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Stock markets retreat as nervous investors pocket week’s gains

March 27, 2020: Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic retreated Friday as investors banked profits from the week's rally sparked by massive government and central bank action to protect economies from the coronavirus.

"Today's sell off is most probably a consequence of three days of strong gains and a paring of risk ahead of the weekend," said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets UK.

He said it was "a welcome sight to see European stocks finish the week higher for the first time since mid-February, offering a welcome respite to some pretty battered portfolios."

Oil markets saw another dismal day under the twin impact of the pandemic and an ongoing price war, with European benchmark Brent crude plumbing lows last seen in 2003.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index was down by more than 700 points in midday New York trading, while in Europe key indices were also deeply in the red at the close -- although still booking solid weekly gains, some by double digits.

"European markets have pulled back... with caution being the order of the day after such a good rally," said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at trading group Markets.com.

"Stimulus efforts have calmed markets" this week, Wilson said.

Earlier, Asian stock markets had mostly managed to record more gains.

- Sharp but short? -

Support measures which the G20 said amounted to $5 trillion have given traders hope that the expected global recession will be sharp but short.

Even news that a record 3.3 million Americans claimed unemployment benefits last week -- smashing the previous all-time high of 695,000 in 1982 -- did little to derail a more sanguine attitude among investors.

Dan Skelly at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management said stocks, after being clobbered in recent weeks, were now showing signs of bottoming out.

"While we do believe this will be possibly the sharpest recession in history, it may also be the shortest, so there is room to be optimistic for a second-half rebound," he told Bloomberg TV.

Support this week has come largely from a $2-trillion US stimulus bill that is making its way through Congress and which is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives Friday before being signed off by President Donald Trump.

"For investors, this package should be good for US equities and other risk assets as it should leave US corporations in a better position to weather the economic downturn and thrive in the rebound," said David Kelly, at JP Morgan Asset Management.

On Thursday, Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell said the US central bank would continue to "aggressively" pump liquidity into the economy.

- 'Historic imbalance' -

The Fed's promise to effectively print cash has sent the dollar tumbling this week and it continued to fall across the board Friday -- including against the euro which earlier had a spell of weakness following Germany's own rescue package.

The upper house of Germany's parliament on Friday approved almost 1.1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) to shield Europe's largest economy from the impact of the pandemic.

Oil tanked again for reasons that were "simple: a massive imbalance of historic proportions", said Fawad Razaqzada, an analyst at Trading Candles

"Global demand has slumped because of the Covid-19-related lockdown. Supply, which was already higher than needed, is currently excessive to say the least as Saudi, Russia and the US fight to win market share. The weakness is likely to persist for a while yet," he said.

- Key figures around 1640 GMT -

  • London - FTSE 100: DOWN 5.5 percent at 5,498.63 points (close)
  • Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 3.7 percent at 9,632.52 (close)
  • Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 4.2 percent at 4,351.49 (close)
  • EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 4.2 percent at 2,728.65
  • New York - Dow: DOWN 3.3 percent at 21,814.70
  • Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 3.9 percent at 19,389.43 (close)
  • Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 23,484.28 (close)
  • Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 2,772.20 (close)
  • Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1059 from $1.1031 at 2150 GMT
  • Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.17 yen from 109.44 yen
  • Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2360 from $1.2204
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.48 pence from 90.39 pence
  • Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 4.6 percent at $27.29 per barrel
  • West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 6.0 percent at $21.24

AFP/APP

IMF chief: ‘Clear we have entered recession’

March 27, 2020: The coronavirus pandemic has driven the global economy into a downturn that will require massive funding to help developing nations, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Friday.

"It is clear that we have entered a recession" that will be worse than in 2009 following the global financial crisis, she said in an online press briefing.

With the worldwide economic "sudden stop," Georgieva said the fund's estimate "for the overall financial needs of emerging markets is $2.5 trillion."

But she warned that estimate "is on the lower end."

Governments in emerging markets, which have suffered an exodus of capital of more than $83 billion in recent weeks, can cover much of that, but "clearly the domestic resources are insufficient" and many already have high debt loads.

Over 80 countries, mostly of low incomes, have already have requested emergency aid from the International Monetary Fund, she said.

"We do know that their own reserves and domestic resources will not be sufficient," Georgieva said, adding that the fund is aiming to beef up its response "to do more, do it better, do it faster than ever before."

The IMF chief spoke to reporters following a virtual meeting with the Washington-based lender's steering committee, when she officially requested a increase in the fund's fast-deploying emergency facilities from their current level of around $50 billion.

She also welcomed the $2.2 trillion economic package approved by the US Senate, saying "it is absolutely necessary to cushion the world's largest economy against an abrupt drop the economic activities."

AFP/APP

Bank of Canada lowers rate to 0.25% amid coronavirus...

March 27, 2020: The Bank of Canada on Friday lowered a key interest rate to 0.25 percent as part of a drive to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"This unscheduled rate decision brings the policy rate to its effective lower bound and is intended to provide support to the Canadian financial system and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic," the bank said of the change in the so-called overnight lending rate.

 

AFP/APP

No additional burden or defer any increase in tariff...

March 27, 2020: No additional burden would be shifted to the gas consumers, rather steps would be taken to facilitate them under recently announced economic relief package, said by Prime Minister in a video message after chairing a high-level meeting on the energy sector.

In a meeting, the Prime Minister directed the Energy Minister not to put the burden of gas prices on consumers and defer any such increase in the tariff.

Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said the meeting decided that reforms would be introduced in the gas sector and various steps would be taken to resolve problems of the gas consumers.

She said the meeting decided to introduce institutional reforms in the gas sector. The Energy Committee was directed to present the reform agenda in the ECC meeting. She said the PM issued directives for ensuring an uninterrupted supply of gas to the consumers.

Further, she said it was decided that the gas supply to the industrial and commercial sectors would be provided from other sources including LNG and LPG.

During the meeting, the gas companies were asked to set up consumer facilitation centers as early as possible. Moreover, the heads of gas companies were directed to cut costs and take concrete measures to eliminate gas theft and reduce line losses.

APP

Hammad Azhar voices concern over declining imports, exports after...

March 27, 2020: Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Hammad Azhar has voiced concern over declining imports and exports of the country. Expressing these views in a private tv channel program, he said the volume of imports and exports was diminishing due to fighting against coronavirus pandemic encircling almost all the nations around the world.

He said that the government was monitoring the evolving situation day by day due to coronavirus outbreak in the region. 

          About depreciating the value of Pakistan's currency, the minister said that in many countries, the representatives of the banks were confronted with devaluing issues of their currency against the dollar.

          To a question about the current situation of the loan in Pakistan, he said that we were in contact with the world bank, international monetary funds (IMF), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and other conventional banks for seeking assistance regarding writ off the facility of debt for underdeveloped nations.

           "We will have to approach to international banks, ADB and IMF, for availing $600 million loans besides, one and half billion rupees from other conventional banks to meet uprising challenges, " he stated.

APP

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