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Rupee breaks losing streak against dollar, makes minor gains

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KARACHI: Pakistan’s rupee Tuesday turned the losing tide on the dollar, bouncing off eight-session lows, dealers said.

The local currency gained Re0.24 or 0.11% against the greenback in the inter-bank market to close at 223.42. That compared to Monday’s close of Rs223.66

The country’s currency has shed Rs2 or 0.9% versus US currency during the last eight trading sessions. 

Analysts said that even the improvement in the country’s current account balance failed to cheer up the rupee. The current account deficit fell 68% to $567 million in October.

The market sentiment is negatively impacted by Pakistan’s growing risk of default on its obligations to repay foreign debt, the delay in IMF-Pakistan negotiations, and the absence of a timeframe regarding incoming financing from friendly countries, according to dealers.

The current account gap has reduced, but exports and remittances have taken a serious hit.

Inflows have dried down, and traders are keenly looking out for World Bank to send in aid money, so crucial at this time.

The general consensus in the money market remains downbeat.

However, positive news from the political and inflows front was seen setting the rupee’s direction down the line.

Dollar shortage

Zafar Paracha, Chairman Exchange Association of Pakistan (ECAP), sees the rupee languishing in the near future owing to multiple reasons.

“First off, there’s a shortage of dollars in the country. We have more buyers than sellers in the market,” Paracha said highlighting the dollar demand-supply issues.

He said the country was in dire need of big inflows and “as long as the international and bilateral lenders do not deliver on their commitments, the rupee is unlikely to recover. 

“One of the reasons that have stalled these inflows was the ongoing political uncertainty in the country.” he said adding, “While IMF is also not giving us any leverage and is tightening its conditions, adding to the economic woes”.

Another reason was that remittances from overseas workers were continuously falling, which was an upshot of the global recession. 

“This phenomenon has weighed on the savings of expats, resulting in lower amounts of foreign currency being sent home,” the ECAP official added.

Paracha also raised alarms over the thin foreign exchange stash with the central bank, fearing more fiscal pressure as deadlines for the repayments of maturing external debt and interest expenses were approaching fast.

The money dealers’ association leader pointed out that the grey market was also biting into the legal one.

“People are diverting to the illegal channels as they are offering better rates, which also need to be addressed,” Paracha said.

Dollar stable

The dollar steadied on Tuesday after rallying the previous day as investors flocked to the safe haven currency on worries over China’s COVID flare-ups, while bitcoin came under pressure after fears of fresh contagion from the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. 

The euro was up 0.14% to $1.0258 after an 0.8%loss on Monday, the sterling rose 0.19% to $1.1838, partially reversing its 0.6% fall, and the dollar was at 141.86 yen down 0.18% after a 1.2% gain.

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Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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Gold prices in Pakistan have risen by Rs 1,200 per tola.

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The price of one tola of 24 carat gold rose by Rs1,200 and reached Rs246,800 on Thursday, compared to its previous sale price of Rs245,600 on the last trading day.

According to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association, the cost of 10 grammes of 24 karat gold rose by Rs1,029 to reach Rs211,591, compared to the previous price of Rs210,562. Similarly, the price of 10 grammes of 22 carat gold jumped from Rs193,016 to Rs193,959.

The price of silver remained unchanged at Rs2,900 per tola and Rs2,486.28 per ten grammes.

According to the association, the international market price of gold rose by $10, reaching $2,382 from $2,372.

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The federal government has declared wage and pension increments for its employees.

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The Ministry of Finance has formally declared a rise in the remuneration and retirement benefits of personnel working for the federal government, offering substantial economic alleviation.

According to the notification, personnel in grades 1 to 16 will experience a 25% increment in their salaries, while officials in grades 17 to 22 will be granted a 20% rise. The implementation of this modification will commence on July 1, 2024, and will be applicable to the employees’ fundamental remuneration.

In addition, retired federal government employees would receive a 15% rise in their pension payments. This increase is applicable to retirees from both the civilian and military sectors. It is important to mention that employees who retire on or after July 1, 2024, will also qualify for this pension rise.

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The 15% increase in pension will be computed based on the amount of pension received by retired employees after deductions. Nevertheless, the letter specifies that ad hoc aid will not be factored into the calculations for pension and gratuity.

Moreover, this increment will have no effect on the calculation of housing rent allowances for employees.

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