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Key takeaways from SBP’s off-cycle MPC meeting

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In an off-cycle review, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) raised its key interest rate by 300 basis points on Thursday, exceeding investor expectations, as the cash-strapped country seeks to encourage the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release critical financing.

The key rate of the SBP now stands at 20%, its highest level since October 1996, with consumer price inflation now at its highest level for almost 50 years.

The Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC) next meeting is set to be held on April 4.

Arif Habib Limited compiled key takeaways from the meeting’s outcome, here they are:

– National CPI has swelled up to 31.5% YoY during February 2023, with core inflation at 17.1% in urban and 21.5% in the rural basket.

– The near-term inflation outlook has deteriorated post external and fiscal adjustments undertaken recently.

– The MPC has raised its CPI forecast for the year to 27-29% against the November 2022 forecast of 21-23%.

– Inflation in upcoming months can drift higher, albeit, at a gradual pace, as the impact of said adjustments unfolds.

– The committee noted that external account challenges persist despite the significant contraction in the current account deficit, recorded at $242 million in January 2023 (lowest since March 2021).

– Pressure on forex reserves and rupee-dollar parity also remain in place, regardless of a 67% decline in current account deficit in the Jul-Jan 2023 period given ongoing debt repayments, and lower financial inflows amid “rising global interest rates and domestic uncertainties.”

– The conclusion of the ninth review of the IMF’s EFF remains crucial to address external-sector vulnerabilities.

– Additionally, the MPC urged the implementation of energy conservation measures to alleviate pressure on the external account and to meet vital imports from other sectors.

– Fiscal consolidation remains critical for economic stability and recent measures like increase in GST and excise duties, restricted subsidies, and adjustment in energy prices should help contain the widening fiscal and primary deficits.

– This will complement the ongoing monetary tightening and help bring down inflation over the medium term.

– The committee also assessed the impact of further monetary tightening on the country’s financial stability and near-term growth.

– It was observed that “risks to financial stability remain contained, given that financial institutions are broadly well capitalized.”

– However, growth will be compromised as a trade-off.

– However, the MPC reiterated that the long-term costs of letting inflation become entrenched outweigh the immediate costs of bringing it down.

– Barring any future shocks, the committee believes that today’s decision has pushed the real interest rate into positive territory on a forward-looking basis.

– The medium-term CPI target remains unchanged at 5-7%, by end-FY25. 

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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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Pakistan currently has $14.38 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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Pakistan’s commercial banks’ reserves, which stood at $5.28 billion at the conclusion of the week ending on June 7, rose by US$174 million, according to a central bank statement.

Reserving US$6.2 million less, the SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves. The causes for the decline in the reserves it had were not disclosed by the central bank.

The SBP released a statement that stated, “SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on 07-June-2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange reserves were reduced by US$ 63 million as a result of repaying external debt, with the reserves standing at US$ 9.093 billion as of earlier on June 6.

The central bank spokesperson said in a statement that as of the week that concluded on May 31, the nation’s total liquid foreign reserves were $14.31 billion.

In terms of net foreign reserves, commercial banks have US$ 5.22 billion of the overall foreign reserves, according to the SBP.

SBP reserves dropped by US$ 63 million to US$ 9,093.7 million during the week that ended on May 24, 2024, according to the announcement.

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In the local market, the price of gold plummets to Rs240,700/tola.

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Gold with a 24-karat purity level has dropped by Rs1200/tola on the local market.

Each tola of 24-karat gold is now selling for Rs240,700, with a further drop of Rs1029 bringing the price of 10 kilos of gold to Rs206,361. These figures are courtesy of the All Sarafa and Jewelers Association.

Meanwhile, after a $2 decline on the global market, one ounce of gold will be valued $2315.

A tola of gold was worth Rs 600 more on Wednesday.

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