PSX had a rough negative day on Friday as investors keep fearing the menace of third wave getting out of control. Although the government has announced prolonged holidays and might go for city by city lockdown, the active cases keep rising. We believe, Army’s deployment amid prolonged holidays should hopefully taper the cases rate and reduce stress on the hospitals as vaccination drive kicks in.

KASB Market View

We expect the market to remain choppy for next few days focusing entirely on the covid infection as the earnings season ends on a good note. Investors might cash out to avoid volatility after prolonged lockdowns. Although fresh entry is warranted at such attractive levels, a clear direction would only be set after the holidays.

National News

Apr CPI inflation up 11.1pc YoY

The Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based inflation increased by 11.1 percent on year-on-year basis in April 2021 as compared to an increase of 8.5 percent in April 2020, mainly due to increase in prices of food items, fruits and clothing and footwear, says the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS)

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089554/apr-cpi-inflation-up-111pc-yoy.

Rising blasphemy cases in Pakistan: EU parliament urges review of Pak GSP plus status

The European parliament, in its latest session, adopted a resolution demanding Pakistan to allow space for religious freedom and urged the EU authorities to review GSP plus status for Pakistan amid the increasing number of blasphemy cases.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/828403-rising-blasphemy-cases-in-pakistan-eu-parliament-urges-review-of-pak-gsp-plus-status

High-level meeting on budget 2021-22: Development spending under govt focus

Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed that the development projects be prioritized in the upcoming federal budget 2021-22 and special focus be given forthwith on inflation reduction. He issued these directions at a top-level meeting on Sunday regarding the upcoming federal budget and overall economic situation of the country.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089729/high-level-meeting-on-budget-2021-22-development-spending-under-govt-focus

Trade deficit widens by 20.1pc in 10 months

The country’s trade deficit has widened by 20.1 per cent to $23.562 billion during first 10 months (July-April) of Financial Year 2020-21 from $19.613 billion in the corresponding period of 2019-20. The country’s exports have shown a growth of 129 per cent to $2.191 billion in April 2021 as compared to 957 million in April 2020. Prime Minister Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, maintains that April 2020 exports cannot be taken as a yardstick as at that time the country was under lockdown due to Covid-19. Imports have posted growth of 53.6 per cent to $4.922 billion in April 2021 against $3.204 billion in corresponding month of FY 2020. Trade deficit has also posted a growth of 21.5 per cent to $ 2.731 billion in April 2021 from $2.247 billion in April 2020, indicating a difference of $484 million.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089726/trade-deficit-widens-by-201pc-in-10-months

Pakistan to seek debt restructuring of CPEC power projects

Islamabad will seek debt restructuring of $3 billion against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) energy projects in an effort to eliminate the need for increasing the power tariff by Rs1.50 per unit, Special Assistant to the PM on Power and Petroleum Tabish Gohar told The Express Tribune.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2297655/pakistan-to-seek-debt-restructuring-of-cpec-power-projects

Pakistan may delay power tariff increase

Pakistan on Friday formally pitched a proposal to the World Bank for staggering power tariff increases in view of a third and more contagious and deadlier wave of Covid-19 pandemic that may force the government into smart lockdowns and hit an already struggling economy.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1621348/pakistan-may-delay-power-tariff-increase

Pakistan seeks $1.2 billion World Bank program loan for power sector reforms

Pakistan has asked World Bank for $1.2 billion loans during the ongoing fiscal year, including $600 million for Pakistan Program for Affordable and Clean Energy to reduce circular debt via cost cut in power generation, decarbonizing energy mix, improving distribution, and retargeting electricity subsidies.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/828632-pakistan-seeks-1-2-billion-world-bank-program-loan-for-power-sector-reforms

Premature termination of 11 oil-fired power plants: Power Division forms body to make recommendations

The Power Division has constituted a nine-member cross functional committee to prepare recommendations for premature termination of 11 oil-fired power plants of 3,300 MW installed under various policies, amid fears of NAB investigation as in a few other cases, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089562/premature-termination-of-11-oil-fired-power-plants-power-division-forms-body-to-make-recommendations

PM announces Rs370bn uplift package for GB

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced a special package worth Rs370 billion for the development of Gilgit-Baltistan, with focus on electricity and road projects aimed at boosting tourism.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1621318/pm-announces-rs370bn-uplift-package-for-gb

FBR surpasses revenue collection target by Rs34bn in April

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) surpassed its revenue collection target by Rs34 billion to Rs384bn in April, the second highest collection in the second half of current fiscal year (FY21), provisional data collected by the tax authorities on Friday showed.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1621331/fbr-surpasses-revenue-collection-target-by-rs34bn-in-april

Uptick in weekly inflation

Inflation based on Sensitive Price Index for the combined consumption group for the week ended on April 29 witnessed a nominal increase of 0.05 per cent as compared to the previous week.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1621346/uptick-in-weekly-inflation

SBP takes notice of delayed loan approvals for housing finance

Taking cognizance of complaints about delayed loan process, the central bank on Friday asked banks to speed up approvals under the government markup subsidy scheme to promote housing finance.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/828633-sbp-takes-notice-of-delayed-loan-approvals-for-housing-finance

Tarin for swift privatisation of SOEs

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Friday emphasized the need to accelerate the pace of privatization for bringing efficiency and competitiveness in operations of the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089408/tarin-for-swift-privatisation-of-soes

Oxygen-equipped beds: Number of patients rises alarmingly

The government has decided to import 6,000 tons of oxygen with a view to dealing with any emergency as the number of critical care Covid-19 patients on oxygen beds in the country has witnessed an increase of 57 percent as compared to what it was in June 2020. This was stated by the Chairman National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Asad Umar here in a series of tweets.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089402/oxygen-equipped-beds-number-of-patients-rises-alarmingly

Banking spreads stand at 4.31pc in March

The banking sector spreads for March 2021 stood at 4.31 percent, recording a marginal dip over February 2021 of 4.38 percent, taking the first quarter of CY21 average spreads to 4.35 percent as against 5.42 percent in the same period last year and 4.50 percent in the previous quarter.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089396/banking-spreads-stand-at-431pc-in-march

POL products’ prices remain unchanged

Federal government on Friday announced to keep the prices of petroleum products unchanged for first half of May ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. The government rejected the recommendations of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) to increase the prices of all petroleum products up to 13.7 percent for next 15 days with effect from May 1.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089393/pol-products-prices-remain-unchanged

‘1m growers to get subsidy of Rs5bn per annum’

Over one million growers registered with the provincial government will get subsidy of around Rs5 billion per annum in a transparent manner through ‘Kissan Cards’ being issued by the Punjab government.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089383/1m-growers-to-get-subsidy-of-rs5bn-per-annum

Rs565.62bn including Rs86.99bn foreign aid released under PSDP

The federal government has released Rs565.62 billion (87 percent) including Rs86.99 billion foreign aid for various ongoing and new development projects under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2020-21 against the budgeted allocation of Rs650 billion.

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40089370/rs56562bn-including-rs8699bn-foreign-aid-released-under-psdp

Punjab raises workers’ minimum wage to Rs20,000

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Saturday announced an increase in minimum wage of workers, fixing it at Rs20,000 per month.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1621558/punjab-raises-workers-minimum-wage-to-rs20000

Industrial sector to cut 15-20% jobs after Eid

Industrialists are preparing to slash 15-20% jobs after Eid-ul-Fitr in the wake of slowdown in industrial production amid third wave of Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, The Express Tribune learnt on the International Labor Day on Saturday.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2297791/industrial-sector-to-cut-15-20-jobs-after-eid

Number of tax return filers rises by 12pc to 2.9m

As part of broadening of tax base, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has received 2.9 million income tax returns for tax year 2020 as against 2.6m returns in the previous year, showing an increase of 12 per cent.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1621548/number-of-tax-return-filers-rises-by-12pc-to-29m

International News

US, Nato troops begin pullout from Afghanistan

The United States formally began withdrawing its last troops from Afghanistan Saturday, bringing its longest war nearer to an end but also heralding an uncertain future for a country in the tightening grip of an emboldened Taliban.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/829014-us-nato-troops-begin-pullout-from-afghanistan

Monetary Policy

-Word of the Day-

Monetary policy, the demand side of economic policy, refers to the actions undertaken by a nation’s central bank to control money supply and achieve macroeconomic goals that promote sustainable economic growth.