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Gold prices continue to rise amid meltdown fears

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  • Price of 10-gram gold rises by Rs943 to Rs174,468 per tola.
  • Fears of recession send investors to safety of precious metal.
  • Weaker US dollar helps international gold prices edge bit higher.

Gold prices in Pakistan Thursday increased for the fifth session in a row as political ferment coupled with fears of an imminent meltdown — in case the government fails to revive an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout in time — stoked demand for the yellow metal, considered a safe investment.

Data released by All-Pakistan Sarafa Gems and Jewellers Association (APSGJA) showed that the price of gold (24 carats) increased by Rs1,100 per tola and Rs943 per 10 grams to settle at Rs203,500 and Rs174,468.

As the other markets slide investors generally find refuge in gold to maintain a low-risk profile.

A likely economic contraction looms over Pakistan amid political and economic uncertainties and a holdup in the revival of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) loan.

The gold has gained Rs6,000 per tola in the five sessions. 

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday that an assurance from “friendly countries” to fund a balance of payment gap was the last hurdle in securing an IMF deal, which will offer a critical lifeline to avert an economic meltdown.

Several countries had made commitments to support Pakistan during previous International Monetary Fund (IMF) reviews, Dar told the country’s upper house of parliament, adding that the IMF was now asking for those commitments.

“At the time of the previous reviews, several friendly countries had made commitments to bilaterally support Pakistan, what IMF is now asking (is) that they should actually complete and materialize those commitments,” he said, adding: That’s the only delay.”

Pakistan is awaiting a bailout package of $1.1 billion from the IMF, which has been delayed since November over issues related to fiscal policy adjustments.

International gold edged higher Thursday, helped by a weaker dollar, but prices held below last session’s 6-week peak as risk sentiment improved after Credit Suisse, the latest focal point of a potential banking crisis, secured funds. 

Spot gold rose 0.3% to $1,924.15 per ounce by 1122 GMT, after jumping to its highest since early Feb at $1,937.28 on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,928.70. 

Credit Suisse, which sparked a rout in European banking stocks on fears of its collapse, recovered 28% after saying it would borrow up to $54 billion from the Swiss central bank to shore up liquidity and investor confidence.

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Over 600 points are added by PSX in intraday trading.

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Tuesday’s lunchtime trading on the Pakistan Stock Exchange saw favorable activity.

During intraday trading, the benchmark KSE-100 Index increased by 672.08 points, or 1.11%, and was trading at 61131.82 levels.

The KSE-30 Index was trading at 20,558.31 after adding 211.46 points, or 1.04%.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) had another round of discussions for the establishment of a central government the day before the rally in the local stock exchange.

In the meanwhile, Fitch Ratings has issued a warning, stating that the likelihood of default would rise in the event of a drawn-out discussion or the inability to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, which reported net foreign reserves of $8 billion as of February 9, 2024, up from a low of $2.9 billion on February 3, 2023, Pakistan’s external situation has improved recently.

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The smartphone app “Tajir Dost” to tax Pakistani businesses is anticipated to launch on February 22.

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The sources stated that the caretaker administration aims to include 3.5 million shops in the tax net by use of the “Tajir Dost” app.

They said that Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the acting prime minister, has instructed the relevant authorities to conclude their engagement with the retailing bodies within a few days.

The introduction of the “Tajir Dost” smartphone app to impose taxes on several merchants was authorized earlier this month by the acting federal administration.

The smartphone application, created by Pakistan Revenue Authority Limited (PRAL), a division of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), is intended to serve as a registration tool for shops and dealers throughout the nation.

The app’s database will be updated with the traders’ information who have already registered with the FBR.

Previously, in December 2023, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) made history by collecting Rs1.021 trillion. After deducting refunds of Rs 38 billion that were given out that month, the FBR’s net collection increased to Rs 984 billion.

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SBP confirms the choice to use new currency notes was not influenced by the IMF.

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In response to recent rumours, Saleem Ullah, the deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), said on Thursday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had no influence over the decision to release new currency notes.

Saleem Ullah underlined in an interview that printing new notes is a regular procedure carried out every 15 to 20 years to maintain the currency’s integrity.

He stressed that, in contrast to rumours, the deficit is expected to decline in the next fiscal year, in line with the goals of the new monetary policy.

“Every 15 to 20 years, new notes are printed,” he clarified. The new currency’s goal is to keep the note’s integrity intact.”

The SBP assured the public earlier this week that the current banknote series will continue to be in circulation despite the introduction of new currency notes, which it intended to implement over the course of the next two years.

Regarding the latest series of currency notes, the deputy governor clarified that they were launched in 2005 and were in circulation for three years.

He admitted that the procedure was time-consuming and estimated that because of the careful preparation required, it would take around two years to issue the first note.

In addition, he guaranteed that the new banknotes will have improved security measures because they would be made using contemporary technology. He gave information regarding the SBP’s effort to get public feedback on the new currency notes’ design, highlighting the fact that recommendations were being actively sought from the populace.

“There are three prizes for each denomination, and there are a total of seven denominations, hence 21 prizes,” he disclosed, highlighting the process’ openness. First place is worth Rs 1 million, second place is worth Rs 500,000, and third place is worth Rs 300,000.

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