The inflation tally just keeps on dropping. In March, the monthly Consumer Price Index tapered by 2.5 percent in March taking the nine-month average to 5.1 percent. Don’t be surprised if the CPI drops lower; around 1.5 percent next month. But that does not mean that prices are falling the way it happened in the last few months. The lower commodity prices, which have significantly brought down the transportation and food price indices, have made the base too high.
That the first ever imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) shipment touched Pakistan’s coasts a few days ago is an achievement in itself, especially when no major energy projects whether coal or hydro have materialized as promised by the government in office. The plan from the beginning was to use imported LNG for the ailing power generation in the country and the fertilizer sector. Also there should be no denying of the fact that Engro completed its LNG terminal in record time of 11 months.
Fixed income funds are not happy anymore! Recall that it wasn’t long ago when fixed income investors were basking in double-digit returns. But times are now changing while the returns are already in single-digit territory.
The Ministry of Commerce has been under some pressure lately in light of the recent disappointing numbers for Pakistan’s exports. This comes at a time when the Ministry is close to submitting the next Trade Policy Framework (2015-2018), which is due sometime this year. One asks: how effective are these policies, and just how many of its stated goals did the Ministry of Commerce meet in its previous policy (2012-2015)?
When insurance regulations were being stiffer around the globe in recent years, Pakistan was sleeping. A classic example lies in the standard minimum paid-up capital requirement for insurance companies pending since 2007. But better late than never! We are now slowly and gradually joining the club.
Crises in the Middle East are known to stir up the oil markets. Every time something critical happens in that region, crude oil prices leave their equipoise and move up. The same happened with Saudi Arabia’s recent intervention against Yemen’s Houthi rebels; international crude oil prices climbed up after their long sedated spell. As a result of this strife in Yemen and the decision by the Saudis to counterattack, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude rose immediately by about 4.5 percent, while Brent crude - the widely used international blend, moved up by four percent.
The State Bank’s latest monthly data reveals that Pakistan’s exports to China in February fell to $152 million – the lowest monthly number in over three years. Meanwhile, imports from China have been surging month after month — crossing the $600 million mark for the first time in December 2014 and hitting an all-time high of $638 million in January 2015.