Home Weekly Reviews Economic and Political Weekly 29-03-2020

Economic and Political Weekly 29-03-2020

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World

Politics

· What you need to know Corona virus news at a glance

  • The US now has the most known casesworldwide, surpassing China and Italy on 27th March was the deadliest day in the US so far, with at least 233 new deaths reported nationwide. New York City has become the epicenter of the US outbreak.
  • A total of3 million unemployment claims were filed in the US — the highest number of initial jobless claims in history.
  • The US House approveda historic $2 trillion corona virus response stimulus package.
  • UK Prime MinisterBoris Johnson tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Nearly a third of the world’s population is living under corona virus-related restrictions.
  • Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II’s son and the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for corona virus
  • The number of corona virus cases in Israel has risen to 3,035 after 342 new cases were confirmed over the past 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry said on 27th March.

 

  • A British company behind a 10-minute corona virus antibody test, which will cost about $1, has begun sending prototypes to laboratories for validation, which could be a game-changer in the fight against the pandemic.

Mologic, Health technology firm, which created one of the first at-home pregnancy tests, is aiming for the test to be rolled out by as early as June if the trials are successful. Antibody tests are designed to establish whether people have previously been infected, as opposed to antigen tests which show if someone actually has the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus. Mologic said assessment and validation of its COVID-19 diagnostic test had begun this week at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and St George’s hospital, and that global partners would also examine the prototypes.

  • They have been hailed as India’s corona virus “heroes”, but doctors, nurses, delivery drivers and other frontline workers have been attacked and in some cases evicted from their homes by panicked residents.

Some e-commerce giants have even halted deliveries partly due to the harassment of staff, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi said abuse of hospital workers had become a “huge issue”. Reports of attacks and abuse have come from across India, increasing with the imposition this week of a 21-day nationwide lockdown. In at least one case, police were accused of beating a delivery driver carrying medicines.

·The 2020 Tokyo Oly­mpics were postponed until 2021 on 24th March, ending weeks of speculation the games could not go ahead as scheduled because of the corona virus pandemic.

The International Olym­pic Committee (IOC) made the decision after speaking to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and local organizers. The IOC said the games would be held not later than summer of 2021 but they would still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

·US State Secretary Mike Pompeo on 23rd March announced a $1 billion cut in US aid to Afghanistan after he failed to convince Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political foe to end a feud that has helped jeopardize a US-led peace effort.

The United States also is prepared to cut 2021 assistance by the same amount and is conducting “a review of all of our program and projects to identify additional reductions, and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan,” Pompeo said in a statement.

· A Phoenix-area man is dead and his wife is in critical care after the pair took chloroquine phosphate in an apparent attempt to self-medicate for the novel corona virus. Three people in Nigeria have also overdosed on chloroquine, in the wake of President Trump’s comments about using it to treat corona virus.

Trump has called chloroquine, and the closely-related hydroxychloroquine, potential game changers in the fight against Covid-19. The drugs, which are used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the corona virus, and experts emphasize that the medication should not be ingested to prevent or treat the disease. The World Health Organization yesterday warned against using “untested drugs” to treat patients. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Iran has reported at least 10,075 confirmed corona virus cases and 429 deaths, the third-highest number of cases after mainland China and Italy.

The satellite images from March 1 and March 8, put out by Maxar Technologies, appear to show an increase in activity inside the Behesht-e Masoumeh cemetery in Qom. The images show what looks like two fresh trenches of graves on March 1, with more excavation after that.

  • Gunmen and suicide bombers raided a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital of Kabul on 25th March, killing 25 people before security forces killed all of the attackers, the government said.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying it was revenge for India’s treatment of Muslims in occupied Kashmir and threatening further attacks. Sikhs have been targeted by militants in South Asia before. Their community in Afghanistan numbers fewer than 300 families.

  • Three presidents who are downplaying corona virus warnings

The Presidents are Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Nicaragua’ President Ortega. They are ignoring corona virus spread instead of certain cases in people and even in their close associates.

Economy

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 29th March 2020

As compared to 22nd March 2020

Global indices as of 29th March 2020
Name Current Value Prev.

Close

US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Mar 27) 7,502.38 7797.54
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Mar 27) 5,510.33 5815.73
 CAC (Mar 27) 4,351.49 4543.58
 DAX (Mar 27) 9,632.52 10000.96
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 28) 8,470.00 8639.50
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 27) 19,389.43 18664.60
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 27) 2,528.76 2487.56
 HANG SENG (Mar 27) 23,484.28 23352.34
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 27) 9,698.92 9736.36
 KOSPI (Mar 27) 1,717.73 1686.24
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 27) 1,099.76 1091.96
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 27) 4,545.57 4338.90
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 27) 2,772.20 2764.91

 

Global indices as of 22nd March 2020
Name Current Value Prev.

Close

US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Mar 20) 6,879.52 7150.58
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Mar 20) 5,190.78 5151.61
 CAC (Mar 20) 4,048.80 3855.50
 DAX (Mar 20) 8,928.95 8610.43
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 21) 8,178.00 8776.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 19) 16,552.83 16726.55
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 20) 2,410.74 2311.00
 HANG SENG (Mar 20) 22,805.07 21709.13
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 20) 9,234.09 8681.34
 KOSPI (Mar 20) 1,566.15 1457.64
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 20) 1,127.24 1044.19
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 20) 4,194.94 4105.42
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 20) 2,745.62 2702.13

Pakistan

Politics

  • The key to surviving Corona pandemic is to avoid the onslaught of misinformation.

Before you read or forward a message, first identify where it came from. Often viral messages are labeled ‘forwarded’ on WhatsApp or copy-pasted across social media platforms. When everyone you know is sharing updates on corona virus, the rule is to limit your trusted sources of information. From screenshots of TV tickers to create panic, to the use of distorted videos to falsely showing patients collapsing in China, manipulation of graphics is a common method of disseminating misinformation. Everyone is confused right now. The solution is in addressing the confusion. Misinformation thrives when there is an absence of verified facts and it is human nature to try to make sense of new information based on what we already know.

  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider on 27th March announced the “Nishan-e-Kashmir” — the state’s highest official award — for Dr Usama Riaz of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) for carrying out his duty to fight Covid-19 at the cost of his life.

“Dr Usama Shaheed has set an ever-lasting example of bravery and courage and he is the pride of not just his community and country but also of entire humanity,” said the AJK premier at a meeting held to review the overall situation.

  • As ulema of different sects failed to reach a consensus on the decree issued by Al Azhar to suspend Friday prayers and daily congregations at mosques to contain the corona virus outbreak, the Sind and Baluchistan governments banned congregational prayers at mosques.

Like in other matters, Ulemas in Pakistan are divided over suspension of congregational prayers to contain corona virus outbreak However Sind and Baluchistan governments had banned Friday prayers across their provinces at mosques with immediate effect. Mosques will remain open but only five people could perform the prayers, including the prayer leader and four others. It further said that people would perform all prayers at their homes.

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan on 24th March announced a rescue and stimulus package worth about Rs1.13 trillion aimed at supporting various sectors of society and the economy in absorbing the adverse impacts of corona virus pandemic.

The package contains (1) Rs200bn allocated for labor force (2) Rs150bn earmarked to support vulnerable families (3) Stipend for poor families increased from Rs2, 000 to Rs3, 000 per month. (4) Prices of petroleum products reduced by Rs15 per liter across the board

  • The corona virus pandemic has really brought out the best and worst in people.

Murad Ali Shah received Rs 1 million donations with a note that came with donation which revealed the donor to be “a retired person of 88 years without naming who he is.

  • The Covid-19 crisis is here and with our healthcare systems choked beyond capacity, we don’t seem to be doing very well. This is when the full force of the pandemic hasn’t hit us yet. To make it more complicated, social (or shall I say physical) distancing is turning out to be particularly difficult in our cultural context. But the fight is on, and now is the time to acknowledge its heroes.

At the forefront are our healthcare workers who are overworked, exhausted, and constrained by a system that lacks capacity. And yet our nurses, doctors, attendants, sanitary workers, and ambulance drivers have been thrust into a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Many — if not most — are working without adequate personal protective equipment and run the risk of getting infected themselves.

  • A massive fire followed by a huge blast at a Shahdara petrol pump, minutes after leakage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from an overturned tanker, left a man dead and 10 others injured, including a traffic warden, here on Wednesday.

Of the injured persons, the condition of six was said to be critical as they suffered over 60 per cent burns. Syed Zahid Abbas (65), who died of serious burns at a hospital, was father of a traffic warden, Yasir Ali. As per his family, he was going to a bank to collect his pension when the blast occurred. According to police and witnesses, the LPG tanker overturned at Shahdara Morr near a petrol pump, resulting in a massive gas leakage from its tank.

Economy

  • Pakistan has cut its benchmark policy rate by 150 basis points to 11 per cent, a week after lowering the cost of borrowing by 75 bps, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on Tuesday.

SBP announced the second cut in a week saying: “Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to cut the policy rate by a further 150 basis points to 11 percent.

  • Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh on 5th March discussed the measures that the government is taking in order to deal with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the premier’s special adviser:

  • Demand for Pakistan’s exports will fall as the economies of the countries that it exports to are weakened
  • Remittances from expatriates will be affected as countries where they are based, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are weakened
  • Economic activity in Pakistan will also be reduced which will in turn reduce people’s income and tax.
  • Pakistan’s central bank has apparently come up to rescue the rupee, as it partially recovered against the US dollar in intra-day trade in the inter-bank market on 27th March.

The market talks suggested the central has intervened, meaning it supplied the dollars in the inter-bank market to fulfill demand. The rupee had lost to a new record low at Rs168.50 to the US dollar in the first session on 27th March compared to 26th March close at Rs166.13. Later on, the local currency managed to recover and hovered around Rs165-166, according to market sources.

  • The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) exhibited a turnaround on 26th and 27th March as the KSE-100 index soared over 900 points in intra-day trading before giving up almost all the gains and closing with a meager increase of 38 points.

Investor sentiment strengthened after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank called for suspending debt payments by the poorest nations. Additionally, the measures taken by the central bank to facilitate virus-hit local markets lent further support. There was talk in the market that the State Bank of Pakistan would announce further measures on Thursday, which kept the index in the positive zone. Earlier, the PSX’s benchmark KSE-100 index had dropped 28% or 10,500 points in the past three weeks amid concerns over the corona virus pandemic. Trading began on Thursday with a dip, however, the index began climbing shortly afterwards and crossed the 28,000-point mark by midday. Later, the trend reversed, which wiped off most of the gains, resulting in flat close of the market. At close, the benchmark KSE-100 index recorded an increase of 38.40 points, or 0.14%, to settle at 27,267.20.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 29th March 2020 as compared to  22nd March 2020
Countries PKR rate as of  22nd March 2020 PKR rate as of   29th  March  2020
U.S.A. $ 159.30 167.0
U.K. Pounds 200.00 195.00
Euro 178.50 178.00
Japan Yen 1.64 1.58
Saudi Arabia Rial 42.20 41.75
U.A.E. Dirham 43.30 44.00

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 29th March 2020 As Compared

To 22nd March 2020

Position as of 29th March 2020
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 201 (Curr) Current 28109.57 Current 13229.32
Decline 62 (High) High 28273.09 High 13296.67
Unchange 22 (Low) Low 27156.53 Low 12842.71
Total Change 285  842.37  304.85

 

Position as of 22nd March 2020
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 175 (Curr) Current 30667.41 Current 14432.70
Decline 151 (High) High 30928.05 High 14538.77
Unchanged 17 (Low) Low 29903.81 Low 14073.88
Total Change 343  537.58  279.80

 

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