HONG KONG: The dollar continued to brush aside other currencies Thursday after further proof of the booming US economy sent Treasury yields surging, but Asian equities sank with more Federal Reserve rate hikes looking certain.
A forecast-busting private jobs report, a surge in activity in the services sector and optimism in the retail market were the latest evidence that the world’s top economy is firing on all cylinders, helping send the Dow to a record close for the second day in a row.
However, the news also saw a sell-off in safe-haven Treasuries – a sign of confidence – sending the cost of borrowing to its highest level in seven years, in turn fuelling a surge in the dollar, helping it hit an 11-month high against the yen.
Hawkish comments from Fed boss Jerome Powell also provided momentum to dollar buying.
The greenback extended Wednesday’s gains against its major peers, with easing concerns about a row between Italy and EU leaders unable to staunch a sell-off in the euro.
Higher-yielding and emerging market currencies were among the worst hit.
The Chinese yuan took a hit, despite mainland markets being closed. The dollar jumped 0.2 percent to 6.9 against the offshore yuan, with some predicting it could break 7 at some point.
The US unit hit a record 73.82 Indian rupees and a fresh 20-year high against the Indonesian rupiah, with the two countries battered by surging oil prices and an outflow of cash as investors shift attention to US assets.
It was two percent higher against the South African rand, 1.5 percent up on the Mexican peso and one percent higher against the Australian dollar and South Korean won.
The New Zealand dollar and Thai baht were also sharply lower.
The prospect of borrowing becoming even more expensive rattled equity traders in Asia.
Hong Kong lost 1.7 percent with property firms hit by concerns the higher rates — the city’s monetary policy is linked to the Fed’s — will hammer the booming real estate market.
Tokyo ended 0.6 percent lower, while Singapore, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Jakarta shed more than one percent. Mumbai was down 2.3 percent.
Sydney added 0.5 percent while Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.
“This withdrawal of liquidity and gradual tightening of monetary policy” by the Fed is reverberating across financial markets, Bob Baur, chief global economist at Principal Global Investors, told Bloomberg TV. He warned US Treasuries would likely rise further “later this year, early next year — and I think that’s going to be a real problem for stock markets.”
However, Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA was more upbeat about the outlook.
“With positive signs gradually showing up for Shanghai and the Nikkei, Asia equities, while still pulling up the rear, should make leaps and bounds this quarter, even more if the US and China resolve their trade issues.”
He added that the central People’s Bank of China had a big enough war chest to support the economy.
“It will take some patience, but three months down the road we should start to see a shift higher in mainland economic data after the PBoC stimulus efforts,” he said.
On oil markets both main contracts edged down after serving up yet another sharp rise on Wednesday on the back of comments from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House National Security Advisor John Bolton regarding Iran that exacerbated worries about a supply hit from the region.
With US sanctions on Tehran due to be implemented early next month there are worries about narrowing supplies, while upheaval in Venezuela and the strong dollar have also helped the rally.
In early European trade London fell 0.3 percent, Paris lost 0.4 percent and Frankfurt eased 0.1 percent.
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 23,975.62 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.7 percent at 26,608.11 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a public holiday
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,490.21
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1478 from $1.1505 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2955 from $1.2966
Dollar/yen: UP at 114.50 from 114.46 yen
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 16 cents at $76.25 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 15 cents at $86.14 per barrel
New York – Dow Jones: UP 0.2 percent at 26,828.39 (close)
Tokyo shares rise after Wall Street rally
TOKYO: Stocks here ended higher today with investor sentiment boosted by robust corporate earnings that triggered a rally on Wall Street and lifted shares in Asia.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.29 percent or 291.88 points to 22,841.12 while the broader Topix index added 1.54 percent or 25.96 points at 1,713.87. Market sentiment brightened across Asia, after US and European shares extended gains on a wide range of factors including solid US business earnings, an apparent fading of tensions between Italy and the EU over Rome’s spending, and hopes that Brexit talks may see some progress. Tokyo players also embraced the dollar’s renewed strength.
The US unit kept its ground at 112.25 yen in Tokyo after reaching 112.26 in New York, higher than 111.95 yen seen at the start of the week. “Investors cheered gains of US shares on the back of robust corporate earnings, as well as the relative stability of US bond yields,” Okasan Online Securities said in a note. “The Nikkei index began the day with buy orders leading the way. The dollar hovered just above the 112-yen mark. The yen’s downswing also brightened the sentiment,” the brokerage said. Strong gains of US tech issues drove up Tokyo-based IT shares. IT investor SoftBank Group added 2.13 percent to 9,790 yen, partly on news that Uber was aiming at a valuation above $100 billion for its share offering. Softbank has a 15-percent stake in the ridesharing service.
Softbank stock had taken a hammering in recent days due to the firm’s links to Saudi Arabia, which is under intense international scrutiny after a journalist disappeared from its consulate in Istanbul. Sony jumped 2.23 percent to 6,498 yen. Panasonic rose 1.26 percent to 1,250.5 yen. Toyota gained 1.38 percent at 6,612 yen while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group added 1.84 percent to 4,481 yen. FujiFilm, which rose 1.66 percent to 4,890 yen, announced that a US court lifted an injunction that had stopped the firm’s merger talks with US printer maker Xerox. The Japanese firm plans to continue the discussion.
Sindh offers vast opportunities for Iranian investors
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s southern Sindh province offers vast opportunities for investment and Iranian entrepreneurs can benefit from them by investing in different projects.
This was stated by Irani Consul General Ahmed Mohammadi while talking to the Media. He further said that Iran was willing to provide Pakistan with technical and engineering services in all sectors.
He added that Iran and Pakistan have a strong geographical position and this area has a very old civilization. The diplomat added trade between Iran and Pakistan should be further enhanced which will also help to boost bilateral ties.
Mohammadi stressed the need for exchange of delegations between the business communities of Iran and Pakistan.
He was of the view that private sectors of Iran and Pakistan must benefit from the vast business opportunities available to them in the two countries.
He noted that after a gap of fifteen years, many Iranian companies participated in Pakistan’s industrial expo held recently in Karachi.
He said that many Iranian companies and entrepreneurs displayed their products at the expo. Iran consul general went on to say that participation of Iranian businessmen in the expo provided a conducive environment to enhance trade ties between Iran and Pakistan.
He said that because of such activities, Iran-Pakistan bilateral trade has witnessed the growth of 16 percent. Mohammadi added that various steps such as reduction of prices have been taken to export Iranian candies and chocolates to Pakistan. The envoy said that Iranian businessmen can invest their money in different sectors of Sindh Province like, ceramics, dairies, and tiles.
He said that Iranian businessmen can easily open their offices in Karachi to export their products. He said that Iran and Pakistan right now are considering launching ferry service between Karachi and Bandar Abbas ports. He strongly believed that such a service would also help to enhance trade activities between the two friendly neighboring states.
He said that Iranian investors can also help Sindh province in improving its health facilities, enhancing waste management system, providing drinking water and infrastructure projects. Earlier Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while addressing the Iran-Pakistan Business Forum had said that Sindh Province boasts vast investment opportunities, particularly in energy, infrastructure development, education, health, agriculture and in various other sectors.
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during his visit to Pakistan also traveled to Karachi leading a high-level delegation of Iranian businessmen to explore investment opportunities in Sindh and boost trade between the two countries.
The Sindh government has already introduced the Public Private Partnership concept that is producing good results.
Governor of Sindh Imran Ismail during a meeting with Consul General of Iran in Karachi Ahmed Mohammadi had said that Iranian companies must benefit from tremendous investment opportunities emerging fast in Sindh Province.
A 2016 study commissioned by Pakistan Ministry of Planning found that urban Sindh and northern Punjab province are the most prosperous regions in Pakistan. Its GDP per capita was $1,400 in 2010 which is 50 percent more than the rest of the nation or 35 percent more than the national average.
Historically, Sindh’s contribution to Pakistan’s GDP has been between 30% to 32.7%. Its share in the service sector has ranged from 21% to 27.8% and in the agriculture sector from 21.4% to 27.7%. Performance wise, its best sector is the manufacturing sector, where its share has ranged from 36.7% to 46.5%.
In April this year, a high-level Iranian delegation led by Minister for Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi had visited the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to explore avenues of cooperation with Pakistan.
The delegation took a keen interest in the deepwater container port project of the KPT along with other future projects like multipurpose bulk terminal, Cargo Village, LNG Terminal and Port Elevated Expressway.
The delegation was briefed about the KPT infrastructure, the overall setup and the ensuing discussion specifically focused on the avenues of investments available to the private sector in Pakistan marine sector.
The delegation complimented the development works and offered to join hands for an interconnection linkage of the KPT and Bandar Abbas.
Sindh is the third largest province of Pakistan by area and second largest province by population after Punjab. The provincial capital of Sindh in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub.
Sindh has Pakistan’s second-largest economy. Karachi hosts the headquarters of several multinational banks. Sindh is home to a large portion of Pakistan’s industrial sector and contains two of Pakistan’s commercial seaports, Port Bin Qasim and the Karachi Port.
Sindh also has an agriculture-based economy and produces fruit, food consumer items, and vegetables for the consumption of other parts of the country. Sindh is also the center of Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry.
Karachi is an attractive destination for national and international investors, due to its geographical location, provides ample investment opportunities to Iran too.
Huge potential exists for increasing cooperation between Government of Sindh and Iranian investors through joint venture Projects specifically in power and energy, shrimp farming and infrastructure development projects. Iran and Pakistan have already agreed to enhance the bilateral trade volume to $5 billion in the next five years.
14 killed in bomb attack on Afghan election rally!
KUNDUZ: A motorcycle carrying explosives blew up among supporters of an Afghan election candidate on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, officials said, in the latest attack on a political rally.
Violence related to the parliamentary vote has killed or wounded hundreds of people in recent months and more militant attacks are expected ahead of Afghanistan’s October 20 poll. More than 30 people were wounded in the explosion in the northeastern province of Takhar where candidate Nazifa Yousefibek had been campaigning, provincial governor spokesman Mohammad Jawad Hejri told the Media. Interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said most of the 14 killed were civilians.
“The explosives were placed in a motorcycle and detonated behind a tent where Nazifa Yousefibek was campaigning,” Rahimi said. Yousefibek was not hurt in the blast. No group has claimed responsibility. Ambulances have been sent to the remote district of Rustaq where the attack happened, but officials also are seeking to airlift the wounded to hospitals, Hejri said.
Khan Jan, who told AFP he saw the explosion, said there had been a powerful blast and “a lot of people” had been killed. More than 2,500 candidates are contesting the long-delayed legislative elections. At least nine candidates have died so far, most of them in targeted killings, according to the Independent Election Commission. A candidate was among eight people killed in a suicide attack in the southern province of Helmand – a Taliban stronghold – on October 9. No group has claimed responsibility. That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to pull out of the “bogus” election, describing it as a “malicious American conspiracy”.
The group vowed to attack the ballot and those involved in it. An attack on a rally in the eastern province of Nangarhar on October 2 killed 13 people and wounded more than 40. The Islamic State group claimed the attack, which the candidate survived. Violence had been expected to escalate ahead of the poll. Preparations for the ballot, which is a test run for next year’s presidential vote, have been in turmoil for months and there has been a debate about whether the vote should go ahead.
Bureaucratic inefficiency, allegations of industrial-scale fraud and an eleventh-hour pledge for biometric verification of voters threaten to derail the process, which is three years late. Some 54,000 members of Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces will be responsible for protecting more than 5,000 polling centers on election day. But there are concerns over how they will manage as the Taliban and the Islamic State group step up attacks across the country.