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Fed Chair Says Conditions Have Met Expectations

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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she’s confident in the outlook for economic growth and warned that waiting too long to end the era of near-zero interest rates could force the central bank to tighten too quickly, which would risk disrupting financial markets and the six-year expansion.

“Were the FOMC to delay the start of policy normalization for too long, we would likely end up having to tighten policy relatively abruptly to keep the economy from significantly overshooting both of our goals,” Yellen told the Economic Club of Washington on Wednesday. “Such an abrupt tightening would risk disrupting financial markets and perhaps even inadvertently push the economy into recession.”

Her comments are the latest sign that the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee is poised to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006 at its Dec. 15-16 meeting in Washington. Fed officials have been trying to gauge whether the economy is headed toward their goals and can sustain growth as rates increase.

“On balance, economic and financial information received since our October meeting has been consistent with our expectations of continued improvement in the labor market,” Yellen said Wednesday. That “helps strengthen confidence that inflation will move back to our 2 percent objective over the medium term.”

Yellen emphasized that policy makers will receive a range of data on the labor market, inflation and economic activity between now and the December meeting that will influence their decision.

‘Mind Is Set’

Even so, “you come away thinking that her mind is set on a rate hike in December,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy head of U.S. research and strategy at TD Securities LLC in New York. “We got the sense from her that what she’s seen so far is that the economy can handle that initial rate hike.”

The Fed’s Beige Book economic survey, released later Wednesday, showed a “modest” pace of expansion across most of the U.S. in October and November amid rising consumer spending. Pay gains were described as “generally stable to increasing,” with most districts saying wage pressures were only building for skilled workers and employees in short supply.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes climbed from a one-month low and the dollar hovered near the highest in more than a decade as investors reacted to Yellen’s remarks, which also pointed to recent improvements in the labor market and wages as positive signs.
“We have seen a welcome pickup in the growth rate of average hourly earnings for all employees and of compensation per hour in the business sector,” she said. “While it is too soon to conclude whether these more rapid rates of increase will continue, a sustained pickup would likely signal a diminution of labor market slack.”

Stronger Jobs

U.S. employers added 271,000 jobs in October, the most this year, and unemployment has dipped to 5 percent, half of its 2009 peak. The Labor Department’s gauge of average hourly earnings has shown early signs of picking up, with 2.5 percent year-over-year growth in October, the highest since 2009. The final employment report before the December meeting is scheduled for release on Friday in Washington.

Inflation remains subdued, though, and the Fed’s preferred gauge hasn’t hit policy makers’ 2 percent goal since 2012. Yellen signaled confidence that price pressures may be moving up, referencing core inflation rather than the headline index the Fed prefers.

“It appears that the underlying rate of inflation in the United States has been running in the vicinity of 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 percent,” Yellen said, once the core data are adjusted for downward pressure from low oil prices and a stronger dollar. She noted that policy makers are paying close attention to indicators of inflation expectations, some of which have shown deterioration recently.

The initial rate liftoff is expected to be small, just 25 basis points, and Fed speakers including Yellen have emphasized that the pace of tightening going forward is more important than the timing.

Below Normal

“The Committee anticipates that even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run,” Yellen said Wednesday.

Yellen said the neutral interest rate — the one that neither stokes nor slows the economy — seems to have declined in the wake of the financial crisis, and its future path is uncertain. That could have implications for the pace of increases and ultimate level of the central bank’s main interest rate.

“If the Fed now thinks, as Yellen illustrated today and as the October FOMC minutes indicated, that the neutral real rate is close to zero, there is no way in the world the Fed will get even remotely close to 3.5 percent in this cycle,” Roberto Perli, a former Fed official who’s now a partner at Cornerstone Macro LLC in Washington, wrote in a note to clients. That number, 3.5 percent, is the median longer-run projection for the rate that Fed officials submitted in September.

Yellen sounded optimistic on the international outlook, saying China, which has seen growth slow this year, has taken actions to stimulate its economy and noting that other emerging-market economies are also easing monetary and fiscal policy. She said activity in those places has improved, and accommodative policy in advanced economies is also helping to support growth.

“A pickup in demand in many advanced economies and a stabilization in commodity prices should, in turn, boost the growth prospects of emerging market economies,” Yellen said.

Yellen will have another chance to elaborate on her outlook in testimony Thursday before Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.

Bloomberg

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Economy

Nigeria Has Lost N531 Million on The Suspended Abuja to Kaduna Train Service

Federal Government has lost about N531 million in revenue on the suspended Abuja to Kaduna train service. 

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Lagos-Ibadan Train Services - Investors King

Federal Government has lost about N531 million in revenue on the suspended Abuja to Kaduna train service. 

The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria disclosed that the country has lost N531 million between March 28 when terrorists attacked Abuja to Kaduna train to September 2022. 

Okhiria noted that the money would have been remitted to the federal government. 

It would be recalled that terrorists unleashed an attack on the Abuja to Kaduna trail which led to the death of eight passengers. About 41 others were injured while scores were kidnapped.

Although some of those that were kidnapped have been released, about 22 are still in the den of the terrorists. Reports had it that about 970 passengers were onboard the train during the attack. 

In response, the Nigerian Railway Corporation halt service along the Abuja to Kaduna train corridor. 

According to the Managing Director of NRC, while speaking to newsmen in Lagos, he said the corporation will not resume service on Abuja to Kaduna rail until all those who remain with the terrorist are released. 

The Managing Director further disclosed that four members of the railway corporation are among those still held captive. 

He, however, expressed optimism that all those still in captivity will soon be released. He noted that the Minister of Transportation is leading the struggle for the safe release of those still in captivity. 

Meanwhile, the federal government has set up a committee to ensure maximum security for train passengers and all train facilities.  The committee is to liaise with the appropriate ministries and agencies to fine-tune a safer railway system. 

“We are talking about present-day technology so that we can have real-time monitoring. We will also be deploying a lot of security agencies to be at strategic locations”.

Some of the places the committee has visited include the office of the Inspector General of Police(IG) and the Ministry of Information.

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Economy

Federal Government to Create Jobs Through Sugar Production

Nigerian government to create jobs and earn foreign exchange through sugar production

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Sugar - Investors King

Nigerian government to create jobs and earn foreign exchange through sugar production. 

The Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Zacch Adedeji disclosed during an interview in Abuja that Nigeria will soon be competing globally in sugar production. 

Zacch Adedeji pledged that the National Sugar Development Council under his leadership will open doors for job creation and foreign exchange. He further stated that the sugar production sector has a lot of potential that can enhance the economy if the sector is vigorously explored. 

He also stated that the implementation of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP)  has been able to attract huge investment to the sugar sector. 

Investors King could recall that the Federal Executive Council in September 2012 approved the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) as a government strategy roadmap for the development of the Nigerian sugar sub-sector.

According to the NSDC boss, “The Federal Government, through the National Sugar Development Council, is committed to building a globally competitive sugar industry that would boost the local economy, provide jobs for Nigeria’s teeming youth population and position Nigeria as a net exporter of the commodity.”

Adedeji also disclosed that the council is trying to address this issue of inadequate qualified indigenous manpower. He noted the council has created the Nigeria Sugar Institute in Ilorin, Kwara State to help drive local production and possibly export in the future. 

“The Institute has commenced the training of young Nigerian graduates both in field and factory operations through an exchange programme with famous sugar institutes like the National Sugar Institute, Kanpur, India as well as the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, in Mauritius”. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Government at its weekly Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) yesterday approved the second phase of the National Sugar Masterplan. The MasterPlan which is a 10-year plan is aimed to save $350 million yearly from foreign exchange and also create 110,000 jobs.

While addressing newsmen after the meeting, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo disclosed that the second phase of the National Sugar Masterplan will span from 2023 to 2033. 

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Economy

CBN Not Mandated to Sell Dollars to Airlines, Godwin Emefiele Tells Foreign Airlines

The Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it was not mandated by any law to sell dollars to foreign airlines operating in the country.

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Emirates Airlines

The Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it was not mandated by any law to sell dollars to foreign airlines operating in the country.

The central bank governor Godwin Emefiele while speaking at the monetary policy committee meeting stated that the apex bank is committed to clearing up trapped funds of foreign airlines, however, it was not the CBN’s responsibility to provide the funds in dollars.

The CBN governor said, “The sector is a sector that has always enjoyed priority allocation. For other sectors where there are priorities like the airlines, we have always granted them the priority that they desire because we know people want to travel and they don’t want to be constrained by the need for them to travel. 

“In spite of this, we have seen that the number of travels or naira value of tickets issued by the airlines has increased. We decided to release $265 million when the pressure was building aggressively. 

“We will do everything possible and are determined to clear the backlog and consistently, at all the retail interventions. As long as the bank accounts are funded, we will continue to ensure that the cumulative backlog is cleared. 

“But I think it is important for me to say this — the foreign airlines are saying this because they said we should respect bilateral air services agreements (BASA) that say proceeds of all their ticket sales must be repatriated out of the country.

“It did not say you must repatriate all your dollars. There is no law that makes it compulsory that you must buy your dollars from the central bank. When you put money in your account, what it means is that you tell your bank to buy your dollar.

“Your bank will go to the legitimate or approved sources which in this case is the I&E to buy dollars and pay for your ticket sales proceeds.

“If they don’t find, they may resort to the CBN but it doesn’t mean that the CBN is under compulsion to provide your dollars because it is good for me to say this so that people don’t just rest on the conclusion that CBN is under compulsion to provide the dollars.” 

Recall that the issue of trapped funds had generated several reactions from aviation stakeholders and the non-repatriation of airlines revenue had grown from $450 million in May to $464 million in July. The CBN intervened by releasing $265 million to clear part of the forex backlog.

It should be recalled that earlier this month, Investors King had reported that the federal government of Nigeria sought to sanction airlines selling tickets in dollars.

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