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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

ECOWAS@46: Commission Seeks Trade Partnership With OPS To Deepen Intra-African Trade

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in commemoration of its 46th anniversary has sought partnership with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to deepen intra-African trade and lift millions out of poverty.

This was revealed yesterday by the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou, at a webinar organised in collaboration with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) yesterday.

The theme of the webinar is “Optimising Sustainable Trade, Investment and Regional Economic Integration through Effective Partnership between ECOWAS Institutions and the Organised Private Sector”.

Jean-Claude, represented by Mr. Kolawole Sopola, Acting Director, Trade, ECOWAS, said the commission, in recognition of the private sector’s role, created a stronger framework to boost the sector’s capacity for enhanced trade.

He said that the commission had also adopted more than 100 regional standards with 70 others under development on some products.

Brou listed mango, cassava, textile and garments as well as information and communication technology among such products.

“The growing importance of informal trade compels the ECOWAS to create a framework expected to engender more availability and reliability of up to date information on informal trade.

“The framework also seeks to implement reform that is essential to eliminate obstacles to informal trade among others.

“It is important to improve investment, particularly, private investment, in all sectors and I stress that digitalization must be at the center of activities for economic recovery.

“Infrastructural deficit must be addressed as well as sustainable and cheaper energy for the competitiveness of products.”

“The commission is developing projects on roads, renewable energy and education, needed for private sector development; all these to lift millions in the sub-region out of poverty,” he said.

Dr. George Donkor, President of, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) said that many western states showed numerous hurdles to overcome as countries continue to export raw materials, therefore maintaining low levels of development.

Donkor, however, said that reforms were already underway to accelerate the capacities of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to spur private sector development for intra-African trade.

He noted that the EBID 2025 strategy was aimed at ensuring that the private sector benefitted up to 65 percent of the $1.6 billion available facilities.

“A vibrant private sector is key in driving regional integration and securing its active participation and has the potential to create a win-win situation for all participants.

“Increasing credit to the private sector will enhance capacity and the EBID is ready with strategies to ensure that the sector’s capacity is boosted,” he said.

Also, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said that collaboration across societal sectors had emerged as one of the defining concepts of international development in the 21st century.

He stressed the need for ECOWAS member states to work together as a bloc to take advantage of the opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“Since the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, various protocols and supplementary protocols regulating member countries conduct have been signed.

“Our world has limited resources — whether financial, natural, or human — and as a society we must optimize their use.

“The fundamental of a good partnership is the ability to bring together diverse resources in ways that we can together achieve more impact, greater sustainability and increased value for all.

“This is so because it emphasises the need to work together as a bloc to leverage and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“My Ministry will do everything possible to ensure that the vision of the commission is taken to the next level,” he said.

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Economy

IMF Retains 2.5 Percent Economic Growth Estimate For Nigeria

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IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has retained Nigeria’s 2.5 percent economic growth forecast for 2021.

The institution said this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) for July titled “Fault Lines Widen in the Global Recovery” released on Tuesday in Washington DC.

According to it, the slow rollout of vaccines is the main factor weighing on the recovery for Low-Income Developing Countries (LIDCs) which Nigeria is part of.

It also retained its 6.0 percent growth forecast for the global economy for 2021 and 4.9 percent in 2022, adding that though the global forecast was unchanged from the April 2021 WEO, there were offsetting revisions.

The IMF had at its 2021 Virtual Spring Meetings in April, projected a 2.5 percent growth for Nigeria’s economy in 2021, up from 1.5 percent it projected in January.

It said that in LIDCs, the overall fiscal deficit in 2021 was revised up by 0.3 percentage points from the April 2021 WEO, mainly because of the re-emergence of fuel subsidies as well as the additional COVID-19 and security related support in Nigeria.

“Still, at 5.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the overall fiscal deficit remains well below that of advanced and emerging market economies, reflecting financing constraints, about 60 percent of LIDCs are assessed to be at high risk of or in debt distress.

“The public debt-to-GDP ratio for 2021 is projected at 48.5 percent.

“Several LIDCs have announced an intention to restructure their debts and some have sought debt relief under the G20 Common Framework (Chad, Ethiopia, and Zambia),” it said.

On the global scene, the IMF said that uncertainty surrounding the global baseline remain high, primarily related to the prospects of emerging market and developing economies.

It added that although growth could turn out to be stronger than projected, downside risks dominated in the near term.

“On the upside, better global cooperation on vaccines could help prevent renewed waves of infection and the emergence of new variants, end the health crisis sooner than assumed, and allow for faster normalisation of activity, particularly among emerging market and developing economies.

“Moreover, a sooner-than-anticipated end to the health crisis could lead to a faster-than-expected release of excess savings by households, higher confidence and more front-loaded investment spending by firms.”

On the downside, it said growth would be weaker than projected if logistical hurdles in procuring and distributing vaccines in emerging markets and developing economies led to an even slower pace of vaccination than assumed.

The report added that such delays would allow new variants to spread, with possibly higher risks of breakthrough infections among vaccinated populations.

“Emerging market and developing economies, in particular, could face a double hit from tighter external financial conditions and the worsening health crisis, further widening the fault lines in the global recovery.

“Weaker growth would, in turn, further adversely affect debt dynamics and compound fiscal risks.

“Finally, social unrest, geopolitical tensions, cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, or weather-related natural disasters, which have increased in frequency and intensity due to climate change could further weigh on the recovery.”

On ensuring a fast-paced recovery, the IMF said the highest priority was to ensure rapid, worldwide access to vaccines and substantially hasten the timeline of rollout relative to the assumed baseline pace.

According to it, the global community needs to vastly step up efforts to vaccinate adequate numbers of people and ensure global herd immunity.

This, it said, would save lives, prevent new variants from emerging and add trillions to the global economic recovery.

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Economy

FG to Put an End to N360 Billion Annual Electricity Subsidy Payments in 2022 – Osinbajo

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Electricity - Investors King

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said the Federal Government will end an estimated N360 billion annual subsidy payments in the electricity sector in 2022. This represents a monthly subsidy payment of N30 billion.

Osinbajo disclosed this while speaking at the 14th Nigerian Association for Energy Economics/IAEE conference in Abuja on Monday.

At the conference titled “Strategic responses of energy sector to COVID-19 impacts on African economies“, the vice president, who was represented by Engr. Ahmad Zakari, the Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, said the federal government would be investing over $3 billion in the sector to strengthen distribution and transmission infrastructure across the nation.

He stated that the numerous efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari at ensuring the power sector plays a critical role in the growth of the nation’s social and economic well-being will materialise fully once the ongoing reform in the energy sector is complete.

He said: “Electricity tariff reforms with service-based tariff has led to collections from the electricity sector by 63 per cent, increasing revenue assurance for gas producers and stabilizing the value chain.

“It is anticipated that all electricity market revenues will be obtained from the market with limited subsidy from next year as reforms in metering and efficiency with the DISCOs continue to improve.

“Accelerated investment in transmission and distribution, over $3 billion will be out into this sub-segment of the electricity value chain that will put us on the path to delivering 10 gigawatts through the interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Siemens partnership, World Bank and Africa Development Bank, and others.”

He said as the electricity sector continued to be stabilized, more power was needed for the country’s large population.

“That is why this administration continues to invest in generation to cater for our current and future needs,” he said.

Osinbajo charged the participants to come up with solutions to key energy challenges facing the country, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and energy transition.

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