Oil Surges Back Up On Russia Tensions

A graphic showing the rising prices of crude oil.
A graphic showing the rising prices of crude oil.


Oil prices soared Thursday on tensions surrounding key producer Russia, while global equities mostly rose as markets digested monetary tightening moves by central banks.

The price of benchmark oil contract, Brent North Sea crude, jumped more than eight percent to race past $100 per barrel after Russia rejected a ruling from the UN’s top court to suspend its Ukraine offensive.

“Russia’s invasion is still dictating price action… given the country’s global importance in terms of supply,” Interactive Investor analyst Victoria Scholar told AFP.

The surge in oil prices has added to worries about inflation, prompting a warning Thursday from the OECD that fallout from the conflict could cut global economic growth by over one percentage point in the first year after the invasion.

READ ALSO: Ukraine Asks Turkey To Be Among Guarantors Of Any Russia Deal

Despite together only accounting for “about two percent” of the global economy, Russia and Ukraine’s importance as exporters of raw material, food and energy mean the conflict’s impact is likely to be felt beyond their borders, the OECD grouping of developed economies said.

“If sustained,” the impact would produce “a deep recession in Russia” and further increase global consumer price inflation by approximately 2.5 percentage points, it added.

The warning came as Russia’s finance ministry said it had carried out interest payments on two foreign bonds, avoiding default for now after it was hit by unprecedented Western sanctions.

Central banks 

Central banks were in focus again as the Bank of England (BoE) raised its main interest rate by a quarter point, following the US Federal Reserve’s decision to do the same the day before.

The hike, widely anticipated by analysts, was the BoE’s third straight rate rise as it battles decades-high UK inflation.

“The global economy faces elevated levels of inflation because of various factors, including from surging energy and commodity prices,” said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at ThinkMarkets.

But US stocks extended a strong rally, with the Dow notching its third straight session of gains over one percent.

Higher oil prices usually weigh on the broader equity market, but stocks continued to benefit from positive momentum, analysts said.

Earlier, London finished 1.2 percent up but the German DAX was off 0.4 percent while Paris edged modestly into the green.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s main Hang Seng index closed with another massive gain, adding seven percent as investors pile back in after China’s pledge to support markets.

China’s top economic official has vowed measures to support beaten-down markets and indicated that a debilitating crackdown on the technology sector was nearing its end.

“The statement addressed so many issues on various fronts, which is really rare,” said Ding Shuang at Standard Chartered.

Key figures around 2040 GMT 

Brent North Sea crude: UP 8.8 percent at $106.64 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 8.4 percent at $102.98 per barrel

New York – DOW: UP 1.2 percent at 34,480.76 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 1.2 percent at 4,411.67 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 1.3 percent at 13,614.78 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 7,385.34 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.4 percent at 14,388.06 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 6,612.52 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,885.32 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 7.0 percent at 21,501.23 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 3.5 percent at 26,652.88 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.4 percent at 3,215.04 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1095 from $1.1035 late Wednesday

Pound/dollar: FLAT at $1.3149

Euro/pound: UP at 84.35 pence from 83.93 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 118.64 yen from 118.73 yen


DR Congo City Closes Schools, Markets After Weekend Bombs

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa


The eastern DR Congo city of Beni on Monday closed its schools, markets and churches for 48 hours after three bomb attacks over the weekend sparked fears of further violence.

The attacks included the first targeting a Catholic Church building and the first suicide bombing in the region, which has declared a “state of siege” after a string of massacres carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia.

Beni Mayor Narcisse Muteba announced a curfew late Sunday, saying that “everyone should go inside because we have information that something else is being planned”.

On Monday Muteba ordered all schools, churches and markets closed for two days.

“I don’t want to see any crowds, but we are calling on everyone to remain calm,” he said in a statement.

Muteba, a police colonel who replaced the city’s civilian leader a few weeks ago, also asked that anyone wanting to enter Beni carry their identity papers.

The measures come after a makeshift bomb went off in a Catholic church in Beni on Sunday morning, injuring two women, followed just hours later by a suicide bombing outside a bar.

The day before, a bomb exploded next to a petrol station on the outskirts of Beni without causing any damage.

The army said that the suicide bomber was “a Ugandan citizen who went by the name Ngudi Abdallah, and was very active alongside his leader, the sinister Amigo,” an ADF commander.

The army asked Beni residents to “report any suspicious movement, to dissociate themselves from the armed groups and to rally behind the armed forces”.

– ‘Boom’ –

The attack at the church in predominantly Catholic Beni took place just an hour before a children’s confirmation ceremony was due to be held.

“I had just entered the church, I hadn’t even managed to sit down, I heard ‘boom’… Blood started flowing from my mouth,” one of the women wounded in the blast, Antoinette Kavira, told AFP from her hospital bed.

Beni is in the North Kivu province, one of two regions that President Felix Tshisekedi placed under a “state of siege” on May 6 in a bid to clamp down on militia violence.

The ADF is the deadliest of an estimated 122 armed militias that roam the mineral-rich east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that ran from 1996 to 2003.

Historically a Ugandan Islamist group, it has holed up in eastern DRC since 1995.

The ADF is accused of having killed 6,000 people since 2013, according to the Catholic episcopate.

And the Kivu Security Tracker monitor says it has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.

In March, the United States said the ADF was linked to the Islamic State group.


Zamfara Governor Orders Closure Of Four Markets, Revokes All Land Titles

A google map of Zamfara, a state in the north-western region of the country.


Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, has ordered the closure of four markets in two Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state in the north-west region of the country.

The Secretary to the State Government, Bala Maru, made the announcement in a statement on Thursday, saying the closure was with immediate effect.

He explained that the closure became necessary to uphold law and order in the affected towns, villages, and their immediate neighbourhoods.

According to the statement, three of the affected markets are in Birnin Magaji LGA and the fourth is in Maru LGA.

They included Sabon Birnin Dan Ali Thursday Market, Cigama Friday Market, and Kokiya Tuesday Market, all in Birnin Magaji, as well as Dansadau Friday Market in Maru.

Similarly, Governor Matawalle ordered the revocation of all land titles across all local governments of the state.

He directed property owners to go to the state’s Geographic Information System (ZAGIS) for recertification of their respective titles, with the new policy of granting electronic certificates.

The governor made the announcement at the flag-off of the issuance of the Electronic Certificates of Occupancy (e-C of O), noting that the task would only be carried out by ZAGIS.

According to him, the issuance of e-C of O is to curtail illegal acquisition of lands and criminal tenancy by infiltrating bandits and their informants.

Governor Matawalle explained that his administration decided to adopt the e-C of O following the corrupt practices and shady deals that have characterised the manual issuance of C of Os, in which unsuspecting property owners were cheated by some fraudulent officers handling the process.

He stated that land, being the most valuable resource, needed to be carefully guarded against abuse and misuse, adding that all e-C of Os to be issued under the new system would be strictly based on the extant land use regulations.

The governor said the land certification initialisation embraced by his administration was part of his government’s efforts to create a new and technology-driven economy for the 21st century.

He, therefore, urged all landowners to come forward and certify their titles and to pay their ground rents as and when due.

European Stocks Extend Gains, Dollar Weakens


European stock markets rose Tuesday, extending the previous session’s gains after a record-lead from Wall Street tech stocks but confidence was kept in check by ongoing China-US tensions and lack of movement on a new US stimulus, analyst said.

Technology firms continued to lead a rally in New York overnight, sending the Nasdaq to yet another all-time high, while the S&P 500 closed just short of a record finish as frustrated investors wait for Democrats and Republicans to hammer out a much-needed virus financial support package.

Asia’s main stock indices steadied Tuesday, while the dollar slid versus its main rivals and oil prices dipped.

“The dollar continues to fall with investors expecting the Fed to maintain its expansionary monetary policy for a long time owing to concerns the persistence of COVID-19 will weigh on economic recovery,” noted Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst with ThinkMarkets.

“The greenback is also suppressed because of the lack of haven demand for the reserve currency, with investors evidently favouring foreign currencies, gold and bitcoin,” he added.

The American stimulus stand-off is one of a number of issues nagging markets, with China-US tensions continuing to sour and coronavirus fallout in full view.

UK retailer Marks and Spencer on Tuesday announced 7,000 job cuts. In the US, Walmart reported surging e-commerce sales.

– Trade, stimulus tensions –

Washington-Beijing unrest meanwhile took a new twist, with the US expanding sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to further limit its access to computer chips and other US-made products.

While there are concerns raised tensions between the US and China could affect the superpowers’ recently signed trade pact, such fears have been played down by both sides.

“For the moment, the fact the… trade deal remains in place, and will do while the two sides choose not to hold their six-month review that was to have taken place last weekend, is seen as overriding the building evidence of a technology cold war now under way,” said National Australia Bank’s Ray Attrill.

Analysts said there was not too much concern on markets about possible tax hikes if Joe Biden beats President Donald Trump in the race for the White House.

The Democratic Convention kicked off Monday and “the theme should be that Biden will be good for the economy,” said Edward Moya at OANDA.

“Wall Street seems convinced that Biden’s tax policy will not kill the stock market… a Biden presidency could offer greater certainty and stability for the economy,” Moya added.

– Key figures around 1145 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 6,142.33 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 13,029.71

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 4,993.03

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 3,327.82

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 23,051.08 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 25,367.38 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,451.09 (close)

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 27,844.91 (close Monday)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1903 from $1.1876 at 2050 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.56 yen from 105.99 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3164 from $1.3107

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.39 pence from 90.58 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.6 percent at $42.65 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.3 percent at $45.22 per barrel


Wike Orders Re-Opening Of Markets, Worship Centres In Rivers

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, addressing residents in a state-wide broadcast on August 17, 2020.


The Rivers State Government has directed the re-opening of all markets in the state with effect from Tuesday next week from 7am to 6pm daily.

Governor Nyesom Wike who announced this in a state-wide broadcast on Monday stated that Rumukwurushe (Oil Mill) and Oginiba Slaughter Markets would remain closed.

He warned that as the markets resume business, they must operate in strict compliance with the established protocols on wearing of face masks, washing of hands, and maintaining social distancing.

The governor explained that the government decided to lift the ban placed on markets to increase the tempo of economic activities in the state.

“Market managers must provide for hand washing and use of sanitisers for everyone at the entrance of every market, ensure the wearing of face mask and maintaining social distancing,” he insisted.

Governor Wike added, “Any market that opens to the public and fails to comply strictly with these protocols shall be closed down. The market managers shall be prosecuted while the contravening shops shall be forfeited to the state government without notice.”

According to him, churches can now hold services with 50 per cent of their hall capacity provided the leadership can enforce wearing of face masks and washing of hands at the entrance by worshippers.

The governor said the ban on outdoor sports activities at the Port Harcourt Club, Golf Club, and the Port Harcourt Polo Club, has also been lifted.

He asked members of the clubs to also comply with the established COVID-19 protocols or risk another closure.

“In addition, all night clubs, cinemas, bars, and in-service restaurants remain banned until further notice. The established restrictions on public burials and weddings are also still in force.

“All Local Government Chairmen are hereby directed to ensure strict compliance with the protocols in their respective Local Government Areas,” Governor Wike said.

He added, “We also call on the security agencies to support the state government to fight against the spread of this disease by enforcing the wearing of face mask in public places and maintenance of physical distancing throughout the state.

“Government has increased the state’s capacity for surveillance, contact tracing, testing and treatment of positive cases in line with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), oil and gas companies that provided PCR laboratories.”

The governor disclosed that the government was considering the request for approval and certification by some private laboratories to provide sample collection and testing services.

He stated that with the available data on COVID-19 cases, the measures put in place by the state government were impacting positively on the efforts to control the spread of the virus.

Governor Wike commended the medical personnel and volunteers who have continued to render selfless services to check the spread of the virus.

He also thanked individual and corporate donors who have supported the state and said their names would be published soon.

Lagos Govt Extends Operation Hours Of Markets

A file photo taken at a food market. A large percentage of poor Nigerians live in the rural areas where the predominant occupation is farming.
A file photo showing traders at a food market.


The Lagos State government has extended the hours of operations of both food markets and non-food markets across the state.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Mr Gboyega Akosile, said the decision was to further enhance trade and commerce and mitigate the hardship of COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the governor’s spokesman, markets have been permitted to open by 8am and close at 6pm.

He explained that the announcement was made in a statement by the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs in the state, Dr Wale Ahmed.

Dr Ahmed, he said, emphasised that the alternate days of operations remain in force.

Food markets in Lagos are to open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, while non-food markets open will open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

He urged all traders to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols for their safety and that of the residents at large.


At a stakeholders’ meeting held in Alausa, Ikeja recently, the commissioner had issued new guidelines for the reopening of markets and shopping malls in the state.

He explained that this was part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus, following Governor Sanwo-Olu’s announcement of the gradual easing of the lockdown in the state.

Dr Ahmed had said all markets and stores in the various local governments and local council development areas across the metropolis would be allowed to open from 9am to 3pm on selected days.

He stressed that everyone attending the markets and stores would be mandated to observe precautionary measures such as physical distancing and high levels of personal and respiratory hygiene.

The commissioner had stated that malls would also be allowed to open with the proviso that stores would maintain a 60 per cent occupancy capacity at any point in time.

Asian Markets Mixed As Trade Hopes Play Against Stimulus Worries

A woman walks past a screen showing information and the index of the Taipei Stock Exchange on July 24, 2020. Sam Yeh / AFP
A woman walks past a screen showing information and the index of the Taipei Stock Exchange on July 24, 2020. Sam Yeh / AFP.


Asian markets were mixed Wednesday with worries that US lawmakers might not agree to a fresh stimulus deal any time soon playing up against optimism about upcoming US-China trade talks.

Both nations are due this weekend to meet to review their much-vaunted trade pact, which had been a cause for concern among investors owing to ongoing tensions between the superpowers.

But Donald Trump’s top economic adviser eased concerns Tuesday by saying the pact was “fine right now”.

Larry Kudlow told reporters that despite the tensions, “one area we are engaging is trade”. He added that Beijing had promised to stick to its promises on the January trade deal and there was evidence it was increasing purchases.

However, optimism that US lawmakers will thrash out a new stimulus package to accompany Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary policy is waning.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave traders a jolt when he told Fox News there had been no progress, fanning concerns the talks could take a lot longer than envisaged.

“Another day has gone by with an impasse,” McConnell said, sparking a sell-off on Wall Street, which had been well in positive territory until then.

“The hope was that US politicians will look to restart negotiations on a new fiscal stimulus this week. Now with no talks scheduled, the deadlock between Republicans and Democrats is at risk of dragging on for weeks,” National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril said.

Hong Kong rose 1.4 percent, with airlines boosted by a report that the city’s airport might restart transfer flights to China soon.

Tokyo gained 0.4 percent, while Seoul added 0.6 percent and Singapore put on 0.5 percent. Manila and Jakarta each rose 0.7 percent.

But Shanghai fell 0.6 percent while Sydney, Taipei and Mumbai were also lower.

Wellington dropped more than one percent after a three-day lockdown was announced for Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city with a population of 1.5 million, after four people tested positive, ending a 102-day run that had fanned hopes the disease had been contained.

London started slightly higher as data showed the economy suffered a historic contraction in the second quarter but officials said it was showing signs of bouncing back.

The UK economy shrank a record 20.4 percent in the second quarter but deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said things “began to bounce back in June, with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and house-building continuing to recover.”

Michael Hewson at Markets.com said the reading largely was in line with expectations and “economic activity is bouncing back” but warned that “getting back to 2019 levels of activity is going to take a very long time”.

“Britain’s economy is on the ropes, but we knew this already,” he added.

Frankfurt fell and Paris edged up in morning trade.

– Deflated optimism –

“When you walk back the market’s expectations of an imminent fiscal deal, it is like poking the balloon with a straight pin as all semblance of near-term optimism gets immediately deflated,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

“Let us face it, the only relevant information that might aid investors’ comprehension of the path of the real economy has come from fiscal stimulus chatter,” he added.

“Take that out of this week’s equation, and you are left hoping on a wing and a prayer for a vaccine.”

Analysts said easing concerns about the future of the US-China trade pact and healthy China data provided some cheer to investors, giving them the confidence to shift out of safe havens such as gold and the yen.

Gold prices fell three percent, extending the previous day’s sell-off on profit-taking and owing to a pick-up in the dollar, which had been hammered through July to push the yellow metal to multiple records.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo: Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 22,43.96 (close)

Hong Kong: Hang Seng: UP 1.4 percent at 25,244.02 (close)

Shanghai: Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,319.27 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 6,187.94

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1739 from $1.1734 at 2045 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.79 yen from 106.50 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3045 from $1.3047

Euro/pound: UP at 89.99 pence from 89.94 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $42.00 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.9 percent at $44.91 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 27,686.91 (close).


European Stock Markets Surge On Growing US Stimulus Hopes


Stock markets surged Tuesday on optimism that lawmakers in Washington will hammer out a new stimulus package for the crippled American economy, while concerns about the US-China trade pact eased.

Approaching the half-way stage, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 2.5 percent.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt and Paris rallied 2.6 percent.

European indices took “their cues from a positive Asia session, as investors focus on the prospect of a fiscal stimulus deal from US political leaders…. while setting aside concerns about an escalation in US-China trade tensions”, noted Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Hong Kong rose more than two percent, with Macau casinos rallying on news that China would resume issuing tourist visas to Macau, reopening a crucial revenue stream for resorts that have been battered by a crash in tourist numbers.

Shanghai dropped more than one percent.

There was some relief that China did not include any members of US President Donald Trump’s administration in a group of 11 Americans hit with sanctions, in retaliation to a similar US move last week linked to the Hong Kong row.

As the pandemic hustles economies around the world, the US-China stand-off has been a major headache, with the two sides butting heads on several issues that have fanned worries they could renew their damaging trade war.

However, there is some confidence they will stick to their commitments after talks at the weekend to review their January tariffs pact.

Observers have pointed out that Beijing has failed to buy certain products owing to restrictions caused by the coronavirus, but the head of the central People’s Bank of China told state media the country would abide by the agreement despite tensions.

“No matter how the international situation changes, the most important thing is to get our own things done and to firmly deepen financial reform and opening-up,” Yi Gang told the Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported that China would increase buying of soybeans from the US and ditch expensive Brazilian purchases.

“The strong sense is that the Trump administration won’t want to jeopardise the deal this side of the election for fear of alienating the important midwest farming constituency,” said Ray Attrill at National Australia Bank.

– Next Digital rockets again –

Shares in Next Digital, the media com

pany owned by Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai who was arrested under a Chinese security law, surged 668 percent at one point thanks to pro-democracy activists buying it.

The stock, which ended Friday at HK$0.09, had soared more than 2,0000 percent to HK$1.96 at its Tuesday peak, before easing back to end at HK$1.10.

US lawmakers meanwhile remain deadlocked in their pursuit of a new stimulus, though observers say that with an election around the corner, Democrats and Republicans will likely reach a deal.

Trump’s executive orders at the weekend deferring payroll taxes, providing $400 in weekly unemployment benefits and making it harder to evict people eased immediate concerns, though markets say a full deal is key.

“The pressure is on the Democrats to offer a meaningful concession and likely a deal will emerge in the $1.5-2.0 trillion area,” said OANDA’s Edward Moya.

– Key figures around 1100 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP 2.5 percent at 6,201.60 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 2.6 percent at 13,012.16

Paris – CAC 40: UP 2.6 percent at 5,039.10

EURO STOXX 50: UP 2.5 percent at 3,342.55

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.9 percent at 22,750.24 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 2.1 percent at 24,890.68 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 3,340.29 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 1.3 percent at 27,791.44 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1801 from $1.1737 at 2115 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.11 yen from 105.95 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3101 from $1.3065

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.02 pence from 89.79 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.5 percent at $42.58 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.1 at $45.50 a barrel.


Markets Mostly In Reverse After Latest Stocks Surge

A currency dealer monitors exchange rates in a trading room at the KEB Hana Bank in Seoul on October 12, 2018. Asia’s main stock markets traded lower on October 12, but losses were relatively muted as investors took a breather after a global rout sparked by fears over higher US interest rates. Jung Yeon-je / AFP.


Asian markets mostly fell Tuesday as traders took a step back after their latest rally, with a run of upbeat economic data offset by fears over a spike in new virus infections.

While several countries are suffering a fresh surge in infections — particularly the United States — the ongoing easing of lockdown measures and reopening of economies has been the key driver of a months-long surge across equities.

After the latest advances, which saw Shanghai hit a two-year high and the Nasdaq on Wall Street end at another record, dealers stepped back and took profits.

There was also some trepidation on trading floors after Donald Trump’s top infectious diseases expert warned the US was still “knee-deep” in its first wave of coronavirus infections.

Anthony Fauci said the country was in “a serious situation that we have to address immediately”.

That came as several states reported new daily records for new cases, with some reimposing lockdowns.

On Tuesday, Australian authorities said more than five million residents of Melbourne, the country’s second-biggest city, will be locked down for six weeks after virus cases surged.

Hong Kong shed 1.4 percent after climbing more than eight percent over the previous four trading days, while Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Manila were also in negative territory.

Sydney and Jakarta were flat, while London, Paris and Frankfurt were all down in the morning as the European Union forecast a massive contraction in the eurozone economy this year.

But Shanghai rose 0.4 percent, having surged almost six percent Monday as retail investors piled back into the market.

Observers also pointed to an editorial in the China Securities Times on Monday that said fostering a “bull market” after the virus crisis was crucial to kick-starting the world’s number two economy.

The composite index has risen more than 10 percent in just over a week, though there are worries about another bubble similar to the one that burst four years ago and sparked a global rout.

– More gains to come? –

“China’s army of retail investors seem to be perfectly able to look through the worrying Western media headlines of another global coronavirus record,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

“Instead, they are listening to the enthusiastic chorus from the nation’s influential state media, which are universally singing bullish from the same song page.”

He cited reports saying there had been a recent surge in new brokerage account openings.

Wellington, Mumbai and Bangkok also rose.

Traders have for weeks been trying to balance the reopening of economies with worries about the disease as it continues its march across the planet.

On Monday there was more positive data, with an index of the US service sector — which makes up the vast majority of the economy — seeing its biggest-ever jump in June to beat forecasts.

“Investors have recognised that as bad as the economy in the US is, it’s not as bad as what people thought it would look like in March and April,” said Nancy Prial at Essex Investment Management.

“The market has started to sense we might see better-than-anticipated results fairly broadly across a wide spread of companies.”

In a sign that the reporting season could be positive, Samsung Electronics said Tuesday it expects to see operating profit jump 23 percent in the second quarter, which is much better than the single-digit fall that analysts had forecast.

The firm appears to have benefited as lockdowns boosted its chip business with data centres moving to stockpile DRAM chips to meet surging demand for online activities.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 22,614.69 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.4 percent at 25,975.66 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 2,245.34 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,234.63

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.4 percent at $40.07 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.2 percent at $42.58

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1285 from $1.1308 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.57 yen from 107.39 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2480 from $1.2489

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.44 pence from 90.53 pence

New York – Dow: UP 1.8 percent at 26,287.03 (close)


European Stock Markets Rebound Strongly At Open


European stock markets rebounded strongly at the start of trading on Monday following a rally in Asia, driven by hopes of a swift and solid economic recovery.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index surged 1.8 percent at 6,267.78 points, having slid by 1.3 percent Friday on profit-taking.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index jumped 1.9 percent to 12,766.05 points at the open Monday and the Paris CAC 40 won 2.0 percent to 5,109.28.


Markets Mixed As Investors Track Second Wave, New Lockdowns

People walk through a shopping area in Tokyo on May 12, 2020. Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP.


Equities were mixed Wednesday in Asia after a healthy run-up the day before as traders weigh positive data suggesting economies are recovering against signs of a second wave of infections and the reintroduction of some lockdowns.

While governments and central banks have provided a wall of cash to support markets, investors are walking a tightrope between hopes the easing of restrictions will lead to a rebound and the possibility that looser measures will inflame the pandemic again.

After a rally across most regional bourses Tuesday, Wall Street and Europe followed suit after figures pointed to a big improvement in eurozone private-sector activity in June as well as a jump in US new home sales.

Meanwhile, several countries continued to loosen up, including in Britain where pubs, restaurants, hotels and cinemas were told they could open again from July 4.

“Through the lens of survey data, at least for now, the world’s essential economies are seeing a V-shaped and coordinated rebound that looks set to (continue) through the summer in the northern hemisphere,” said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp. “Fingers crossed a second wave super spread does not land in our lap.”

However, there are growing concerns of a relapse in some countries that had been opening up, with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday warning a number of new cases had been found at one workplace.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Crisis Sinks Global Economy In 2020, Collapsing GDP 4.9% – IMF

That comes after Germany reimposed containment measures in two western districts — home to almost 640,000 people — after an outbreak at a slaughterhouse infected more than 1,500 workers.

Portugal has also announced new restrictions in and around Lisbon.

And leading US health officials headed by top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned of “historic” challenges, adding: “COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time.”

Fauci warned the next two weeks would be “critical to our ability to address… surgings” in Florida, Texas and other states.

Tokyo and Singapore each lost 0.1 percent, Hong Kong dipped 0.5 percent and there were also losses in Manila.

Sydney added 0.2 percent, Shanghai gained 0.3, Mumbai added 0.5 percent and Taipei put on 0.4 percent with Wellington and Jakarta more than one percent higher.

Seoul climbed 1.5 percent with help coming from a report that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has suspended plans for military action against the South in an apparent easing of tensions just over a week after Pyongyang blew up a liaison office.

London, Frankfurt and Paris were all in the red in early trade.

While equities have been on a generally upward trajectory, gold — a key safe haven in times of uncertainty — has also been on the up as the relatively weak dollar makes it cheaper to buy, while investors are also keeping an eye on a fall-back in case the crisis erupts again.

The yellow metal is up around 17 percent since the end of December and sitting at a seven-and-a-half-year high of $1,775.

“Historically the metal has rallied when stocks have sold off as funds typically flowed towards assets that are deemed to be lower risk,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

“The rise of the US dollar as a risk-off play has distorted the old relationship between gold and attitudes towards risk. Recently we have seen gold and stocks move higher in tandem.”

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,534.32 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 24,781.58 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 2,979.55 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,271.71

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $40.39 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $42.77 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1293 from $1.1308 at 2050 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.61 yen from 106.53 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2480 from $1.2520

Euro/pound: UP at 90.48 pence from 90.30 pence

New York – Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 26,156.10 (close).



Niger Governor Eases Lockdown, Directs Markets, Banks To Open

A file photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.



Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has ordered the easing of the lockdown and other measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

While briefing reporters on Tuesday at the Government House in Minna, he directed markets, banks and other places of business activities to reopen, but with strict adherence to all safety measures.

The governor, however, stated that there would be strict enforcement of the compulsory use of face masks in public places and adherence to physical distancing.

He also asked the police and other security agencies to arrest and prosecute persons not wearing face masks in public places.

Governor Bello explained that the government took the decision to relax the lockdown after reviewing its strategies and assessment of the current realities.

He revealed that the state Ministry of Education has been directed to liaise with all stakeholders in the educational sector to develop a workable strategy for the reopening of schools in the state.

The governor asked all civil servants to remain at home except those on essential services and thanked the people of the state, especially frontline workers for their effort in the fight against COVID-19.

Read the full text of the governor’s briefing below:



Once again I thank all Nigerlites, particularly the frontline workers who have been making sacrifices for the containment of COVID-19. We, in our different roles, we have all demonstrated our commitment to the collective wellbeing of all, even in the face of outright discomfort.

As at today, the state has recorded 46 cases of COVID-19 and one death, out of which 26 of them have been discharged and reunited with their families. This represents more than half of the cases we have had to manage.

All confirmed cases so far are limited to nine LGAs of Chanchaga, Suleja, Rafi, Bida, Shiroro, Borgu, Bosso, Mariga, and Kontagora.

However, we have established additional quarantine centres in Minna and Suleja to cater for humane repatriation of Almajirai to reunite with their families and curtail the chances of contracting the virus and its spread.

After reviewing our strategies and assessment of the current realities, the following guidelines shall be used going forward:

All measures earlier put in place shall be eased – nonetheless,   there shall be enhanced enforcement of the compulsory use of facemask in public places and adherence to Physical distancing;

Henceforth, markets, banks and other places of business activities should be opened with strict adherence to all safety measures;

There shall be no more lockdown days, hence restriction of movement shall be from 10pm to 4am;

The ban on inter-state travels except for the movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services will remain in force;

All intra-state travels are to be eased and the internal security checkpoints should be dismantled;

The ban on commercial motorcycle operators shall remain;

Public motor parks and other public transportation centres must continue to abide by the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Transport for their operations;

State government to support IBB University to establish a testing centre to include antibody and antigen tests.

Police and other security agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone not wearing face masks in public places within the state;

The State Ministry of Education is directed to liaise with all stakeholders in the educational sector towards developing a workable strategy for the reopening of our schools;

All civil servants are to remain at home except those on essential services.


We are redoubling our efforts to operationalize a molecular testing laboratory at General   Hospital Minna, to increase our testing capacity and reduce the turnaround time for the release of results.

Our surveillance systems are being enhanced to quickly detect any case of coronavirus including investigation, monitoring and management of positive cases.

As we strengthen our sensitization efforts to improve case search within our communities to mitigate against community transmission among others, I wish to call on our traditional leaders, religious clerics, market associations, transport unions, youth groups, NGOs, CBOs, to deepen community outreach so that collectively we will curtail this pandemic.

While we continue to do our part, I appeal to everyone to continue to adhere to personal hygiene procedures as well as other precautionary measures.

Thank you all and stay safe.