HONG KONG: Asian markets rallied Monday after a blockbuster performance on Wall Street as US jobs data beat forecasts and the head of the Federal Reserve hinted at a slower pace of interest rate hikes.
China’s move to make it easier for banks to lend also provided support to equities, while investors keep an eye on Beijing as negotiators begin talks to end a trade war between the world’s top two economies.
Dealers started the week on the front foot following a surge on Wall Street Friday that came after figures showed more than 300,000 US jobs were created in December, tempering recent concerns about growth.
Later that day, Fed boss Jerome Powell said the bank had no “pre-set” plan for raising borrowing costs and was keeping a close watch on financial developments.
“We’re listening… sensitively to the message that markets are sending and we’ll be taking those downside risks into account as we make policy going forward,” he told a gathering of economists.
The news was music to the ears of traders, who have been fretting that the Fed would press on with its rate hike cycle, making it more expensive to borrow for investment.
The comments saw the Dow pile on more than three percent while the Nasdaq was more than four percent higher.
They also overshadowed the budget gridlock on Capitol Hill that has shut down the US government, with Donald Trump warning it could go on for years if he is not given funding to build a wall on the Mexican border.
And the gains filtered through to Asia, where Tokyo’s Nikkei ended the morning session 2.8 percent higher, while Sydney gained 1.3 percent and Seoul jumped 1.6 percent.
Taipei surged two percent and Manila was up 1.7 percent with Jakarta 1.1 percent up.
Markets uncertain ahead of US-China trade talks
LONDON: Global markets parted ways Wednesday as investors were more cautious about the chances of success in China-US trade talks, and looked for direction from the ECB.
The overall mood remained wary, with a rally that has characterized the start of the year stuttering due to slower Chinese economic activity, a softer global outlook, Brexit issues and the US government shutdown, which shows no sign of ending soon. “The markets appear to be trading a bit cautious ahead of tomorrow’s monetary policy decision from the European Central Bank (ECB) and as US/China trade worries are flaring up,” the Charles Schwab brokerage said.
US investors sold shares Tuesday after the Financial Times and CNBC said Washington had rejected Beijing’s offer of preparatory discussions ahead of the next round of high-level negotiations. Wednesday saw a sliver of respite as Wall Street opened just in the black, the Dow Jones adding 1 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.6 percent. “We are continuing to see caution in the markets on Wednesday, with reports a day earlier regarding trade talks between the US and China only aiding that,” said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.
“Reports that preparatory talks between the US and China ahead of a meeting at the end of the month had been canceled put a slight dampener on the mood … at a time when we’re already seeing some profit taking.” Although the White House denied the reports, observers said they highlighted how fragile the negotiations were. The reports also came a day after Bloomberg News said the two sides were struggling to reach agreement on the crucial matter of intellectual property, a key source of US anger. Hopes that China and the US were on the right track have helped rally global markets in January following a torrid performance in 2018.
But data showing China’s economy grew at its weakest pace in three decades added to fears it is heading for a hard landing, while Xi Jinping also showed signs of worrying about the effects of a slowdown in a speech to top provincial leaders this week. “Investors obviously are still a little bit edgy and therefore we would expect periods of volatility to continue,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide Funds Group. “As the headlines continue to get more nerve-wracking with regards to a global slowdown and trade wars and government shutdowns, it’s easy to spook investors, but we think those are temporary versus permanent.”
Adding to concerns was confirmation that the US plans to seek the extradition from Canada of a top executive with Chinese telecom giant Huawei before the end of January. Despite the pervading uncertainty, Frankfurt and Paris joined Wall Street in posting small gains in intraday trades, but London was down 0.5 percent with little immediate sign of Brexit-related gloom lifting. Hong Kong ended flat having swung back and forth through the day, while Shanghai closed 0.1 percent higher and Tokyo ended slightly down. Oil prices advanced after taking a hit Tuesday on lingering worries about the effect of a slowdown in the global economy, and particularly China, on demand.
Entrepreneurs welcome Fin. Supp. Bill
FAISALABAD: Business community today welcomed the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill 2019 and termed it as growth-oriented and people-friendly.
President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain said the government had put the national economy on right track by mobilizing available resources and facilitating industrialists and exporters.
He said that this was probably the first Bill which had been a blessing that had dispelled the apprehensions of different segments of the economy.
He said that the main focus of the government was on ease of doing business as interest rate had been trimmed for the industrial sector.
He also appreciated the measures for the promotion of agriculture, housing, and Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) sectors.
Mian Muhammad Idrees, former President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) also welcomed the Finance Bill and said the government had offered maximum relief within the present circumstances. “We hope it will generate much-needed economic activities in the country,” he added.
He said the focus of this government was on SME sector which would generate new job opportunities for the unemployed youth.
Vice President FCCI Engineer Ehtisham Javed said that being a PTI worker, he was proud of this Bill which was a people-friendly in real terms.
He also termed the Finance Bill a reform package and hoped that soon the people from every walk of life would harvest its fruits.
Chairman Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) Kashif Zia also welcomed the Bill and said that it was a relief package for exporters.
He said the government announced the withdrawal of duty on export which would help promote trade activities in the country and Pakistan would make progress on fast track.
Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Khurram Mukhtar also welcomed the Finance Bill, terming it pro-people and business friendly.
He said the government had announced to establish special economic zones and this decision was a milestone for the promotion of business, trade, industrial and export activities in the country.
Appreciating the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill 2019, he said that it had finished uncertainty in business circles whereas special economic zones would also help in the eradication of poverty from Pakistan.
Qatar to include Pak. rice in its tender documents
ISLAMABAD: During the recent visit of Prime Minister to Qatar, the Qatari Government has agreed to include Pakistan origin rice in the tender documents of the Central Tendering Committee which falls directly under the purview of Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce.
The lifting of the ban is expected to provide the additional US $ 40-50 million of rice exports to Qatar if the quality is maintained. Qatar annually imports 200,000 tonnes of rice, says a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce here today. The statement quoted Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production, and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood as saying that the government intends to take export to the highest level ever. The government, he said, is taking different measures for export enhancement including reclaiming traditional markets besides accessing to new markets. One of the initiatives is to manage the removal of restrictions on Pakistani products in foreign markets. Removal of restriction by Qatar on Pakistani rice export is a step in this direction that will reclaim Pakistan’s share in the global rice market, he added.
The statement added that over the years, rice has been Pakistan’s major export product to Qatar. The exports were 80 to 100 thousand tonnes of rice per annum worth the US $ 80-90 million up to 2010-11, which has dropped to the US $ 20-25 million per annum (21,000 tonnes) in last five years. Whereas the private sector in Qatar continued to import rice from Pakistan, the Central Tendering Committee (CTC), Government of Qatar which procures for state-supplied subsidized rice for Qatari citizens made its tender Indian-origin specific thereby effectively, banning the import of any other origin rice including Pakistani rice into Qatar in 2011-12. The CTC issues tenders after every two months for the supply of more than 5000 MT of high-quality rice to the government of Qatar and the Pakistani origin rice has been excluded from these tenders.
Therefore, Pakistani exporters have been deprived of supplying of about 30,000 to 40,000 MT good quality rice to Qatar per annum. Reportedly, the main reason for this change was the sub-standard and low-quality Pakistani rice supplied by the exporters against the government tenders in 2011-12. The Indian rice exporters were the ultimate beneficiaries of this situation and Indian rice exports to Qatar reached 142,000 tonnes in 2017 from 18,774 tonnes in 2011. The statement added that henceforth, as a viable solution, a third-party inspection for the supply of rice through CTC tenders and to take strict action against those found involved in supplying substandard rice in future will be offered to ensure that quality rice is being exported to Qatar.