponding period from last year.

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) the Combined Index was at 129.15 compared to 130.67 on Feb 20, 2020 while the index was recorded at 112.7 a year ago, on Feb 28, 2019

Out of the 51 monitored items, the average price of 13 items increased, 13 items decreased whereas 25 items registered no change during the week.

The weekly SPI percentage change by income groups showed that SPI decreased across all quantiles ranging between 1.85% and 0.75%.

The Lowest Income Group witnessed a weekly decrease of 1.34% while the highest income group recorded a decrease of 0.75%.

On an yearly basis, analysis of SPI change across different income segments showed that SPI increased across all quantiles ranging between 12.95% and 16.72%.

Yearly SPI for the Lowest Income Group increased by 12.95% while the highest income group recorded an increase of 14.43%.

The average price of Sona urea stood at Rs.1764 per 50 kg bag which is 0.73% lower than last week’s price and 2.7% lower when compared to last year.

Meanwhile, average Cement price was recorded at Rs.541 per 50 kg bag, which is 0.37% higher than the previous week and 10.58% lower than prices last year.


Copyright Mettis Link News

Closing Bell: A Nightmare on Chundrigarh Road…

February 28, 2020 (MLN): This week turned out to be nothing less than a nightmare for the equity markets, as the negative sentiments and apprehensions emanating from the plague kept the investors from taking any risks.

The Kse-100 index, as well as several other stock markets across the globe, witnessed yet another blow on Friday, with the former reporting losses of 103 points and closing at 37,983-mark.

Of the 95 traded companies in the KSE100 Index 46 closed up 45 closed down, while 4 remained unchanged. Total volume traded for the index was 163.20 million shares.

Sector wise, the index was let down by Oil & Gas Exploration Companies with 130 points, Commercial Banks with 90 points, Power Generation & Distribution with 32 points, Oil & Gas Marketing Companies with 16 points and Chemical with 9 points.

The most points taken off the index was by HBL which stripped the index of 46 points followed by PPL with 45 points, OGDC with 40 points, MCB with 35 points and POL with 31 points.

Sectors propping up the index were Cement with 74 points, Fertilizer with 54 points, Pharmaceuticals with 18 points, Automobile Assembler with 10 points and Inv. Banks / Inv. Cos. / Securities Cos. with 9 points.

The most points added to the index was by ENGRO which contributed 39 points followed by LUCK with 34 points, MEBL with 29 points, FFC with 18 points and SEARL with 17 points.

All Share Volume decreased by 47.07 Million to 202.18 Million Shares. Market Cap decreased by Rs.29.90 Billion.

Total companies traded were 358 compared to 361 from the previous session. Of the scrips traded 173 closed up, 161 closed down while 24 remained unchanged.

Total trades decreased by 10,399 to 79,056.

Value Traded decreased by 1.40 Billion to Rs.8.61 Billion


Top Ten by Volume

Hascol Petroleum18,530,500
Maple Leaf Cement Factory17,632,500
Unity Foods14,049,500
The Bank of Punjab12,658,000
D.G. Khan Cement Company9,476,500
TRG Pakistan9,246,000
Fauji Cement Company7,115,000
Pioneer Cement5,684,000
Oil & Gas Development Company5,499,000
Fauji Foods5,268,000



Top Sector by Volume

Commercial Banks26,193,100
Oil & Gas Marketing Companies23,398,000
Vanaspati & Allied Industries14,056,200
Technology & Communication13,410,200
Oil & Gas Exploration Companies8,917,500
Power Generation & Distribution7,178,500
Food & Personal Care Products6,261,040



Copyright Mettis Link News


1st NEPRA Energy Week 2020 concludes

February 28, 2020: The first National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) Energy Week 2020 on Friday concluded with a resolve to ensure provision of affordable electricity to the consumers, eliminating inefficiencies in the system, introduction of competition through supplier regime, wheeling and net metering arrangements.

Addressing at the concluding session Member National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) Rafique Ahmed Sheikh said the overall financial health of the power sector greatly depended on efficient distribution.

He said the distribution sector was the last step in the supply chain of electricity.

Rafique Sheikh highlighted the issues and challenges of high distribution losses, low recovery, distribution system constraints, inefficient service provision, low outreach to the new clusters of consumers and lackluster expansion of networks. He said the financial mismanagement still plagued the distribution sector.

The distribution session was attended by representatives of various power utilities and organizations/institutions such as DISCOs, World Bank, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), FPCCI, APTMA, CPPA-G, PPIB, NTDC, Wafaqi Mohtasib, and AEDB etcetera.

Moreover, power sector researchers and academia such as; NUST, LUMS also shared their ideas to achieve the goal of sustainable development through effectiveness and optimization of the distribution sector.

The distribution session focused on the role of DISCOs, introduction of competition through Supplier Regime and CTBCM, wheeling and net metering arrangements, reasons and way forward to eliminate circular debt.

The guest speakers highlighted the impact of higher consumer end tariffs on the economy particularly on the export sector and suggested the way forward to overcome these challenges.

Speaking on the occasion, NEPRA Chairman Tauseef H Farooqi Farooqi thanked the NEPRA management committee and team lead for organizing a fruitful event.

He said it would ultimately result in revamping the power sector of Pakistan.

He also appreciated the innovative ideas, valuable recommendations, and latest approaches shared by the National and International Energy experts and hoped to chalk-out the actionable ones.

In the end, the NEPRA chairman distributed souvenirs and certificates among the resource persons.


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