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Friday January 27th, 2023

Asian markets lifted by China-US trade hopes, pound stands ground

AFP – Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday on growing optimism that China and the US will sign a partial trade deal next month, while the pound held firm around five-month highs as dealers bet Britain will leave the EU with a Brexit agreement.

Donald Trump reinforced hopes Monday that he and Xi Jinping will be able to put pen to paper on a mini pact, saying China had already begun promised purchases of farm goods and that the first part of a wider commitment was almost complete.

“We’ll be able to, we think, sign a completed document with China on phase one,” Trump said at the White House, adding they would then move on to the next phases.

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said efforts were being made for it to be ready when the leaders meet at the APEC summit next month in Chile.

And Trump’s economics adviser Larry Kudlow indicated tariffs planned to go into effect in December could be cancelled if the talks go well.

Increasing signs of progress in the 18-month trade war provided some much-needed relief to global markets, with all three main indexes on Wall Street ending higher and Asia taking up the lead.

Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney each rose 0.2 percent, Singapore put on 0.8 percent and Seoul rallied 0.9 percent. Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta were also higher. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

“Unlike previous trade talks where expectations centred on the view that something is better than nothing, this time around there appears to be a tangible and workable roadmap in place,” said AxiTrader senior market analyst Stephen Innes.

– ‘On the same page’ –

He said this was “supported by official confirmation that the US and China were both on the same page about the intent to work towards phase one of a ‘deal’ by mid-November”.

The “fact that phase two is even being discussed at this time… suggests that both the US and China may have finally found a bridge that isn’t too far”.

Traders are also keeping watch on events in London, where Boris Johnson will try on Tuesday to push his Brexit deal with the EU through parliament before next Thursday’s deadline.

Sterling rallied Monday to $1.3013 — its highest since May — but ticked back after House of Commons Speaker John Bercow refused the prime minister’s request to put his bill to MPs.

On Monday it edged back up against the dollar and euro.

And while many lawmakers say they need more time to read through the details, there is a growing expectation that the government can muster enough support to eventually push the bill through later Tuesday.

Still, with the vote likely to be tight, traders are moving cautiously.

“While markets haven’t seen fit to reverse last week’s optimism that saw sterling smartly higher, they aren’t yet prepared to take the pound up to the next level that successful passage of the Brexit agreement would presumably entail,” said Ray Attrill at National Australia Bank.
– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 26,779.16

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 2,944.26

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2982 from $1.2960 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.91 pence from 86.03 pence

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1157 from $1.1145

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.69 yen from 108.60 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 16 cents at $53.47 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 12 cents at $59.08 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP at 0.2 percent at 26,827.64 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,163.64 (close)

dan/jah

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Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata hopes to hold prices despite rising costs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata hopes to hold prices despite higher taxes, rising costs like energy, officials said as the country goes through the worst currency crisis in the history of its intermediate regime central bank.

High inflation following a collapse of the currency has reduced real incomes of customers.

“There are many factors to consider, especially with the last price increase we did in last year did not resulted in a significant increase in revenue” Pradeep De Almeida · Group Chief Technology Officer at Dialog Axiata said at the launch of its Future zone at Lotus tower.

In September,2022 following an electricity tarrif hike dialog increased its tariffs on Mobile, Fixed Telephone, Broadband Plans and Value Added Services (Prepaid and Postpaid) by 20 percent while tariffs on all Pay Television Services were raised 25 percent.

Value Added Tax (VAT) was also raised by the government from 12 percent to 15 percent on all Telecommunications and Pay TV services.

“Even though we increase the prices we only saw around 8-9 percent increase in revenue,” Almeida said.

“That is because many users cut off their usage to limit the spending”.

Dialog will increase efficiencies and manage costs in an attempt to avoid prices increases for customers, he said.

Over the 24 months to December 2022, Sri Lanka;s central bank has generated inflation of 76 percent, based on the Colombo Consumer Price Index official data shows. Following the currency collapse, more power tariff hikes are planned.

“We are trying to mainly bear the cost from our side. We are getting a massive support from our parent company Telekom Malaysia International,” Navin Peiris, Group Chief Enterprise Officer at Dialog told EconomyNext.

“Therefore as of now, there is no plan to increase prices”. (Colombo/Jan 26/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares fall at market close on profit taking

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares fell on Thursday as profit taking entered the market mainly on financial and diversified sectors, brokers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) fell 0.13 percent or 11.50 points to close at 8,926.56.

“The market was trading on dull trade mainly due to profit taking,” an analyst said.

“Also we saw investors taking a sideline as quarterly reports started to come”.

The earnings in the first quarter of 2023 are expected to be negative with revised up taxes and an imminent electricity tariff hike.

Earnings in the second quarter are expected to be more positive with the anticipation of IMF loan and possible reduction in the market interest rates as the tax revenue has started to generate funds.

The central bank’s policy decision was expected and investors have been eying on IMF deal with hopes of rapid economic recovery from the current unprecedented economic crisis, however since the market gained in the last sessions profit taking has come about, analysts said.

The market has been on a rising trend on the hopes of a faster IMF deal. However, the central bank government said the IMF deal is likely in the quarter or in the first month of the second quarter.

The most liquid index S&P SL20 fell  0.33 percent or 9.21 points to 2,798.

LOLC had seen some attention by investors as the firm disposed 90,256,750 shares held with Agstar PLC at 15-17.50 rupees a share.

The market witnessed a turnover of 1.2 billion rupees, lower than the month’s daily average of 1.9 billion rupees.

Expolanka dragging the market down closed 2.36 percent down at 186.7 rupees a share. Sampath bank fell 1.41 percent to close at 42 rupees a share while Royal Ceramic Lanka closed 2.59 percent dwn at 30.1 rupees a share.

(Colombo/Jan26/2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yields steady at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bond yields were steady at close on Thursday, dealers said, while a guidance peg for interbank transactions by the Central Bank remained steady.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.00/20 percent unchanged from the last close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 26.60/90 percent, up from 28.50/70 percent on Wednesday.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 28.60/85 percent, up from 28.50/60 percent at the last close.

The three months bill closed at 29.75/30.25 percent unchanged from the last close.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions appreciated by another 2 cents to 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 360.49 rupees on Thursday, data showed.  (Colombo/Jan 26/2022)

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