Pakistan's inflation rises to 31.4pc amid high power costs
Analysts said the inflation reading was in line with market expectations.
Karachi: Pakistan's inflation rate rose to 31.4% year-on-year in September from 27.4% in August, statistics bureau data showed on Monday, as the nation reels from high fuel and energy prices.
The country is embarking on a tricky path to economic recovery under a caretaker government after a $3 billion loan programme approved by the International Monetary Fund in July averted a sovereign debt default, but with conditions that complicated efforts to rein in inflation.
On a month-on-month basis, inflation climbed 2% in September, compared to an increase of 1.7% in August
Reforms required by the IMF bailout, including an easing of import restrictions and a demand that subsidies be removed, have already fuelled annual inflation, which rose to a record 38.0% in May.
Interest rates have also risen to their highest at 22%, and the rupee hit all-time lows in August before recovering in September to become the best performing currency following a clampdown by authorities on unregulated FX trade.
In its monthly report on Friday, the ministry of finance stated that it expected inflation to stay high in the upcoming month, averaging about 29-31% as a result of an increase in electricity tariffs and a significant rise in fuel prices.
The report added that inflation was, however, expected to ease, especially from the second half of the current fiscal year that starts on Jan. 1.
On Saturday Pakistan cut petrol and diesel prices from a record high, after two consecutive hikes. The finance ministry cited international prices of petroleum products and the improvement in the exchange rate, following the clampdown on unregulated FX trade.
Inflation has been elevated, hovering in double digits, since November 2021. The South Asian country targeted inflation at 21% for the current fiscal year, but it averaged 29% during the first quarter.
Worsening economic conditions, along with rising political tensions in the run-up to a national election scheduled for November, triggered sporadic protests in September, with many Pakistanis saying they are struggling to make ends meet.
Analysts said the inflation reading was in line with market expectations.
Tahir Abbas, head of research at Arif Habib Limited, a Karachi-based investment company, said inflation appeared to have peaked for the current fiscal year and would subsequently recede.
"The higher reading is mainly due to the low base effect which was also mentioned in the last monetary policy statement. Going forward, in the next few months, we expect inflation to ease to around 26-27%," said Fahad Rauf, head of research at Ismail Iqbal Securities, a Karachi-based brokerage firm.
Rauf said higher inflation statistics should not impact monetary policy.
Oil prices climb as investor risk appetite grows
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $91.02 a barrel, after losing 92 cents.
Tokyo: Oil prices climbed on Monday, reversing some of Friday’s losses, as investors focused on a tight global supply outlook and a last-minute deal that avoided a U.S. government shutdown restored their risk appetite.
Brent December crude futures rose 18 cents, or 0.2%, to $92.38 a barrel by 0037 GMT after falling 90 cents on Friday. Brent November futures settled down 7 cents at $95.31 a barrel at the contract’s expiry on Friday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $91.02 a barrel, after losing 92 cents on Friday.
Both benchmarks rallied nearly 30% in the third quarter on forecasts of a wide crude supply deficit in the fourth quarter after Saudi Arabia and Russia extended additional supply cuts to the end of the year.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia and other allies, or OPEC+, is unlikely to tweak its current oil output policy when a panel meets on Wednesday, four OPEC+ sources told Reuters, as tighter supplies and rising demand drive an oil price rally.
“Oil prices started the week on a strong note amid supply concerns with no policy change by OPEC+ expected, while the avoidance of a U.S. government’s shutdown over the weekend gave some relief,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, president of NS Trading, a unit of Nissan Securities.
“Still, whether or not the market will rise further will depend on future demand trends,” he said.
A last-minute decision by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy to turn to Democrats to pass a short-term funding bill pushed the risk of shutdown to mid-November, meaning the U.S. federal government’s more than 4 million workers can count on continued paychecks for now.
Amplifying supply fears, the U.S. oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by seven to 623 in the week to Sept. 29, the lowest since February 2022, energy services firm Baker Hughes (BKR.O) said in its closely followed report on Friday.
Brent is forecast to average $89.85 a barrel in the fourth quarter and $86.45 in 2024, according to a survey of 42 economists compiled by Reuters on Friday.
Meanwhile, investors remained cautious about the Chinese economy as the country’s factory activity expanded at a slower pace in September, a private-sector survey showed on Sunday, with sluggish external demand weighing on the outlook even as output increased.
The world’s second-largest economy is showing some signs of stabilising after a flurry of modest policy measures, but the outlook is clouded by a property slump, falling exports and high youth unemployment, raising fears of weaker fuel demand.
Security personnel aiding cross-border smuggling to face court martial: Sarfraz Bugti
Bugti said that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir had told military personnel that whoever is found involved in illegal cross-border trade would face the consequences.
Islamabad: Federal Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced that any security personnel found involved in cross-border smuggling would be court-martialed on Monday.
The government has intensified its crackdown on smugglers involved in transporting commodities and dollars to Afghanistan, especially in the last few months when havoc was wreaked on the already weakening economy.
The crackdown was successful since speculation decreased and the rupee significantly appreciated versus the dollar to become the world's best-performing currency. ‘
However, analysts are concerned about another round of devaluation because they are skeptical of the long-term consequences of administrative actions.
"If I say that security forces weren't involved in [smuggling], it won't be right as the [smuggled] items are transported via trucks, not camels," Bugti said during a press conference in Islamabad.
He said that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir had told military personnel that whoever is found involved in illegal cross-border trade would face the consequences.
Sports 7 hours ago
Indian fan expresses marriage desire for Iftikhar Ahmad
Technology 13 hours ago
SpaceX inks first Space Force deal for government-focused Starshield satellite network
Business 1 day ago
Ogra approves LPG price hike ahead of winter season
Regional 2 days ago
9 questions about the government’s effort to break up Amazon
Pakistan 7 hours ago
ISR predicts strong earthquake in Chaman Fault Line
Pakistan 9 hours ago
IHC to pronounce verdict on nine bail pleas of Imran Khan today
Sports 4 hours ago
Virat Kohli leaves World Cup squad, goes to Mumbai
World 2 days ago
Seven killed in Somalia suicide blast in tea shop