The Bank of Japan kept its main monetary stimulus target unchanged Friday while outlining operational changes for its purchases of government bonds, exchange-traded funds and real estate investment trusts.
Friday’s decision to continue expanding the monetary base at an annual pace of 80 trillion yen ($650 billion) was forecast by all but one of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. With analysts almost evenly split on whether the central bank will add to its asset-purchase program next year or stand pat, attention turns to Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s briefing later this afternoon in Tokyo.
The aim of the changes for JGB maturities, ETF purchases and Japanese real estate investment trusts will be in focus, along with his views on the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hike, the oil market rout and recent economic indicators. Kuroda said earlier this month that price trends were improving, while repeating he wouldn’t hesitate to adjust monetary policy if needed.
“The BOJ extended the duration of JGBs to show they are not going to taper their stimulus for now,” said Junko Nishioka, chief economist for Japan at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. in Tokyo. “Now that they adjusted their policy in December, they will wait and see how things will develop.” Nishioka added that she no longer forecasts further easing in January.
The Topic index of stocks jumped as much as 2 percent after the BOJ’s announcement, before falling to trade down 0.6 percent at 1:27 p.m. in Tokyo. The yen fell to 123.56 against the dollar, before recovering to trade 0.4 percent stronger.
Bond Buying Changes
The bank extended the average maturities of Japanese government bonds it buys to seven to 12 years from seven to 10 years currently. This change was opposed by three board members, Takahide Kiuchi, Koji Ishida and Takehiro Sato.
In addition to the annual purchase of 3 trillion yen worth of exchange-traded funds, the bank established a new program to buy 300 billion yen in ETFs. The new program will target companies investing “proactively in physical and human capital” and start from April 2016 with ETFs tracking the JPX-Nikkei Index 400.
These changes passed by a 6-3 vote, opposed by Sato, Ishida and Kiuchi, the only board member to also vote against the main monetary base target.
The bank will increase the maximum amount of real-estate investment trusts it can buy to 10 percent of each issue, from five percent currently.
Data since the last policy meeting in November show that Japan avoided a midyear recession, and people familiar with discussions at the central bank told Bloomberg the economy has been gradually gathering momentum in line with the BOJ’s expectations.
Oil Price Drop
Still, the renewed slide in crude oil and the risk that it could suppress prices in the long term means that BOJ officials are closely watching gauges of inflation expectations, the people said.
The Dubai measure for crude oil is trading around $32 per barrel, compared with the low end of BOJ assumptions for its latest price forecasts of $50 per barrel.
Economy Minister Akira Amari has indicated there is no need for the BOJ to rush to achieve its 2 percent inflation target given the current impact of energy costs, even with the BOJ’s preferred price gauge falling since August.
The Federal Reserve’s first increase in interest rates since 2006 this week underscores the difference in policy between the two central banks, and the renewed pressure this may bring to bear on the yen to weaken against the dollar.
The Japanese currency has lost about 30 percent of its value against the dollar since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012 with a plan to reflate the economy.
Even so, exports haven’t responded. While the value of shipments overseas has jumped 20 percent since November 2012 to last month, volumes are only 1.1 percent higher.
Both Abe and Kuroda have urged companies to invest more, but there has been little sign of them using their cash reserves, which reached another record last quarter.
Ecobank Partners NiDCOM to Mobilise Nigerians Abroad for National Development
In a bid to fulfill it’s objectives and mandate, the Pan African Bank has promised to support Nigerians living and working abroad through it’s partnership with NiDCOM.
The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stated that the bank is privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NiDCOM) and will continue to pursue one of its key mandates of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa through its support to Nigerians living and working abroad.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series with Ecobank as the sole banking partner which took place on Saturday, 8th May 2021, he noted that Ecobank remains a critical bridge for Nigerians abroad, as it has made huge investments in the necessary platforms to enable them connect with home seamlessly. The event held online and had over 2000 participants from across all the continents in attendance.
“Nigerians in the diaspora play a major role in nation building, their contribution goes a long way to catalyse economic development. For us at Ecobank, we are a pan-African institution positioned to foster the economic growth and integration of our continent, so we are particularly pleased to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), ably led by the Chairman/CEO, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa”.
“We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian living abroad is able to remit home seamlessly and affordably, access viable investment opportunities and as the financial institution of choice for Nigerians abroad, we have deployed the necessary resources to actualise this.” He stated.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was also present, reiterated the readiness of the government to collaborate with Nigerians in the diaspora, highlighting the new processes put in place to facilitate passport issuance, noting that all backlog of passport applications would be cleared by the end of May 2021.
Also speaking, the Hon. Minister of State, Foreign Affairs Amb. Zubairu Dada said harnessing the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in the diaspora towards the socio-economic, cultural, and political development of Nigeria can no longer be ignored. He pointed out that the Nigerian diaspora community is well educated, resourceful, skilled, and exposed to global best practices.
The NiDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri- Erewa explained that the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series is projected to be a major aspect of national discourse, where Nigerians abroad can be kept abreast of the government’s policies, programmes and projects.
Increase in Price Boosts Revenue of Dangote Sugar by 41.5 Percent in Q1 2021
Revenue of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc rose by 41.5 percent to N67.394 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 from N47.643 billion recorded in the same quarter of 2020.
According to the leading sugar manufacturer, the increase in revenue was a result of the increase in the price of sugar in the first quarter. The company claimed price adjustment was necessary to mitigate the negative effect of inflation and depreciation on the company.
Volumes only rose by 5.7 percent during the quarter despite a 41.5 percent increase in revenue, meaning the increase in price was the main sales catalyst.
In the company’s unaudited financial statements, gross profit grew from N12.721 billion in Q1 2020 to N18.044 billion in Q1 2021.
Similarly, operating profit stood at N15.884 billion, up from N10.747 billion posted in Q1 2020.
Finance cost more than double from N1.353 billion in Q1 2020 to N3.412 billion in Q1 2021.
Dangote Sugar’s profit before tax rose from N9.509 billion recorded in the corresponding quarter to N11.949 billion in the quarter under review.
The company paid N3.646 billion in income tax, slightly higher than N3.137 paid in the same quarter of 2020.
Profit for the period grew from N6.372 billion in Q1 2020 to N8.302 billion in Q1 2021.
Commenting on the company’s performance, Dangote Sugar said “EBITDA increased by 34.7% to N17.02 billion (2020: N12.64 billion) on account of increased earnings. Group profit after taxation for the period increased by 30.3% to N8.30 billion (2020: N6.37 billion) reflecting management’s unrelenting drive to deliver consistent shareholder value.”
On price increase, the company hinged it on series of devaluation carried out in 2020 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), escalating inflation, port congestion and rising in price of global sugar. Dangote Sugar said its imported raw sugar from Brazil under Federal Government’s backward integration plan.
“We have continued to witness high cost of raw materials, energy costs and other input costs due to rising inflation and FX rate fluctuation. Further cost escalation is anticipated in the year as inflationary pressure mounts,” the company said.
FBN Holdings Suffers 39 Percent Drop in Profit to N15.6 Billion in Q1 2021
FBN Holdings Plc profit after tax declined by 39 percent from N23.140 billion recorded in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 to N15.6 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
In the leading financial institution’s unaudited financial statements released through the Nigerian Exchange Limited, gross earnings declined by 14.5 percent to N137 billion in the period under review, down from N160 billion filed in the previous quarter.
Similarly, net interest income declined from N60.253 billion achieved in Q1 2020 to N52.793 billion.
Net interest income after impairment charge for losses also dipped from N50.547 billion in Q1 2020 to N39.619 billion in Q1 20201. While net fee and commission income rose from N20.773 billion in Q1 2020 to N28.427 billion in Q1 2021.
Profit before tax declined by 34 percent to N18.906 billion in the quarter under review, down from N28.680 billion posted in the corresponding quarter of 2020.
FBN Holdings paid N3.285 billion in income tax in the first quarter of 2020.
Therefore, profit for the period stood at N15.621 billion. While Net Assets contracted from N765.2 billion to N764.8 billion.
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