Most Asian Markets Up On Economy Hopes Despite COVID-19 Spike

A passenger wearing a facemask (R) uses her phone as she stands near a luggage at Tianhe Airport in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province on May 29, 2020. Hector RETAMAL / AFP


Markets mostly rose in Asia on Wednesday as investors looked past spiking coronavirus infections and warnings of a US surge in the disease, with eyes on the economic recovery as countries press ahead with the easing of lockdowns.

Traders took their lead from another rally on Wall Street, which was lifted by a forecast-beating jump in US consumer confidence, while eyes were also on the release later this week of key jobs data out of Washington.

And while equities are considered unlikely to kick on unless there is a major vaccine breakthrough, analysts said the trillions of dollars in government and central bank support continues to provide a boost.

In the United States, Donald Trump’s top virus expert warned Congress that new daily cases could more than double unless officials step up efforts to control the pandemic.

“Clearly, we are not in total control right now,” Anthony Fauci said. “I would not be surprised if it goes up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.”

He warned that a jump in infections in Texas and Florida was driving the daily national total to more than 40,000, and they need to be tamped down quickly to avoid dangerous surges elsewhere in the country, adding that the final death toll could be “very disturbing”.

His comments came as some states reimposed measures only recently lifted, while reports of new clusters in several countries including Australia, Germany and Japan fuelled worries of a second wave.

Still, there was a feeling that a return to widespread lockdowns seen earlier in the year was unlikely.

“The next couple of weeks may tell us much about how the rest of the pandemic develops as the renewed wave of the virus in some US states is starting to weigh on economic activity,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

“But the restoring lockdowns so far are mostly concentrated on the service sector of the southern and western states. It certainty prolongs the rebound of the service sector, but the impact is much less than the first lockdown in March.”

– ‘Fear of missing out’ –

Innes added that some metrics indicated the death rate was much lower in the US.

“The optimist in me looks for potential drivers, including better medical treatment, healthcare systems that are no longer overwhelmed, younger patients, and mutation of the virus,” he said.

Shanghai gained 1.4 percent with investors taking heart from the easing of some recently reimposed lockdowns as hopes grew that a recent outbreak in Beijing had been brought under control.

Mumbai also rose more than one percent, while Sydney and Singapore both put on 0.6 percent. Taipei and Manila were also higher.

Tokyo shed 0.8 percent after a closely watched Bank of Japan survey showed that confidence among the country’s biggest manufacturers had hit its lowest level since 2009 during the global financial crisis.

There were also losses in Seoul, Jakarta, Bangkok and Wellington.

In early trade, London, Paris and Frankfurt edged up slightly.

Hong Kong was closed for a holiday, though investors were keeping tabs on the city on the anniversary of the handover to China and after Beijing imposed a sweeping security law to prevent further unrest in the financial hub.

Markets have surged about a fifth from their March lows, thanks to the easing of lockdowns, improving economic data and the huge financial support.

Rodrigo Catril, of National Australia Bank, said that the worry of missing out on further gains is playing a role in continued support for prices.

“The fear of missing out, along with the need to put cash to work against a stimulus deluge backdrop, continues to be the overwhelming force, notwithstanding worrying virus infection rates and warnings from experts,” he said in a note.

Oil prices jumped more than one percent as investors cheered news that Saudi exports had tumbled in June, indicating it was sticking to a massive output agreement with other major producers including Russia.

It shipped 5.7 million barrels a day last month, compared with 6.2 million in May, a drop equivalent to seven full supertankers over the month.

– Key figures around 0720 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 percent at 22,121.73 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.4 percent at 3,025.98 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: Closed for a holiday

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 6,175.65

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.4 percent at $39.81 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.3 percent at $41.79 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1227 from $1.1234 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.64 yen from 107.97 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2388 from $1.2391

Euro/pound: UP at 90.62 pence from 90.65 yen

New York – Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 25,812.88 (close)

— Bloomberg News contributed to this story —


What Happened With Global Stocks Through Christmas?

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the beginning of the Christmas holiday week on December 23, 2019 in New York City. SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP


Global stock markets were mostly flat in quiet Christmas Eve trading on Tuesday, running out of fizz before the festive break, although the Nasdaq hit its ninth straight record close.

US investors have been in a cheery mood most of the fall as the outlook for US-China trade talks improved, reducing uncertainty, and most economic reports have been good.

In the sleepy holiday-shortened sessions, the broad S&P 500 slipped a hair, and the benchmark Dow dipped 0.1 percent, but the Nasdaq, with a 0.1 percent gain, posted another all-time high.

It was a similar picture in other major markets, as London’s benchmark FTSE 100 shares index rose 0.1 percent, while the Paris CAC 40 finished flat.

“In true Christmas tradition, financial markets saw low trading volumes and volatility,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 had already shut for Christmas.

Trading volumes are typically light at this stage with many investors away for extended Christmas and New Year holiday celebrations.

But the sleepy session was punctuated by some big developments.

New Boeing revelations

Dow member Boeing fell 1.4 percent after reports the embattled company sent new documents to the congressional committee investigating its response to two deadly crashes.

The documents “appear to point to a very disturbing picture” about Boeing’s response to safety issues regarding the 737 MAX, an aide to the US House Transportation Committee told AFP.

The company sent the documents to the committee late Monday, hours after announcing it had ousted Dennis Muilenburg as chief executive and installed Chairman David Calhoun in the post. Shares had rallied on the leadership change.

Meanwhile, Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick on Tuesday severed his last ties with the ride-hailing giant, announcing he would exit the board of directors at the end of 2019.

Uber shares gained 0.4 percent.

‘Santa Rally’ fades

Investors were pausing for breath after a bumper run over the last two weeks or so.

“Investors must feel as if they were extra good this year,” said CFRA Research Chief Investment Strategist Sam Stovall, who noted that both stocks and bonds rose solidly in 2019.

Global equities have already enjoyed a “Santa Rally” as dealers welcomed news over the US-China trade war and Brexit, having been on a roller-coaster ride for the last 12 months.

Britain’s pro-Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a landslide election on December 12, boosting investor sentiment.

Last week, Johnson clinched parliamentary approval for the nation to depart from the European Union on January 31, dispelling Brexit uncertainty that had plagued markets for more than three years.

The rally gathered pace at widespread investor relief over the China-US trade pact, with the two economic superpowers set to sign off the deal early next month.

Asian markets were mixed in thin business Tuesday.

Key figures around 1930 GMT

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,515.45 (close)

New York – S&P 500: FLAT at 3,223.38 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 8,952.88 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,632.24 points (close)

Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 6,029.55 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: closed for holiday

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,774.29

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 23,830.58 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 27,864.21 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 2,982.68 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2958 from $1.2936

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.52 pence from 85.73 pence

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1085 from $1.1079

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.39 yen from 109.44 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 percent at $67.21 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $61.14.



Cross River Govt Woos Investors To Develop Industrial Sector

Easter: Ayade Calls For Peace, Prayers For Leaders
A file photo of Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade.



Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, says his administration remains committed to promoting new directions and focus for the development of the state.

According to him, that is to ensure that Cross River has a warm embrace with countries that have crossed the developing stage, in order for the state to jump-start industrialisation.

The governor stated this on Wednesday in his address at the summit of Taiwan Economic and Business Cooperation Mission to the state held in Calabar, the state capital.

He believes the optimisation of various technologies for value addition in agricultural produce has separated countries distinguishing them as developed and developing nations.

Governor Ayade noted that he looked forward to the creation of a new dimension in leading Cross River to be an investment destination from nations of the world with a similar shared history.

He acknowledged the timeliness in the partnership between Cross River State and the nation of Taiwan.

The governor, therefore, assured merchants willing to do business with investors from Taiwan of his administration’s commitment to supporting and eliminating all bottlenecks, adding that this was the essence of the established business relationship to create value for residents.

The summit had in attendance investors drawn from various sectors of development such as the manufacturing, medical, agriculture, marine, solar system, and technology among others.

Some participants at the event decried that over the years, Africa has been described as a consuming continent, with majority of what it consumes in food, machinery, and other utilities imported from overseas.

In his remarks, the Chairman of Taiwan Africa Business Association, Mr Jeff Sun, assured the state of maximum cooperation to help develop its various sectors and make them functional.

He disclosed that as a result of agricultural technology, the country has been able to manage only 16 per cent arable land to grow its agricultural sector.

Other key players who spoke stressed that the mission was to further boost the industrial effort of the state government.

Grim US Economic News Sends Investors Scrambling

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 03, 2019, in New York City.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP


The United States had a batch of chilling economic news on Thursday, deepening a Wall Street sell-off and putting a nagging question front and centre: are the good times really over?

Anxiety struck investors on Wednesday evening after Apple chief Tim Cook, head of a company only recently valued at $1 trillion, slashed sales forecasts, saying Chinese demand for iPhones had sunk amid a trade war with the United States.

Things were scarcely better on Thursday morning.

Private hiring figures showed the US labour market in rude health for December but an industrial survey quickly wiped out any good cheer.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing survey had its biggest one-month drop since the global financial crisis, with makers of fabricated metal goods, electronics and transportation equipment complaining of trade tariffs and weakening demand.

A similar December survey for China earlier this week had shown contraction for the first time in two years.

Less than a year ago, central bank chiefs in the world’s major economies had instead hailed the arrival of simultaneous global growth.

Meanwhile, US auto giants General Motors and Ford also posted deepening sales declines and Delta Airlines cut revenue forecasts, saying appetite for travel last month had been “more modest than anticipated.”

Top White House economist Kevin Hassett did little to calm investors on Wednesday, telling CNN that not just Apple but “a heck of a lot of US companies” exposed to the Chinese market were likely to see earnings downgraded until Washington and Beijing resolved their differences on trade.

‘Irrational despondence’?

This, he said, would put greater pressure on Beijing to strike a bargain with US President Donald Trump, who has imposed tariffs on more than $250 billion in Chinese imports.

Coming off its worst year since the global financial crisis, Wall Street predictably swooned on Thursday: toward 2000 GMT, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 600 points and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was flirting with bear market territory.

A stock market crash can spill over into the real economy, dragging down spending by consumers and local governments, slashing household net worths and eroding business confidence.

But 2018’s wild ride for stock markets has so far had “zero net impact” on growth in advanced economies, Oxford Economics said Thursday.

After a decade of economic expansion, US President Donald Trump has basked for much of his first two years in office in the glow of a growing economy and soaring stock markets, boosted by tax cuts and fiscal stimulus.

But a year later, the bloom is beginning to come off the rose.

The New York Federal Reserve Bank last month put the odds of a recession within a year at nearly 16 per cent. While still low, that is the highest level since October of 2008, the month after the start of the global financial meltdown.

While predicting a recession is famously difficult, the public is clearly on edge: internet searches for the word “recession” last month hit their highest level in seven years, according to Google.

Economist Joel Naroff said the latest numbers were not cause for panic.

“The so-called ‘Trump Bump’ that was seen in the markets and manufacturing has been largely wiped out. But that doesn’t mean the economy is headed into recession,” he said in a client note.

Instead, the United States was returning to “more normal” growth levels as the “sugar high” of the tax cuts fades into the past, he said, adding that the greatest danger of recession came from Trump’s trade war with China.

“We seem to be replacing the irrational exuberance of the election and tax cuts with an irrational despondence of a slowing economy.”



Reps Raise Concern Over Alleged Capital Market Breaches      


Reps To Conclude Work On Constitution Amendment Thursday
File photo

The House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and institutions is calling on regulatory agencies in the Capital Market to intensify their efforts to protect shareholders investments.

The Chairman of the House Committee, Tajudeen Yusuf said this at the opening of a two-day hearing on a bill for an act to amend the Investments and Securities Act, 2007 and look at bonds, securities and private placements between 2001 and 2016.

READ ALSO: No Panic This Yuletide, Over One Billion Litres Of Fuel Available – NNPC

“In the report published by the Nigerian stock exchange over 300 private placements were marketed between 2005 and 2009 with many recording successes in their bits. The report further revealed that over 700 billion was realised with most of these offerings oversubscribed.

“During this period, over 300 companies in the oil and gas sector, finance and non-financial industry and others sectors of the Nigerian economy were involved in varying degree of private placements,” Yusuf said.

The lawmaker also asked officials of the organizations present to synergise towards restoring investors confidence in the capital market.

We Are Committed To Making Nigeria Attractive To Investors – Buhari

We Have Proven We Can Contain Boko Haram – BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari has said that his government is committed to creating an enabling environment for business and investment to thrive.

He said this known while speaking at the ninth D8 summit in Istanbul, Turkey explaining that Nigeria is committed to creating an enabling environment to investors.

“Nigeria is committed to actively pursue a policy of trade and investment facilitation for growth.

“We are committed to creating an enabling environment and making Nigeria an attractive place for business and investment,” he said.

READ ALSO: We Have Proven We Can Contain Boko Haram – Buhari

President Buhari during the Summit also called for more action in participating at executive meetings of D8 Secretariat.

He said Africa is close to establishing the first-ever single market for trade in goods and services in the continent.

FG’ll Provide Right Business Environment For Investors – Enelama

FG'll Provide Right Business Environment For Investors – Enelama
Okechukwu Enelamah

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama says industrialisation and diversification of the economy remain the focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The minister stated this when he visited Aba, Abia State, as part of his industry tour to check the measures put in place by the state government for industrialisation.

He affirmed that the effort has reinforced the Federal Government’s commitment to working with Abia State and promised that the Chinese owned steel company, Inner Galaxy Company, which he inspected, would get the needed support of the government.

“I want to appreciate the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and his team for supporting the industrialisation policy of the Federal Government. I want you to know that the Federal Government is committed to providing investors with the right business environment and making life easier for investors doing business in the country”.

Dr. Enelama also inspected some projects including the Aba Mega Mall, the site of the Eyimba industrial city and a public private partnership project among others.

On his part, the Group Managing Director of Inner Galaxy Steel Company Mr Andi Lu lauded the minister’s visit as an encouragement to investors.

He, however, appealed for more support from the Federal Government in the areas of tax holidays and financial assistance from the Bank of Industry.

SEC Pays N30 Million To ‘Unlucky’ Investors

Securities-and-Exchange-Commission(SEC)The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday said it has paid N30 million to some investors who incurred losses.

Speaking at a meeting in Abuja with judges drawn from all parts of Nigeria, the Director General of SEC, Mr Mounir Gwarzo, said the “unlucky investors” were paid from the commission’s National Investment Protection Fund.

Mr Gwarzo said the beneficiaries were paid between N5, 000 to N200, 000.

The meeting was set up to ensure speedy dispensation of justice for aggrieved investors who may be involved in one form of litigation or the other.

After soliciting their help in protecting the nation’s investors, Mr Gwarzo gave an insight into what is being done to alleviate the sufferings of investors.

The Administrator of the National Judicial Institute, Justice Roseline Bozimo and a judge, Justice Ibrahim Mohammed, who were part of the attendants, could not agree less on the need to protect investors funds at all times.

They pledged the support of the nation’s judiciary in making this a reality, as the pool of investment in the nation’s capital market increases.

They reached a consensus that the judiciary is responsible in restoring confidence and fairness for players in the sector.

Second Edition Of Bayelsa Economic Forum Begins In Yenagoa

BSIEF-BayelsaThe second edition of the Bayelsa State Investment and Economic Forum (BSIEF) has kicked-off in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

The State Commissioner of Trade, Investment and Industry, Mr Kemela Okara, told reporters on Wednesday that he essence of the Economic Forum was to bring the world to Bayelsa State and vice-versa.

Mr Okara said that this year’s edition of the summit was intended to consolidate on the achievements made from the forum during the first edition that was held in July last year.

The Commissioner, who assured participates at the forum of a safe environment in the state, advised them to take advantage of the preparedness of the present administration to unveil the projects of the government, and enter into fruitful partnership with all interested participants.

The BSIEF is a platform through which government of Bayelsa State seeks to collaborate with the private sector to build a system where private enterprise will thrive.

According to the BSIEF’s website, this year’s forum will showcase to the world, Bayelsa State’s industrialisation plan and the consequent investment opportunities existing in the state.

The platform is also organised to unveil the proposed Eco-Industrial Park and the investment opportunities that are existent in its development, foster discussions and dialogue between projects developers, investors and financiers and the state government, encourage and facilitate investments in oil and gas and power generation among others.

Commercial Bank Gives Abia State Ten Security Vans

orji-uzor-kalu-fmr-gov-abia-state-640x350The Nigerian government’s call for private sector partnership in tackling insecurity in some parts of Nigeria had started yielding results, with the Abia State Government taking delivery of ten security vans donated by a commercial bank as part of its corporate social responsibility.

The double cabin pick-up vans are fully equipped with communication gadgets to boost security agencies’ efforts in tackling crime in the state.

While receiving the keys to the vans in the Government House, Umuahia on Monday, Governor Theodore Orji expressed delight for the support shown by the management of the bank and said that sustaining security was top on the government’s agenda.

He stressed his administration’s commitment to ensuring that the state remained safe for residents and investors.

Governor Orji told stories of some horrifying experiences in the state some years ago when kidnappers nearly over ran the state, kidnapping everyone in their way including bankers.

“That era was a bad time for us as a state and we made every effort to chase them away from the state and after doing that we have been sustaining the security and peace we achieved thereafter,” he said.

While handing over the vans to the governor, the bank’s zonal head, South East/South-South, Dr Augustine Njoku, said that the donation was motivated by the commitment shown by the state government on insecurity issues.

Mr Njoku stressed that the issue of crime fighting was of utmost importance to any society and also hinted that the gesture is  part of their social corporate responsibility towards ensuring peace and security

The presentation of the vehicles’ keys to Governor Orji could very well signal a partnership that is aimed at sustaining security and thereby boosting economic development.

The Nigerian government had reiterated that even though, it is one of the primary prerogative of the government to ensure security, the war on crime could be won if individuals and corporate organisations could join contribute to the eradication of vices within their immediate vicinity.

2014 Investors Forum: Ogun Govt Focuses On Job Creation Through Agriculture -Muoyo

commissioner - muoyoThe Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Ogun state, Oluwande Muoyo says the 2014 Investors Forum holding in Ogun State will be focusing on agriculture and urban development.

she stated that one of the important roles of the government in the state is to strengthen the agricultural sector and  help reduce the rate of unemployment.

“Agriculture and urban development are areas that can provide job opportunities and create wealth amongst the people of the state,” she said.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mrs. Muoyo exolained that the forum holds every two years and the first was held in 2012.

She mentioned that after the 2012 forum, investors were able to acquire lands at a subsidized rates to help attract other investors into the state. She also noted that the state is working on expansion and development of roads which will enable farmers transport their produce from one location to another.

Mrs. Muoyo further stated that raw materials for building infrastructure can be purchased in the state at a cheaper rate.

Speaking on agriculture, Muoyo she stated that most crops grown in Nigeria are gotten from the state and that Ogun has about 16.4 million hectares of land while about 32% of the land has been taken off by investors.

She noted that the focus on the forum is how to strengthen the agriculture business in the state and how the government can invest in it, to enable the farmers go from subsistent farming to mechanised farming and later to a larger scale of production.

U.S Envoy Calls For More Foreign Investment In Nigeria

amb. sandersA former U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders, has advised foreign business to take advantage of the conducive business environment in Nigeria and invest more in the nation.

She stated that Nigeria had improved from 2010 when she wrote to World Economic Forum On Africa to focus on Nigeria because of its positive growth. “The economic system in Nigeria has improved, especially the banking and capital market system but could be better”.

She urged foreign investors to look into the business and growth outlook of Nigeria.

Speaking on Saturday on Channels Television’s Saturday programme, Sunrise, Ambassador Sanders explained that previously, it was difficult for investors to invest in Nigeria due to lack of transparency and corruption, a situation she said had changed, with visible growth in the micro-economic system.

The Ambassador, who served from 2007-2010, also stated that there was a lot of negative news coming out of the country which prevented the America government from paying attention to the nation. “The framework of the nation has been looked into and gradually, it is opening up the nation for investments to thrive,” she said.

Speaking on the issue of corruption and transparency, she said Nigeria had less issues in transparency than before, stating that Central Bank has been able to work on the banks, reducing the level of negativity on Nigeria when compered with some other countries.

She therefore advised that more work should be done in order to eradicated corruption completely.