- Asian Stocks Gain on Move by China’s Central Bank, but Trade War Weighs
Asian stocks rose on Monday after China’s central bank took steps to try to drag the yuan away from 14-month lows, but the tit-for-tat conflict over Sino-U.S. trade hung heavily on markets.
The People’s Bank of China late on Friday raised the reserve requirement on foreign exchange forward positions, making it more expensive to bet against the Chinese currency.
The move boosted the Australian dollar, which is often played as a liquid proxy for the yuan. The Aussie came off two-week lows to climb as high as $0.7412 after the announcement, and was last at $0.7396.
Analysts say the step by the PBOC will be generally positive for Asian assets.
“Leaning against bearish CNY sentiment is important because a rapidly weakening currency risks triggering residential outflows and destabilizing domestic asset prices,” JPMorgan analysts said in a note.
“Our economists think that PBOC likely will take further action if CNY depreciation continues or capital outflow pressure increases.”
On Monday, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.2 percent for a second straight session of gains.
Japan’s Nikkei edged up 0.1 percent, while Australian shares added 0.5 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI index rose 0.4 percent.
On Wall Street, the Dow climbed 0.54 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.46 percent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.12 percent. They were helped by strong corporate earnings, although gains were capped by worries over the escalating trade tensions.
China’s finance ministry proposed tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods on Friday, while a senior Chinese diplomat cast doubt on prospects of talks with Washington to resolve the bitter trade conflict.
That was followed by a report in China’s state media saying Friday’s retaliatory tariffs were “rational” while accusing the United States of blackmail.
At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump said his strategy of placing steep tariffs on Chinese imports is “working far better than anyone ever anticipated”, citing losses in China’s stock market. He predicted the U.S. market could “go up dramatically” once trade deals were renegotiated.
“Our economists consider that escalation in tension may bring the U.S. and China back to the negotiation table, but that even if negotiations are resumed, a bumpy and lengthy process is likely to ensue as the two sides remain very far apart,” JPMorgan added.
According to Bespoke Investment Group, mentions of tariffs in S&P 500 company earnings reports for the second quarter have more than doubled from the first quarter of this year.
In currencies, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.1 percent at 95.259.
Traders see further upside in the dollar as they maintained a significantly large long position on the currency, while net short bets on the Aussie were their largest since November 2015.
The British pound held at $1.30 after falling to an 11-day low of $1.2975 following remarks by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that Britain faced an “uncomfortably high” risk of a “no deal” Brexit.
The euro inched down to more than 5-week lows of $1.1573.
Gold bounced from near 17-month lows after weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data, and was last up 0.1 percent at $1,213.70.
Meanwhile, Brent crude futures were off 2 cents at $73.19, while U.S. crude oil futures were up 9 cents at $68.58 a barrel.
SEC To Ban Unregistered CMOs From Operating By Month End
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it will stop operations of Capital Market Operators (CMOs) that are yet to renew their registration on May 31, 2021.
This was contained in a circular signed by the management of SEC in Abuja on Monday.
On March 23, SEC had informed the general public and CMOs on the reintroduction of the periodic renewal of registration by operators.
The commission noted that the reintroduction of the registration renewal was due to the need to have a reliable data bank of all the CMOs registered and active in the country’s capital market.
“To provide updated information on operators in the Nigerian Capital Market for reference and other official purposes by local and foreign investors, other regulatory agencies and the general public, to increasingly reduce incidences of unethical practices by CMOs such as may affect investors’ confidence and impact negatively on the Nigerian Capital Market and to strengthen supervision and monitoring of CMOs by the Commission,” SEC explained.
According to the circular, the commission said CMOs yet to renew their registration at the expiration of late filing on May 31, would not be eligible to operate in the capital market.
It explained that CMOs were required to have completed the renewal process on or before April 30, however, the commission said late filing for renewal of registration would only be entertained from May 1 to May 31.
SEC also said that asides from barring the CMOs who failed to comply accordingly, their names would be published on its website and national dailies.
It added that names of eligible CMOs would be communicated to the relevant securities exchanges and trade associations.
A Threat to Revenue As Nigeria’s Largest Importer of Crude, India slash Imports By $39.5B
Nigeria’s revenue earning capacity has come under threat following the reduction of importation of crude oil by India.
India, Nigeria’s largest crude oil importer, reduced crude oil imports by $39.5bn in April, compared to the same time the previous year, data from India’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell showed.
According to the Indian High Commission in Nigeria, India’s crude oil imports from Nigeria in 2020 amounted to $10.03bn.
This represented 17 percent of Nigeria’s total crude exports for the year according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, as quoted by OilPrice.com.
As Nigeria’s largest importer of crude oil, lockdowns in India’s major cities from the COVID-19 surge in April had ripple effects on Nigeria’s oil sales.
The NNPC was prompted to drop the official standard price of its main export streams, Bonny Light, Brass River, Erha, and Qua Iboe, by 61-62 cents per barrel below its April 2021 prices. They traded at $0.9, $0.8, $0.65, $0.97 per barrel respectively, below dated Brent, the international benchmark, as Oilprice.com showed.
India had been buying the not-too-light and not-too-heavy Nigerian crudes that suited its refiners.
Reuters reported that the Indian Oil Corporation’s owned refineries were operating at 95 percent capacity in April, down from 100 percent at the same time the previous month.
An official at the IOC was quoted as saying, “If cases continue to rise and curbs are intensified, we may see cuts in refinery runs and lower demand after a month.” Hundreds of seafarers risked being stuck at sea beyond the expiry of their contracts, a large independent crude ship owner reportedly told Bloomberg.
India reportedly bought more American and Canadian oil at the expense of Africa and the Middle East, reducing purchases from members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to around 2.86 million barrels per day.
This squeezed the group’s share of imports to 72 percent from around 80 percent previously, as India’s refiners were diversifying purchases to boost margins, according to Reuters.
India also plans to increase local crude oil production and reduce import expenses as its population swells, according to Bloomberg.
A deregulation plan by the Narendra Modi-led government to boost national production to 40 million tonnes of crude oil by 2023/2024, an increase of almost eight million tonnes, had already been initiated.
According to Business Today, an Indian paper, the country currently imports 82 percent of its oil needs, which amounted to $87bn in 2019.
Invest Africa and DLA Piper Partner to Support ESG Best Practice in African Renewable Energy Projects
The global law firm, DLA Piper, has partnered with Invest Africa, the leading trade and investment platform for African markets, to support the development of ESG best practice in African renewable energy projects.
Clear Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) targets and measurements have become an increasingly important part of fundraising as investors seek to align their portfolios with sustainable growth. For a continent boasting ample natural resources, this presents a significant opportunity for Africa’s green energy sector. However, renewable does not always equal sustainable and developing and articulating ESG metrics can pose a significant challenge to projects as they prepare investment rounds.
The project will assemble experts from the worlds of impact investment, development finance and law. Across a series of online meetings, participants will discuss strategies to improve ESG practices in African renewable projects from both a fundraising and operational perspective.
Amongst those speaking in the inaugural session on Thursday 13th May are Cathy Oxby, Chief Commercial Officer, Africa Greenco, Dr. Valeria Biurrun-Zaumm, Senior Investment Manager, DEG, Orli Arav, Managing Director – Facility For Energy Inclusion (FEI) – Lion’s Head Global Partners, Beatrice Nyabira, Partner, DLA Piper Africa, Kenya (IKM Advocates) and Natasha Luther-Jones, Partner, Global Co-Chair of Energy and Natural Resources, International Co-Head, Sustainability and ESG, DLA Piper.
Veronica Bolton-Smith, COO of Invest Africa said, “Africa is particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change despite contributing very little to global emissions. As the price of renewables fall, they will form an ever more important part of Africa’s electrification. In this context, it is essential that projects be given the tools to apply best practice in ESG not only from an environmental perspective but also in terms of good governance, fair working conditions and contribution to social inclusion. I look forward to working closely with DLA Piper on this important topic.”
Natasha Luther-Jones, Global Co-Chair Energy and Natural Resources and International Co-Head Sustainability and ESG at DLA Piper also commented, “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges companies, and people, face today and when we look at its reduction – whether that be in how we power our devices, what we eat or how we dress, where we live or how we work – all roads come back to the need to increase the amount of accessible, and affordable, clean energy. However, renewable energy companies are not automatically sustainable as sustainability is a focus on all ESG factors, not just environmental. We know the need for renewable energy is only going to continue to rise, and therefore so will the number and size of renewable energy companies. The additional challenge is to make sure they are truly sustainable organisations and that’s what we’re excited about discussing during the webinar.”
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