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US stocks close with sharp declines amid virus fears

February 22, 2020: Wall Street continued to tumble Friday amid renewed fears that the virus outbreak in China will have a real impact on companies that depend on goods from the Asian manufacturing hub.

More than 2,200 people have died from the disease in China, which has infected more than 75,000 people there and over 1,000 abroad, fueling concerns the epidemic will become a bigger problem in neighboring economies.

As a growing list of companies warned of an expected hit to their bottom lines, investors seemed unwilling to hold onto shares and moved into safe havens.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8 percent to close the week at 28,992.41.

The broad-based S&P 500 lost 1.1 percent to end at 3,337.75, and the tech-rich Nasdaq dropped 1.8 percent to 9,576.59.

"Because we just don't know the full impact of the coronavirus yet, we're going to continue to see a shadow of uncertainty over the market," said Shawn Cruz of TD Ameritrade.

The economic impact "might come from both ends," he told AFP.

"You might run out of suppliers because so many people get their supplies from China" and at the same time there will be less buying "on the other side," he said.

Dow-member Coca Cola was among the firms warning about the virus' impact on earnings in the first quarter, but said it will expect to meet full-year targets. The company's shares gained 0.7 percent.

But Apple, which warned this week of lower revenue and constrained iPhone supply, lost 2.3 percent.

Gold jumped 1.6 percent to $1,646.20 an ounce, while the return on the 30-year US Treasury bond hit an all-time low of 1.9 percent.

US economic data did not help matters, with existing home sales dipping in January -- though they remain strong and far higher than a year ago -- and a business activity survey showed a continued slowing of manufacturing output.


Gold price gains Rs 1150, traded at Rs 93,650...

February 21, 2020: The per tola price of 24 karat gold appreciated by Rs 1150 on Friday and was traded at Rs 93,650 as compared to Rs 92,500 on last trading day, Karachi Sarafa Association reported.

Likewise, the price of 10 gram gold witnessed increase of Rs 986 and was traded at Rs 80,290 against last closing of Rs 79,304.

The price of silver gained Rs 10 per tola and was traded at Rs 1,060 against Rs 1,050 and that of 10 gram silver was traded at Rs 908.77 with the increase of Rs 8.57.

In international market, the price of per ounce gold gained $23 and was traded at $1,635 against $1,612, Karachi Sarafa association reported.


SBP governor briefs President Alvi on steps for differently...

February 21, 2020: President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday chaired a discussion here on financial inclusion of differently abled persons and called for concerted efforts to facilitate economic empowerment of the focused groups.

First Lady Samina Alvi also accompanied the president.

The event was hosted by SBP Governor Raza Baqir, who shared details of the regulatory instructions for the banks by the central bank and its own initiatives to address the problems facing by different categories of differently abled persons and their progress since 2018, an SBP statement said.

The dialogue was attended by senior officials of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), presidents and chief executive officers of other banks, and representatives of Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP).

The SBP governor welcomed the president and gave a detailed presentation on the two types of interventions by done the central bank for the differently abled persons. Those included initiatives taken by the SBP to facilitate the differently abled persons for accessing banking premises and services and, providing access to finance through various SBP refinance schemes.

He informed the president that for facilitating the people facing challenges related to upper and lower limbs, the State Bank had taken many initiatives, which included providing preferential treatment / out of queue assistance; construction of ramps at the entrance of existing branches and ATM cabins to allow easy access to special persons and wheelchair users; relaxation in the requirement of biometric verification for account opening; and facilitation desks for special persons at SBP main building and its offices countrywide.

Regarding the steps taken by SBP to facilitate persons with visual impairment, the governor briefed about the special features of currency notes such as size, lines and dots; installation of Talking ATMs; provision of ATM/Debit and Internet banking facilities; and countrywide awareness sessions on features of currency notes.

Referring to the second type of SBP interventions, Dr Baqir apprised the president about two credit schemes supported by the SBP for the financial inclusion of differently abled persons.

The first was Small Enterprise Financing and Credit Guarantee Scheme, which was available to differently abled persons holding computerized national identity cards (CNIC) with a special logo/symbol for setting up new business enterprises or for expansion of existing ones at a subsidized financing rate of 5% per annum for the tenor of five years, including grace period of up to six months.

The second SBP scheme was Financing Facility of Low Cost Housing for Special Segments including differently abled persons that provides subsidized loans to widows, children of Shaheed, transgender, special persons and persons in the areas severely affected by war against terrorism. Under the scheme, special segments can avail subsidized financing at 5% per annum, for the tenor of 12.5 years including grace period of up to 6 months. Information about these schemes is available SBP website (http://www.sbp.org.pk/Incen-others/sme-7.asp and http://www.sbp.org.pk/Incen-others/Low.asp).

Later on, the president made a detailed visit of the SBP Museum, along with the First Lady, and took interest in the precious stock of different showed items, including long range of coins starting from stone age, historical pictures and paintings including those Pakistan movement.


Pakistan to remain on FATF Grey List Till June

February 21, 2020 The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) during its plenary meeting held in Paris has agreed to maintain Pakistan’s status on FATF’s Compliance Document, normally referred as the Grey List.

While acknowledging the steps taken by Pakistan towards implementation of Action Plan and welcoming its high level political commitment, FATF highlighted the need for further actions for completing the Action Plan by June 2020.

According to a press release issued by the ministry of finance on Friday, the FATF Plenary meeting was held in Paris from February 16 to 21, 2020 where the Pakistan delegation was led by Minister for Economic Affairs Division Muhammad Hammad Azhar.

During the last reporting period, Pakistan has made significant progress in the implementation of FATF Action Plan, which has been demonstrated by the completion of 9 additional action items.

FATF reviewed in detail the progress made by Pakistan towards implementation of the Action Plan.

"The Government of Pakistan stands committed for taking all necessary actions required for completing the remaining items in the Action Plan. A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented," the press release added.

FATF will undertake the next review of Pakistan’s Progress in June 2020.


Pakistan, Japan agree to enhance mutual collaboration in myriad...

February 21, 2020: Pakistan and Japan have agreed to enhance mutual collaboration in myriad fields including infrastructure development, higher education, and cultural and academic exchanges.

The understanding came during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President of Japan International Cooperation Agency Shinichi Kitaoka in Islamabad on Friday.

The Prime Minister appreciated Japan's role as an important development partner, with its work in line with the government's priorities.

He highlighted new opportunities and incentives available in Pakistan for Japanese investors as well as the government's success in stabilizing the economy and creating an enabling environment for business.

Imran Khan underscored the existing goodwill and historic relations between Pakistan and Japan and said he was looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Abe in Pakistan at the earliest opportunity.

Shinichi Kitaoka briefed the Prime Minister on JICA's economic and technical assistance to Pakistan. He highlighted JICA's particular focus on health and education sectors.

Radio Pakistan

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