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China Cuts Interest Rates

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China

China stepped up monetary easing with its sixth interest-rate cut in a year to combat deflationary pressures and a slowing economy, moving ahead of anticipated fresh stimulus by central banks from Europe to Japan and possible tightening in the U.S.

The one-year lending rate will be cut to 4.35 percent from 4.6 percent effective Saturday the People’s Bank of China said on its website on Friday, while the one-year deposit rate will fall to 1.5 percent from 1.75 percent. Reserve requirements for all banks were lowered by 50 basis points, with an extra 50 basis point reduction for some institutions.

Authorities are seeking to cushion an economy forecast to grow at the slowest annual rate in a quarter century as old growth drivers such as manufacturing and construction falter and new drivers like consumption struggle to compensate. China’s reduction to record-low rates and anticipated stimulus in Europe and Japan add to monetary policy divergence with the U.S., where the Federal Reserve is considering its first rate increase in nine years.

 “The Fed may be considering raising interest rates, but in much of the rest of the world, China included, central banks are facing weak growth and a lack of inflation, and are thus more likely to ease rather than tighten monetary policy,” said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics Ltd. in Hong Kong.

Stock-index futures jumped in Hong Kong and European stocks extended gains. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was 1.1 percent higher at 10 a.m. in New York.

Complicated Outlook

Overall prices at a relatively low level give room for reduced interest rates, the PBOC said in a Q&A statement after the announcement. The domestic and foreign situation remain complicated, and continued downward pressure on economic growth requires the fine tuning of monetary policy, it said.

The PBOC also scrapped a deposit-rate ceiling that limited the rate banks could pay savers, saying the move was made possible by a decline in market-based interest rates. Removing such controls boosts the role of markets in the economy, part of efforts by Premier Li Keqiang to find new engines of growth and to bolster competition in banking.

 The need for new growth engines was underscored by data Monday that showed the economy expanded 6.9 percent in the three months through September from a year earlier. While that beat economists’ estimates for 6.8 percent, the expansion benefited from an out-sized contribution from financial services after a surge in share trading from the year-earlier period. That prop is unlikely to endure, raising challenges to Li’s growth goal of about 7 percent this year.

Factory Deflation

Meantime, consumer inflation at about half the government’s target and a protracted slump in producer prices added room for additional easing.

“Clearly the People’s Bank of China is on a mission to ease policy and has been for a year,” said George Magnus, a senior independent economic adviser to UBS Group AG in London. “With the economy losing momentum, deflation embedded in the corporate sector and rebalancing making limited headway, the central bank is being directed to ease monetary policy further. And of course, this isn’t the end of the road yet.”

China’s leaders are gathering next week to formulate policies for the nation’s next five-year plan, President Xi Jinping’s first such blueprint. They are expected to announce a dismantling of currency controls, lower barriers for foreign non-bank financial firms, emphasize home-grown technologies and prioritize population growth.

Fed Meeting

The Fed meets next week to mull when to raise its benchmark rate from near zero after holding it there since December 2008. Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled this week that fresh stimulus is on the way, and economists anticipation of further support in Japan next week are higher than for any meeting since the central bank unexpectedly added to its easing policy in October 2014.

China’s rate cut has “mixed implications for U.S. monetary policy,” said Bill Adams, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group.

“To the extent that interest rate cuts reduce downside risks for Chinese and global growth, they should increase the Fed’s confidence that the U.S. economy will be able to absorb higher interest rates,” Adams said. However, “if today’s rate cut spurs a new round of depreciation of the Chinese currency, it will make it more difficult for the Fed to raise interest rates before year-end 2015.”

Capital Outflow

The PBOC’s surprise currency depreciation in August roiled global markets and spurred an exit of cash from China. Capital outflows climbed to $194.3 billion in September, exceeding the previous high of $141.7 billion in August, according to a Bloomberg estimate that also takes into account decisions by exporters and direct investment recipients to hold funds in dollars.

Offsetting such a leakage, analysts at Everbright Securities Co. said the RRR reduction would release at least 800 billion yuan ($126 billion) of liquidity.

The PBOC uses the reserve ratio to control the amount of available cash in the economy. In the years of capital inflows, it increased the amount of deposits banks had to lock away to ensure excessive liquidity didn’t spur inflation. This year, with growth slowing and capital flowing out of the nation, the central bank has reversed course to lower the requirement so banks can boost lending and help cushion the slowdown.

“Chinese officials are stepping on the gas,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asia Economics Research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “The joint move on interest rates and the reserve-requirement ratio shows that Beijing is determined to get the car out of the mud and get things moving again.”

Bloomberg

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

NNPC To Resume Oil Exploration In Sokoto Basin

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NNPC

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Thursday announced plans to resume active oil exploration in Sokoto Basin.

A statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by NNPC spokesperson, Kennie Obateru, said the corporation’s Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, said exploration for crude would resume in the Sokoto Basin.

The statement read in part, “Kyari also hinted of plans for the corporation to resume active exploration activities in the Sokoto Basin.”

The NNPC boss disclosed this while receiving the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, who paid Kyari a courtesy visit in his office on Thursday.

In October 2019, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had during the spud-in ceremony of Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the North-East, said the government would explore for oil and gas in the frontier basins across the country.

He outlined the basins to include the Benue Trough, Chad Basin, Sokoto and Bida Basins.

Buhari had also stated that attention would be given to the Dahomey and Anambra Basins which had already witnessed oil and gas discoveries.

Kyari restated NNPC’s commitment to the partnership with Kebbi State for the production of biofuels, describing the project as viable and in tandem with the global transition to renewable energy.

He said the rice production programme in the state was a definite boost to the biofuels project.

Kyari said the linkage of the agricultural sector with the energy sector would facilitate economic growth and bring prosperity to the citizens.

He was quoted as saying, “We will go ahead and renew the Memorandum of Understanding and bring in any necessary amendment that is required to make this business run faster.”

The Kebbi State governor expressed appreciation to the NNPC for its cooperation on the biofuel project.

Bagudu said the cassava programme was well on course but the same could not be said of the sugarcane programme as the targeted milestone was yet to be attained.

Kebbi state is one of the states that the NNPC is in partnership with for the development of renewable energy.

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Nigeria To Benefit As G-20 Approves Extension Of Debt Relief Till December

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Finance ministers of G-20 countries have approved an extension of debt relief for the world’s poorest nations till December 2021.

David Malpass, World Bank president, made the announcement at the virtual spring meeting, on Wednesday.

TheCable had earlier reported that the G-20 countries will meet this week to consider an extension of the debt freeze.

The G-20, is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 of the world’s largest economies, including those of many developing nations, along with the European Union.

G-20 countries had established a debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) which took effect in May 2020.

Nigeria had benefited from the initiative which delivered about $5 billion in relief to more than 40 eligible countries.

The suspension period which was originally set to end on December 31, 2020 was extended to June 2021.

Malpass said the extension to December 2021 will boost economic recovery and promote job creation in low income countries.

He urged countries to be transparent in their approach to the debt service payment extension.

“On debt, we welcome a decision by the G20 to extend the DSSI through 2021. The World Bank is also working closely with the IMF to support the implementation of the G20 Common Framework,” he said.

“In both these debt efforts, greater transparency is an important element: I urge all G20 countries to disclose the terms of their financing contracts, including rescheduling, and to support the World Bank’s efforts to reconcile borrower’s debt data more fully with that of creditors.

“Participation by commercial creditors and fuller participation by official bilateral creditors will be vital. I urge all G20 countries to instruct and create incentives for all their public bilateral creditors to participate in debt relief efforts, including national policy banks. I also urge G20 countries to act decisively to incentivize the private creditors under their jurisdiction to participate fully in sovereign debt relief efforts for low-income countries.

“Debt relief efforts are providing some welcome fiscal space, but IDA countries need major new resources too, including grants and highly concessional resources. From April to December 2020, the first DSSI period, our net transfers to IDA and LDC countries were close to $17 billion, of which $5.8 billion were on grant terms.

“Our new commitments were almost $30 billion, making IDA19 the single largest source of concessional resources for the poorest countries and the key multilateral platform for support. To recover from COVID, much more is needed, and we welcome the G20’s support for advancing IDA20 by one year.”

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IMF / Fiscal Monitor Report April 2021 Forecast

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Unprecedented fiscal support by governments during the pandemic has prevented more severe economic contractions and larger job losses, but risks remain of long-term scarring the International Monetary Fund says in its Fiscal Monitor report released on Wednesday (April 7) in Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, such support, along with drops in revenues, has raised government deficits and debt to unprecedented levels across all country income groups, said Vitor Gaspar, Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at the IMF.

The first lesson one year into COVID-19 is that fiscal policy can act timely and decisively. The fiscal policy response was unprecedented in speed and size looking across countries. We also learned that countries with easier access to finance or stronger buffers were able to give more fiscal support. They’re also projected to recover faster,” said Gaspar.

Average overall deficits as a share of GDP in 2020 reached 11.7 percent for advanced economies, 9.8 percent for emerging market economies, and 5.5 percent for low-income developing countries. Countries’ ability to scale up spending has diverged.

“So, what have we learned? We’ve learned that fiscal policy is powerful and that sound public finances are crucial in order to enable that power to be used to the fullest,” stressed Gaspar.

Gaspar urged policy makers to balance the risks from large and growing public and private debt with the risks from premature withdrawal of fiscal support, which could slow the recovery.

“In the spring 2021, we emphasize differentiation across countries. Moreover, COVID-19 is fast evolving, as are the consequences from COVID-19. The fiscal policy must stay agile and flexible to respond to this fast-evolving situation.” Said Gaspar.

He also warned that the targeting of measures must be improved and tailored to countries’ administrative capacity so that fiscal support can be maintained for the duration of the crisis—considering an uncertain and uneven recovery

“Moreover, countries are very different in their structures, in their institutions, in their financial capacity and much else. Therefore, policies and policy advice have to be tailored to fit.” Said Gaspar

Gaspar concluded his remarks by emphasizing that global vaccination is urgently needed, and that global inoculation would pay for itself with stronger employment and economic activity, leading to increased tax revenues and sizable savings in fiscal support.

“A fair shot, a vaccination for everybody in the world may well be the highest return global investment ever. But the Fiscal Monitor also emphasizes the importance of giving a fair shot at life success for everyone. It documents that preexisting inequalities made COVID-19 worse and that COVID-19 in turn made inequalities worse. There is here a vicious cycle that threatens trust and social cohesion. Therefore, we recommend stronger redistributive policies and universal access to basic public services like health, education, and social security,” said Gaspar.

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