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Stocks hit by trade doubts, Hong Kong unrest NEW YORK: Soaring Disney shares lifted Wall Street to fresh records on Wednesday while stocks elsewhere in the world sagged as new signs emerged that Washington and Beijing are not as close to signing a trade deal as investors had hoped.Asian trading suffered also from violent Hong Kong protests that showed no sign of letting up, while US investors evaluated testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell before Congress.The Fed chief told US lawmakers the economy would probably continue to grow but faced risks from a global slowdown and trade disputes.In Washington, lawmakers also opened the first day of televised impeachment hearings during which the top US diplomat in Ukraine leveled fresh accusations about President Donald Trump´s conduct that country.The Walt Disney Co shot more than seven percent higher, its biggest one-day gain since April, after reporting that its streaming service Disney+ had attracted 10 million subscribers on its first day.This helped lift the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to fresh records -- though New York stocks pared gains in mid-afternoon following a new report by The Wall Street Journal saying Chinese officials hesitated to agree formally to making gigantic purchases of American farm exports.Trump last month announced a "phase one" deal had been agreed but efforts to commit the deal to paper appear to have hit roadblocks.In a briefing Wednesday after markets closed, Trump said "our trade agreement with China is moving along very rapidly."But Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, told AFP on Wednesday the reported disagreements -- over whether and when to roll back tariffs and what volume of US farm exports China will buy -- were grounds for concern."It certainly suggests that we´re not as a close to a deal as had been represented," he said.In the first of back-to-back days of testimony before Congress, meanwhile, Powell reaffirmed that the US central bank is on hold after cutting the benchmark lending rate three times this year."He did not deliver anything new but he delivered his message clearly: no need for more easing but they would ease if they needed to," Karl Haeling of LBBW told AFP.In Europe, the London stock market index closed with a small loss of almost 0.2 percent, Paris also gave up around 0.2 percent and Frankfurt was down by 0.4 percent.Underscoring global gloom was concern about unrest in Hong Kong, which had suffered a night of rage as months of protests enter a more violent phase.Police warned the rule of law there was on "the brink of total collapse."Hong Kong´s Hang Seng Index plunged by 1.8 percent, having shed a similar amount on Monday before staging a small rebound on Tuesday. Thu, 14 Nov 2019 04:01:32 +0500 Alternate Text
Boeing says 737 MAX expected to resume flying in January NEW YORK: Boeing on Monday said it expects the 737 MAX airplane, which was grounded after two crashes killed 346 people, to resume flying in January, delaying its return by one month.In a statement, the group said it still hopes to receive certification next month from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), allowing it to resume MAX deliveries to airline customers before the end of the year."In parallel, we are working towards final validation of the updated training requirements, which must occur before the MAX returns to commercial service, and which we now expect to begin in January," Boeing said.It had originally planned for the model to resume flying in December.The planes have been grounded globally since mid-March, following the deadly Lion Air crash of October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March this year.The grounding has dragged on far beyond initial expectations as Boeing has upgraded systems and faced questions from regulators and politicians over the plane.Southwest Airlines and American Airlines on Friday pushed back their timeframe again for resuming flights on the 737 MAX until early March.Boeing said Monday it has completed the first of five key milestones it must meet before returning to service: a multi-day simulator evaluation with the FAA to "ensure the overall software system performs its intended function."The group said it still needs to run a separate, multi-day simulator session with airline pilots to "assess human factors and crew workload under various test conditions," before FAA pilots conduct a certification flight of the final updated software.Boeing has notably changed the aircraft´s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), an anti-stall mechanism that pilots in both fatal crashes had struggled to control as the jets careered downwards.Boeing will then submit to the FAA all the necessary materials to support software certification.The final key step before the resumption of commercial flights is an evaluation by a multi-regulatory body to validate training requirements.After this, Boeing said, a report will be released for a public comment period, followed by final approval of the training."At each step of this process Boeing has worked closely with the FAA and other regulators," the group said. Tue, 12 Nov 2019 00:27:17 +0500 Alternate Text
Pakistan's economic sector had comfortably stabilised: Hafeez Shaikh APP/FilesISLAMABAD: The Prime Minster's adviser on finance and revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, said Monday  Pakistan's economic sector had comfortably stabilised now — something that international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, have also endorsed."Last week, the IMF had praised Pakistan government's efforts of introducing reforms in economic sector and said that it had met all the targets that were set by the IMF for its programme with the country," Dr Sheikh said during  a press conference here in the federal capital.The PM's adviser explained that after successful dialogue with the IMF, it had also approved release of second tranche worth $450 million to Pakistan.In addition, the Pakistani government has decided to announce a Rs200-billion package for the exporters to promote exports besides increasing production and job opportunities in the country.Speaking alongside the PM's special assistant on information, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar, and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairperson Shabbar Zaidi, the adviser said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had also decided to increase loans for the exporters by Rs 100 billion.Dr Sheikh informed that the government had also decided to allocate additional Rs 250 billion to resolve the problem of circular debts in the country's power sector.The government, he said, had also allocated an amount of additional Rs 30 billion for 'Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme' to be utilised in term of various subsidies to be given to the builders. The stakeholders involved in construction sector would also be given special tax concession, he added.Dr Sheikh said the government, during first four months of the current fiscal year, had achieved remarkable successes on economic front as the trade deficit continued to reduce resulting in increase of foreign exchange reserves in the country.He said after a big gap of five years, the country's exports had started increased four percent and that the FBR tax revenues had also grown 16 percent in four months compared to same period of last year.The adviser on finance pointed out that cement production also increased 4.5 percent, which was evident of the fact that the country's construction sector was growing."The country's exchange rate remained stable during first four months of fiscal year 2019-20 and stock market had also shown a remarkable recovery," he said adding the government had paid $2.1 billion debts obtained by the previous government.In response to a question, Dr Sheikh said the pace of Pakistan's economic growth would increase further in the coming days and that the government's target for fiscal year 2019-20 could easily be surpassed.The adviser also noted that the government had allocated record Rs 152 billion for the development of erstwhile FATA during current fiscal year.In response to a query on the discount rate, Dr Sheikh said the determination of discount rate was the monitory policy committee's job and the government had given full independence to the SBP's monetary policy. The committee determined the discount rate by keeping in view various factors, he mentioned.The adviser said the government was fully focused on controlling the prices of daily use essential items. "We are also taking steps to minimise the role of middle men due to which the price of food items jumps when they reach the end consumers."He said the government had also decided not to borrow money from the SBP, due to which Pakistan did not print even a single rupee during last four months. The government, he added, had also decided to provide Rs 6billion to utility stores to ensure availability of essential daily use items on subsidised rates.To a query, he said the previous government wasted $20-25 billion of the nation only to artificially maintaining Pakistan rupee's exchange rate against US dollar. For the past four months, the petrol prices were not bumped up despite the fact that prices in the international markets had increased. Mon, 11 Nov 2019 19:54:40 +0500 Alternate Text
Swvl aims for Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh after taking over Pakistan Swvl aims for Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh after taking over Pakistan. Photo: InvestingISLAMABAD: Swvl, an Egyptian startup with an app to book bus tickets, plans to launch operations in the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh by the end of next year, a senior official said.The startup, which operates buses along fixed routes and allows customers to reserve and pay for them using its app, began operations in Egypt in 2017. Swvl has since launched in Pakistan and recently moved its headquarters to Dubai.“By the end of next year, we want to be in more cities, a city is a market for us. We are planning to open in Manila, Jakarta and Dhaka,” Shahzeb Memon, Swvl Pakistan’s general manager told Reuters on Monday in a phone interview from Karachi.The company, which has raised $80 million in funding so far, launched its services in August in the Pakistani cities of Karachi, Lahore and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It plans to invest $25 million in the country to create 10,000 jobs and hopes to attract half a million customers by 2021, Memon said.The company, however, has already run into regulatory hurdles.Last week, a provincial government in Pakistan issued notices to the startup and another similar service saying they were operating without route permits and no-objection certificates from the government.Swvl Pakistan responded with a statement saying the company always carried out its business in a lawful manner and was committed to complying with the region’s laws.Swvl says its service targets existing ride-hailing users and aims to create transportation options for a large and growing middle class in Asian cities.Swvl’s services are 30 percent-40 percent cheaper than using a car, Memon said. Mon, 11 Nov 2019 16:51:11 +0500 Alternate Text
Saudi Aramco's record IPO starts Nov 17, prospectus says RIYADH: Saudi Aramco's much-anticipated initial public offering will begin on November 17, the company's prospectus said, without revealing the size of the stake sale or the pricing range.The 658-page document, released just before midnight Saturday, said the final share price will be determined on December 5 — a day after the subscriptions close — in what is expected to be the world's biggest IPO.After years of delays and false starts, Aramco officials last week announced a share sale on the Riyadh stock exchange for the world's most profitable company, which pumps 10 per cent of the world's oil.The prospectus said the state giant will sell up to 0.5 per cent of its shares to individual investors while it has still not decided on the percentage for larger institutional investors."The targeted percentage of offer shares allocable to individual investors will be up to 0.5% of the shares," the prospectus said.The document also highlighted risks including the potential for terrorist attacks, the possibility of antitrust legislation and climate change concerns that could reduce global demand for hydrocarbons.Also read: Saudi Aramco heads for possible record-setting market debutBut investors in Saudi Arabia appear to be salivating at the prospect of owning a piece of the company — seen as the kingdom's crown jewel — in the IPO.It would be the world's biggest if it eclipses Chinese retail giant Alibaba's $25 billion listing in 2014.The prospectus named a host of international banking giants — from Citibank to Credit Suisse and HSBC — that it has hired as financial advisors and bookrunners.Cash cowSaudi Arabia is pulling out all the stops to ensure the success of the IPO, a cornerstone of Prince Mohammed's ambitious plans to steer the economy away from oil by pumping tens of billions of dollars into a host of megaprojects and non-energy industries.The government has reportedly pressed wealthy Saudi business families and institutions to invest in the IPO, and many nationalists have labelled it a patriotic duty.The firm has said there were no current plans for an international stock sale, indicating that the long-discussed goal for a second offering on a foreign bourse had been put aside.Aramco had initially been expected to sell a total of five per cent on two exchanges, with a first listing of two per cent on the Tadawul Saudi bourse followed by a three per cent listing on an overseas exchange.It is unclear whether Aramco will get the $2 trillion valuation Prince Mohammed had hoped for, with investment research firm Bernstein estimating it could fall between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion.Also read:S Arabia approves listing of energy giant AramcoThere are also reports the firm is struggling to get institutional investors on board amid a bearish outlook for the energy sector and questions over the company's transparency and governance.Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, has said it does not plan to invest in Aramco, a Norwegian official told AFP.Investors are also concerned about geopolitical risks weighing on the stock.The news of the listing comes just weeks after crippling attacks on the heart of Aramco's facilities briefly halved its output amid a spike in tensions with Iran.But China, the world's top oil importer, may commit as much as $10 billion through sovereign wealth funds and other state-owned enterprises, Bloomberg News reported.The company, a cash cow that catapulted the kingdom to become the Arab world's biggest economy, also holds enormous appeal for retail investors.Many Saudis appear to be tapping lenders and selling personal assets to raise money to invest in the share sale.Aramco last year posted $111.1 billion in net profit. In the first nine months of this year, its net profit dropped 18 per cent to $68.2 billion. Sun, 10 Nov 2019 11:18:00 +0500 Alternate Text
Global stocks mixed amid latest US-China trade signals NEW YORK: Global stocks were mixed on Friday, with US indices pushing to fresh records as investors remained fairly upbeat on the prospects of a US-China trade deal despite some confusing signs on where things stand.US President Donald Trump said he had not agreed to roll back any import tariffs as part of a partial trade deal the two sides are negotiating, contradicting Chinese government statements the prior day that had linked a rollback of some existing tariffs to the finalization of the partial "phase one" trade deal announced last month.The remarks weighed on US stocks much of the day but markets pushed into positive territory at the end of the day, lifting all three major US indices to fresh records.It was the S&P 500´s third record this week amid optimism that the US-China situation is progressing towards a deal.Investors "presumably continued to think that a ´Phase One´ deal will still get signed," said, adding that "there still wasn´t much conviction from buyers or sellers for most of the session."Earlier, European stocks fell about half a percent. Schwab cited divergent headlines that "seemed to foster some uncertainty regarding when/if a deal between the two largest economies will be completed."Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong closed lower following a six-day advance, while dealers in the city were bracing for a fresh weekend of protests after the death of a student who sustained head injuries when he fell during clashes with police.Shanghai also weakened after data showed Chinese exports and imports fell again last month, though not by as much as expected.Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at, said: "If a first phase trade deal is done, there is agreement to roll back some existing tariffs, but only if the deal is agreed. Usual story -- mixed reports really all just noise."The two sides have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade, weighing on economic growth."It is clear that there are big reasons for Trump and Xi to want some form of deal, that they cannot appear to be conceding too much, that China wants as many of the tariffs removed as possible and that Trump´s trade hawks would prefer to keep as many tariffs as they can," Karl Haeling of LBBW said in a market commentary. Sat, 09 Nov 2019 03:30:52 +0500 Alternate Text
China approves premature activation of free trade agreement File photoISLAMABAD: China has approved the premature activation of the free trade agreement with Pakistan. This  will be implemented  from December 1.Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce   Abdul Razak Dawood made the statement while addressing a press conference on Friday.The Adviser to PM earlier met with a delegation of Chinese businessmen, which also included representatives from Norway, European Union, and other countries. In his press conference, he said that the good news was conveyed to Pakistan by China.The Adviser said that due to  free trade,  the bilateral relations  and trade between the two countries will be increased.Negotiations are going on for exporting  agricultural  commodities  to China, he added. Abdul Razzaq Dawood also said that our Ministry of Food Security lacks capacity and China is ready to provide training to it.He said that Pakistan  can export tomatoes, onion, vegetables, wheat, rice and other commodities to China. Fri, 08 Nov 2019 18:54:00 +0500 Alternate Text
Cyprus signs $9 billion gas deal with energy majors NICOSIA: Cyprus announced Thursday it had signed its first natural gas exploitation deal worth $9.3 billion with a consortium comprised of industry giant Shell, US-based Noble and Israel´s Delek."Noble Energy, Shell and Delek now have in their hands the first exploitation license granted by the Republic of Cyprus so they can commercialise the deposit," said Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis, shortly after the agreement was signed.The 25-year license is for the Aphrodite gas field, the first to be discovered off Cyprus, by Texas-based Noble Energy, in 2011. It is estimated to contain over four trillion cubic feet (over 113 billion cubic metres) of gas.The signing of the deal comes after the cabinet approved revisions to a production sharing agreement, made at the companies´ request due to a significant fall in hydrocarbon prices since mid-2014.The re-working of the production contract means Nicosia is set to receive an average yearly income of $520 million over an 18-year period.Lakkotrypis said that under the new deal, the consortium is obliged to keep to a tight deadline to begin extracting the gas reserves -- and generating revenues -- by 2025.In February, ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum discovered an even bigger natural gas reserve off the coast of Cyprus, holding an estimated five to eight trillion cubic feet.Italy´s ENI and Total of France are also heavily involved in exploring for oil and gas off Cyprus.The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, has pushed ahead with exploring for offshore energy resources despite the collapse in 2017 of talks to end the Mediterranean island´s decades-long division.That has angered Turkey, which has had troops stationed in breakaway northern Cyprus since 1974 when it invaded and occupied a third of the island in response to a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.Turkey has launched separate exploration operations encroaching on Cyprus´ exclusive economic zone, resulting in the EU approving a legal framework for sanctions on individuals and firms involved in those operations. Fri, 08 Nov 2019 00:47:00 +0500 Alternate Text
Inflation rose by 1.82 percent in October Inflation increased by 1.82 percent in the month of October compared to September of this year. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) inflation remained at 11.04 percent for the month of October 2019. From July to October, the inflation rate was recorded at 10.32 percent. In October, 14 items of everyday use became more expensive while six products got cheaper. The price of fresh vegetables increased by 15.78 percent, tea by 15 percent while the price of wheat flour increased by 3.2 percent. Prices of fresh fruits, chicken, vegetables and fuel decreased.  Wed, 06 Nov 2019 23:41:00 +0500 Alternate Text
Dow edges to another record on trade optimism NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks paused Tuesday in record range on rising hopes over US-China trade talks as US services sector data topped expectations.The Dow mustered a narrow record for a second day in a row, while the S&P 500 fell slightly and the Nasdaq was flat.Hopes that the United States and China will soon seal "phase one" of a trade agreement got another push Tuesday following a Wall Street Journal report that said the two sides could roll back prior tariff measures to finalize the agreement.Analysts also pointed to a report from the Institute for Supply Management that showed services sector activity rebounded in October from a three-year low in the prior month."The headwinds we have are the obvious with the trade war but there´s been some progress made on that front," said ISM´s Anthony Nieves.The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1 percent to 27,492.43.The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.1 percent to 3,074.66, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was little changed at 8,434.68.Dow member Boeing rose 2.0 percent after Chairman David Calhoun gave a forceful vote of confidence in CEO Dennis Muilenburg and said the 737 MAX was on track to receive regulatory approval this year to return to service after two deadly crashes.Adobe jumped 4.3 percent as it released sales and profit targets above expectations and offered a bullish outlook for the potential market for its cloud computing products.Walgreens Boots Alliance advanced 2.6 percent following a report that the drugstore chain has considered going private. Wed, 06 Nov 2019 02:26:47 +0500 Alternate Text
US telecom regulator approves T-Mobile/Sprint merger WASHINGTON: The US telecom regulator Tuesday approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, moving the tie-up of the third- and fourth-largest US carriers closer to completion.The Federal Communications Commission cleared the $26 billion deal three months after approval by US Justice Department antitrust officials.The 3-2 FCC vote is conditioned on the divestment by Sprint of its prepaid division Boost Mobile and a deal allowing satellite broadcast group Dish to begin building a new national wireless network.Backers of the deal say combining T-Mobile and Sprint will create a strong number three US wireless carrier behind Verizon and AT&T, with the resources to invest in 5G, or fifth-generation networks."The transaction will help secure United States leadership in 5G, close the digital divide in rural America, and enhance competition in the broadband market," said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.Critics claim, however, it will reduce choices for American consumers and ultimately lead to higher prices.Voting against the deal, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said it will result in three firms controlling 99 percent of the wireless market."By any metric, this transaction will raise prices, lower quality, and slow innovation, just as we start to deploy the next-generation of wireless technology," she said in a statement."We´ve all seen what happens when market concentration increases following a merger."The companies have said they would not finalize the deal until an antitrust challenge from more than a dozen US states is resolved. Wed, 06 Nov 2019 00:36:44 +0500 Alternate Text
Up to 35 Pakistani companies to attend China Import Expo in Shanghai BEIJING: Over 35 Pakistani companies will participate and showcase their products including top textile, leather, sports goods, surgical equipment, home furnishing and other products at the 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE) scheduled to be held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10. Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, will lead the Pakistani delegation. Pakistan’s top business executives are also expected to attend.“As many as 35 top export-oriented Pakistani companies will display textile, leather and sports goods, surgical equipment, home furnishing and other products at their stalls set up at the expo in an effort to enhance exports to China,” Badar uz Zaman, Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of Pakistan, Beijing confirmed on Sunday.The companies included from Karachi are M/s Garib Sons, Marhaba Laboratories, Sarmco International, Continental Traders, Al-Hamra Handicrafts, Indus Marbles, Pak Products, Chadyala Art, Ansari Brothers, Hamdan Traders, FB Enterprises among others.The said companies export rice, textile, garments, leather products, carpet, handicrafts, wood furniture, sports and natural herbal products, and are set to look at opportunities in the Chinese market to enhance exports from Pakistan, Zaman added.The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) will also set up a stall to show Pakistani products, he said.The advisor will also talk to media on trade and investment opportunities in Pakistan during the expo.It may be mentioned that Pakistan had also participated in last year’s expo in Shanghai where many Pakistani companies showcased their products.According to a senior official of China’s Ministry of Commerce, so far 63 countries have registered for the exhibition and over 3,000 businesses from more than 150 countries and regions will be attending the business exhibition, exceeding the number at the first CIIE.This year’s expo will involve two key exhibition categories: country exhibitions and business exhibitions.As for business exhibitions, they will cover more than 300,000 square meters of floor space, and over 3,000 enterprises from about 150 countries and regions will participate in the exhibitions.A total of 172 countries, regions and international organizations and more than 3,600 enterprises participated in the first CIIE, held from Nov 5 to 10 in Shanghai last year.It was the world's first import-themed national-level expo. Sun, 03 Nov 2019 16:11:06 +0500 Alternate Text
Pakistan earns over $61.850 million from export of transport services File photoISLAMABAD: Pakistan earned $61.850 million by providing different transport services in various countries during the first two months of current financial year (2019-20) as compared to the corresponding period of last year.This shows an increase of 24.60 percent as compared to $49.003 million earned through provision of services during the corresponding period of fiscal year (2018-19), Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported.During the period under review, the exports of sea transport services grew by 47.95 percent, by going up from $1.460 million last year to $2.160 million during July-August (2019-20).Among the sea transport services, the exports of freight services witnessed decrease of 12.33 percent by declining from $1.460 million last year to $1.280 million, whereas, the exports of other sea transport services increased by 100 percent to $0.880 million this year, the PBS data revealed.The exports of air transport services during the period under review also witnessed an increased of 44.75 percent by going up from $38.060 million last year to $55.090 million.Among the air transport services, the exports of passengers services increased by 95.77 percent, from $19.400 million to $37.980 million, whereas the exports of freight services decreased by 42.52 percent, from $3.010 million to $1.730 million.Meanwhile, the exports of road transport services during the period under review witnessed a decline of 59.27 percent by going down from $8.273 million to $3.370 million during this year, it added.Among the road transport services, the exports of freight services decreased by 59.27 percent, from $8.273 million to $3.370 million during current year, while the export of postal and courier services also decreased by 63.64 percent, from $1.210 million to $0.440 million, the data revealed.It is pertinent to mention here that the country''s merchandise trade deficit plunged by 34.85 percent during the first three months of the current fiscal year (2019-20) as compared to the deficit of the same month of last year.The trade deficit during July-September (2019-20) was recorded at $5.727 billion against the deficit of $8.791 billion during July-September (2018-19).The exports increased from $5.374 billion during the last year to $5.522 billion during the current fiscal year, showing growth of 2.75 percent.On the other hand, the imports into the country witnessed declined of 20.6 percent by falling from $14.165 billion last year to $11.249 billion during the current fiscal year, the data revealed. Sat, 02 Nov 2019 18:15:00 +0500 Alternate Text
Boeing says dozens of 737NG planes grounded globally over cracks NEW YORK: Boeing announced Thursday that dozens of its popular 737NG planes had been taken out of service after cracks in them were detected, marking another setback for the crisis-stricken US aircraft maker.The new difficulties compound the troubles facing the US manufacturer, which has faced tumbling profits, federal scrutiny and calls for its CEO to resign after deadly crashes involving the 737 MAX, the successor aircraft for the 737NG.Australian national carrier Qantas said it had found cracks in three of its 737NGs and removed them from service for repairs, after inspecting 33 jets.Nine of the planes were grounded in South Korea this month, including five operated by Korean Air, according to authorities in Seoul. US carrier Southwest Airlines has taken three planes out of service due to the problem.Several other leading carriers said inspections had not turned up cracks on their aircraft.Boeing had previously reported a problem with the model´s "pickle fork" -- a part which helps bind the wing to the fuselage.US regulators earlier this month ordered inspections of older NG aircraft, directing planes with more flying hours to be checked within seven days.A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said operators could not fly the planes until the issue was addressed.A Boeing spokesperson on Thursday told AFP in Sydney that fewer than five percent of 1,000 planes had cracks detected and were grounded for repair.Boeing and Qantas stressed travellers should not be concerned."We would never fly an aircraft that wasn´t safe," said Andrew David, the CEO of Qantas Domestic."Even where these hairline cracks are present they´re not an immediate risk, which is clear from the fact the checks were not required for at least seven months."Stephen Fankhauser, an aviation expert at Australia´s Swinburne University of Technology, said that the parts were designed so the "structure can tolerate some level of damage or degradation.""The inspection period is set to ensure the cracks do not continue to grow to a dangerous length and then significantly compromise the strength of the airframe," he said.- Some carriers still checking -The FAA on October 3 ordered immediate checks of Boeing 737NG planes that had flown more than 30,000 times.Planes with at least 22,600 flight cycles should be inspected within the next 1,000 trips, the order said.Australia´s Virgin Airways conducted checks on its 17 Boeing 737NG planes and did not find any issues, a spokesman for Australia´s air regulator said.Ireland´s Ryanair said it was continuing to review its aircraft and did not expect the issue to affect operations or fleet availability.Norwegian told AFP its own fleet was "not immediately concerned" because its Boeing aircraft were still relatively new, while Transavia France said it had begun checks on 38 jets with no cracks found so far.Among US carriers, American Airlines and United Airlines said they had found no cracks on planes thus far, while Delta Air Lines reported no structural issues on its 737 planes.Southwest Airlines said it took three NG planes out of service for repairs and that it was still checking some planes."We continue to work with Boeing on the upcoming repairs to the three NG aircraft identified and do not have a firm timeline for when the airplanes will be returned to service," a Southwest spokesman said.A spokesman for Australia´s aviation regulator said the industry response was about "nipping a potential safety problem in the bud by taking proactive action now."There were calls from union leaders for Qantas to ground its entire 737 fleet until checks were complete, but the airline said those were "completely irresponsible.""Even when a crack is present, it does not immediately compromise the safety of the aircraft," said Qantas head of engineering Chris Snook. Fri, 01 Nov 2019 04:19:32 +0500 Alternate Text
Deadlock ends between govt, protesting traders ISLAMABAD: Protesting traders on Wednesday struck a deal with the government under which the latter agreed to delay the condition of CNIC till January 31.All Pakistan Traders Association President Ajmal Baloch confirmed that  the  talks with the government  were successful. Also read:   Strike to continue today as govt-traders talks failMarkets and wholesale merchants across Pakistan observed a strike on Tuesday to protest the IMF-backed taxation measures to document commercial and retail activities in the country.Baloch said a  special desk would be established at the FBR Office in Islamabad to resolve the problems facing traders.  Wed, 30 Oct 2019 15:26:51 +0500 Alternate Text
Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot in merger talks to create $50 bn firm WASHINGTON: US-Italian auto giant Fiat Chrysler and France´s Peugeot are in merger talks that would yield an entity valued at about $50 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter told AFP on Tuesday.Carlos Tavares, the chief executive of Peugeot´s parent, PSA Group, would lead the new company as CEO while John Elkann, chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA), would be chairman.Discussions between the automakers are ongoing and there is no guarantee of an agreement, the source said, confirming details first published in the Wall Street Journal.Peugeot posted a new record for revenue of $82 billion (74 billion euros) in 2018 while FCA reported 110 billion euros in revenue.The French group has a market capitalization of 22.54 billion euros on the Paris Stock Exchange, while FCA is valued at just over $28 billion on Wall Street and 20.74 billion euros in Milan.A merger of the two groups would bring under one roof Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, DS, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall.A spokesman for PSA said he could not react to market rumors, while Turin-based Fiat also declined to comment.The discussions come just months after a proposed merger between Fiat Chrysler and French automaker Renault fell through.PSA has never hidden its interest in automotive sector consolidation. Wed, 30 Oct 2019 06:56:38 +0500 Alternate Text
Pakistan focused on implementing IMF programme: Dr Hafeez Shaikh ISLAMABAD: Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the adviser to the prime minister on finance and revenue, said Tuesday the government was focusing on implementation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.“The containment of current and fiscal deficits and stabilisation of exchange rate are indicative of the success of government efforts to put the economy on the long-term growth track,” he said while talking to the IMF team led by Mission Chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, as per a press release.Ramirez Rigo had called on the adviser and his team at the Finance Division here on Tuesday, the press release added.State Bank Governor Reza Baqir, Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairperson Shabbar Zaidi, Special Secretary Finance Omar Hamid Khan, and other senior officials of the Finance Division, as well as the local IMF officials, were also present.Dr Shaikh told the visiting mission delegation that Pakistan enjoyed a very cordial relationship with the IMF and it had been further strengthened during his recent visit to Washington where productive meetings culminating in fruitful discussions were held with the senior IMF management.He said Pakistan valued the IMF support and financial assistance and the prime minister was personally overseeing and monitoring the progress achieved in various sectors of the economy.The IMF Mission chief appreciated the positive results being produced by the policies and strategies put in place by the government to remove imbalances in the economy.He said the volatility in the exchange rate had been reduced while successes have also been achieved in other areas, especially on the fiscal front, which indicated the government was moving in the right direction.He said the IMF Mission was looking forward to have a meaningful and productive review by aiming at a forward-looking approach with focus on the adjustments required till March, especially in the power sector and funding from various bilateral and multilateral sources for boosting Pakistan foreign exchange. Tue, 29 Oct 2019 18:07:31 +0500 Alternate Text
Karachi electronics market to remain closed for two days due to traders' strike Electronics markets to remain closed on October 29 and 30KARACHI: The Karachi Electronics Dealers Association (KEDA) has announced to support the two-day strike by All Pakistan Traders Association here on Monday and said that the electronics markets would be closed on October 29 and 30.At a press conference held at the office of the Karachi Electronics Dealers Association, President Rizwan Irfan said that their  issues are not being resolved for the last six months due to poor economic policies of the government. These include duties and taxes on traders of old mobile phones, sales tax registration for six months, and prerequisite of the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) for purchase  of over Rs 50,000.He said that the government is not ready for talks with small traders on which   the traders in the first phase called for a shutter down protest on October 28 and 29.Rizwan Irfan further said that the future strategy will soon be announced.  Mon, 28 Oct 2019 20:08:00 +0500 Alternate Text
Rice exports go up by 50.76% to 470.584 million in first quarter of 2019-20 ISLAMABAD: Rice exports from the country during first quarter of current financial year grew by 50.76 per cent as compared the exports of the corresponding period of last year.During the period of July-September 2019, about 839,356 metric tons of rice worth $470.584 million were exported as compared to the exports of 551.586 metric tons valuing $312.147 million of the same period of last year.According to the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of basmati rice increased by 47.29 per cent, about 212,873 metric tons of basmati rice valuing $194.669 million exported as compared the 127,669 metric tons worth $132.166 million of same period of last year.Country earned $275.915 million by exporting rice other then basmati, as about 226,983 metric tons of above mentioned commodity exported 423,917 metric tons valuing $179.981 million of same period of last year, it added.Meanwhile, 34,090 metric tons of fish and fish preparations worth $79.549 million were also exported in first quarter of current financial year as compared to the exports of 25,859 metric tons valuing $67.294 million of same period of last year.According the trade data, the fish and fish products exports registered about 81.21 per cent growth in last three months as compared to the same period of last year, the data reveled.During the period under review, fruits and vegetables exports from the country also recorded positive growth of 10.20 per cent and 21.11 per cent respectively.The country earned $111.338 by exporting about 131,762 metric tons of fruits, where as $38.459 million by exporting 145675 metric tons of vegetables respectively, it added.Meanwhile the exports of the commodities that remained on down track during the period under review included wheat 88.11 per cent, spices 2.71 per cent, oil seed nuts and kernals reduced by 13.50 per cent and the exports of sugar decreased by 22.95 per cent.It may be recalled here that food group exports of the country during first quarter of current financial year increased by 13.98 per cent as different food commodities worth US$984.757 million exported as compared to the exports of $864.005 million of the corresponding period of last year.Meanwhile, the imports of the food commodities into the country decreased by 24.78 per cent as it came down from $1.458 billion of first quarter of last year to $1.096 billion in same period of current financial year. Sun, 27 Oct 2019 17:38:51 +0500 Alternate Text
US stocks flirt with records on China trade progress NEW YORK: Wall Street finished a solid week on an upbeat note Friday as the S&P 500 flirted with a record following upbeat comments from US trade officials about progress in China talks.The US Trade Representative´s office said officials are "close to finalizing" some parts of the a trade agreement with China announced two weeks ago.Details have remained scarce and the two sides have not announced plans to roll back any more tariffs after Washington held off on some duty increases this month.Yet a more "constructive" tone on trade lifted sentiment along with benign economic data and decent earnings, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities."The news is good and the reaction of the market is good," Hogan said.The broad-based S&P 500 flirted with a record, but in the end finished at 3,022.55, a gain of 0.4 percent but about three points below the all-time high set in July.Stock markets were mixed in Europe and Asia, while the pound dipped against the dollar as Brexit remained in limbo while European Union leaders squabbled over how much of an extension to grant Britain to approve the latest Brexit agreement.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pressing for a snap election on December 12, but his government is struggling to secure the two-thirds majority it needs in a parliamentary vote, scheduled for Monday, to force the election."The latest political twist keeping sterling under pressure has a touch of surrealism about it", noted Ricardo Evangelista, senior analyst at ActivTrades."There is an absurdity about the situation and the markets are reacting by once again walking away from the pound."Among individual companies, Amazon slid 1.1 percent after reporting decreased quarterly earnings due to the cost of building up its one-day delivery program on its Amazon Prime subscription service.But Intel surged 8.1 percent as it reported much better-than-expected earnings and boosted its profit forecast. The news also lifted other chip companies, including Micron Technology, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices.In non-earnings news, General Motors jumped 2.6 percent as the UAW autoworkers union signaled a likely end to a strike at US plants that has dragged on for more than a month. The final vote came after markets closed, and confirmed workers voted to approve the contract deal.- Key figures around 2030 GMT -New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 26,958.06 (close)New York - S&P 500: UP 0.4 percent at 3,022.55 (close)New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.7 percent at 8,243.12 (close)London - FTSE 100: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 7,324.47 (close)Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,894.51 (close)Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 5,722.15 (close)EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,624.68 (close)Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 22,799.81 (close)Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 26,667.39 (close)Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 2,954.93 (close)Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2823 from $1.2851 at 2100 GMTEuro/pound: DOWN at 86.39 pence from 86.41 penceDollar/yen: UP at 108.67 yen from 108.61 yenEuro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1079 from $1.1104Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.6 percent at $62.02 per barrelWest Texas Intermediate: UP 0.8 percent at $56.66 per barrel Sat, 26 Oct 2019 02:16:39 +0500 Alternate Text
Hyundai to test self-driving car service in California SAN FRANCISCO: Hyundai on Friday announced that it will begin testing a self-driving ride service in Southern California next month.The South Korean automaker said that it collaborated with technology group and rideshare firm Via for an on-demand service called BotRide that will offer free rides in autonomous vehicles in the city of Irvine starting on November 4."The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students," said Hyundai Motor Company head of business development, strategy and technology Christopher Chang."The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment."People taking part in the pilot will be able to use a BotRide smartphone app to hail autonomous Kona electric sport utility vehicles, according to Hyundai.Via software will coordinate shared rides from designated pick-up or drop-off points, and vehicles will be outfitted with self-driving technology, Hyundai said.The area being covered by BotRide includes residential, commercial, and "institutional points of interest," according to the company."The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business," said Hyundai Motor America advance product strategy manager Daniel Han.Hyundai is the latest to deploy autonomous rides in the US market.Services in various stages of deployment are in the works from former Google car unit Waymo, General Motors´ autonomous car division Cruise and electric carmaker Tesla. Sat, 26 Oct 2019 00:53:01 +0500 Alternate Text
US budget deficit soars in 2019 to just under $1 trillion, highest since 2012: Treasury WASHINGTON: America´s budget deficit soared to nearly $1 trillion in the 2019 fiscal year as government borrowing swelled, the US Treasury announced Friday.The deficit jumped by 26 percent to $984 billion, the highest since 2012, as spending outstripped tax receipts in the wake of the 2017 Republican-led tax cuts.Tariffs imposed in President Donald Trump´s multi-front trade confrontations brought in $30 billion in the year ended September 30, according to the Treasury."President Trump´s economic agenda is working," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement, calling on lawmakers to cut "wasteful and irresponsible spending."The widening deficit underscored the yawning imbalance in America´s finances in the Trump era as lawmakers´ oft-stated fears for fiscal discipline have fallen by the wayside.With the economy growing, the government took in more money from workers, importers and companies, who paid $3.5 trillion in taxes, about four percent more than in 2018.But spending grew twice as fast, rising 8.2 percent to $4.5 trillion, driven higher by rising interest on existing public debts, defense spending and outlays for social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security.Borrowing from the public swelled to 79.1 percent of GDP for the year, up from 77.5 percent in the year before.Mnuchin has repeatedly argued that the sweeping cuts to corporate and personal income taxes in 2017, would spur economic growth, boosting tax receipts and help the tax cuts pay for themselves.More recently, however, the White House has emphasized other priorities, with the president saying a stronger military is more important than a balanced budget. Sat, 26 Oct 2019 00:36:54 +0500 Alternate Text
FBR records show sharp increase in tax returns filed this year so far ISLAMABAD: According to the Federal Board of Revenue’s records, the number of tax returns filed this year has seen a sharp increase. The records were tweeted by FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi. Tax returns filed so far (till October 25) stand at 918,027. Tax returns filed in the same period last year or by October 25, 2018 were clocked at 585, 209. Average tax returns filed per day amounted to 18,735 during the current fiscal year. During the same period last year tax returns filed amounted to 8242. Tax returns per day showed a noticeable rise of 127 percent.  Fri, 25 Oct 2019 22:43:45 +0500 Alternate Text
Pound struggles as Johnson eyes election to break Brexit logjam HONG KONG: Sterling struggled to bounce back from losses owing to renewed Brexit uncertainty after Boris Johnson proposed a general election to resolve the long-running saga, while Asian markets were mostly down after a broadly positive week.With the prime minister giving up on a pledge to leave the EU by his Halloween deadline, he called for a December 12 national vote that would likely give his Conservative party enough MPs to eventually pass the agreement.However, opposition lawmakers have said they will only vote for a snap poll if they are guaranteed Britain will not leave the EU without a deal, meaning there is a good chance his election bid will fail.MPs will decide Monday on whether to agree to the election, just as the European Union is due to announce a three-month extension to the deadline.The pound, which this week broke $1.30 for the first time in five months on optimism a no-deal Brexit will be avoided, went into retreat Thursday and held around the $1.2840 mark in Asia. The euro also extended gains against the British unit."A sense of rational optimism around Brexit has given way to more uncertainty as to the pound, and UK risk markets were roiled" by the prospect of an election, said AxiTrader analyst Stephen Innes.He added that a national vote would amount to a referendum on Johnson´s Brexit strategy.Equity markets were fluctuating through the morning as investors keep an eye on the events in Westminster, while also awaiting the latest developments in the China-US trade talks.Optimism that the two economic superpowers will hammer out details for a mini agreement by next month have helped support equities this week.- Bump in the road -However, there remain concerns that the talks could be derailed at the last minute, with the passage of a US bill defending civil rights in Hong Kong the latest bump in the road.The law would end the Hong Kong-US special trading status unless the State Department certifies annually that city authorities are respecting human rights and the rule of law.Senators are due to agree to the legislation, following their colleagues in the House of Representatives, but China has threatened to retaliate if it becomes law.Adding to the mix were comments from Vice President Mike Pence, who vowed support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters and hit out at China´s trading behaviour."The real catalyst for rising US-China risk is the senate vote of the Hong Kong bill. China has already said it will retaliate once the bill is passed," said Rodrigo Catril at National Australia Bank.However, he did point out that in the past "the US and China have isolated issues from the broader tariff negotiation, Huawei for example"."While the Hong Kong issue is exponentially larger than Huawei, until more clarity unfolds this could be compartmentalised away from trade talks along with the growing laundry list of US grievances against China."Hong Kong and Shanghai each fell 0.5 percent in the morning session while Tokyo went into the break flat.Seoul was marginally down, with Taipei and Jakarta both 0.2 percent off but Sydney, Singapore and Wellington were in positive territory. Fri, 25 Oct 2019 08:14:06 +0500 Alternate Text
Volkswagen unveils new Golf as end of era nears FRANKFURT: Volkswagen unveiled the newest incarnation of its iconic Golf hatchback on Thursday, counting on the bestseller to help fund a costly switch to the electric era and bridge the gap to the cars of the future.The eighth generation of the unglamourous but trusted compact car, of which more than 35 million have been sold since 1974, made its debut at an evening ceremony at the German car giant´s Wolfsburg headquarters."The Golf is a timeless classic for everyone," group CEO Herbert Diess told reporters.But the launch was a decidedly less glitzy affair than last month´s unveiling of the ID.3 -- VW´s first all-electric, mass-market car which took centre stage at the Frankfurt auto show and symbolises the group´s 30-billion-euro ($33 billion) bet on zero-emissions vehicles.Seven years after the model´s last revamp, the new Golf 8 is hitting the road in a vastly changed landscape.Volkswagen has been rocked to the core by a costly diesel emissions cheating scandal that is still reverberating across the industry and has forced carmakers to adapt to tough new EU pollution regulations.While the "dieselgate" fallout has sped up the industry´s pivot towards electric and increasingly automated cars, the huge investments required for the switch are being hamstrung by trade conflicts and a global economic slowdown.In the face of these challenges, it is clear that the new Golf -- easily the group´s most recognisable car after the legendary Beetle -- is being rolled out "to make money", said industry expert Stefan Bratzel of the Center of Automotive Management.The crowd-pleaser will be available in diesel, petrol, natural gas and hybrid technology -- and could well be the group´s last hurrah in the fossil fuel era."It will bridge the gap between the new era and hanging on to old customers," said industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer.- Glitches -Volkswagen CEO Diess is betting big on next-generation vehicles, promising to bring some 70 electric models to market by 2028.But before the greener, smarter cars go mainstream, "it would be stupid" to pass up the hundreds of thousands of new sales that a revamped Golf would ring up, said Dudenhoeffer.In 2018 VW sold 832,000 Golfs around the world, accounting for 13 percent of VW´s own-brand sales.The ID.3 will not be able to quickly rival that kind of market share, said Bratzel. "The Golf will be needed to bring in volume sales for several more years."Reusing the same platform the previous Golf was built on has helped slash production costs of the new model, saving hundreds of millions of euros, VW production chief Andreas Tostmann said.Overall, VW has poured nearly two billion euros into the Golf 8 and says it has brought the model into the digital age with online technologies and smart driving assistance systems.But software glitches forced the company to forego for now the installation of some planned on-board functions in order to stick to the scheduled production start earlier this year."The Golf is also a symbol of the Volkswagen group´s struggles to transition to a new world," said Bratzel.- 'No longer vital' -Volkswagen deliberately chose not to offer a fully electric version of the Golf 8 so as not to overshadow the similarly-sized ID.3.The new Golf therefore marks the group´s last major launch of a classic internal combustion engine car for the next two and a half years, a source close to the company told AFP.Diess himself described the car as "an important intermediary step on the way to reducing our share on carbon emissions".But selling drivers on the latest Golf may prove harder than before because customers will need convincing that they are not just "buying a car of the past", said Bratzel.The evergreen four-wheeler also faces increased competition from SUVs, expected to account for around half of VW´s own-brand car sales by 2025.While still important, the new Golf "is no longer vital" to Volkswagen´s strategy, said Dudenhoeffer."Like the Beetle before it, the era of the Golf will end at some point." Fri, 25 Oct 2019 01:06:43 +0500 Alternate Text
US stocks edge higher as Boeing, Caterpillar gain NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks rose modestly on Wednesday following a mixed round of earnings that lifted Boeing and Caterpillar but pummeled semiconductor shares.Boeing gained 1.1 percent despite missing analyst expectations by a wide margin as the 737 MAX crisis continued to weigh on results.Investors took heart that the company confirmed it still expects to win regulatory approval this year to resume flights on the MAX.Similarly, Caterpillar slashed its profit forecast, citing global economic weakness. Yet shares still gained 1.2 percent as the company said it would pare back production of new equipment, raising hopes it could avert a supply glut.The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.2 percent at 26,833.95.The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.3 percent to 3,004.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.2 percent to 8,119.79.After a mostly positive set of results in the initial earnings period, this week´s releases have had both winners and losers, with companies sometimes experiencing big moves.Semiconductor shares slumped after Texas Instruments as it reported an 11 percent drop in quarterly revenues to $3.8 billion, saying "most markets weakened further." The company slumped 7.5 percent.In non-earnings news, Facebook jumped 2.1 percent as Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg parried tough questioning in a Capitol Hill hearing over the company´s data security practices and plans for digital currency Libra.Zuckerberg said the plan for Libra could be scaled back if it cannot win approval as a new currency for global exchanges. Thu, 24 Oct 2019 02:40:57 +0500 Alternate Text
Pound strikes five-month peak above $1.30 NEW YORK: The pound touched a fresh five-month peak above $1.30 on Monday on renewed Brexit optimism after Prime Minister Boris Johnson requested another extension to Britain´s scheduled departure from the European Union.Elsewhere, global stocks generally rose on positive sentiment about US-China trade and healthy corporate earnings. But shares in US aviation giant Boeing tumbled as the company´s crisis persisted.At about 1230 GMT, the pound reached the highest level since May at $1.3013. But it pulled back after the speaker of Britain´s House of Commons refused to hold another vote on Johnson´s Brexit plan on Monday."As should come as little surprise to those who follow John Bercow, the speaker of the house has announced that there will be no meaningful Brexit vote today," said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB online trading firm.Parliamentary rules prohibit repeat votes on the same measure."However, he was also keen to state that it was legitimate for the government to introduce its EU withdrawal bill and as such we can expect the key vote to take place tomorrow," he added."There is a growing expectation that this bill will pass tomorrow and therefore we could be set for further upside in the pound," said Cheetham.In New York, Wall Street stocks gained as US officials maintained they were on track to seal a partial trade deal with China.President Donald Trump told reporters in Washington that work committing the agreement to paper was on track and that he and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would likely sign it next month."There is optimism on the trade front," said Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investment.Among companies reporting so far, 84 percent of the S&P 500 have topped estimates for earnings per share, according to FactSet.But Boeing´s travails weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company fell 3.8 percent after US regulators accused it of failing to disclose embarrassing internal communications about a flight system implicated in deadly crashes.Both UBS and Credit Suisse downgraded the company.In Asia, equity markets mostly rose but there was little major movement in reaction to China´s top trade negotiator Liu He saying at the weekend that Beijing and Washington had made "substantial progress" towards wrapping up a partial trade deal announced earlier this month.The deal offered China a temporary reprieve from tariffs planned for mid-October, while Beijing said it would hike purchases of US agricultural goods.But it did not roll back any of the duties already imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars in exports to the US, nor address another round of levies due in December.- Key figures around 2100 GMT -Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2960 from $1.2984 at 2100 GMT on FridayEuro/pound: UP at 86.03 pence from 86.00 penceEuro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1145 from $1.1167Dollar/yen: UP at 108.60 yen from 108.45 yenNew York - Dow: UP at 0.2 percent at 26,827.64 (close)New York - S&P 500: UP at 0.7 percent at 3,006.72 (close)New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.9 percent at 8,162.99 (close)London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,163.64 points (close)Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,648.35 (close)Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.9 percent at 12,747.96 (close)EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,600.08 (close)Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 22,548.90 (close)Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 26,740.24 (close)Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,939.62 (close)Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $58.96 per barrelWest Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.9 percent at $53.31 Tue, 22 Oct 2019 02:20:04 +0500 Alternate Text
Facebook´s Marcus says Libra won´t be controlled by a single company WASHINGTON: Facebook executive David Marcus on Sunday tried to calm the fears of officials threatening to block its proposed digital currency, saying Libra won´t be controlled by a single company.The head of Facebook´s Libra currency project sought to address the main issue raised by France´s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire: the potential for a company to have the power to undermine a government´s control of its currency.Marcus said it has been "very clear to us from the very beginning that a payment networks such as the Libra network shouldn´t be controlled by one company."Speaking at a forum, hosted by the Group of 30, he repeated the company´s commitment to work with regulators to address their concerns.He added that the Libra Association -- comprised of 21 companies -- will "welcome competition to benefit local access and strive for the lowest cost possible for consumers."But, he cautioned, "the status quo is not an option any longer."Central banks and government finance officials have long worried about the challenges posed by digital currencies, and the risk they can be used for money laundering and financing terrorism.Libra is different from other digital currencies like Bitcoin because it would be a "stablecoin" tied to national currencies.But Le Maire told reporters on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington last week that European governments "will not allow a private company to have the same power, the same monetary power as sovereign states," and will take steps to block Libra from Europe.Agustin Carstens, former Mexican central banker and longtime skeptic of digital currencies, agreed that technology can help provide access to the financial system to people who have been excluded.But Carstens, now head of the Bank for International Settlements, said Sunday that the best course would be to "maximize the use of technology with what we´ve proven that works, that provides stability."Marcus remained cautiously optimistic."We recognize that a change of this magnitude can´t be operating without a great sense of responsibility," he said, but he added: "We can actually work together to solve these issues." Mon, 21 Oct 2019 01:00:56 +0500 Alternate Text
European governments move to veto Facebook´s digital money WASHINGTON: Major European players are joining forces to block Facebook´s proposed digital currency because of the dangers it poses to national sovereignty, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced Friday.The firm opposition from France, Italy and Germany adds to the mounting resistance faced by the tech giant´s troubled foray into digital finance.The Group of 20 economies also warned Friday of "serious" risks of money laundering, fraud and illicit finance posed by Libra, the social media network´s proposed digital currency.Italy, Germany and France will take unspecified steps in the coming weeks "to show clearly that Libra is unwelcome in Europe," Le Maire told reporters on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington."We will not allow a private company to have the same power, the same monetary power as sovereign states," he added."The major difference between Facebook and governments is that we are subject to democratic control, that is the control of the people."The Group of Seven economies on Thursday had said any reserve-backed digital currency like Libra -- known as a stablecoin -- would require a sound legal framework before entering circulation.But European officials say they want to go even further by blocking the currency outright.Like Le Maire, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Friday he was "very skeptical" about Libra."I favor not allowing the establishment of such a global currency because that is the responsibility of democratic states," he said.But Scholz said he recognized the need for banking reforms to make cross-border payments more simple, cheap and speedy."At the same time, we must protect the autonomy of democratic states," he said.- Answer: a clear 'no' -Italian Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri agreed, telling reporters on Friday there was a "strong consensus" among nations not to allow private currencies.Libra also has faced challenges from within as major financial and commercial players in recent weeks backed out of the project, including Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe, PayPal and the online travel firm Bookings Holdings.But the Libra Association has tried to ward off a blockade by saying it will address the concerns posed by government officials."I repeat our priority today is to work with regulators to answer their legitimate questions and provide all necessary assurances," said Bertrand Perez, managing director of the association.Le Maire, however, appeared to rule out such cooperation with Facebook, noting that the social media giant planned to tie its cryptocurrency to a basket of reserve assets."All Facebook would have to do would be to decide to use more or fewer dollars or euros to affect the exchange rate between the euro and the dollar, and thus have a direct impact on trade, industry and nations which use the dollar or euro as their base currency," he said.This could harm monetary policy and affect governments´ efficiency, he added."Do we want to put monetary policy in the hands of a private company like Facebook? My answer is clearly no," he said.Still, he said he was not opposed to the creation of a digital currency, which France could develop "in a European framework.""The right answer is not a private digital currency under the control of one of the largest multinationals on the planet," he said, referring to Facebook´s billions of users.The Libra association officially launched Monday in Geneva with 21 founding members, including the telecoms firms Vodafone and Iliad, as well as tech outfits Uber, Spotify and Farfetch, blockchain operations such as Anchorage, Xapo and Coinbase and the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Sat, 19 Oct 2019 03:04:02 +0500 Alternate Text
Pakistan participates in conference on BRI, Euro-Asia Connectivity held in Shanghai The two-day international conference on ‘BRI and Euro-Asia Connectivity: Perspectives and Prospects’ was held at the Fudan University here on Thursday.Representatives of 21 countries from Asia and Europe including Pakistan participated in the Conference.Director School of Politics and IR, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Prof Dr Nazir Hussain, represented Pakistan and gave his presentation on BRI, CPEC, and Intra-Regional Connectivity.Dr Nazir highlighted the historical context of regional economic connectivity citing the example of Regional Cooperation Development (RCD) in 1964 by Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.He also highlighted the importance of Pak-China relations by giving the example that Pakistan provided the opportunity for China to open to the world.Likewise, the CPEC is the flagship project of BRI and Pakistan’s location at the juncture of Central Asia, South Asia and Central Asia provide a rare opportunity of intra regional connectivity.The conference was inaugurated by Vice President of Fudan University, Prof Chen Zhimin, and Prof Su Changhe. Fri, 18 Oct 2019 07:31:22 +0500 Alternate Text
'Legal basis' an 'absolute prerequisite' for digital monies like Libra: G7 WASHINGTON: Facebook´s proposed digital currency must have legal and regulatory issues worked out in key economies before it can be put into use, the Group of Seven economies said Thursday.In a new report on stablecoins -- a type of digital currency backed by reserves assets -- the G7 also urged regulators to coordinate their work to prevent issuers from seeking out the most favorable country from which to operate."For stablecoin developers, a sound legal basis in all relevant jurisdictions... is an absolute prerequisite," according to the report from the G7 working group led by Benoit Coeure. Fri, 18 Oct 2019 05:45:35 +0500 Alternate Text
Wall Street stocks pull back; Sterling rises again NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks retreated Wednesday as lingering questions over Brexit talks and the state of US-China trade relation offset another batch of good earnings.Equity analysts pointed to doubts about whether revived efforts between British leader Boris Johnson and European Union officials will yield a Brexit agreement that can win support in Britain.Market watchers also cited Chinese unhappiness after the US House of Representatives passed a bill defending Hong Kong´s autonomy. The bill has yet to be approved by the US Senate.A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the US should "stop meddling" and threatened "strong measures" in response.The dustup comes only days after the United States and China reached a preliminary partial trade agreement that suspended new tariff increases that had been planned for this week.But investors view that agreement as precarious given that Washington has signaled it could still enact new tariffs in December if additional steps are not taken.Stocks are not "down very much but it suggests to me that some of the euphoria of the last week or so is fading," said FTN Financial´s Chris Low, who also cited a weak September US retail sales report as a factor."That´s probably partly because, in addition to bad retail sales, there are growing doubts about the China trade deal and a Brexit compromise."- Sterling rises again -Stock markets elsewhere were mixed, while the pound rose following a topsy-turvy session on shifting Brexit sentiment.Negotiators in Brussels worked frantically ahead of a Thursday summit where EU leaders will decide whether to give the go-ahead to officials to draw up a final withdrawal treaty with Britain."There have been many twists and turns in the Brexit story but the latest developments suggest that negotiations are heading in the right direction," said analyst David Madden at CMC Markets.But uncertainty also clouded the reception among British Prime Boris Minister Johnson´s skeptical Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party.He met with them in London for the third time in three days to try to persuade them to support his compromise deal."Sterling´s whipsaw action is likely to persist until markets gain some semblance of clarity over Brexit," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions."A deal would come at the surprise to many but wield the potential to thrust sterling significantly higher. Should the talks fail to deliver a deal, sterling would be a risk of a renewed and potentially sharp slide."Among individual companies, Bank of America climbed 1.5 percent after reporting better-than-expected results on higher profits in consumer banking and most other divisions.General Motors won 1.1 percent after it reached a preliminary deal with leaders of the United Auto Workers to end a month-long strike. However, the agreement must still be ratified by a majority of the union´s members.- Key figures around 2100 GMT -Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2817 from $1.2787 at 2100 GMTEuro/pound: UP at 86.33 pence from 86.28 penceEuro/dollar: UP at $1.1073 from $1.1033Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.71 yen from 108.86 yenNew York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 27,001.98 (close)New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,989.69 (close)New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.3 percent at 8,124.18 (close)London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,167.95 (close)Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,696.90 (close)Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 12,670.11 (close)EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 3,599.25 (close)Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.2 percent at 22,472.92 (close)Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 26,664.28 (close)Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 2,978.71 (close)Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.2 percent at $59.42 per barrelWest Texas Intermediate: UP 1.0 percent at $53.36 per barrel Thu, 17 Oct 2019 03:05:32 +0500 Alternate Text
Netflix revives growth as streaming TV war looms SAN FRANCISCO: Netflix shares rallied Wednesday after its latest quarterly update showed robust subscriber growth and better-than-expected profits ahead of a major escalation in the streaming television war.Netflix reported a net income of $665 million in the recently-ended quarter, jumping up from $403 million in the same period last year and topping most analyst forecasts.Revenue and subscriber growth, however, came in just shy of market consensus, with the California-based company bringing in $5.25 billion and adding 6.8 million subscribers to reach a total of 158.3 million.Netflix shares climbed more than nine percent after-market trades.But eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom said the latest report includes signs of trouble ahead for the streaming television market leader, which fell short of its subscriber targets."The fourth quarter represents a completely new ballgame for Netflix as Disney+ and Apple TV+ will compete not just for subscribers, but for hit shows as well," Haggstrom said."The fact that Netflix has shown disappointing growth without the new competition present, is a negative omen for Netflix in 2020 and beyond."The Walt Disney Company and Apple are both set to launch streaming rivals in November, with more services on the horizon. Thu, 17 Oct 2019 01:35:53 +0500 Alternate Text
MoU signed to set up Pakistan Egypt Joint Working Group on Trade ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Commerce and Egyptian Commercial Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the establishment of Pakistan-Egypt Joint Working Group (JWG) on trade.First meeting of the JWG on Trade was held on the sidelines of the Pakistan-Egypt Trade Conference organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Textile here on Wednesday.It was the first of a series of such conferences planned with African countries under the ‘Look Africa Policy’ Initiative of Ministry of Commerce.A high level delegation comprising of officials and businessmen from Egypt, led by First Undersecretary of Egyptian Commercial Service, and Ministry of Trade and Industry of Egypt, Ahmed Anter, visited Islamabad to attend the conference.Talking to the Egyptian delegation, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, appreciated the warm, historic and brotherly relations between the two countries and expressed the desire to make the trade relations commensurate with the political relations.The Adviser emphasized the export potential of Pakistan in sectors like Engineering goods, rice, agro-processed products, surgical, pharmaceutical and sports goods.He also highlighted the investment opportunities available in Pakistan especially in engineering sector.The Pakistani delegation was headed by Secretary Commerce, Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, and the Egyptian side was led by their First Undersecretary, Ahmed Anter.During the meeting of the JWG on Trade, both sides emphasized on the relative importance of Pakistani-Egyptian Trade and Economic relations and on the importance of enhancing the current Trade volume to reflect the untapped trade and economic potential between the two countries.Both sides agreed to enhance trade in key sectors including Agricultural Products, Engineering industries (Electrical apparatuses and Power appliances), Construction and Building materials, Fertilizers and Chemicals, Textiles and leather products, Medical and surgical instruments and Pharmaceuticals.Both sides also agreed to enhance the trade promotional efforts by signing an MoU between Trade Development of Pakistan (TDAP) and Egyptian Commercial Service, organization of a Single Country Exhibition in Cairo/Karachi and frequent exchange of delegations and participation in each other’s International trade fairs.B2B meetings were arranged between the Egyptian businessmen of pharmaceutical, power, fertilizer, tourism, construction, shipping and bed linen sectors with Pakistani businessmen of same sectors.Egyptian head of delegation invited Pakistani side for a follow-up visit to Cairo and appreciated the opening of new Commercial Section in Cairo.Both sides emphasized that in order to translate excellent brotherly relations into meaningful economic and trade cooperation, frequent engagements at G2G and B2B levels coupled with trade promotional activities will be ensured.The Adviser and Ambassador of Egypt Ahmed Fadel Yacoub witnessed the signing of the minutes of first meeting of JWG on Trade between Pakistan and Egypt. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 22:56:08 +0500 Alternate Text
UAE to launch new low-cost airline SHARJAH: Abu Dhabi´s giant Etihad Airways and Sharjah´s low-cost carrier Air Arabia announced Wednesday an agreement to launch a new low-cost airline based in the United Arab Emirates capital.Etihad Airways posted a loss in 2018 for the third year running, it said earlier this year, blaming investment losses and challenging market conditions.The new Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will be launched in "due course", Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, said in a statement issued by the two Emirati carriers."This exciting partnership supports our transformation programme and will offer our guests a new option for low-cost travel to and from Abu Dhabi, supplementing our own services," he added.Etihad, which has been undergoing restructuring since late 2017, said it had narrowed its losses in 2018 to $1.28 billion, from $1.52 billion the previous year.Along with its 2016 losses, that adds up to total losses of $4.67 billion over three years, prompting the company to scrap dozens of orders on aircraft.Established in 2003 by the oil-rich Gulf emirate´s government, the airline has faced stiff competition from regional rivals Dubai aviation giant Emirates and Doha-based Qatar Airways.Etihad invested heavily in carriers around the world including Alitalia, airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and India´s Jet Airways, some of which have faced financial difficulties, causing Etihad heavy losses.In late 2017, the company appointed Douglas, a former British defence official, as its chief executive officer and launched a five-year restructuring process.Airlines in the Gulf have faced a double hit from oil price fluctuations and regional political tensions. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 19:46:07 +0500 Alternate Text
IMF chief Georgieva tells women: Don´t accept less! WASHINGTON: Women around the world take on far more unpaid work than men but what they should never do is agree to a lower wage in the workplace, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday.She recounted her experience early in her career during the Soviet era, saying she did not know at the time she could bargain for better conditions.To women of today she said: "Do not accept to be less paid than your colleague men, ever!"The International Monetary Fund released a report on Tuesday which found that unpaid work "is a substantial part of economic activity that goes unmeasured and is shouldered disproportionally by women."In fact, women do two hours more of unpaid work than men every day and even "in the most egalitarian countries in the world, women do at least 20 percent more unpaid work than men," notably chores around the home, the report said.To address that issue, governments must invest in infrastructure, to provide water and electricity and internet access, but also provide services such as childcare and elder care, and improve education opportunities, to help women "replace unpaid work with paid work."In more advanced economies, that means "implementing family-friendly policies such as parental leave and taxation of secondary earners, enhancing the efficiency of labor markets, and promoting flexible work arrangements."But asked by one young woman how to achieve professional success, Georgieva offered no easy solutions:"You have to be competent and to be more confident."She also said quotas for hiring women in private firms were not a perfect solution "but it´s pragmatic" since it could provide a faster path to gender equity in the workplace. Otherwise it will take a "very, very long time." Wed, 16 Oct 2019 02:46:56 +0500 Alternate Text
US stocks boosted by good earnings day NEW YORK: -Wall Street stocks surged Tuesday following a batch of mostly good corporate earnings while investors shrugged off a downcast IMF forecast that emphasized the drag from trade wars.Shares of Dow components JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson and United Healthcare rocketed higher following strong earnings announcements.The strong reports more than made up for a disappointing release from Goldman Sachs and raised hopes that investors have underestimated the coming earnings period.The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.9 percent to 27,024.80.The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.0 percent to 2,995.68, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.2 percent to 8,148.71.Expectations have been tepid for the third-quarter earnings season, which began in earnest on Tuesday. Companies in the S&P 500 were projected to report a 4.6 percent drop in earnings, according to FactSet."The rally is based on earnings," said Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities. "If this keeps up we should be able to hit new records very shortly."The gains came despite a fresh International Monetary Fund report that lowered the 2019 and 2020 growth forecasts and warned of a "precarious" outlook if trade conflicts continue to fester.JPMorgan jumped 3.0 percent after reporting profits of $9.1 billion, up 8.4 percent from the year-ago period in results that topped analyst expectations. Executives pointed to consumer lending businesses as especially strong.Johnson & Johnson advanced 1.6 percent as it lifted its full-year forecasts and reported quarterly profits of $4.8 billion, up 22.9 percent. The results helped reassure investors as the health giant contends with numerous high-profile product lawsuits.General Motors climbed 2.1 percent on signs the company may be close to a deal with the United Auto Workers to end a strike that has entered its fifth week.Several large technology companies also climbed, with Amazon, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet winning about two percent or more. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 01:37:14 +0500 Alternate Text
Google in smartphone push with motion-sensing Pixel 4 NEW YORK: Google stepped up its smartphone ambitions Tuesday with updated Pixel handsets, touting a move toward computing with a simple hand wave or spoken command.Pixel 4 models boasting features including gesture and face recognition debuted at a "Made by Google" event showcasing new hardware infused with artificial intelligence to respond to motion and voice.The Pixel 4 handset with a 5.7-inch display has a starting price of $799 in the United States and will be available globally starting October 24. A larger 6.3-inch Pixel XL will start at $899.The new devices aim to ramp up Google´s challenge in the premium smartphone segment dominated by Samsung and Apple, which recently unveiled an iPhone 11 starting at $699.Google also updated its Nest smart home cameras and speakers and announced its streaming game service Stadia would launch November 19.While Pixel smartphones have struggled for traction in the smartphone market, they provide an opportunity to showcase the Android operating system´s capabilities and the Google Assistant digital aide.Pixel 4 features improved camera capabilities, using artificial intelligence to boost optical zoom and take better photos taken after dark, with a feature devoted to capturing images of the heavens at night.Motion-sensing technology that Google has been working on for some time is built into Pixel 4 and will allow for some basic controls, such as silencing alarms or skipping to the next song, by holding up or waving hands. The handsets also include a "face unlock" feature similar to those on iPhones and other devices.Amid antitrust reviews on both sides of the Atlantic over its online dominance, Google is seeking to diversify its business by adding more devices and services.- Stadia ready to go -The California-based internet titan will launch Stadia streaming game service on November 19, hoping to send console-quality play soaring into the cloud.Stadia allows video game play on any internet-connected device, eliminating the need for game consoles.Google updated products across its hardware line, from Nest smart home devices to Chromebook laptops and wireless ear buds.A common theme was making it more natural to use Google to tap into the internet and digital assistant capabilities naturally with voice or gestures at any time.The notion of online services and machine smarts being all around and always ready to serve people instead of needing them to tap at smartphones or keyboards is referred to as "ambient computing.""Our vision for ambient computing is to create a single, consistent experience anywhere you go," said Rick Osterloh, head of Google´s hardware division.Google also built digital assistant capabilities into smart home products from its Nest unit in a move that shrewdly extends its reach, according to Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi."I really felt the bigger message today was about ambient computing and how the different products work together to highlight Google´s AI," Milanesi said.Google spotlighted product design and user privacy at the event, hitting on themes stressed by Apple as well as Microsoft, the analyst added.- Building in privacy -Google emphasized privacy enhancements in its line of products, which kept more personal data and computing functions on devices instead of sending it to datacenters in the cloud."Privacy is built in," Google director of product management Sabrina Ellis said while introducing Pixel 4."New Google Assistant can respond to day-to-day requests on-device."Data processed on Pixel 4 handsets is "never saved or shared with other Google services," she added.The smartphones still need to reach into the cloud for requests such as checking whether flights are delayed or commute traffic troubled.Pixel 4 users will be able to tell their devices to delete anything said to it that day or week, according to Ellis. A chip in the handset is also designed as a secure digital vault for personal data."More and more of Google´s story today is about on-device AI capabilities... it opens lots of possibilities for faster performance and better privacy," Technalysis Research chief analyst Bob O´Donnell said in a tweet.Google also said it is ramping up investments in renewable energy, aiming to offset all the power required to make its hardware with green power. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 00:50:09 +0500 Alternate Text
Russia, Saudi Arabia sign key oil deal RIYADH: Energy giants Saudi Arabia and Russia on Monday sealed a key oil deal to boost cooperation among the two countries, as visiting President Vladimir Putin sought to defuse political tensions in the the region.The energy superpowers inked  some 20 contracts and agreements worth billions of dollars on aerospace, culture, health, advanced technology and agriculture.Key among the deals was the agreement to bolster cooperation among the so-called OPEC+ countries -- the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus 10 non-members of the cartel.Moscow is not a member of OPEC, but it has worked closely with the group to limit supply and push up prices after a 2014 slump that wreaked havoc on the economies of Russia and cartel heavyweight Saudi Arabia.Monday´s deal seeks to "reinforce cooperation ... and strengthen oil market stability", Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said at the signing ceremony.Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters that Putin and Saudi officials also discussed "military and technical cooperation".- Role of 'peacemaker' -On Monday, Putin said "Russia attaches particular importance to the development of friendly, and mutually beneficial ties with Saudi Arabia".King Salman told Putin: "We look forward to working with Your Excellency on everything that will bring security, stability and peace, confront extremism and terrorism and promote economic growth."Moscow and Riyadh, a traditional US ally, have made a striking rapprochement in recent years, marked in particular by King Salman´s first visit to Russia in October 2017.A year later, when Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman was under fire over the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Putin went out of his way to shake his hand at a G20 summit, to much comment.In an interview with Arabic-language television channels ahead of his visit, Putin praised his good relations with the Saudi royals."We will absolutely work with Saudi Arabia and our other partners and friends in the Arab world... to reduce to zero any attempt to destabilise the oil market," he said.Russian political analyst Fyodor Lukyanov said Moscow, with its older ties to Iran and new links with Saudi Arabia, could "play the role of peacemaker" as tensions soar between Tehran and Riyadh.These tensions spiked last month after the attacks on Saudi oil facilities that halved the kingdom´s crude output and set oil markets alight.Yemen´s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed responsibility. But US officials blamed Tehran, charging that the rebels did not have the range or sophistication to target the facilities.Tehran has denied involvement and warned of "total war" in the event of any attack on its territory.- Syria war -Russia has sought to keep a foot in both camps, offering missiles to Riyadh to defend itself, while at the same time warning against "hasty conclusions" regarding Iran´s alleged involvement.Last week, an Iranian tanker was hit in suspected missile strikes off the coast of Saudi Arabia, sparking fresh fears of war.Putin held talks with the crown prince late Monday do discuss "bilateral cooperation" and developments in Syria and Yemen.Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the Saudis support the opposition seeking his ouster.But "it is important for Russia that an Arab country participates in the political settlement in Syria", said Lukyanov.For now "only three non-Arab countries" -- Turkey, Russia and Iran -- are hosting talks, the analyst added.After Saudi Arabia, Putin will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to meet the powerful crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. Tue, 15 Oct 2019 01:28:33 +0500 Alternate Text
US, China trade talks continue this week: Mnuchin WASHINGTON: US and Chinese officials will hold talks by phone this week and next as they work to finalize the "phase one" trade deal announced last week, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.President Donald Trump, beset with an impeachment inquiry and criticism over his foreign policy, on Friday hailed the breakthrough agreement, but said it would take several weeks to finalize the details before he signs a pact with Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month.There are few specifics, nor does the deal roll back the tariffs already imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade between the world's two dominant economic powers.But Mnuchin indicated the next round of new tariffs due to hit consumers on December 15 could be scrapped once the deal is signed.He pushed back on the skepticism about the agreement in an appearance on CNBC."There is a fundamental agreement in principle," he said. "There are still some issues that need to be worked out in wording but I would say we have every expectation that phase one will close."So I would describe phase one as quite substantial."He said deputy-level officials will hold discussions by telephone this week, while he and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will have a call with China´s trade envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, next week.The senior officials will then meet in Santiago, Chile, on the sidelines of the APEC ministerial meeting, before the leaders summit where Trump and Xi are expected to sign the pact.The initial deal, which finally breaks an 18-month trade spat, included a massive increase in China's purchases of US farm products, and also covers intellectual property, financial services and currencies.Mnuchin also said the sides had agreed on "real enforcement mechanisms" in case further disagreements arise between Washington and Beijing over the terms of the deal. Mon, 14 Oct 2019 19:21:02 +0500 Alternate Text
British Pakistani entrepreneur wins Asian Business Award LONDON: British Pakistani businessman and CPIC founding member Zeeshan Shah was “International Entrepreneur of the year 2019” at the annual Asian Business Awards.In a star-studded event for the Asian Business Awards here, British professionals and business heavyweights of Pakistani, Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi origin were recognised for their outstanding achievements. The ultimate award and highest accolade of the evening was given to British Pakistani serial-entrepreneur and former Apprentice star Zeeshaan Shah. The citation read that Zeeshaan Shah is a self-made entrepreneur who came to the UK nine years ago with almost nothing in his pocket after growing up in Karachi. It said that Shah now owns multi-million pound businesses with offices in Karachi, Gwadar, Islamabad, Dubai, London and New York with over 400 employees and projects under development in excess of $500 million USD. The organisers said that the special award of “The International Entrepreneur of the Year” has been started to recognise “a true giant of the business world”. The host of the evening said: “There are only a small number of men and women who can even qualify for this prestigious award. The individual chosen this year has excelled in an exceptionally challenging global business environment and is well known in the business community here at home and abroad. Zeeshan Shah is an international acclaimed CEO and is someone we are deeply honored to recognise on this platform.”Commenting on the win, Zeeshan Shah said it was an absolute honour for him to be recognised with the top award of the evening alongside the heavyweights of British Asian business society. “I came to London nine years ago with £500 in my pocket and it is unbelievable to be standing here today and winning this accolade. As a British-Pakistani representing Pakistan on the highest level of business in British society is an honour for me.“Pakistanis are amongst the most intelligent people in the world if we apply our minds positively. I hope my victory as International Entrepreneur of the Year can inspire more Pakistanis to rise to the pinnacle of their chosen fields and understand what potential we have as a nation both in Pakistan and globally.”Shah said that his firm is investing heavily in Gwadar and that fact has been acknowledged at the international stage as more and more investors are looking to spend money in the gateway city. Sun, 13 Oct 2019 18:01:46 +0500 Alternate Text
Economic reforms have gradually started bearing results: Dr Hafeez Shaikh ISLAMABAD: Owing to the tough economic reforms introduced by the government, twin deficits including current account and fiscal deficit have significantly reduced, imports increased where as exports decreased during first quarter of financial year 2019-20.This was stated by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh while addressing a press conference here on Saturday.The Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Shabbar Zadi and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance were also present.The Adviser said that those economic reforms have gradually started bearing the results and all the macro-economic indicators showed resilience during first quarter of current financial year.He said that owing to these reforms, the current account deficit shrank by 35 percent as it came down from $9 billion to $5.7 billion in first quarter of financial year 2019-20.The fiscal deficit also witnessed 35 percent reduction in first-three months of current financial year due to the steps taken by the government and it also came down from Rs 738 million to Rs 436 billion, he added.Hafeez Shaikh said that revenue collection had witnessed about 16 percent growth during the period under review, adding that the government had not borrowed any money from the State Bank of Pakistan nor released any supplementary grant in order to ensure strict adherence of fiscal discipline.The non-revenue income also registered about 40 percent growth compared to the same period of last year and achieved Rs 406 billion, adding that non-revenue income was expected to reach at Rs1,600 billion as against the set targets of Rs1,200 billion.Dr Shaikh said that billions of dollars were wasted in past in order to artificially keeping the exchange rates stable.He said that the present government had introduced market based exchange rates and due to which it was stable from last three months and foreign reserves had witnessed significant increase.The net portfolio investment was increased by $340 million which had also help in restoring the confidence of foreign investors, he told and added that exports which were stagnant from last 5 years had also started growth.He said that overseas employment witnessed increase of over 150,000, as during last year from January-August, about 224,000 Pakistanis went abroad as against the 373,000 during current year.He said that the investors' confidence were also restored in stock market, as it had showed 22 percent growth and the index had reached to 34,000 points.Dr Shaikh said all the measures that have been introduced by the government aiming at to bring the prosperity and welfare in the life of a common man and the results of all these measures would ultimately benefit the common man in the country.Replying to a question, he said that the government has also made appropriate releases for the developmental projects under PSDP and released extra funds as compared to last year.To another question, he said that small and medium enterprises sectors was vital for economic development of the country, adding that the government would introduce SME policy during next two weeks and announce facilities for small and medium enterprises.Country to come out of FATF gray list soonRegarding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Adviser said that all the national institutions were making their all possible efforts for making the full compliance of FATF as it was in the larger interest of country.He said that measures have been taken to make full compliance of all the points of FATF and most of those have already done and the country was determined to come out form the gray list as soon as possible.Recalling the economic challenges, Dr Hafeez said that when the government assumed powers, the country was passing through crucial economic challenges.The national debt swelled to Rs30,000 billion and it was facing the historic current account deficit with unstable exchange rates, he added.In such a time, the government had introduced the economic reforms agenda and under its reforms measures, the defense expenditures were freezed, expenses of the civil government cut down by Rs 40 billion and expenditures of the Prime Minister Office slashed down, he added.Besides, he said that the government entered into agreements with friendly countries and raised its foreign exchange reserves up to $7 billion for strengthening its foreign exchange reserves.He said that other measures took to enhance revenues and about 800,000 new taxpayers were brought under the tax compliance net.Meanwhile, the government had also introduced measures for local industry to enhance the local exports and provide special subsidy on electricity and gas that would help in industrial growth, producing the export surplus and help in job creation, he added.'Negotiations with UAE for identification of tax -payers'Speaking on the occasion, the Chairman FBR informed that fruitful negotiations with the Ministry of Finance of UAE was held that would help in identification of potential tax payers in the country.He informed that negotiations with traders were in progress, adding that so far over 40 meeting had taken place and all the issues would be addressed amicably. Sat, 12 Oct 2019 18:01:00 +0500 Alternate Text
More companies back away from Facebook´s Libra coin SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook´s digital currency alliance lost more companies on Friday amid heavy criticism from regulators around the world on the planned Libra global cryptocurrency.Credit card giants Visa and Mastercard, online marketplace eBay and digital payments firm Stripe each announced they had changed their minds about being founding members of the Libra Association assembled to promote the digital currency."Mastercard has decided it will not become a member of the Libra Association at this time," the company said in an emailed statement."We remain focused on our strategy and our own significant efforts to enable financial inclusion around the world. We believe there are potential benefits in such initiatives and will continue to monitor the Libra effort."A Visa spokesperson offered a similar statement, indicating the company was dropping out of the alliance but could rejoin in the future."We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the association´s ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations," Visa said.Silicon Valley-based eBay said: "We highly respect the vision of the Libra Association; however, eBay has made the decision to not move forward as a founding member."Stripe also said it will follow the progress of Libra and remain open to working with the association at a later date."Stripe is supportive of projects that aim to make online commerce more accessible for people around the world," Stripe said. "Libra has this potential."The moves come after US senators sent letters to several financial firms noting that they could face "a high level of scrutiny from regulators" if they participated in the new currency plan.Last week, digital payments firm PayPal said it was quitting the alliance of companies and organizations promoting Libra.The Libra Association did not immediately return a request for comment.The move comes with Facebook´s planned digital coin Libra facing heavy criticism from regulators and lawmakers in the United States and Europe.Facebook executives have claimed the new digital coin could help lower costs for global money transfers and help those without access to the banking system.French economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire has warned that under current circumstances, Libra posed a threat to the "monetary sovereignty" of governments and could not be authorized in Europe.Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify October 23 hearing in the US House of Representatives on the Libra plan. Sat, 12 Oct 2019 05:09:19 +0500 Alternate Text
US-China trade talks ´going very well´: Trump WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Thursday hinted at progress in his high-stakes trade battle with China, saying talks with Beijing´s envoy had gone well.The remarks added to an atmosphere that had grown warmer during the day after Trump announced he would grant an audience at the White House to top Chinese trade envoy Liu He."I will say I think it´s going really well," Trump told reporters, offering no details. "We had a very, very good negotiation with China."The new signs of comity were an abrupt improvement after a week in which Washington blitzed Beijing with aggressive policy measures and talks appeared headed for a dead end, just days before US duties on $250 billion in Chinese imports are due to rise.Wall Street closed higher, with investors buoyed by hopes that at least escalation might be averted even if an overarching resolution was beyond reach.But pressure on the two sides to defuse the confrontation has mounted in recent weeks as signs have grown increasingly clear the trade war -- now more than a year old -- poses a mounting danger to the global economy.China this year balked at Trump´s demands for a profound transformation to the way it manages its economy and analysts say Beijing is unlikely to adopt economic reforms that could undermine the Communist Party´s political power.Speculation has instead focused on the possibility the two sides will seek to seal an incremental deal this week as a confidence-building measure.Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, told reporters on Thursday he had spoken with both sides and that an agreement on currency could emerge this week."I think that could lead to a decision by the US administration not to put forward a tariff rate hike on October 15," he said.The US Treasury in August branded China a currency manipulator, accusing Beijing of deliberately weakening the RMB to gain an unfair trade advantages, making good on a Trump campaign pledge.Media reports early in the week had also said the Chinese side was preparing an offer that falls short of addressing Trump´s core grievances but would increase purchases of US farm exports and make smaller concessions in return for a pause in tariff increases.- ´More and more friction´ -Both sides were due to dine together on Thursday evening. Still, there was no hiding the recent sharp deterioration in relations.Just since Monday, Washington has imposed visa restrictions on senior Chinese officials and blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese firms, accusing them of persecuting ethnic Uighur Muslims in China´s western Xinjiang region.The measures have outraged Beijing and in the process penalized major players in the artificial intelligence sector, an area where the United States and China are intense rivals.Trump has both accused China of dragging its feet in the talks and said his economic pressure leaves Beijing with little choice but to seek a bargain.But his attitude toward the process is subject to the churning pressures now competing for his attention.He faces an intensifying impeachment probe by Democrats and stinging bipartisan criticism for allowing a Turkish assault on Washington´s Kurdish partners to go forward by pulling American forces away from the border in northeast Syria.Washington accuses China of attempting to dominate global industry through massive state intervention in markets, theft of intellectual property, hacking and subsidies, accusations shared by Europe and Japan.And, while the mood had improved on Thursday, US officials are reportedly studying ways other than tariffs that they can increase pressure on Beijing to overcome its reluctance to address these complaints.The New York Times said Thursday that coercive measures under consideration included limiting Chinese companies´ access to capital markets as well as exposing Chinese companies to greater criminal liability under US law, heightened regulatory scrutiny and blocking some US pension investments in China.Meanwhile, US central bankers and others believe the trade war is raising the chances the United States could slip into recession."We all know the next round of tariffs is going to hurt the United States as much or more than China," Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, told AFP."I think neither side will admit it but I think they´re both under pressure to find a way to forestall the next set of tariff increases," she said."Every month that these trade talks continue, there´s more and more friction in the relationship." Fri, 11 Oct 2019 03:43:48 +0500 Alternate Text
All Pakistan Traders Association call for protest on Oct 28-29 as talks with FBR fail APTA talks wit FBR fail — File photoISLAMABAD: The talks between All Pakistan Traders Association and Federal Bureau of Revenue failed on Wednesday, following which the traders called for a shutter down protest on October 28 and 29.According to APTA President Ajmal Baloch, that the prerequisite of the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) for purchase is unacceptable, adding that the government may go ahead with whatever action they want.The traders’ fraternity gathered earlier in the day outside the office of the FBR to protest.The members of the organisation said that they are paying taxes but are against the documentation.Earlier this month, Shabbar Zaidi said the condition of CNIC for purchase of over Rs50,000 could be relaxed for one month, but it will never be withdrawn. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 21:48:00 +0500 Alternate Text
Asian Development Bank says will provide $2.5 billion financing to Pakistan ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide $2.5 billion in approved financing to Pakistan in 2019, it said in a tweet on Wednesday.“ADB will provide $2.5 billion in approved financing to Pakistan in 2019, and recently approved Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) 2020-2022 will increase average lending to $2.4 billion a year - a record increase over the $1.4 billion average from 2015 to 2018," the bank said.In addition, ADB will leverage lending through the mobilization of co-financing and funding from other sources, including regional concessional resources.The new COBP will support Pakistan’s development goals and complement efforts by other development partners, it added. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 19:50:38 +0500 Alternate Text
Trade wars lose US its competitiveness top spot: WEF GENEVA: The United States fell to second place behind Singapore in the World Economic Forum´s flagship Global Competitiveness Report, with the slippage linked in part to President Donald Trump´s trade wars.The Forum, organisers of the glitzy annual gathering of business and political elite in Davos, have released an annual competitiveness report since 1979 that assesses which economies are well placed to see productivity and long-term growth.While the report noted that the US "remains an innovation powerhouse" and the world´s second most competitive economy, some trouble signs have emerged, the Forum said."There are no two ways (about) it. It is important to ensure the countries are being open to trade," said Saadia Zahidi, a Forum managing director, when asked to comment on the impact of the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.She noted the lack of "hard data" on the impact of US tariffs imposed on several of its main economic partners, as the set of products impacted remains limited compared to overall trade.But, she said, "the sentiment" surrounding investing in the US "has been going down," she told reporters in Geneva."That will end up impacting long-term investment; that will end up impacting how decision makers are thinking; that will end up impacting the view of non-American business leaders (of) the United States. So it does matter in the long-term," she added.The Forum´s competitiveness report relies in part of executive surveys, in addition to hard economic data.Zahidi said that the US had also fallen in the rankings because healthy life expectancy in the country was now lower than in China.In data published last year, the World Health Organization said that a newborn in China could expect 68.7 years of healthy living, compared to 68.5 for American newborns.- Singapore surge -The report measures competitiveness on a scale of zero to 100 based on factors that include infrastructure, health, the labour market, the financial system, quality of public institutions and economic openness.Singapore scored 84.8 out of 100, but the Forum noted that the country had benefited from trade diversion through its ports triggered by the tariff battles between the world´s top economies.At 83.7 the US slipped from a score of 85.6 in 2018.Hong Kong rose four spots to claim third place with a score of 83.1, but the Forum said the data used in the report was collected before waves of pro-democracy protests began shaking the financial hub.The Netherlands finished fourth -- up two slots from last year -- while Switzerland came in fifth place. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 06:35:02 +0500 Alternate Text
US stocks tumble as hopes dim for latest trade talks NEW YORK: wall Street stocks tumbled Tuesday as heightening tensions between Beijing and Washington dimmed hopes for much-anticipated trade talks later in the week.US markets were in the red the entire session after the Commerce Department late Monday announced new restrictions on 28 Chinese entities over human rights violations, drawing an angry rebuttal from China.Stocks took another leg lower during the afternoon after the US State Department announced new visa restrictions Chinese government and Communist Party officials alleged to have persecuted Muslims in China.The moves come ahead of major high-level trade talks between the United States and China that are set to begin on Thursday.The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 26,164.04, down 1.2 percent.The broad-based S&P 500 slumped 1.6 percent, closing at 2,893.06, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 1.7 percent to 7,823.78.Besides the new US sanctions, there were also fresh reports citing unnamed Trump administration officials that the White House is mulling new measures to curtail US investment in China."It´s not a good sign to see these type of measures being put in place just before the trade negotiation resumes," said Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management."The market is skeptical that anything good can come out of the negotiations this week."Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell offered a fairly upbeat appraisal of the US economy, saying policymakers still "continue to see a sustained expansion" and that the outlook on jobs and inflation are "favorable."Powell´s remarks suggest the case for further cuts to the Fed´s benchmark lending rates could be weakening, with employment data now showing the US jobless rate fell to its lowest level in 50 years in September.However, futures markets overwhelmingly continue to expect the Fed to cut interest rates later this month. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 02:28:07 +0500 Alternate Text
PM Imran meets top executives of Chinese conglomerates BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday held meetings with top officials of Chinese companies who expressed keen interest in investing in various sectors in Pakistan. The prime minister arrived in Beijing earlier today on a two-day official visit on the invitation of Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang.PM Imran is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. A number of agreements/MoUs are expected to be signed at a ceremony to be witnessed by the two prime ministers, the Foreign Office said in a statement. China Gezhouba GroupChairman China Gezhouba Group, Lyu Zexiang called on PM Imran Khan and expressed keen interest in exploring new business avenues in the country especially in energy sector.Founded in 1970, the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), is one of the most competitive listed companies with very strong financing capabilities. Orient Holdings GroupChairman of Board, Orient Holdings Group Limited Jiang Xueming met with the premier along with a high-level delegation in Beijing.Orient Holdings Group, a trans-regional and cross-industry stock holding investment group, has business areas involving infrastructure construction, real estate development, construction materials, chemical fibre, mining, e-commerce, new materials and intelligent manufacturing, etc.Long March Tyre CompanyCEO of Long March Tyre Company, Li Qingwen also called on the prime minister. Chaoyang New Longmarch Tyre Co. Ltd. is a member of the Lianoning Tyre Group and is one of the best tyre manufacturers.Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, SAPM Nadeem Babar and Chairman BOI Syed Zubair Haider Gillani were present during the meetings. Tue, 08 Oct 2019 12:16:00 +0500 Alternate Text
US prefers a 'big deal' with China: Trump WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Monday he would prefer to strike a comprehensive trade bargain with China, in comments days before top US and Chinese officials are due to resume trade talks in Washington.But with little sign the two sides have made progress in bridging the distance between them, speculation has mounted in recent months they may reach a deal which addresses only some of Washington´s extensive grievances."I think it´s not what we prefer at all. My inclination is to get a big deal," Trump told reporters when asked if he could accept a partial deal."We´ve come this far. We´re doing well. I would much prefer a big deal and I think that´s what we´re shooting for," he added.But he acknowledged that his preferred outcome is not certain."Can something happen? I guess. Maybe. Who knows. But I guess it´s unlikely."With eight days to go before the next round of punitive tariffs is due to hit, Beijing´s top trade envoy Liu He will meet with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin beginning Thursday, the White House said in a statement.- No linkage. Guaranteed. -Liu has said privately he will make a proposal that makes no commitments addressing the far-reaching reforms to Chinese industrial policy or subsides that Washington is seeking, Bloomberg reported Sunday, citing an unnamed source.Lower-level talks have been underway since last month.The discussions will focus on areas where Washington has made far-reaching demands since last year: intellectual property rights, the forced transfer of proprietary technologies, agriculture and enforcement, the White House statement said.The next round of US tariff increases is set to take effect October 15, as US duty rates on $250 billion in Chinese goods rise to 30 percent.Trump has claimed China´s weakening economy puts Beijing under pressure to make a deal.But he also has said in recent months Chinese officials are dragging their feet in hopes of continuing negotiations with another administration should Trump fail to win reelection in 2020.White House economic aide Larry Kudlow Monday denied that recent economic data showed the lingering trade war has damaged the US economy, saying the effect had been "minimum," a position most economists dispute.Unemployment in September fell to its lowest level in 50 years but US manufacturing has fallen into recession, and GDP growth is forecast to slow considerably.Trump is now the subject of an impeachment inquiry by congressional Democrats after pressuring Ukrainian authorities earlier this year to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and son Hunter, whom Trump accuses of financial wrongdoing.Trump last week raised the stakes by openly calling on Beijing to do likewise.But Kudlow told reporters there was no connection between the trade talks and Trump´s call for China to investigate the Bidens."There´ll be no linkage," he said. "I guarantee it." Tue, 08 Oct 2019 03:58:12 +0500 Alternate Text