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The foreign trade statistics, released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics yesterday, present a mixed picture for the month of August. On one hand, worryingly, exports were down 7.1 percent over previous month and down 1.75 percent over August 2011, in dollar terms. Some solace comes from imports that were down 3.18 percent over August 2011, and only marginally up (0.63 percent) over July this year.
It is no surprise that oil and gas discoveries in Pakistan have gathered pace ever since the announcement of the Petroleum Policy 2012. ENI Pakistan announced a significant onshore gas discovery in the Khirtar Fold Belt Region, some 350 km north of Karachi. It is heartening that in times of near dearth of foreign investment in Pakistan, the E&P sector stands firm as the lone saviour.
FY12 might have left many sectors gasping for gas, and many might have tumbled like so many dominoes, but it turned out to be staggeringly felicitous for the oil and gas exploration and production sector of the country. Claims about rapidly depleting reserves amidst the severe energy-cum-debt crisis might have left a sour feeling but only for the downstream sector.
The external account position of Pakistan looks increasingly comfortable, thanks to a hefty balance of payment surplus ($628 million) in August.
It was not long ago when urea manufacturing was considered one of the most lucrative businesses in Pakistan. Things have changed - and changed drastically during the past two years. Quite a few urea manufacturing entities have been reporting after-tax losses, something which was unthinkable in the recent past.
12 years on, the worlds commitment to the Millennium Develop-ment Goal 4 (MDG 4) - which set out to reduce the mortality rate of children aged five and under to two-thirds between 1992 and 2015- seems to have born substantial fruit.
Past history suggests that the initial months in a fiscal year are usually drab vis-à-vis release of development funds. It is only during the later part of the year that disbursements are expedited. This year in FY13, the development funds release has perked up from the onset.


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Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.807 bln
Exports $1.911 bln
Imports $4.718 bln
WeeklyOctober 20, 2014
Reserves $13.436 bln