HONG KONG: Asian stocks and oil markets made modest gains Thursday as trade tensions continued to weigh on investors’ minds, with some cautiously hoping that the United States and Mexico will strike a compromise on tariffs.
US President Donald Trump said some progress — but not enough — had been made in Wednesday’s talks with Mexico on averting the tariffs he intends to impose next week unless the flow of undocumented migrants into the US is stopped.
Trump tweeted that discussions would resume Thursday.
Coming on the heels of the US-China trade war, Trump’s threats against Mexico have intensified fears for the global economy, hurting oil prices and lowering overall growth forecasts.
A World Bank report released Tuesday showed reduced global growth forecasts for the year, with the economy expected to expand by 2.6 percent, well below the three percent growth seen in 2018.
The decline in crude prices followed the release of data from the US Department of Energy that showed domestic production rising, while Morgan Stanley on Wednesday slashed its oil price forecast, citing a “sharper-than-expected slowdown in demand”.
“Oil prices remain under pressure, dragged down by an unexpected gain in US inventories and comments from the head of Russian state oil producer Rosneft questioning the point of a deal with OPEC to withhold supplies,” said Dean Popplewell, Vice President of Market Analysis at OANDA.
Oil made a tepid recovery Thursday, however, with OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya saying that “we could see strong bullish momentum return if we see a softer US dollar, trade progress from the G20 Summit, prompting the alleviation of demand fears, geopolitical risks will keep supplies tight and rising summer demand.”
Hong Kong inched up 0.2 percent while Tokyo rose 0.3 percent. Seoul eked out gains of 0.1 percent but Singapore was flat and Shanghai lost 0.5 percent.
There are hopes that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet at the G20 summit in Japan this month to jump-start stalled tariff negotiations.
Investors are also looking ahead to Thursday’s gathering of the European Central Bank, hoping for fresh measures to tackle rising worries about growth and inflation in the eurozone.
Dovish comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Tuesday acknowledging trade tensions and signaling that the central bank was willing to act if necessary helped investors overlook a weak report on US private-sector hiring.
The more closely watched US Labor Department report will be released on Friday.
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 20,832.46 (break)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 26,950.45
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 2,846.40
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2687 from $1.2686 at 2100 GMT Wednesday
Euro/pound: UP at 88.49 pence from 88.47 pence
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1227 from $1.1225
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.28 yen from 108.43 yen
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 17 cents at $60.80 per barrel
Lt Gen Faiz Hameed is new DG ISI
RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army has appointed Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed as new Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), ISPR said.
Gen. Hameed will be replacing Lt-Gen Asim Munir, who has now been posted as the Corps Commander Gujranwala, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), media wing of the army.
Gen. Hameed is from the Baloch Regiment. He was in-charge of the internal security wing at the ISI. He has commanded a division in Pano Aqil.
Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza has been appointed as Adjutant General of Pakistan Army at the General Headquarters (GHQ) while Lieutenant General Aamir Abbasi has been named as Quarter Master at GHQ.
Lieutenant General Moazzam Abbas has been named Engineer-In-Chief at GHQ, said ISPR.
Earlier in April, the Pakistan Army had announced a number of high-level appointments and transfers in its ranks.
Kartarpur Corridor to be completed on time: Khusro
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar Friday said the government would timely complete the Kartapur Corridor to provide easy access to Sikh devotees besides promoting religious tourism.
He was chairing a meeting on development of Gurdwara Kartarpur Corridor here. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Secretary Religious Affairs, Director General FWO Maj Gen Inam Haider Malik, Members Planning Commission, Commissioner Gujranwala, representatives from NESPAK and high level officials of the ministry were present during the occasion.
The minister said the prime minister had performed ground breaking of the Corridor on November 28, 2018 and will inaugurate the Corridor in the same month this year.
He said the incumbent government took a major initiative last year by announcing opening of Kartarpur Corridor to provide access to Sikh devotees to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on the request of Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Turkey hits out at Moody’s after credit rating cut
ANKARA: Turkey on Saturday lambasted Moody’s ratings agency after it cut Ankara’s credit rating further into junk territory, saying the downgrade raised concerns over the institution’s “objectivity and impartiality”.
The agency downgraded the long-term debt rating to B1 from Ba3 and said it maintained the negative outlook for Turkey, in a statement late Friday.
Although the country had a “large, diverse economy” and government debt was low, Moody’s said this was outweighed increasingly by “continued erosion in institutional strength and policy effectiveness on investor confidence”.
But the Turkish treasury and finance ministry said the move was “incompatible with the Turkish economy’s fundamental indicators”.
“As a result, this raises questions over the objectivity and impartiality of the body’s analyses,” the ministry added in a statement.
It pointed to rising tourism revenues, falling inflation, and a new judicial reform package as examples of “very positive developments that we sadly see are being ignored”.
The Turkish economy entered into recession for the first time in a decade last year following a currency crisis in the summer amid tensions with the United States.
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