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British pound recovers as May outlines Brexit ‘Plan B’

London, Jan 21: The pound recovered ground Monday after British Prime Minister Theresa May said she plans to return to Brussels to discuss changes to the Brexit deal she agreed with EU leaders last month despite an overwhelming rejection of the draft text by MPs last week.

The London stock market ended the day with the thinnest of gains, but still outperformed its European peers which all closed lower.

Earlier, Asian indices closed higher.

US markets were closed for a bank holiday, making for more modest trading volumes than usual in the rest of the world.

There was mixed news out of China, with official data showing the country's economic growth at its slowest pace in 28 years offsetting a report that the country has offered to eliminate its massive trade surplus with the United States -- easing trade war tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

- Extension request 'most likely' -

Britain, meanwhile, is on course to crash out of the European Union on March 29 without a deal unless UK MPs can force a delay or come up with an alternative plan that Brussels is also happy with.

"Unless the British PM intends to commit political suicide, an extension request is the most likely scenario and the EU will most probably agree, which should be a positive development that will take the pound towards $1.30 again," predicted Konstantinos Anthis, Head of Research at ADSS.

At the end of the European business day, the pound was trading at just above $1.29.

"Of course, in the off chance that she doesn't request an extension or the EU rejects such a request, the pound will crash to $1.25," he said.

In the event, May told parliament Monday she believed "we can make progress" on the so-called Irish backstop, and that she would be consulting MPs about possible changes and "then take the conclusions of those discussions back to the EU".

- 'Somewhat devoid' -

Beyond updates from May, "markets are somewhat devoid of market moving events, with the Chinese data released overnight providing the basis for market sentiment outside of the UK today," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group.

Global stock markets had rallied on Friday, buoyed by hopes of a breakthrough in efforts to defuse a US-China trade war.

China's top economics negotiator is due to visit Washington this month for more talks as the end of a 90-day truce agreed between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping draws closer.

"For now markets are going ahead with the growing perception that there is a lot of willingness by both parties to make a deal," said National Australia Bank senior strategist Rodrigo Catril.

"But... the market is also likely to demand more concrete evidence that a deal looks more likely than not."

- Key figures around 1645 GMT -

  • London - FTSE 100: UP 0.03 percent at 6,970.59 points (close)
  • Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.6 percent at 11,136.20 (close)
  • Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,867.78 (close)
  • EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,125.07
  • Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 20,719.33 (close)
  • Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.4 percent at 27,196.54 (close)
  • Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2,610.51 (close)
  • New York - CLOSED for bank holiday
  • Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2904 from $1.2867 at 2200 GMT Friday
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.12 pence from 88.29 pence
  • Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1370 from $1.1365
  • Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.63 yen from 109.72
  • Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 14 cents at $62.56 per barrel
  • Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN nine cents at $53.95

 

(AFP/APP)

IMF cuts global growth forecasts amid rising risks

Davos, Switzerland, Jan 21: The US-China trade confrontation, Brexit and other global uncertainty are threatening to drag down growth even further, the International Monetary Fund warned Monday.

In an update to its global economic forecasts, even more pessimistic than those released just three months ago, the IMF stressed that the risks dominate the outlook.

The World Economic Outlook cut the global GDP forecast for this year to 3.5 percent from the 3.7 percent projected in October. And for 2020 the estimate was trimmed to 3.6 percent.

 

(AFP/APP)

IT exports fetch $540 million in six months

January 21, 2019: The Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication industry of the country has contributed US $ 540 million foreign exchange to national kitty through exports during first two quarters of this fiscal year 2018-2019.

The telecommunication, computer and information services managed to export IT and IT-enabled services worth US $ 540 million, seeing an increase of US $ 20 million as compared to exports figures of same period last year, statistics of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) revealed.

The year-on-year increase of just 3.8 per cent in export value of IT industry is a lower than expected and it is likely due to impact of rupee's depreciation against dollar.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan's IT industry achieved a benchmark of US $ 1.065 billion of exports in last financial year 2017-18. 

Pakistan Software Exports Board (PSEB) had chalked out a plan to boost exports to over US$ 6 billion by 2020 and US $ 10 billion by 2025.

The present government has also emphasized digitization of the economy and the IT sector. It has formed a special task force on IT, comprising big names in industry, for promotion of the sector and facilitating job creation and exports growth.

The targets set for IT exports are ambitious but can be achieved if opportunities are availed timely by national companies in fields such as Cloud Computing, Mobile Apps, Artificial Intelligence, block chain and etc.

According to Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), Pakistan's IT & ITES-BPO industry comprises more than 2,500 companies, and this number is growing each year. The industry employs over 300,000 English-speaking professionals with many world-class experts in current and emerging IT products and technologies.

The IT is one of the sectors which has a lot of potential. It can not only increase the much-needed export receipts of the country but it can also provide jobs to millions of Pakistanis if they are provided opportunities and training.

Pakistan is ranked as the 4th most popular country for free-lancing in Online Labor Index published in 2017 by Oxford Internet Institute (OII). It is also listed as the 4th most financially attractive country in the world for outsourcing services as per A.T. Kearney's Global Services Location Index 2016.

(APP)

Bulls return to trading floors as benchmark 100 index...

January 21, 2019 (MLN): After their absence from capital markets in the last few sessions, the bulls returned to the trading floors in today’s trade, pulling the KSE - 100 index up by 237 points as it concluded the day at 39,543 points.

Having contributed over 230 points to the benchmark index collectively, Commercial Banks and Oil & Gas Exploration Companies led the day’s gains.

Commercial Banks rallied as the news on removal of withholding taxes (WHT) on cash transactions of above Rs.50,000 for filers gathered attention. Moreover, expectation for a hike in policy rates channeled optimism within markets.

Meanwhile the Energy sector took the nudge from rebounding commodities prices internationally.

In particular, gains on the scrips of HBL (+2.89%), PPL (+2.63%) and FFC (+1.73%) led the index in green region.

Today’s trade began with the index on an overall low of 39, 306 points, after which it gathered pace and mounted to an intraday high of 39,812 points, marking its movement within a window of 505 points.

The market participants observed a trading activity of 77 million shares, traded at a value of PKR 4.74 billion. While the value of trade exceeded previous session’s value, the volume traded fell short considerably.

In total, the shares of 91 companies were traded today, out of which, the share prices of 47 companies registered an increase and that of 41 companies suffered decline.

On the other hand, the broader KSE All share index gained 161 points in today’s trade, marking an increase of 0.56% over last closing value and ending today’s trade at 29, 078 points.

A total of 124.5 million shares of scrips listed within the KSE All Share Index were traded today at PKR 5.96 billion.  

Copyright Mettis Link News

Careem asked to employ returning expats in transport service

January 21, 2019: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari on Monday asked the CEO of Careem Pakistan, for absorbing returning expatriates in their transport business after providing them necessary training.

He floated the idea during a meeting with Junaid Iqbal, CEO of the online cab service, to discuss ways and means for capturing ever-growing online market gaining popularity with each passing day.

“The manpower coming back to Pakistan should be trained and employed by Careem,” Zulfikar said in a press release.

They discussed possibilities to create more jobs in online job market and deliberated on the measures required to facilitate Pakistani expatriates in and outside the country. They also agreed to evolve a mechanism for providing incentives to expatriates, especially those having Overseas Pakistanis Foundation’s card.

The SAPM said the Careem should introduce a special discount package for the overseas Pakistanis in their online service during their stay in Pakistan.

Expressing his resolve to facilitate the Pakistani diaspora in relevant domains, the CEO underlined the role of government in regularizing e-business in the country.

Junaid Iqbal apprised the SAPM about the modus operandi of the Careem and highlighted the issues being faced by the company in the country pertaining to different duties, route permits and licensing of their vehicles and captains.

He also stressed the need for making e-laws to regulate all forms of online businesses, claiming that the online marketplace may create two million shops by 2023.

To this, Zulfikar Bukhari admitted that the rules and regulations to handle e-commerce in Pakistan were not at par with the developed countries.

He assured the Careem CEO that the government was cognizant of the factual position and working on the subject to regulate e-business in the country.

He also suggested a new online payment system for the expatriates to send their remittances back to the country through which Pakistani diaspora could also make investments and get a market compatible rate in return, additionally.

Junaid informed the SAPM that 80 per cent Careem captains in Dubai were of Pakistani origins. While in Saudi Arabia, around 8 percent of the limo drivers were Pakistanis who brought 20 per cent of the rides to Careem, he said.

He also briefed the SAPM of the Careem’s future endeavors and informed him about the company’s new policy of promoting public private partnership for human resource development and national progress.

(APP)

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