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Rupee likely to stay range-bound in coming days

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  • The local currency fell by 49 paisas last week.
  • Market to monitor developments on stalled IMF programme: experts
  • SBP’s reserves fell to their lowest since April 2014 this month

KARACHI: The rupee is expected to move in a range-bound mode in the coming days, and the currency market to decide its path with influxes as the country’s foreign reserves have plunged to a critical level, analysts told The News.

During the outgoing week, the local currency fell by 49 paisas in the interbank market. It closed at 224.94 per dollar on Monday, while Friday’s rupee closing rate was 225.43.

An analyst said, “The rupee is forecast to trade range-bound over the next week, but investors appear to be more concerned about a rapid decline in foreign exchange reserves.”

He added that the market would also keep an eye on how quickly the government acts to meet the conditions of the stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to know about the rupee’s future route. The real effective exchange rate (REER) declined to 98.8 in November from 100.2 in the previous month.

The foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) plunged $584 million to $6.1 billion as of December 16, putting immense stress on the balance of payments.

The SBP’s reserves fell to their lowest since April 2014. The central bank’s reserves currently cover only five weeks’ worth of imports. The SBP attributed the decline in reserves to the repayment of foreign loans.

Global rating agency S&P Global cut Pakistan’s long-term sovereign credit rating by one notch to “CCC+” from “B”, citing external risk.

The IMF’s ninth review has been pending since September.

It has raised apprehensions about the fiscal slippages stemming from the devastating floods and revenue shortfall, mainly from the petroleum development levy. Additionally, there have been problems with the budgeted flood rehabilitation expenditure’s exactness.

However, analysts expect the IMF bailout package to resume in the first quarter of 2023.

Several revenues and fiscal consolidation measures, including the imposition of general sales tax (GST) on petroleum products and the removal of GST immunities, gas tariff growths, rationalisation of electricity tariffs, etc., are likely to be taken by the government.

The steps may help get the programme back on track and open the door for releasing the next tranche of $1.2 billion in February 2023.

According to media reports, the IMF has made it clear to Pakistani officials that Islamabad must work toward fulfilling all requests within the next 15 to 20 days to restart the Fund programme that has been halted.

The tighter currency controls in Pakistan, which have resulted in the development of a black market for dollars and the determent of foreign inflows through legal channels, have prompted the IMF to urge Pakistan to allow its currency to gain its true value.

There are chances of a further increase in interest rates in the upcoming monetary policy.

“In our view, an interest rate hike is a better option than devaluing the currency, as doing the latter immediately gives wings to inflation (fuel, imported inflation, etc.). Also, a hike may help in giving some strength to the local currency,” said Tresmark in a weekly note.

An uptick in interest rates would also comfort the IMF, who by now probably believes that the government only wants to please their vote bank rather than save the country, and also using the flood tragedy to gate crash the IMF ecosystem.

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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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Pakistan currently has $14.38 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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Pakistan’s commercial banks’ reserves, which stood at $5.28 billion at the conclusion of the week ending on June 7, rose by US$174 million, according to a central bank statement.

Reserving US$6.2 million less, the SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves. The causes for the decline in the reserves it had were not disclosed by the central bank.

The SBP released a statement that stated, “SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on 07-June-2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange reserves were reduced by US$ 63 million as a result of repaying external debt, with the reserves standing at US$ 9.093 billion as of earlier on June 6.

The central bank spokesperson said in a statement that as of the week that concluded on May 31, the nation’s total liquid foreign reserves were $14.31 billion.

In terms of net foreign reserves, commercial banks have US$ 5.22 billion of the overall foreign reserves, according to the SBP.

SBP reserves dropped by US$ 63 million to US$ 9,093.7 million during the week that ended on May 24, 2024, according to the announcement.

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In the local market, the price of gold plummets to Rs240,700/tola.

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Gold with a 24-karat purity level has dropped by Rs1200/tola on the local market.

Each tola of 24-karat gold is now selling for Rs240,700, with a further drop of Rs1029 bringing the price of 10 kilos of gold to Rs206,361. These figures are courtesy of the All Sarafa and Jewelers Association.

Meanwhile, after a $2 decline on the global market, one ounce of gold will be valued $2315.

A tola of gold was worth Rs 600 more on Wednesday.

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