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Economy

Losses on Wall Street deepen amid trade war worries

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Asia markets dive as Trump sparks N. Korea, trade worries

NEW YORK: Losses on Wall Street deepened in late-morning trade on Thursday as the arrest of a key Chinese executive at the urging of the United States exacerbated trade war fears.
Near 1630 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.3 percent at 24,446.09 after earlier falling more than three percent. The blue-chip index has lost almost 1,400 points in the last two sessions.
The broad-based S&P slid 2.0 percent to 2,645.74, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index shed 2.4 percent to 6,998.19.
The drops, which pushed both the Dow and S&P 500 into the red for 2018, came after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada for extradition to the United States in an investigation into suspected Iran sanctions violations by the telecom giant.
The Meng arrest stirred tensions just as the United States and China agreed to a ceasefire in their trade spat while negotiators seek a deal within three months.
“The concept of getting a quick resolution is fading,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR.
After rallying on Monday following the US-China ceasefire on tariffs announced over the weekend, US markets had fallen sharply on Tuesday on skepticism about the agreement.
US markets were closed on Wednesday because of the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush but resumed their downward move on Thursday following the Meng arrest.
Other headwinds facing stocks include worries over slowing US growth that is promoting greater uncertainty on whether the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates later this month.
Petroleum-linked stocks were also down amid a pullback in oil prices as OPEC members debated a production cut.
Large banks were particularly weak, with Bank of America losing four percent, Citigroup 5.6 percent and JPMorgan Chase 3.5 percent as investors now view the odds of a Fed rate hike on December 19 at 69.8 percent, down from 82.7 percent a week ago, according to futures markets.
Boeing also suffered outsized losses, shedding 6.2 percent on trade war fears and as the aerospace giant continues to face scrutiny following an October 29 accident in Indonesia in which 189 people died.
The head of the carrier, Lion Mentari Airlines, has reportedly threatened to cancel orders of additional Boeing planes.

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Asia

Tokyo stocks gain on bargain-hunting

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Tokyo stocks gain on bargain-hunting

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks gained slightly on Monday as investors bought on dips following a sharp decline late last week, while their focus shifted ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which dropped more than two percent on Friday, rose 0.62 percent or 132.05 points to close at 21,506.88, while the broader Topix index was up 0.13 percent or 2.04 points at 1,594.20. “Buy-back was seen among shares in major companies following a sharp decline on Friday,” Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato told AFP. “But the buy-back was not strong enough to boost shares further,” Sato said, adding that it may take more time to improve market sentiment.
Takashi Hiroki, the chief strategist at Monex, said the two-day US Fed meeting that ends on Wednesday is “the most important event this week” and investors are watching for the pace of rate hikes in 2019. “Falls in US shares (last week) is said to be caused by weak economic data in China and Europe, but these are not new factors,” he said in a commentary, adding that current market sentiment is vulnerable to “even the slightest worries given the prevailing uncertainty”.
In Tokyo, SoftBank’s initial public offering on Wednesday will also likely have an impact on the market, analysts said. The dollar fetched 113.51 yen in Asian afternoon trade against 113.29 yen in New York late Friday. Banks were higher, with Mitsubishi UFJ trading up 0.13 percent to 583.9 yen, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial up 0.56 percent at 3,939 yen and Mizuho Financial up 0.22 percent at 179.7 yen. Nissan was down 0.27 percent at 929.9 yen ahead of its board meeting to discuss corporate governance and choosing a replacement for former chairman Carlos Ghosn, after his arrest and dismissal. Rival Toyota was up 0.16 percent at 6,840 yen but Honda was down 0.13 percent at 3,050 yen.

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Economy

‘Digitization provides ecosystem for fin. inclusion’

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LAHORE: Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa has said that digitization provides an ecosystem for financial inclusion which plays a vital role in economic growth.
Talking to media at a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signing ceremony among Punjab Government, SBP and One-Link here at Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) office, he appreciated the PRA for the initiative which would empower the commoner and taxpayers.
He also pointed out three priority areas of the economy including agriculture, provision of low-cost housing and SME, besides two cross-cutting areas Islamic Banking and financial inclusion through digitization of payment system.
To a question about declining revenue of provincial revenue authorities, Tariq Bajwa said Supreme Court of Pakistan barred the government from collecting taxes from mobile users which affected it.
He pointed out that it would be resolved soon with some alternate solution.
On this occasion, Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht said since coming to power, Punjab government had been striving to improve the business environment and provide maximum facilitation to the business sector which was the backbone of the economy. With the introduction of this facility, taxpayers would no longer need to visit banks and stand in queues to deposit their taxes, thus the compliance cost of the taxpayers would be reduced, he added.
The finance minister said the government intended to make the facility available for all provincial taxes. However, the Punjab Revenue Authority had taken the lead in this regard and payment of Sales Tax on Services through alternate delivery channels would be available by the end of December. Subsequently, the facility would be incrementally expanded to cover taxes collected by the Excise and Taxation Department and the Board of Revenue.
He appreciated the PRA for implementing the Punjab government’s vision by making of e-PRA and smart revenue organizations reliant on information technology, where the direct contact between taxpayer and tax collector was minimized. Future projects in the pipeline included pre-populated returns and algorithmic mass audits, he mentioned.
Punjab Chief Secretary Yousef Naseem Khokhar stressed the need for ease of doing business and committed that the provincial government would continue to work towards this direction.

 

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Economy

Rupee to stabilize: SBP governor

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ISLAMABAD: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa Sunday expressed the hope that the slide in rupee value would be stemmed once money flows into the economy.

Bajwa said the dollar rate is dependent on two factors: macroeconomic fundamentals and market sentiments. According to a private news channel, he said “As money [flows into] the economy [through cash injected], Insha’Allah you will see, the market sentiment will improve… the pressure will dissipate from the rupee.” The central bank governor said the Supreme Court’s decision to end the mobile phone tax affected the country’s tax net.

Bajwa added that Finance Minister Asad Umar knew about the spike in the dollar and had already clarified in a statement earlier that the rupee devaluation had been discussed with him. On 30th November, the rupee hit an all-time record low of Rs144 against the US dollar, plunging almost five percent after what appeared to be a sixth devaluation by the State Bank in the past year as the country struggles with an acute balance of payment crisis.

The surge in dollar came owing to the widening current account deficit and the International Monetary Fund’s suggestion to the government to realign the rupee with market fundamentals to access funds. The rupee has depreciated by 36 percent against the dollar over the past 12 months. It has fallen by Rs19.5 against the dollar since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took the reins of the country following the general election in July this year.

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