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Gold roars to another record high in Pakistan

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  • Bullion extends record-making run as rupee devaluation worsens.
  • Gold in Pakistan overcost by Rs5,000 per tola vs Dubai market.
  • Dealers think gold to remain unstoppable in the near term. 

Gold prices in Pakistan roared to a new record high Monday, while the rupee continued to whimper versus the dollar after being thrown to the mercy of the unruly market forces to coax the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into unlocking a stalemated loan, dealers said.

According to All-Pakistan Sarafa Gems and Jewellers Association (APSGJA), the price of gold (24 carats) increased by Rs1,500 per tola and Rs1,286 per 10 grams to settle at Rs210,500 per tola and Rs180,470 per 10 grams, respectively.

The jewellers’ body also said that local gold was “overcost” by Rs5,000 per tola in Pakistan, compared to the Dubai bullion market. 

Dealers, who were already eyeing the 200,000+ per tola rate since the current price hike spree, cited record-breaking rupee devaluation and a steep decline in the foreign exchange reserves in the country as major factors contributing towards the massive price hike in the bullion market.

Investors were, however, purchasing only gold bars, not jewellery, which had not only reduced goldsmiths’ profit margins but the labour force was also at the stake of losing jobs, as jewellery makers were moving towards other professions in absence of work, The News reported on Friday.

“There was a decline in purchasing power of the people as more people now use artificial jewellery,” a goldsmith said, adding that the majority of the gold makers are also moving towards artificial jewellery.

Gold in the international market edged up on a weaker dollar, as investor attention moved to several central bank meetings this week for more clarity on their rate hike strategies, with the key focus on the US Federal Reserve.

Spot gold gained 0.1% to $1,928.36 per ounce.

“Gold is easing away from a nine-month high as the US dollar and yields stabilise, as markets eagerly await the Fed’s latest policy guidance,” said Han Tan, chief market analyst at Exinity.

The dollar was 0.2% lower, making bullion, which is priced in the US currency, more attractive for customers holding other currencies.

Market participants widely expect a 25-basis-point (bps) interest rate increase from the US central bank at the end of its two-day policy meeting on February 1.

Expectations are for a slowdown in Fed rate hikes after economic data showed signs of cooling U.S. inflation, while US consumer spending fell for a second-straight month in December, putting the economy on a lower growth path heading into 2023.

Gold, which pays no interest, tends to benefit when interest rates are low as it reduces the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

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November inflation to spike on gas price adjustment, dashing slowdown hopes

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  • CPI likely to rise to 28.6-29.6% year-on-year in Nov.
  • Inflation rate could register 2.1% month-on-month jump.
  • Weekly SPI on Nov 16 showed 480% surge in gas prices.

KARACHI: Inflation is expected to surge in November, primarily due to a massive hike in gas prices, according to brokerage reports released on Wednesday.

The consumer price index (CPI), which measures changes in the prices of goods and services, is likely to rise to 28.6-29.6% year-on-year in November, up from 26.9% in October.

A report by brokerage firm Insight Securities predicts that the inflation rate will register a 2.1% month-on-month jump, defying earlier expectations of a gradual slowdown from September onwards. Optimus Capital Management estimates that the CPI will increase by 2.9% month-on-month, primarily driven by an 11.6% jump in the housing index due to gas price revision and a 1.6% increase in the food index.

The primary cause behind the expected spike in November inflation is the adjustment of recently imposed fixed charges within the gas tariff structure. The weekly sensitive price index (SPI) inflation released on November 16 showed an astonishing 480% surge in gas prices.

However, a slight respite is expected from a 4.0% decrease in the transport index due to lower average fuel prices in November. The impact of the gas price hike was partially mitigated by the decline in fuel prices and the month-on-month fall in the food commodity adjustment (FCA).

Food inflation is attributed to a sharp increase in the prices of perishable items such as onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggs, as well as tea. Despite an increase in supply from imports, wheat prices still rose month-on-month, while sugar and cooking oil showed a significant decline during this period, based on weekly SPI data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

The recently implemented axle load regime, which limits the weight of goods transported by trucks, could put some pressure on the price levels of goods.

The higher October fuel cost adjustment (FCA) demanded at Rs3.5 per kilowatt hour (to be applicable in December) on electricity charges and a second-round impact of gas price increase could keep inflation under pressure. However, the base effect during the second half of the fiscal year is likely to help absorb the impact.

Commodity and energy prices, along with the exchange rate of the rupee against the US dollar, will remain important factors in keeping the CPI under control.

The reports projected the average inflation for the first five months of the fiscal year 2023/24 (July-June) to be 28.5%, compared with 25.2% in the same period last year and with an estimated ending at 19.4% year-on-year in June 2024.

They predicted that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is likely to maintain the interest rate in its upcoming monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting due to the higher-than-estimated inflation in November. However, the SBP could opt to initiate an easing cycle in the first quarter of 2024, given the high base effect in the second half of the fiscal year.

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Petrol price likely to remain unchanged in next fortnightly review

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  • Petrol prices to hold steady in next review.
  • Diesel and kerosene prices to decline from Dec 1.
  • Next fortnightly review due tomorrow (Nov 31).

KARACHI: The prices of petroleum products will not see any major change in the upcoming fortnightly review with diesel and kerosene rates expected to go down slightly, according to the industry calculations.

According to a The News report published Thursday, the ex-refinery and ex-depot prices of petroleum products did not register any major fluctuation as global crude prices eased in recent days.

The ex-depot price of petrol, the most widely used fuel in the country, is slightly higher by Rs0.19 per litre to Rs281.53 per litre compared to the current price of Rs281.34, industry officials said.

The ex-depot price of high speed diesel (HSD), used mainly for transport, has been worked out at Rs290.47 per litre for the next fortnight compared to the existing price of Rs296.71 , showing a decline of Rs6.24 rupees per litre.

The ex-depot price of kerosene, used for cooking and lighting in rural areas, has been worked out at Rs202.16 per litre compared to the current price of Rs204.98, indicating a decrease of Rs2.82 per litre.

The ex-depot price of light speed diesel, another variant of diesel, has been worked out at Rs176.18 per litre for the next review against the present price of Rs180.45, registering a decline of Rs4.27 per litre, the report stated.

According to the industry’s working, the estimated exchange adjustment of petrol is zero whereas it is Rs1.80 per litre for HSD.

However, the industry officials said that the prices of petroleum products can change with the exchange loss as the industry did not put the exchange loss figure in its working for the next review.

The country fixes fuel prices on a fortnightly basis after evaluating fluctuating international energy market costs and the rupee-dollar parity to transfer the impact on domestic consumers.

They said global oil prices remained under pressure during November, falling below $75 a barrel in mid-November.

WTI was trading at $76.5 a barrel on November 29, down by nearly 7% as compared to October 29. Brent was down by 5.4% in the past month, trading at $86.35 a barrel, they added.

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Another day, another high: PSX continues bull run as KSE-100 goes past 61,000 points

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KARACHI: The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Wednesday reached another historic high as the bulls continue to dominate the benchmark KSE 100 index with hopes of the State Bank of Pakistan lowering the policy rate in the coming days. 

Benchmark KSE-100 index at 10:09am. — Screengrab/PSX website
Benchmark KSE-100 index at 10:09am. — Screengrab/PSX website

The benchmark index gained 702, or 1.16%, during the intraday trade and stood at 61,433 points at 10:09am. 

Commenting on the bull run, Head of Research at Pakistan-Kuwait Investment, Samiullah Tariq said that the market was reacting positively because it expects an interest rate cut, a quick International Monetary Fund review and strong profitability of companies. 

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