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PKR appreciates by 14 paisa at interbank trade

April 08, 2020 (MLN): Pakistani rupee (PKR) appreciated by 14 paisa against US Dollar (USD) in today's interbank session as the currency closed the day's trade at PKR 167.76 per USD, against yesterday's closing of PKR 167.9 per USD.

The rupee traded within a very narrow range of 30 paisa per USD showing an intraday high bid of 167.90 and an intraday Low offer of 167.75.

Within the Open Market, PKR was traded at 167/168.50 per USD.

Meanwhile, the currency gained 63 paisa against the Pound Sterling as the day's closing quote stood at PKR 206.43 per GBP, while the previous session closed at PKR 207.06 per GBP.

Similarly, PKR's value strengthened by 31 paisa against EUR which closed at PKR 182.06 at the interbank today.

On another note, within the money market, the overnight repo rate towards close of the session was 11.00/11.25 percent, whereas the 1 week rate was 11.00/11.05 percent.

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Buxly Paints to extend suspension of plant operations and...

April 08, 2020 (MLN): Buxly Paints has decided to extend its shutdown of the plant operations and offices till April 14, 2020, in compliance with directives of provincial governments to contain the spread of COVID-19 across provinces.

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Pakistan’s Economic Outlook– Navigating turbulence: SCG

April 08, 2020 (MLN): In an unprecedented time, COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the human and economic toll around the world which cannot be overstated, Whereas, a research report by Standard Chartered Global (SCG) expects that the worst of the impact to be felt in H1-2020, it could extend beyond this period.

The detailed global research forecasted global economic collapse in 1HCY20, followed by a painful recovery. The concentrated shock to China’s economy in Q1, and the rest of the world in Q2, is likely to be larger than for any single quarter during the 2007-09 i.e. Global Financial Crisis (GFC) period, the report added.

Illustrating the scale of the current economic challenges facing by the global economies, the research underscored that US initial jobless claims spiked to 6.65mn in the week ended 28 March, equivalent to 3.2% of the working-age population – six times the previous record of 0.5% set in September 1982. This followed a spike in the previous week to 3.28mn claims.

In Europe, sentiment and co-incident indicators are also indicating steep drop inactivity. In South Korea, signs of a slowdown in new coronavirus cases due to containment measures may presage a recovery in sentiment and activity data, following a similar pattern to China.

In emerging markets, where economic and health-care resources may be more limited, governments are implementing measures to ‘flatten the curve’ i.e. slowing down the rate of infection for the contagious disease through Lockdowns or stay-at-home which have been implemented in most of the globe.

Even if it is avoided, and more aggressive policies are being implemented around the world, 2020 is one of the worst years for the global economy in living memories.

Thus, Q2-2020 should mark the low point for the global recession, with most of the lockdowns happening then, as per research. With entire economic sectors at a standstill, the research quantified the full-year impact on GDP growth in event the of a one-month shutdown of all non-essential activities/ stay-at-home on economies; the negative impact for the full year ranges from -4.7 to -1.2ppt.

Given the huge scale of the economic shock, the magnitude of the economic stimulus being delivered is unsurprising. The most effective stimulus measures, fiscal and monetary measures, are likely to be those aimed at avoiding a spiral of mass layoffs and bankruptcies, particularly for SMEs (which employ most people around the world). Without such measures, this recession deeper than 2009, would likely end up in a depression.

Pakistan

The research expected global pandemic, recession to weigh on Pakistan as well as it lowered 2020 GDP growth forecast for FY20 from 2% to 1.5%. The full impact of the global recession is likely to be felt in H1-FY21. Therefore, it also lowered the FY21 GDP growth forecast to 2.0% (from 3.0%).

Pakistan, a major oil-importing rely on private domestic demand to drive growth. The research emphasized that virus-related disruptions and quarantines could mean a sharp hit to economic activity in Q2.

‘FX earnings from exports and remittances are likely to be hit. Although the initial impact on the current account (C/A) impact should be offset by lower oil prices, much would depend on how long disruptions to exports persist. A prolonged loss of FX revenue would significantly increase the risk of a wider C/A gap than we currently expect’, the report highlighted.

With regards to the IMF program, the research predicted the program will remain on track but the targets will have to be adjusted due to a disruption caused by a coronavirus. Pakistan has requested assistance under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) as IMF financing is likely to play a bigger role in helping to fight the crisis in the coming months.

The stimulus fiscal package by fed govt of PKR 1 trillion and monetary easing by 225 bps in March by State bank of Pakistan are somehow justified in response to the virus.  

Considering the global-off sentiments which could lead to further capital flows from economy and costlier financing as traditional FX earnings decline is likely to pressure exchange rates against the USD, the fiscal deficit may widen. The research expects a fiscal deficit for FY20 to rise to 9% of GDP from 8%. The research emphasized that policymakers will need to balance fiscal and financial stability with growth.

Moreover, Standard Chartered research lowered USD-PKR forecasts for end-2020 and end-2021 to 180.0 and 190.0 (164.00 and 170.00 prior) to account for capital outflows and weaker FX earnings. Despite this, lower CPI inflation is forecasted to 11.6% for FY20 (from 12.5%) and 6.6% for FY21 (from 8.9%) to reflect lower oil prices as Pakistan is better placed to benefit from weaker oil prices due to the collapse of the OPEC+ agreement given limited tourism earnings.

The research expected a lower C/A deficit forecast for FY20 to 1.4% of GDP (from 1.9%) on a faster-than-expected import contraction and lower oil prices in Q4-FY20.

The aggressive quantitative easing measure of another 200bps are expected for the rest for FY20 given the sharper-than-expected slowdown and weaker inflation outlook in response to this crisis; the research lowered policy rate forecasts for end-FY20 and end-FY21 to 9.00% and 7.00%, respectively (from 13.25% and 10%).

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Pakistan’s inflation rate to drop to 8.3% next year:...

April 8, 2020: The Asian Development Bank has projected that Pakistan’s inflation rate would slow down to 8.3 percent in the fiscal year 2020-21.

“Inflation is forecast to decelerate to 8.3% in FY2021 with the central bank expected to take further policy action to both manage inflation and boost economic activity,” the ADB said in its latest annual flagship economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020.

It said inflation is projected to accelerate to 11.5 percent in FY2020, reflecting a sharp rise in food prices in the first part of the fiscal year and a 9.8 percent drop in the value of the local currency against the US dollar in the first seven months of FY2020.

A new price series that tracks price movements in rural as well as urban markets showed rural food inflation averaging 16.3 percent in the first seven months of FY2020, while urban food inflation stood at 14.5 percent.

However, high food inflation is expected to be mostly transitory, likely to dissipate as food supplies improve in the second half of the fiscal year.

Further, a drop in international oil prices forecast in the second half of FY2020 should translate to lower production and transport costs for goods and services, which could be passed on to consumers.

After raising the policy rate to 13.25 percent at the beginning of FY2020, the central bank reduced it in two steps to 11.00 percent in March 2020 following the decline in global oil prices and sluggish demand under COVID-19. Growth in private sector credit has slowed considerably.

Inflation accelerated from 4.7 percent in FY2018 to 6.8 percent in FY2019 on poor harvests, tariff increases, and Pakistan rupee depreciation against the US dollar by 24 percent following the adoption of a more flexible exchange rate.

Food price inflation rose to 4.6 percent, while inflation for other goods accelerated to 9.2 percent as tariffs on energy products were raised to manage mounting fiscal pressures. Inflation was estimated using rebased prices from FY2016.

Earlier, to counter inflation, the State Bank of Pakistan, the central bank, raised its policy interest rate by a cumulative 575 basis points to 12.25 percent at the end of FY2019.

APP

PRL puts its Right Issue process on hold due...

April 8, 2020 (MLN): Pakistan Refinery Limited has put its Right Issue process, amounting to Rs. 3.15 million, on hold due to difficulties in arranging underwriting amidst the ongoing pandemic.

“As the entire world has witnessed an unprecedented economic downturn and lockdown due to novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the global financial markets are under tremendous pressure. This serious downturn has taken its toll on Pakistan’s financial sector as well eroding the confidence of investors, as evidenced by the massive erosion in PSX 100 index since March 9, 2020.

“Unfortunately, this adverse phenomenon coincided with our Right Issue process, affecting its negatively. For information, the company is required to arrange underwriting of 40% of the Rights Issue, but the underwriters are unable to give any commitment based on the prevailing uncertainty and hence the Right Issue is practically on hold.

“It is important to note that Pakistan State Oil Company Limited being the parent company with 60% shareholding and all the concerned directors have already deposited amount in designated bank accounts respective to their shareholding. However, considering the aforementioned difficulties in arranging underwriting, which tantamount to a ‘force majeure’ situation, the Company had requested SECP for the waiver of the abovementioned underwriting requirement” the company said in its notification to PSX.

Once the company receives any directive or clarification from SECP, it will inform through PSX and move ahead accordingly. For the time being, the Company is applying to PSX for a one-month extension in the Rights Issue process.

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