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Cross River Opens Garment Factory, Employs 300

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The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, on Thursday approved the employment of 300 applicants as workers in the Calabar Garment Factory built by his administration.

The governor announced the employment after applicants from the southern senatorial districts of the state had participated in a job screening exercise by the garment factory.

In a statement made available to our correspondent, the governor said the gesture was not only in fulfilment of his dream to create jobs for citizens of the state but to inspire young people who were not from privileged homes.

He promised the newly employed workers good salaries and welfare package, while reiterating the commitment of his administration to the welfare of the poor in the state.

Ayade said, “When we set up this factory, the intention was not just to create jobs but to guarantee that young men and women, who have been challenged by circumstances of their births, have the opportunity to better their lots.

“I’m so excited at what I am seeing here today – the number of people and their energy – and it is an indication that our factory has taken off. Remember, the factory has the capacity to create 3,000 jobs.

“Truly, if you call yourself a leader, your focus should be on the vulnerable and the weakest that we are engaging today. We will guarantee you good salaries, food and proper transportation.”

Ayade urged the new employees, who he tagged ‘great fashion engineers’, to leverage the opportunity to express their innate potential and be the pride of the state.

He said, “We want to show to the world that we have skills, great fashion engineers. I call you engineers because you are going to provide the skills that we have not seen before.”

The President and founder, Africa Young Entrepreneurs, Oluwa-Summy Francis, who was at the event along other entrepreneurs from other parts of Africa, said Ayade had justified the belief that youths could excel in leadership positions.

He said, “This is what happens when a youth becomes a governor – someone who truly has everything on his side like age, exposure, connections and commitment. When you have a youth in the saddle, we should expect things like this.”

Meanwhile, Ayade has launched the Rice Borrowers Anchor Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in line with the Federal Government’s plan to diversify the economy.

A statement quoted the governor as lauding the Federal Government’s proposition to make agriculture the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.

He said, “We must seize this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for introducing this programme. We must thank him because if you follow the road map, plan and vision for this initiative, you will definitely know that this is the beginning of the emancipation of Nigerians from their continuous dependence on imported rice.

“This is what President Buhari wants to stop because it has the nationalistic outlook to put an end to the declining rate of the naira to the dollar. When we stop importing rice, we will be adding value to our naira.

“It is key that you appreciate at this point the CBN governor (Godwin Emefiele) and in particular, President Buhari, for it is a concept that we must support.”

Ayade said the Federal Government’s rice production scheme was in tandem with the Cross River State’s vision to become self-sufficient in rice production.

“We will add our own dimension to it. The government of Cross River is going to set up a proper professional food bank, the very first in Nigeria.

“We are going to set up a food bank, one in each local government area and the essence is to serve as the catalytic financial muscle that will pick up and buy off every single seed of rice that you will produce.

“The kind of farming we are going to do in Cross River State is going to be special because we are known for class, style and beauty. We will provide an agricultural mechanism centre to provide an industrialised support for farming.”

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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Markets

A Nervy Start to the Week

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By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

What could have been a really positive week for equity markets is off to a much more nervy start, with stocks in Europe treading water and US futures slightly lower.

The inflation report on Friday was red hot once more, extinguishing any hope that investors could hop aboard the Fed pivot train and ride stock markets higher into year-end. Perhaps it’s not quite so dramatic but it was a real setback, something we should be used to by now.

The wages component was the killer blow. That was not just a beat, it obliterated expectations and came in double the forecasted number. It may be a blip, but it’s a huge one and it will almost certainly take more than one much cooler report in January to comfort those that still fear inflation becoming entrenched.

That’s ultimately where we’re now up to in the inflation story. Many accept that base effects and lower energy prices will drive the headline inflation figure much lower next year, among other things, while a slower economy – maybe recession – will eventually hit demand and contribute to the decline. But what the Fed fears now is fighting entrenched inflation and these wage numbers won’t make for comfortable reading.

An economic victory for China amid gloomy PMIs

Chinese stocks were the clear outperformer overnight as authorities continued to work towards a softening of the country’s zero-Covid stance with the end goal seemingly being the end of it altogether. It’s thought that it will be downgraded to category B management as early as next month with officials claiming it’s less threatening than previous strains, a huge move away from the rhetoric and approach of the last few years.

This came as the Caixin services PMI slipped to 46.7, much lower than anticipated. That said, I’m not sure anyone will be shocked given the record Covid surge, but the more targeted – albeit seemingly confused – approach being taken has ensured less disruption, as evidenced by how much better the PMI has performed compared with earlier this year.

And it’s not just China that’s seeing surveys underperforming and, in many cases, putting in sub-50 readings. Europe is either already in recession or heading for it and the surveys highlight just how pessimistic firms are despite the winter getting off to a warmer start.

Japan is among the few recording a growth reading, although having slipped from 53.2 in October to 50.3 last month, you have to wonder for how long. Input prices are punishing firms, with some now raising prices in order to pass those higher costs on. That won’t help activity or convince the BoJ to declare victory, as higher energy and food costs are also hitting domestic demand. The one major outlier is India where the services PMI accelerated higher to 56.4 buoyed by domestic and external demand. An impressive feat in this global environment.

Oil higher as China looks to ease Covid restrictions

Oil prices are higher on Monday, rallying 2%, after the G7 imposed a $60 price cap on Russian oil and OPEC+ announced no new output cuts. Both bring a degree of uncertainty, with the details of the cap and the impact on Russian sales still unclear.

From the OPEC+ perspective, it can’t be easy to make reliable forecasts against that backdrop and the constantly evolving Covid situation in China, which currently looks far more promising from a demand perspective. The decision to leave output unchanged was probably the right one for now and there’s nothing to stop the group from coming together again before the next scheduled meeting should the situation warrant it.

A major setback

It goes without saying that the jobs report on Friday was a big setback for gold as it leaves huge uncertainty around where the terminal rate will land. Of course, we should be used to bumps in the road by now, having experienced many already this year. There’s no reason why the path back to 2% should be any smoother.

But the yellow metal did recover those jobs report losses and even hit a new four-month high today. Perhaps the big difference now is momentum. It’s run into strong resistance around those August highs around $1,810 and simply doesn’t have the momentum it would have had the report been cooler. We’re now more than four weeks into the recovery rally in gold and a corrective move of some kind may be on the cards.

Silence is bliss

Bitcoin continues to enjoy a mild relief rally and has even moved above $17,000 to trade at its highest level in almost a month. It’s probably too early to celebrate yet though as these are very cautious gains that could be quickly and easily wiped out by more negative headlines related to FTX. Silence is currently bliss for the crypto community.

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Crude Oil

Nine Oil Producing States Pocket N625bn in 2 Years

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The federal government has revealed that Nine oil-producing states pocket N625.43 billion as 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy, and SURE-P refunds in just two years.

This was made known in a statement released on Friday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

According to the statement, the states that benefited from the refunds include Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers States. Garba Shehu, however, added that the states still have about N1.1 billion as outstanding benefits due to them. He added that the refund has been accumulated since 1999.

Making reference to the comments made by the Governor of Rivers State, the Presidency noted that the Buhari-led regime will continue to render equal service to all the states regardless of affiliation, Investors King learnt. 

Between October 2, 2021, and January 11, 2022, the presidential spokesman disclosed that the states were paid in eight instalments, while the ninth to 12th instalments are still outstanding. 

Meanwhile, Garba recalled that data obtained from the Federation Account Department, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation,  showed that a total of N477.2 billion was released to the nine states as a refund of the 13 percent derivation fund on withdrawal from Excess Crude Account (ECA), without deducting derivation from 2004 to 2019, leaving an outstanding balance of N287.04 billion.

“Abia State received N4.8 billion with an outstanding sum of N2.8 billion, Akwa-Ibom received N128 billion with an outstanding sum of N77 billion, Bayelsa with N92.2bn, leaving an outstanding of N55 billion”.

“Cross River got a refund N1.3 billion with a balance N792 million, Delta State received N110 billion, leaving a balance of N66.2 billion, Edo State received N11.3 billion, with a balance of N6.8 billion, Imo State, N5.5 billion, with an outstanding sum of N3.3 billion, Ondo State, N19.4 billion with an outstanding sum of N11.7bn while Rivers State was paid 103.6 billion, with an outstanding balance of N62.3 billion” the statement read. 

According to the presidential spokesperson, states also got N64.8 billion as a refund of the 13 percent derivation fund on deductions made by Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited without payment of derivation to Oil Producing states from 1999 to December.

Garba concluded that the president has approved the outstanding payment of N860.59 billion from the refunds which will soon be released to the benefiting states. 

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Markets

Flashing Green

Oil prices have rebounded strongly over the last few days – up around 10% from the lows – buoyed by the prospect of a lower price cap on Russian crude

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By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

We’re seeing green flashing across the board on Thursday, with sentiment buoyed by positive signals on Fed rate hikes and China’s Covid response.

While it could be argued that Jerome Powell’s comments on Wednesday were relatively balanced – slower tightening now but rates high for longer – the last year has proven that anticipating the path of inflation even a short period ahead is incredibly difficult. Knowing what the Fed intends to do next is far more valuable than what it thinks it may do 6-12 months down the line.

And anything that is perceived to reduce to possibility of an interest rate recession is going to be a positive for equity markets. The Fed has every opportunity to tighten more in the months ahead if the data doesn’t play ball. What’s far more difficult is undoing the damage caused by moving too fast now with little to no visibility on how impactful past tightening has been.

Positive signals

The signals coming from China also look very positive. While we shouldn’t expect a dramatic shift in policy from the leadership, particularly before the March Congress, any modest softening in its Covid-zero policy will and should be welcomed. The approach has been extremely damaging to growth and confidence and the protests highlight how public opinion towards it is changing.

We shouldn’t be naive to the fact that a move away from the policy won’t be easy and there’ll be plenty of setbacks. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction that, along with the measures announced to revive the property market, could put the economy on a much better path.

A huge few days for oil markets

Oil prices have rebounded strongly over the last few days – up around 10% from the lows – buoyed by the prospect of a lower price cap on Russian crude, another large production cut from OPEC+ this weekend, and China’s evolving Covid stance. There remains considerable uncertainty surrounding all of the above though which will likely ensure prices remain volatile going into the weekend. That could carry more risk than normal if the OPEC+ meeting does go ahead as planned on Sunday and the EU hasn’t agreed to the price cap level by the close of play Friday. The range of possibilities on these two things alone is huge which will make rumours and speculation over the coming day or two all the more impactful.

Gold testing range highs

Gold bulls were particularly happy with Powell’s comments on Wednesday with the yellow metal rallying strongly to trade at the upper end of its recent range. It faces strong resistance around $1,780 though which was a significant level of support in the first half of the year. With so much data to come over the next day or so, it may not prove particularly resilient if traders are given further hope that rates will rise more slowly and peak lower.

Some relief for cryptos

The risk relief rally is coming at just the right time for bitcoin, helping it to recover from the lows to trade around $17,000. This is around the highs of the last few weeks since it settled after its latest plunge. Whether it will be enough to revive interest in the cryptocurrency, I’m not sure. The FTX fallout is continuing to weigh heavily on the space and the prospect of more contagion or scandals is hard to ignore.

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