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Faysal Bank becomes first commercial bank to launch virtual card in Pakistan

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KARACHI (Dunya News)- Faysal Bank Limited (FBL) has become the first commercial bank in Pakistan to launch a virtual card, reported Roznama Dunya on Friday.

Faysal Bank’s “Mobit Virtual Card” is a digital card that will allow e-Commerce purchases for online payment needs even if you do not have any credit or debit card.

Mobit Virtual Card is powered by MasterCard and works as a reloadable and / or a one-time usage stored-value card which can be instantly generated by Faysal Bank customers through Mobit’sInternet Banking and can be used at all local and international online merchants / websites.

Dutch family sells everything to bet on bitcoins

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THE HAGUE (AFP) – A Dutch family has sold virtually all they own, including a business, their home, two cars and a motorbike and invested the takings in bitcoin just as the virtual currency is soaring to new heights.

“We are putting everything into bitcoin, we ve sold everything to invest in this currency,” Didi Taihuttu told AFP.

The 39-year-old is currently living in a camping ground with his family, aiming “to put as much money as possible to one side and transform it into bitcoin.”

Having turned his back on a “materialistic life” three months ago, Taihuttu and his wife and three daughters, aged 12, 10 and seven, are living in a small holiday chalet in a camping ground in eastern Venlo and are watching their savings “grow every minute somewhere on the cloud”.

Bitcoin, a crypto currency created from computer code, was worth only a few US cents when it was launched in February 2009 by someone using the Japanese-sounding name Satoshi Nakamoto.

Unlike a real-world unit such as the US dollar or euro, bitcoin has no central bank and is not backed by any government and is not generally recognised as a currency.

But bitcoins can be exchanged for goods and services — or for other currencies — provided the other party is willing to accept them.

Last week, it surged through the $5,000 level for the first time since its launch — representing a rise of more than 400 percent just this year.

“It s the currency of the future,” said Taihuttu, who is an IT specialist and until recently ran a company employing 16 people.

“We are taking part in a revolution, or an evolution of the monetary system,” he added, predicting that “by 2020 the bitcoin will probably be worth 25,000 euros”.

Bitcoin is traded through blockchain technology, which publicly records transaction details including the unique alphanumeric strings that identify buyers and sellers — technology which is gaining increasing currency among banks and companies.

Taihuttu and his family have “already invested tens of thousands of euros” and the money from the sale of their house will be added to it.

Should things go wrong however, he and his family will just “go back to square one”.

But if he wins his bet, Taihuttu wants to “show the world to (his) daughters and help people poorer than us with the earned money.”

US wages fail to rise despite ‘widespread’ labour scarcity: Fed

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WASHINGTON: (AFP) – Wages for American workers remain stubbornly low despite “widespread” labour shortages, according to a US Federal Reserve survey published Wednesday.

Growth in the world s largest economy also continued between September and early October at a pace “split between modest and moderate” while temporary disruptions from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma persisted, according to the periodic Fed survey known as the Beige Book.

The Fed survey, which summarized anecdotal reports from business contacts on nationwide economic conditions, showed a continuing conundrum for central bankers as steadfast economic growth and job creation fail to stir pay raises and inflation — circumstances which call the pace of interest rate hikes into question.

“Many districts noted that employers were having difficulty finding qualified workers,” the report said. “Despite widespread labour tightness, the majority of districts noted only modest to moderate wage pressures.”

Fed members are sharply divided over the dangers of inflation and a vocal minority argue the central bank should hold off raising interest rates until signs of inflation occur.

The Fed s preferred inflation measure, the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, fell to 1.3 percent in August, when volatile food and fuel prices are excluded, and has remained below the Fed s two percent target for more than five years.

Bonuses, over-time

Other advanced economies report similar conditions, with Japanese and European central bank chiefs portraying a more-or-less inflation-free recovery since the Great Recession of 2008.

Still, the Fed members as a group have said they expect price pressures to kick in soon and have forecast a final hike in 2013 and three more in 2018. Those favoring rate hikes worry that raising rates too slowly could force the Fed to jack them up suddenly in the future, harming the economy — or too much cheap money could favor excessive risk-taking on financial markets, with Wall Street already at dizzying heights.

Acute labour shortages have cropped up in construction, which restrains home building, transportation and skilled manufacturing as well as health care and services industries, according to the report.

“These shortages were also restraining business growth,” the survey said. “Firms in several districts reported that scarcity of labour, particularly related to construction, would be exacerbated by hurricane recovery efforts.”

While pay checks grew in some sectors, such as transportation and construction, employers were resorting to other means of attracting scarce workers.

“Growing use of sign-on bonuses, over-time and other non-wage efforts to attract and retain workers were also reported.”

Despite employer demand in the Minneapolis region, according to the report, “job growth suffered from a lack of available workers.”

In the Richmond Fed area, business contacts said jobs markets “strengthened and wage pressures broadened,” while price “rose moderately,” in part due to the supply chain disruptions from the hurricanes.

Russia’s Rosneft signs Kurdistan oil sharing deal

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MOSCOW: (AFP) – Russian oil giant Rosneft said Wednesday it had signed production sharing agreements for five oil blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan, a region at loggerheads with Iraq s central government over independence.

In a statement, Rosneft said it would pay up to $400 million (340 million euros) for 80 percent in the venture as part of the deal with the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, although up to half the sum could be paid in crude oil from the blocks.

A joint exploration programme and pilot production is to start next year. If successful, Rosneft said it would start full-field development of the blocks in 2021.

Recoverable oil reserves at the five blocks are around 670 million barrels, Rosneft said, calling the estimate “conservative”.

Rosneft and Iraqi Kurdistan are already cooperating on crude purchases and sales, but the new deal “will allow us to talk about full-fledged entry of the company in one of the most promising regions of the developing global power market”, Rosneft said.

Last month, Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted to break off from Baghdad, a decision that led to a standoff with Iraqi troops, and prompted fears for continued oil supplies from the region.

Dollar, Pound gain against Rupee

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KARACHI (Dunya News) – United States Dollar and British Pound have gained in value on Wednesday following which Rupee went down in open market.

According to the fores dealers, US Dollar now stands at Rs 107.50 while British Pound at Rs 142.80. Reportedly, demand for Dollar among other currencies has boosted in the ongoing week compared to what was witnessed in the last week.

China to open more to world economy


On the other hand, Chinese president Xi Jinping vowed to further open China s economy to the world, but foreign companies and investors who have complained of “promise fatigue” called for deeds rather than words.

Xi made his pledge during a wide-ranging speech to open a week-long Communist Party congress that will hand him a new five-year term as general secretary.

“Openness brings progress for ourselves, seclusion leaves one behind. China will not close its doors to the world, we will only become more and more open,” Xi told some 2,300 party delegates in Beijing.

Xi vowed to “protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors” and said “all businesses registered in China will be treated equally.

Govt imposes 5 to 80pc regulatory duty on imported items

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ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – The government slapped regulatory duties on more than 731 imported products mostly eatables, electronic items and imported cars aimed to curtail the whopping import bill.

Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi, Prime Minister of Pakistan while chairing the apex body meeting of Economic Coordination Committee some two weeks back announced that the government has decided to clamp additional regulatory duties on imported products.

This was announced on Tuesday through Federal Board of Revenue notification imposing regulatory duties from 5 to 80 percent on various products. The products to face regulatory duties are imported fruits, vegetables, juices, shampoos, shavers, mirco wave oven, tea maker, food processing machine, imported new cars, sports products such cricket and hockey balls, and some items belonging to women makeup kits etc.

The duties on imported new cars have been imposed on 660cc to 1800 cc in the range from 15 to 20 percent. Following the imposition of duties the imported cars price tag would increase by Rs 65000 to Rs 12500 per unit. While the price of deep freezers, led tv, lcd tv, mirco ovens and other products ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 12000 per unit.

The measure though taken to curtail imports which might reduce the bills by 600 million dollars to 700 million dollars. But it would increase the volume of smuggling in the country as the increase in regulatory duties to give cushion to grey market in proportion to 10 percent to 60 percent. This would increase the hundi and hawala system as the smuggling of goods to be financed through non-banking channels.

Goldman Sachs earnings edge down, beat expectations

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NEW YORK (AFP) – Goldman Sachs reported slightly lower third-quarter profits Tuesday, but beat analyst expectations as a strong performance by the bank s investments offset weakness in trading.

Net income for the quarter ending September 30 was $2.0 billion, down three percent from the year-ago period.

Revenues rose 1.9 percent to $8.3 billion.

Wall Street firms have been pressured by steep declines in the fixed income, currency and commodity trading business due to low volatility and an increase in automated trading platforms. This trend held at Goldman, where the division s revenues sank 26 percent from the year-ago quarter.

However, Goldman countered that weakness with gains in its investing and lending division, which consists of Goldman s own holdings of private and publicly traded securities, loans and investment funds.

Revenues were also higher in the investment banking division, boosted by an increase in completed mergers.

“Our overall performance this year has been solid and provides a good foundation on which to execute and deliver our growth initiatives,” said chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.

Earnings translated into $5.02 per share, better than the $4.17 expected by analysts.

LPG-air mix plants installation project enters implementation phase

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ISLAMABAD (APP) – The two state companies, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) are working to set up 59 LPG-air mix plants at designated sites in their respected operational areas.

“The project is aimed at providing gas facility to the population in the areas where facility of natural gas is not available and to discourage deforestation. At the plants, LPG will be mixed with air to produce synthetic gas for onward supply to the consumers through distribution networks like natural gas,” official sources told APP.

The SNGPL will install Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)-air mix plants in Beor, Ban, Kurbagla-Dewal, Company Bagh, Tret, Phagwari, Rawat, Ghora Gali, Ariari, Karor, Kotli Sattian, Santhan Wali, Kahuti, Lehtrar and Pangar in Punjab and Darosh, Balakot and Ayun localities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the facility would be provided in Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot, Kotli, Palandri, Bagh, Dhirkot and Bhimber, whereas a plant would be installed in Gilgit, the sources said.

The SSGCL, they said, would set up LPG plants at Umerkot and Mithi areas of Thar in Sindh, and Zhob, Qilla Saifullah, Loralai, Kharan, Musakhail, Qilla Abdullah, Keecha at Turbat, Khuzadar, Uthal, Winder, Muslim Bagh, Killi Khanzai, Chaman, Sherani, Sanjawi, Chaghi, Panjgor, Hamal, Washuk, Wadh in Khuzdar, Barkhan, Mitri (Bolan Katchi), Injeera (Khuzdar), Gandva (Jhal Magsi, Kohlu, Awaran and Bela in Balochistan.

Answering a question, the sources said the LPG air mix project on SNGPL system was at different stages of implementation like planning, survey, import of plants and acquisition of land, while the SSGCL had started the process of site selection and land acquisition under the project. The company had worked out Rs 14 billion cost for the mentioned plants and the tenders would be floated once the feasibility study was completed.

“The SSGCL is exploring the possibility to arrange financing for the same from is own resources which is primarily the savings from other projects,” the sources added.

They said the SSGCL would set up 10 LPG-air mix plants during the current fiscal year.

LCCI committees tasked to prepare sector-specific reports

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LAHORE (APP): Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Malik Tahir Javed, for the first time in the LCCI history, has given task of preparing sector-specific research/ market reports and compilation of data bank to newly constituted standing committees of the Lahore chamber.

Speaking at the appointment letters awarding ceremony here Saturday, he said that the standing committees would have to work in full swing as country was passing through a challenging economic era.

LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, Mian Shafqat Ali, Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal, Engineer Sohail Lashari, Abdul Basit, Amjad Ali Jawa, Aftab Ahmed Vohra, Nasir Hameed Khan and Executive Committee Members were also present.

Malik Tahir Javed said that the LCCI standing committees consisted of brainy and experienced businessmen having abilities to draw a good revival plan for national economy. He said that dwindling exports, reducing foreign exchange reserves, high cost of doing business, low tax-to-GDA ratio, stagnant growth of manufacturing sector, deteriorating state of affairs of the public sector entities (PSEs) and trade deficit were the key challenges for country’s economy but these could be tackled through joint efforts of the government and private sector.

He added that business community always wanted to do something good for the country; therefore, the government should give due weightage to their point of view, address their genuine reservations and remove unnecessary laws, rules and regulations hindering trade and industrial process.

The LCCI president advised the newly appointed conveners of the Chamber’s Standing Committees to focus on the areas of growth through innovation, strategic economic reforms, brain-drain, water scarcity, power generation and hunt for new destinations for Pakistani goods. He said that all of economic ideas from the standing committees would be developed as suggestions/reports and would be forwarded to government departments concerned.

He said that an extra care had been taken while appointing the conveners of the LCCI Standing Committees as on basis of the feedback of these sector specialists, the Lahore Chamber would formulate a set of proposal for government for economic revival. He said that Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, this time, would forward to the government a possible way out of the ongoing economic mire. He said, the business community could yield better results if stakeholders were consulted in formulation of policies.

Bloodbath continues at PSX, political happenings dictate investors’ mood

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KARACHI (Dunya News) – Bloodbath continued unabated at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) where political happenings dictated the sentiment of the investors and the index slipped to year low, breaching the 40000 points barrier.

Due to recent political events, the market has been under stress and despite foreign investors’ participation after quite a long time, infusion from these institutions amounted to 38 million dollars.

But fresh pumping from foreign investors failed to keep a lid on the stock market and index suffered a fresh decline of 3.55 percent or 1466 points to 39846 points.

According to an analyst the week opened with the news of arrest of Captain (R) Muhammad Safdar followed by issuance of arrest warrants of Imran Khan by Election Commission of Pakistan and expected indictment of Sharif’s family in accountability court.

He added that interestingly a number of positive developments were witnessed during the week on economic and sector front, however, politics dictated the sentiment, overshadowing all positives and dragging the index to almost a year low.

Following the ride in the red zone, market has breached the psychological level of 40,000 where political noise is expected to dominate in the upcoming week. However, with the start of quarterly result season, selective interest in scrips can be seen where fertilizer and auto sector is expected to post healthy earnings growth driven by improved local and international market condition during the quarter.

 

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