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Rupee breaks losing streak against dollar, makes minor gains

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KARACHI: Pakistan’s rupee Tuesday turned the losing tide on the dollar, bouncing off eight-session lows, dealers said.

The local currency gained Re0.24 or 0.11% against the greenback in the inter-bank market to close at 223.42. That compared to Monday’s close of Rs223.66

The country’s currency has shed Rs2 or 0.9% versus US currency during the last eight trading sessions. 

Analysts said that even the improvement in the country’s current account balance failed to cheer up the rupee. The current account deficit fell 68% to $567 million in October.

The market sentiment is negatively impacted by Pakistan’s growing risk of default on its obligations to repay foreign debt, the delay in IMF-Pakistan negotiations, and the absence of a timeframe regarding incoming financing from friendly countries, according to dealers.

The current account gap has reduced, but exports and remittances have taken a serious hit.

Inflows have dried down, and traders are keenly looking out for World Bank to send in aid money, so crucial at this time.

The general consensus in the money market remains downbeat.

However, positive news from the political and inflows front was seen setting the rupee’s direction down the line.

Dollar shortage

Zafar Paracha, Chairman Exchange Association of Pakistan (ECAP), sees the rupee languishing in the near future owing to multiple reasons.

“First off, there’s a shortage of dollars in the country. We have more buyers than sellers in the market,” Paracha said highlighting the dollar demand-supply issues.

He said the country was in dire need of big inflows and “as long as the international and bilateral lenders do not deliver on their commitments, the rupee is unlikely to recover. 

“One of the reasons that have stalled these inflows was the ongoing political uncertainty in the country.” he said adding, “While IMF is also not giving us any leverage and is tightening its conditions, adding to the economic woes”.

Another reason was that remittances from overseas workers were continuously falling, which was an upshot of the global recession. 

“This phenomenon has weighed on the savings of expats, resulting in lower amounts of foreign currency being sent home,” the ECAP official added.

Paracha also raised alarms over the thin foreign exchange stash with the central bank, fearing more fiscal pressure as deadlines for the repayments of maturing external debt and interest expenses were approaching fast.

The money dealers’ association leader pointed out that the grey market was also biting into the legal one.

“People are diverting to the illegal channels as they are offering better rates, which also need to be addressed,” Paracha said.

Dollar stable

The dollar steadied on Tuesday after rallying the previous day as investors flocked to the safe haven currency on worries over China’s COVID flare-ups, while bitcoin came under pressure after fears of fresh contagion from the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. 

The euro was up 0.14% to $1.0258 after an 0.8%loss on Monday, the sterling rose 0.19% to $1.1838, partially reversing its 0.6% fall, and the dollar was at 141.86 yen down 0.18% after a 1.2% gain.

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Pakistani stocks are rising, and the KSE-100 breaks the 69,000 barrier.

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The benchmark KSE-100 Index increased 1.76 percent on Monday, passing beyond the 69,000 barrier for the first time in its history. This maintained Pakistani stock market’s record-breaking run, as investors remained upbeat about potential rate cuts by the central bank.

The most recent advances also follow Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s iftar dinner given by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Makkah, at a time when Riyadh is anticipated to announce an approximately $1 billion investment in Reko Diq, one of the world’s greatest reserves of copper and gold.

After reaching a high of 69,720.03, the KSE-100 Index concluded at 69,619.98 with a net gain of 1,203.20 points by the time trading was closed for the day. This was due to international investors, both individual and institutional, making purchases.

The meeting between Shehbaz and the Saudi crown prince, also referred to as MBS, may open doors for investment in a variety of industries, including mining, energy, and agriculture.

With record-high energy and interest rates driving up the cost of conducting business to an unaffordable level, investors are clamoring for foreign investment to prop up the economy.

Any improvement in this area would not only contribute to the rupee’s appreciation but also increase the value of cheap equities due to the anticipated purchasing frenzy, as buyers will not pass up the chance to purchase at the reduced prices.

However, there is a big question mark over the heightened expectations that the State Bank of Pakistan will begin reducing interest rates following the consumer price index (CPI) showing a steady fall in inflation over the past three months, particularly the greater than anticipated decline in March.

The reason is that, given Islamabad’s desperation to secure another package from the Washington-based lender, there is an impending hike in gasoline costs in addition to power and gas charges. This move will further sustain the inflationary pressure under the IMF criteria.

Meanwhile, the most recent US data has reduced expectations for potential rate reduction by the Federal Reserve, which is driving up the price of gold as speculative purchasing occurs.

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The price of gold is still rising in Pakistan.

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24 carat gold’s per tola pricing increased by Rs 600 on Monday, when it was sold for Rs 245,700 as opposed to Rs 245,100 the day before.

Ten grams of 24 carat gold cost Rs 514 more than the selling price of Rs 210,648; ten grams of 22 carat gold cost Rs 193,094 instead of Rs 192,622, according to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association.

Silver prices per tola and per ten grams stayed at Rs 2,650 and Rs 2271.94, respectively.

Get out of silence
According to the Association, the price of gold went up $5 to $2,355 on the global market from $2,350.

24 carat gold saw a rise in prices per tola on April 6 of Rs 4,900. It was sold on Saturday for Rs 245,100 as opposed to Rs 240,200 the day before.

The price of 10 grams of 24 carat gold went up by Rs4,200, and it was sold for Rs210,134 as opposed to Rs205,932. The price of 10 grams of 22 carat gold went up to Rs192,622 from Rs 188,772, according to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association.

Silver prices per tola and per ten grams stayed at Rs 2,650 and Rs 2271.94, respectively.

According to the Association, the price of gold went up $44 to $2,350 on the global market from $2,306.

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PIA privatization: “Investors from Saudi Arabia and Qatar are briefed by Pakistan.”

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According to information provided, investors in the aviation industry in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia were approached and given a briefing on the privatization of PIA.

According to additional sources, investors received information about “profitable” investments in the international lines operated by FIA and PIA.

Since National Airline’s debts and losses were transferred to the withholding firm prior to privatization, all of them have been paid off.

According to the sources, every obstacle to the PIA’s privatization has been removed.

It is important to note that, as the government moves on with its privatization plan, up to three Gulf nations—the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar—have expressed interest in purchasing the financially troubled Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), according to sources.

Previously, purchasers were asked to submit proposals by May 3 for the privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

The Pakistani government intends to sell 51 percent of the national flag carrier’s shares; the remaining 49 percent will be owned by the government. The government’s goal is to privatize solely the PIA’s aviation department.

According to the officials, the business that purchases the 51 percent of the shares would continue to hold administrative authority over PIA.

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