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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Experts Urge Swift Government Action on Nigeria’s Untapped N3 Trillion Logistics Sector
Experts at the Courier and Logistics Management Institute conference in Lagos have emphasized the critical importance of the overlooked logistics, courier, and transport sector in Nigeria, valued at over N3 trillion.
During the event themed “Logistics Solutions and National Infrastructure Development,” the CLMI Executive Chairman, Prof. Simon Emeje, highlighted the urgent need for the federal government to prioritize this sector, which remains relatively untapped on a global scale.
Emeje underscored the sector’s significance, stating, “Any country that does not pay attention to logistics, courier, and the transport sector cannot survive.
The government must not ignore this sector because it is the bedrock of any economy.”
The logistics, courier, transport, and management industry boasts an average asset worth over N3 trillion, offering substantial potential for job creation.
Emeje emphasized that commerce is crippled without effective logistics, illustrating the importance of the sector in facilitating trade, enhancing the supply chain, creating jobs, and propelling economic growth.
Despite its undeniable importance, the Nigerian logistics sector faces hindrances such as infrastructural deficits and weak government policies, preventing it from reaching its full potential.
Emeje called for immediate attention to address these challenges and unlock the sector’s capacity to create millions of employment opportunities for Nigerian youth.
Former Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, urged the institute to draft a comprehensive proposal for government adoption, offering assistance in facilitating engagement.
Both Shittu and Prof. Emeje called on the Federal Government to establish a dedicated ministry to foster an enabling environment for Courier and Logistics Management, drawing parallels to the recognition given to the entertainment industry.
President Tinubu Seeks Senate Approval for $8.6 Billion and €100 Million Borrowing Plan
President Bola Tinubu’s administration has formally requested the approval of the Nigerian Senate for a borrowing plan totaling $8.6 billion and €100 million.
The request was presented to the Senate through a letter read during the plenary by the Senate President, GodsWill Akpabio.
According to the letter, the proposed funds are integral to the federal government’s 2022-2024 external borrowing plan, previously sanctioned by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu clarified that the projects earmarked for funding through this loan cut across diverse sectors, emphasizing their selection based on rigorous economic evaluations and their anticipated contributions to national development.
The letter highlighted, “The projects and programs in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.”
The specified sectors earmarked for development include infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation, along with financial management reforms.
The borrowing plan’s comprehensive approach aims to address critical needs and propel the nation’s progress.
President Tinubu emphasized the urgency of the Senate’s approval, stating, “Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government to deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
This appeal follows previous successful requests, including the National Assembly’s approval of an over $800 million loan for the National Social Safety Network Programme in August.
Also, the assembly greenlighted the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act of N819 million to provide palliatives to Nigerians, mitigating the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
As the deliberations unfold, the Senate’s decision on this substantial borrowing plan will play a pivotal role in shaping Nigeria’s economic trajectory.
Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Construction Set for 2024
Nigeria’s Gas Minister, Ekperikpe Ekpo, announced the scheduled commencement of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline construction in 2024.
The revelation came during a meeting with a delegation from Morocco, led by Ambassador Moha Ou Ali Tagma, on Monday in Abuja.
The Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline, a colossal undertaking covering 5,600 kilometers and traversing 13 African countries, is poised to transform the energy landscape of the region.
Spanning nations from Nigeria to Morocco and reaching Europe, the pipeline aims to facilitate gas transportation, enhance economic integration, combat desertification, and contribute significantly to the reduction of carbon emissions.
Ekpo, expressing Nigeria’s readiness for the project, stated, “I believe by 2024, we will conclude on it.”
He emphasized the importance of natural gas in the context of climate change, highlighting its role in ensuring low carbon emissions and fostering prosperity.
The pipeline, originating at Brass Island in Nigeria and reaching the northern region of Morocco, will interlink with the existing Maghreb European Pipeline, connecting Algeria to Spain.
Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), underscored the commitment to a consistent gas supply and the provision of necessary infrastructure.
Despite the ambitious vision, some analysts have raised concerns about the viability of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline. Notably, the project has encountered delays, with a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016 and 2018, followed by another in 2022.
Analysts, including oil and gas expert Dan D Kunle, have stressed the need for comprehensive studies to assess economic impact, financial returns, and agreements with transit countries.
While challenges and skepticism persist, Kyari has expressed confidence in securing funding for the project.
However, alternative perspectives suggest exploring investments in LNG plants, regasification facilities in Moroccan ports, and LNG vessel carriers for a more flexible and globally accessible energy solution.
As Nigeria and Morocco navigate this ambitious venture, meticulous planning and strategic considerations will be crucial for ensuring its success.
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