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Weekly Economic Roundup

January 24, 2021 (MLN): The weekly economic roundup summarizes the country's key economic and financial data for the week from various sectors to keep an eye on next week's trends. 

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Key Pakistan Market Stats and Economic Indicators

Market Data and Economic Indicators

Weekly Performance
 Jan 22, 2021Jan 15, 2021
PKR InterBank160.7495160.3320
KSE100 Index45,868.0445,931.00
Avg Daily Volume509,763,908682,133,634
Gold (Karachi) Rs/10 gm96,70896,794
KIBOR 6M7.357.36
10Y PIB10.1110.20
NY Light Crude52.2752.36
Open Market Rates
 Jan 22, 2021Jan 15, 2021
SBP Data
T-Bill Auction Cutoff YieldJan 13, 2021Dec 30, 2020
12MBids Rejected7.2900
PIB Auction Cutoff YieldJan 06, 2021Dec 09, 2020
5Y9.5298Bids Rejected
10Y9.9900Bids Rejected
15YBids Rejected10.0000
20YBids Rejected10.5800
Interest Rate CorridorJun 26, 2020May 18, 2020
SBP Policy Rate7.008.00
SBP Reverse Repo Rate8.009.00
SBP Repo Rate6.007.00
Weekly Indicators
 Jan 15, 2021Jan 08, 2021
SBP FX Reserves *13,013.8013,400.00
Bank FX Reseves *7,106.507,119.00
Total FX Reserves *20,120.3020,519.00
 Jan 21, 2021Jan 14, 2021
SPI (Combined Group) **140.15139.70
Change - WoW (pct)0.32-0.22
Change - YOY (pct)6.545.77
Monthly Indicators
Consumer Price Index (Base 2015-16)140.86141.83
Change - MOM (pct)-0.680.82
Change - YOY (pct)7.988.35
WholeSale Price Index (Base 2015-16)149.79149.28
Change - MOM (pct)0.34-0.94
Change - YOY (pct)5.675.00
Sensitive Price Indicator (Base 2015-16)140.68142.56
Change - MOM (pct)-1.321.47
Change - YOY (pct)7.927.98
Exports *2,352.002,174.00
Imports *5,035.004,311.00
Trade Balance *-2,683.00-2,137.00
Home Remittances *2,436.972,338.64
Total Foreign Investment *202.45-36.25
Current Account Balance *-662.00513.00
Large Scale Manufacturing Index147.32145.36
Change - MOM (pct)1.354.65
Change - YOY (pct)14.457.38
Quarterly Indicators
 Sep 30, 2020Jun 30, 2020
Pakistan's External Debt *113,803.35112,858.18
Annual Indicators
GDP Growth Rate-0.381.91
Commodity Sector-0.05-0.90
Services Sector-0.593.75
Trade Balance * (July - June)-23,183.00-31,805.00
Worker Remittances * (July - June)23,120.9721,739.40
Foreign Investment * (July - June)2,038.21-54.80
Annual Inflation Rate % (July - June)10.746.80
* Amount in USD Million


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US Fed holds first policy meeting of Biden administration

January 24, 2021: With a new year and a new administration in the White House, the US central bank nonetheless faces an unprecedented challenge in guiding the post-pandemic economic recovery.

One thing Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is unlikely to face from President Joe Biden is the barrage of Twitter attacks he was subject to, sometimes daily, under former president Donald Trump.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki last week said Biden "clearly has a great deal of respect and value for the Federal Reserve and role they play."

But even absent political pressures, the outlook is daunting.

The initial rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has raised hopes companies will be able to open for business and shoppers will open their wallets, improving the economy's prospects.

But the historic nature of the job losses during the pandemic -- more than 10 million US workers remain unemployed -- coupled with the likelihood inflation in some sectors could spike once the recovery takes hold, will test the Federal Reserve's limited toolkit.

These challenges could be discussed when the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) opens its first two-day policy meeting of the year on Tuesday.

After slashing the benchmark lending rate to zero early in the coronavirus crisis, and massively increasing bond purchases to pump cash into the economy, the FOMC has signaled will not change policy in the near future.

"I think they've set their course pretty clearly," Stephanie Aaronson, a vice president at the Brookings Institution and former Fed research economist, told AFP. "I would be surprised if that really changed throughout the spring."

- Unprecedented scenario -

Business shutdowns imposed to contain the spread of the virus caused immediate, massive job losses in 2020, and at the end of the year, four million people had been unemployed for six months or more, comprising 37 percent of total unemployment.

The expectation for more government aid under the Biden administration -- which has proposed a massive $1.9 trillion rescue package -- will give the central bankers hope for a more solid rebound and improved hiring, Aaronson said.

Still, so much about the pandemic-induced recession has been historic, and the recovery too will present policymakers with scenarios they have never encountered.

When the recovery does begin, the Fed's main nemesis -- inflation -- is likely to flare up in areas that bounce back first, like hotels, restaurants and air travel.

"There are many aspects of our current economy that are still unprecedented. And that means that their job is incredibly challenging," George Washington University economist Tara Sinclair said in an interview.

The Fed last year announced a new framework that gives officials flexibility to address the situation.

The central bank pledged to allow inflation to exceed its two percent goal for a time to ensure the unemployment rate drops from its 6.7 percent level at the end of 2020.

That is a radical shift from the past, when central bankers would raise rates early to head off inflation.

"They can see the whites of inflation's eyes before they need to be necessarily thinking about really changing policy" under the new framework, Sinclair said.

But Aaronson noted that Powell will have to communicate clearly to both Wall Street and small businesses to calm concerns.

Overshooting on inflation "shouldn't induce a loss of credibility, as long as they are able to convince people say that it's transitory and that this is absolutely part of what they're aiming for," she said.

The Fed's preferred inflation measure, the PCE price index, is running at just over one percent as of November.


Govt clarifies position on Issuance of Sukuk

January 24, 2021: Finance Ministry clarified Saturday that Sukuk were Shariah compliant borrowing instruments backed by physical assets, and were structured so as to pay returns on investment as rent instead of interest by utilizing an underlying asset.

"Sukuk are not only issued to support the Government’s budgetary position, but also to promote Islamic banking finance in the country, which is a constitutional obligation," said Finance Ministry in a statement.

It said that the government of Pakistan has issued Sukuk several times, which were backed by assets such Motorways (M1, M2, M3) and Jinnah International Airport.

Other Federal government assets such as the Islamabad Expressway, Allama Iqbal International Airport and F-9 Park have been identified, in consultation with experts in Islamic finance, as good potential candidates for Sukuk structures.

The statement emphasized that the benefits of Sukuk include lower financing cost for the government; provision of Shariah-compliant investment avenues; fulfilment of the constitutional requirement of eradication of Riba; and promotion of the Islamic financial industry.

The statement added that the Sukuk market was growing rapidly around the world.

Till the close of 2019, Sukuk worth USD 1,247 billion have been issued globally.

Malaysia known to be as a global leader in Sukuk market, it said, adding other important issuers were Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Turkey, Morrocco and Indonesia.


Weekly SPI Increases by 6.54% YoY

January 23, 2021 (MLN): The Weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the Combined Group increased by 0.32% during the week ended Jan 21, 2021 while the SPI increased by 6.54% compared to the corresponding period from last year.

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) the Combined Index was at 140.15 compared to 139.7 on Jan 14, 2021 while the index was recorded at 131.55 a year ago, on Jan 23, 2020

Out of the 51 monitored items, the average price of 19 items increased, 8 items decreased whereas 24 items registered no change during the week.

The weekly SPI percentage change by income groups showed that SPI increased across all quantiles ranging between 0.06% and 0.41%.

The Lowest Income Group witnessed a weekly increase of 0.06% while the highest income group recorded an increase of 0.41%.

On an yearly basis, analysis of SPI change across different income segments showed that SPI increased across all quantiles ranging between 5.69% and 7.93%.

Yearly SPI for the Lowest Income Group increased by 7.93% while the highest income group recorded an increase of 5.69%.

The average price of Sona urea stood at Rs.1725 per 50 kg bag which is 0.35% lower than last week’s price and 14.26% lower when compared to last year.

Meanwhile, average Cement price was recorded at Rs.593 per 50 kg bag, which is 0.51% higher than the previous week and 8.01% higher than prices last year.


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