Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bull run at KSE with massive foreign buying

KARACHI: Foreign investors scrambled over each other to buy Pakistani stocks on Monday, registering a record purchase of Rs2 billion, equivalent to $24 million.
That sent the offshore investment in Pakistani stocks soaring to $95 million in August — the highest in any single month for 17 months. The previous one-month best was recorded in Feb 2008, when the foreign funds had purchased $143 million worth of shares. But that was at the height of bull run with KSE index reaching the level of 15,000 points.
Arif Habib, former chairman KSE, says he is scarcely surprised by the foreigners’ appetite for local equity.
‘The KSE offers yield of 8.4 per cent and stocks are trading at the price-to-earnings multiple of 6.3 times,’ he said, adding that when compared to low yields and high valuations of regional markets, the foreigners’ dash for Pakistani stocks made sense.
India, for instance, offers yield of 1.4 per cent; Indonesia 2.6 per cent and China 3.2 per cent. Those markets are expensive in terms of price multiples of 15.6 times for India; 12.8 times Indonesia and 22 times China.
Mr Habib contended that rupee pressure was not of concern to the foreign investors. ‘In the last 10 years, the rupee has depreciated by an average of only 10 per cent a year,’ he said.
Mohammad Sohail, CEO at Topline Securities, observed that the overwhelming concern of foreign funds when entering any market was the safety of their investment. He said that foreign fund managers were comforted by the recent developments including the built-up of country’s buffer reserves to $13 billion following the receipt of funds from IMF; improvement in economic indicators and the up-tick on Pakistan economy by international credit rating agencies, Standards & Poors and Moody’s. S&P upgraded Pakistan’s sovereign rating by one notch to B-, still six levels below investment grade. Foreigners’ share in total volume at KSE remained at healthy nine per cent during August.
Mainly on the back of foreign buying, KSE-100 index rose by 12 per cent during the month and has shot up by 74 per cent since it hit the pit in Jan this year. Haji Ghani Haji Usman, member on the KSE board observed that global equity markets had recovered by an average of 35 per cent and since KSE had a greater fall, it also was showing faster recovery. Realising that blue chip Pakistani stocks were available at dirt cheap prices, foreign funds were not willing to pass up the opportunity, Haji Ghani said.
But compared to what other regional markets have attracted, KSE is only a starter. Mumbai Stock Exchange, for instance, has seen a phenomenal net buying of $8.1bn by foreign investors in first eight months. No firm figures are available to indicate aggregate foreign investment in Pakistani equity market.
But Mr Arif Habib estimates it to be somewhere around $800 million.

Karachi Port operations

KARACHI, April 30: Ten ships to unload jet oil, chemicals and high-speed diesel including a bulk carrier to load cement are expected to arrive at the outer anchorage on Friday, according to KPT sources.

Berthing was also active as eight ships, Quetta, Bright Star, Sea Al-Batross, Asian Queen, Samin 1, Wan Hai 501, Indra and Uni-Angel were accommodated berths on Thursday. Sailing was also active as seven ships, Johar, APL Sokhna, Lucky Carrier, Bow Prosper, Northern Harmony, Iron Butterfly and APL Chicago sailed out, while Sea Al-Batross, Hansa Sonderburg, Samin 1, Wan Hai 501, Quetta, Orfeas, Aqua Star and Fatima 1 are due to sail out on Friday. The following ships are due on Friday: Amalienborg with jet oil, Al Salam II with high-speed diesel, Al Marwah with chemicals, Oriental Rose and Loi Hope with ethanol, TS Qingdao, Sakas, Jakarta Express with containers, Flag Investors to load cement and Marine Bulker with steel scrap. Port QasimKARACHI, April 30: Five ships scheduled to load/offload containers, cement and palm oil were accommodated berths during the last 24 hours, said a PQA press release on Thursday. Meanwhile, four more container ships also arrived at the outer anchorage. Nine ships, CMA CGM Berlioz, ACX Crystal-V, Orbit, Admas, Leopard-B, Aigeorgis, Sichem Eva, Vema Ocean and Annoula, were busy in loading/offloading containers, cement, canola seeds, palm oil, furnace oil and coal. A cargo volume of 102,000 tons comprising 83,000 tons of import and 19,000 tons of export tonnage was handled. Ocean Beauty, Nedlloyed Europa, Vema Ocean and Annoula sailed out while ACX Crystal-V, CMA CGM Berlioz and Orbit were due to depart.

Stocks extend losses on law and order

KARACHI, April 30: Stocks were down one per cent on Thursday, as investors sentiments were further dampened by widespread incidents of violence in the city on Wednesday. That added fuel to the already burning concerns over the law and order situation in a part of the mountainous terrain of the country.

With three days of holiday ahead, most investors thought discretion to be better part of valour and off-load stocks at available prices.The KSE 100-share index settled at 7,202 points at the close on Thursday, with a loss of 69 points during the day’s trading. Volume of trade stood at 148 million shares, valued at Rs6.7 billion. Business was substantially down from 182 million shares that changed hands a day earlier. In the final analysis, 225 stocks that lost value far outnumbered 84 gainers. The KSE 30-share index suffered a fall of 98 points to close at 7,683 points.“Absence of ready board leverage have left the participants with no option but to sell/buy at available rates, the increase in difference between the ultimate buyer and seller leads to extreme movement and rate erosion,” says Hasnain Asghar Ali at brokerage firm, Aziz Fidahusein & Co.Some of the stocks moved in the following pattern: NBP was up 47 paisa to close at Rs75.55; FFBL rose 19 paisa to Rs18.33; PPTA gained 8 paisa and closed at Rs3.12. On the losing side, Bank Alfalah lost 99 paisa to close at Rs12.28; OGDC closed unchanged at Rs73.79; PTC slipped by 83 paisa to Rs17.51 and MCB Bank shed Rs1.11 to close at Rs161.78.Bilal Qamar at JS Global observed that during the week ended on Thursday, average daily volumes dropped to seven-week low of 162 million shares. Concerns regarding introduction of new taxes such as those on capital gains in the next budget kept investors biting their nails.In a jittery market, investors discounted some of the good corporate results, such as those from Engro, Hubco and NBP.Sara Shahid at Elixir Securities observed that with corporate result season drawing to a close, the market would be devoid of triggers, in the short-term. The upcoming visit of President Zardari to the US, its impact and possible aid/funding would be critical. Moreover, a swift and decisive end to the unrest in disturbed parts of the country, would instill some confidence back into the market Amongst the heavy-weight sectors, cement, fertilizer, commercial banks and oil and gas exploration fell by 9.2 per cent, 7.4 per cent, 5.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent, respectively during the week ended on Thursday. As a result, the total market capitalisation of the bourse declined by 5.6 per cent week-on-week to stand at $26.7 billion. According to the latest NCCPL data, offshore investors remained net sellers of $1 million over the week. Gross buying by foreign investors stood at $10.1 million while selling was recorded at $11 million. On year to date basis, cumulative selling amounted to $251 million to end of April.

Peace committees being set up in Karachi

KARACHI, April 30: The main coalition partners in the Sindh government — the Pakistan People’s Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party — have decided to set up ‘peace committees’ at union council and mohalla levels to foil “conspiracy” to destabilise the government. The decision was taken at a meeting presided over by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on Thursday in the wake of ethnic violence which left over 30 dead and scores wounded on Wednesday. About two dozen vehicles were torched in different parts of the city. Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, senior political leaders and representatives of law-enforcement agencies attended the meeting, which lasted five hours. At a press conference after the meeting, Dr Mirza (representing both the PPP and the government), Dr Farooq Sattar of the MQM and Amin Khattak of the ANP said decisions had been taken to contain violence. They said that those who were caught red-handed would be dealt with according to law and no criminal would be spared. Dr Mirza said the home department had authorised the Rangers and police to open fire on “anti-state elements” found endangering the life and property of citizens. He said an exhaustive discussion was held during the meeting on the causes of violence. President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, MQM leader Altaf Hussain and ANP chief Asfandyar Wali had expressed their concern over the bloodshed in Karachi, he added. Dr Mirza said the prime minister would visit Karachi on Friday to assess the situation. The minister said compensation for loss of life and injury and damage to property would be paid after verification of affected families. He appealed to the media to show restraint while showing footage or sharing news because it would help contain the violence. Dr Farooq Sattar asserted there was no conflict between the PPP, the MQM and the ANP, terming the outbreak of violence a “conspiracy”. Amin Khattak said the ANP was satisfied with the conduct of law-enforcement personnel.

KSE 100-index closes on high, rupee ends firmer

KARACHI: Pakistani stocks led by the energy and banking sectors closed on Wednesday at their highest level of the year, dealers said, with interest from foreigners also an influence.

The Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index ended or 109.40 points (1.25 per cent) higher at 8,878.64, the highest closing of the year, after reaching 8,939.75 at one point. Volume was 231.12 million shares.
The KSE-100 has gained 51.38 per cent this year after losing 58.3 per cent in 2008.
Dealers said improved macroeconomic fundamentals were encouraging foreign investors to look at Pakistan. According to official data, foreign investors bought shares worth $95.3 million in August and $21.29 million on Tuesday.
Last week, S&P raised Pakistan’s sovereign rating to B-minus from CCC+, citing improvements in its external liquidity and a reduction in its fiscal deficit.
‘We’ve been seeing a lot of foreign interest lately, after Pakistan’s ratings improved and that trend seems to be continuing’ said Mohammed Sohail, chief executive at Topline Securities.
Dealers said the energy and banking sectors led the rally.
Bank Alfalah, volume leader, rose 7.13 per cent to12.92 rupees while Oil and Gas Development Co. Ltd. ended 1.12 per cent higher at 109.50 rupees.
Dealers said while the stock market looks healthy for now, foreign flows will dictate going forward. In the currency market, the rupee ended firmer at 82.61/71 compared with Tuesday’s close of 82.86/96 due to portfolio inflows, but dealers said the rupee was expected to face downward pressure near-term on import-related dollar payments.
The rupee has lost 4.25 per cent this year after losing 22.12 per cent in 2008. —FREUTERS

Pakistani stocks end lower, rupee weakens

KARACHI: Pakistani stocks ended down on Thursday, snapping gains from the previous four trading sessions as investors booked gains at higher levels, dealers said.
The Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index closed on 61.04 points (0.69 per cent) lower at 8,817.60 on turnover of 204.64 million shares.
The KSE-index made its highest close this year on Wednesday at 8,878.64 points and has gained 50.3 per cent this year after losing 58.3 per cent in 2008.
‘There was profit taking as we have seen a bull run in recent days,’ said Sajid Bhanji, a dealer at brokers’ Arif Habib Ltd.
Dealers said foreign investors were looking at Pakistan’s market as its macroeconomic fundamentals were improving.
According to official data, foreign investors bought shares worth $95.3 million in August and $36.4 million in the first two days of September.
Last week, S&P raised Pakistan’s sovereign rating to B-minus from CCC+, citing improvements in its external liquidity and a reduction in its fiscal deficit.
Dealers said in medium term, the stock market’s direction was dependent on foreign inflows.
‘Going forward, foreign inflows will determine the market direction in the absence of any trigger,’ said Mohammed Sohail, chief executive at Topline Securities.
In the currency market, the rupee ended weaker at 82.79/89 compared with Wednesday’s close of 82.61/71 due payments for imports, and dealers said the rupee was expected to face downward pressure.
The rupee has lost 4.45 per cent this year after losing 22.12 per cent in 2008. —FREUTERS

Stocks maintain upward drive, gain 93.57 points

KARACHI: The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100-share index on Tuesday maintained its upward drive for the third session and was quoted further higher by 93.57 points at 8,769.24 as some of the index-heavy shares remained under squeeze, but the local funds were net sellers.
It earlier in the session breached through the barrier of 8,900 points at 8,937.93 from the overnight close of 8,675.67, signalling that the three-digit rise could take it to any highs where the current speculative traders want it to.
The market witnessed a great contrast in the investor behaviour in Tuesday’s trading. While local funds remained busy in profit-taking, so-called investors kept under squeeze those shares having a massive weightage in the index, said a local leading stock analyst Hasnain Asghar Ali, adding ‘who was right and who was wrong is pretty difficult to judge.’
‘Any investor in a proper frame of mind may not think of putting money in the risky business of shares at a time when the political scenario is heating up, leading to a major showdown between the two ruling parties,’ he said, adding ‘the so-called bull-run triggered by foreign buying appears to be a massive bluff.’
The history of stock trading was reminiscent of witnessing many a sustained bull run when the index was ruling around 15,000 points and daily volume figures touched the high mark of 1.122bn shares, another leading analyst Ahsan Mehanti said, adding ‘the traded volume of Rs12.00 billion and a volume of 260m shares can be termed as bull-run.’
‘It appears to be a trap to net in small investors after having raised the bogey of foreign buying,’ he said, and added ‘if that be the case why cash-heavy local funds are indulging in profit-selling rather than having rode the bandwagon.’
The developing political confrontation between the two major contenders of power and blame-game could significantly erode the current saving of the genuine investors if they were trapped by the big ones, he added.
Most of the leading oil shares, considered an envy of foreign investors, are down in a row under the lead of Pakistan Oilfields, Pakistan Petroleum, and covering purchase in the index heavy MCB has more other reasons, including the Nishat Group’s fresh stake of Rs1.08 billion in it.
From now onwards, the market is expected to follow the local political developments rather than speculative feelers originating from here and there as investors have now become more wise after the successive market crashes, during the last couple of years, which wiped out $13 billion from the savings of small investors.
In physical trading, leading gainers were led by Bata Pakistan, up by Rs40.37 and 32.20 followed by Habib Bank, Sanofi-Aventis, ICI Pakistan, Pakistan Services and Peco and Fazal Textiles, which rose by Rs4 to 16.43. Losers were led by Rafhan Maize and Wyeth Pakistan, off by Rs75 and 10.41, followed by Sapphire Fibres, PSO, Pakistan Oilfields, Colgate Pakistan, Clariant Pakistan and Sitara Chemicals, lower by Rs4.31 to 40.
Trading volume rose further to 302.831m shares as compared to previous 260.417m shares, but losers had a small edge over the gainers at 178 to 175, with 20 shares holding on to the last levels.
The active list was topped by OGDC, steady by 37 paisa at Rs108.29 on 39m shares followed by Pak PTA, lower by seven paisa at 4.98 on 28m shares, National Bank, up Rs3.57 at 73.71 on 18m shares, Fauji Fertiliser Bin Qasim, firm by 31 paisa at 21.16 on 15m shares, Bank Al-Falah, steady 14 paisa at 12.06 on 15m shares, JS & Co, up 85 paisa at 26.24 on 14m shares, and Arif Habib Securities, higher by Rs1.74 at 36.37 also on 14m shares. DG Khan Cement followed them, firm 17 paisa at Rs33.73 on 13m shares, Pakistan Oilfields, off Rs5.41 at 201.03 on 13m shares and PTCL, steady by 13 paisa at 21.68 on 12m shares.
Forward counter
OGDC also led the list of actives on this counter, up Rs1.18 at 106.17 on 1.048m shares, followed by DG Khan Cement, firm by 13 paisa at 33.84 on 0.494m shares, Nishat Power, lower48 paisa at 13.24 on 0.436m shares.
National Bank followed them, higher by Rs3.50 at 73.96 on 0.213m shares and Pakistan Oilfields, lower by Rs4.27 on 0.197m shares.
Defaulter companies
Mixed trend was seen on this counter but price changes were fractional barring a sharp fall of Rs1.73 at 33.02 in Mustehkam Cement without any business.
Among the actives, Genetech Power was leading, up 48 paisa at Rs1.18 on 0.436m shares followed by Dominion Stock Fund, steady four paisa at Rs0.66 on 27,230 shares and Quice Foods, lower 20 paisa at Rs1.03 on 12,500 shares. Others were traded fractionally on a mixed note.

Stock market sheds another 296 points

KARACHI: The share market on Monday remained depressed as liquidity crunch continued to haunt investors amid escalating tension with India in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks, Dawn reported.

The KSE 100-share index was quoted further lower by 3.95 per cent or 296.96 points at 7,217.46.

Threatening statements by the Indian leaders on the Mumbai attack issue seems to have created pre-war hysteria on the stock market as some of the leading investors hastened to liquidate their positions at the falling prices but without finding any willing buyer.

‘War with India may not be imminent but persistent threats from across the borders has made situation look like so as was reflected by steep fall in the daily volume,’ analyst Hasnain Asghar Ali said.

And added to it were various interpretations of Sindh High Court ruling on the outstanding positions on the badla market and talk of revision petition in the Supreme Court and out of the court settlement on the issue, said Ahshan Mehanti.

He said bulls and bears may not be on the same wavelength since the issue of outstanding positions of Rs11 billion came in the press.

According to market sources meetings were being held between the brokerage houses to resolve the issue out of the court to give a breathing space for the unprecedented fall in the trading history of the KSE.

Ashraf Zakaria says the positive news of Rs20 billion market support fund after the IMF approval should have created a sense of security among the investors but delay in its functioning is also taking its toll.

He said there were more sellers than the buyers as no one was inclined to make fresh commitments even at the lower levels on all the blue chip counters despite the fact they now provide an attractive bait for the future capital gains after the recovery process is initiated

KSE: Floored

As per an SECP announcement, the KSE floor was removed on Monday, December 15. The bourse resumed normal trading despite an issuance of a stay order by the Sindh High Court on Saturday. Although traders are relieved about the resumption of normal market activity, the index is expected to see a downward spiral of up to 30 percent in coming days. In the following section, explains how we got here and what the removal of the floor means for the market and buyers.

Pakistan, China strategic cooperation rising: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has said that during the last one year Pakistan and China have identified more than 50 new initiatives for joint collaboration and signed more than three dozen MoUs. He said this during an interview with a Chinese newspaper held at the Presidency.
He said the world admires the all round development China has achieved. Being a longstanding friend, Pakistan is naturally keen to learn from the Chinese experience. However, the extent and depth of political and diplomatic relations have not been fully reflected in our economic ties, said the president.
The president there was a lot to learn from the Chinese model of economic development particularly the model adopted in its provinces of Zhejiang and Guangdong. The progress made by China in agriculture particularly in hybrid seed technology and optimal utilization of water is something that can be emulated in other countries as well, said Zardari.
While responding to a question about his visits to China, the president said that during all his visits he focused on familiarizing himself with the Chinese experience of growth and development.
‘I think there is a great deal Pakistan can learn from the Chinese experience and its development model,’ he said. ‘The goodwill must act as a precursor for adding greater commercial and cultural content to the economic and public diplomacy between the two countries,’ the president added.
The foundations of a strong friendship with China were laid by the visionary policies of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and he played a pioneering role in building this strategic cooperative relationship, said Zardari. ‘The real challenge is how to actualize the great potential of economic cooperation between the two countries. The trajectory of future relationship is clear. The two countries will continue to cooperate for promotion of global and regional peace, advancement in the science and technology, improvement in the living standards of our respective people and fight against environmental degradation. This relationship will grow stronger and stronger with each passing year. We have resolved to take this partnership to greater heights,’ the president observed.
When asked about Pakistan’s stance over the situation in Xinjiang province, the president said the Government of Pakistan fully supports the Chinese Government’s efforts to maintain social stability, peace and ethnic harmony in Xinjiang and indeed throughout China. ‘We fully support the Chinese Government’s efforts to promote the development of Xinjiang Autonomous Region as part of China’s Western Development Strategy.’
Pakistan fully supports China’s policy of social harmony and development which is producing great results for all Chinese people.
We also believe that with the unprecedented economic development in China all ethnic groups would stand to gain, he added.—PPI

Pakistan drops 35 pct duty on wheat product exports

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has removed a 35 per cent regulatory duty on the export of wheat products because of a bumper crop this year, and will also export some surplus wheat, the government said.
No final estimate of the size of this year’s crop has been released, but earlier estimates suggested Asia’s third-largest wheat producer was expecting output of about 24 million tonnes, or two million tonnes more than domestic requirements.

The decision to remove the duty on the export of wheat products was taken by the Economic Coordination Committee, the government’s highest economic decision-making body, at a meeting on Tuesday.

‘In order to provide a level playing field to local exporters, the ECC decided to withdraw 35 per cent regulatory duty on the export of wheat products,’ the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

‘The decision was taken in the light of a bumper harvest of wheat this year due to which Pakistan has not only adequate wheat stock to cater for its domestic requirements but is in a position to export surplus as well.’ There were no further details but a Food Ministry official had said in June that the expected good crop would allow Pakistan to export 200,000 tonnes of wheat products this year.

Last week, the state-run Trading Corporation of Pakistan issued a tender for the sale of 230,000 tonnes of imported wheat from its stocks to Pakistani buyers.

Pakistan imposed a ban on wheat exports in 2007 because of shortages and high domestic prices.

The government has bought an estimated nine million tonnes of domestic wheat this year, up from 3.9 million tonnes last year, according to a US Department of Agriculture attache report issued early this month.

Last year, Pakistan produced 21.8 million tonnes of wheat after the area planted fell 2.6 per cent against a target of 8.49 million hectares (21 million acres) and the government had to import to cover the shortfall.

But last September, the government raised the price it pays farmers for wheat by 34 per cent, which encouraged them to grow more this year.— Reuters

US clears Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for India

The clearance has been described by diplomatic sources as a fallout of the 'successful' visit of secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the signing of the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) of military equipment being supplied or sold by the US to India.
Like the Boeing P 8I Maritime Multi-mission Aircraft (MMA), of which the Indian Navy has already ordered eight aircraft, the Hawkeye E-2D is the very latest and is yet to be delivered to the US Navy.
India is the second country, after the UAE, to be cleared by the US state and defence departments for sale of this sophisticated system.
The US navy has sanctioned $432 million for trials of the aircraft, currently underway at the naval air station Patuxent River in Maryland.
The naval systems command based there provides engineering and testing support for new naval systems and weapons, reported IANS.
The Hawkeye E-2D has been under the US government's consideration for India for some time. In fact, in 2007, Pentagon sources in Washington indicated the aircraft was being cleared, but apparently the previous version, Hawkeye E-2C, was eventually offered to which the Indian navy said 'no' in informal discussions.
The aircraft is being manufactured by Northrop Grumman, a leading US player in aerospace, warships, missiles, combat radars and electronic warfare systems. Northrop Grumman's programme manager for international business development Tom C Trudell told a magazine that the aircraft has 'just been cleared by the US government for India' and that a presentation was made to the Indian navy in August in New Delhi.
Indian navy officers had witnessed the capabilities of the Hawkeye E-2C but told the US officials that as the equipment India buys would be used for years, it must be the best and the latest with future capability insertion potential.
Future aircraft carriers of the Indian navy would also have to be equipped with catapult launching systems, for which it is already looking around. -Online

Australian police deny Indian race attack cover-up

A police spokesman said authorities had not tried to hush up the attack, after reporters questioned why it had taken four days to release details of the Saturday evening incident.
The attack, which was widely reported in Indian media, comes as Canberra tries to pacify New Delhi's alarm over a wave of similar violence in recent months.
However, acting senior sergeant Glenn Parker said the police media department knew about the assault early Sunday but did not issue a statement until Wednesday, four days after the event.
‘There has been no deliberate attempt to suppress it,’ he told reporters, without offering an explanation for the delay.
Police are probing allegations the four were attacked outside a Melbourne bar late on Saturday as a mob looked on shouting racist abuse.
A relative of two of the victims said injuries included a broken jaw, broken shoulder and smashed teeth.
Police said the men were playing pool in the bar when a woman allegedly directed a racist remark at them. When they left the bar, four men attacked them in the venue's car park.
Police at the scene also said they heard a group of about 15 men and women, who had been with the attackers, making racist comments.
‘After police removed the victims from the scene, the larger group continued with their threatening behaviour and racist remarks,’ the statement issued Wednesday said.
Onkar Singh, whose two brothers-in-law were injured, said at least 70 people ambushed the men as they left the bar.
‘They were shouting at them, 'You Indians go back to your country' even the women, scratched their faces and everyone was beating them,’ he told public broadcaster ABC.
Police said they arrested and interviewed four men but later released them pending further investigations.
A series of attacks on Indian students triggered street protests in May and strained diplomatic ties. The latest attack prompted headlines such as ‘Racism in Australia’ and ‘Unsafe Down Under’ in the Indian media.
Victoria state Premier John Brumby will visit India next week to give safety assurances, after similar trips by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is also due to visit.
The attacks have cast a shadow over an education industry worth $13.4 billion US.
Some 95,000 Indians are studying in Australia after a university publicity blitz targeting the country's growing middle class.

Heavy subsidy on urea import approved

The government will subsidise the import at a rate of Rs750 per 50kg bag. A meeting of the ECC, presided over by Petroleum and Privatisation Minister Naveed Qamar, also withdrew a 35 per cent regulatory duty on export of wheat products in order to provide a level-playing field to local exporters.

The decision was taken in the light of a bumper wheat crop this year, which will not only meet domestic requirements but also enable the country to export surplus stocks.
Mr Qamar said the subsidy would be provided to private sector importers of urea on a first-come-first-served basis.

The subsidy will be paid at the time of release of consignments on submission of bill of lading to the State Bank. The bank will monitor and withhold the issuance of letter of credits (LCs) on the achievement of set target —400,000 tons.

Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) chairman Khalid Mirza briefed the meeting on cartelisation in various sectors, including cement, sugar, milk and automobile, and the action so far taken.

He said the government should not collude with the industry while fixing prices of commodities. He said the CCP felt that sugar mills represented a powerful political lobby and proceedings against any wrongdoing would require full support of the government.

Khalid Mirza said the government should support and assist the CCP in carrying out a detailed competition assessment of the sugar sector to identify and address abuses.

The CCP plans to carry out a detailed study of the automobile sector, including an analysis of competition issues. It would also examine the dairy sector, he added.

The ECC approved the conversion of $13 million credit into grant for Tajikistan to improve bilateral economic and political relations.

It approved additional 20mmcfd low Btu gas from the Kandra field to be upgraded by the producer to 300 Btu/Scf to be allocated to SSGC which, along with additional 5mmcfd pipeline quality gas from SSGC’s system, would be placed at the disposal of PPIB for setting up a new IPP of 120MW.

The following are conditions for the new IPP: additional 5mmcfd pipeline quality gas from SSGC’s system will be for 15 years starting from January 2012 and thereafter on a best effort basis.

The signing of gas sales agreement between the project sponsor and SSGC will be within six months of gas allocation or any other time specified by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, failing which the allocation shall become ‘null and void’.

The total cost of pipeline system and measuring station will be borne by the project sponsors. The gas allocation/supply would be under the Natural Gas Allocation and Management Policy, 2005, and the sponsors must make combined cycle arrangements for the project.

The Ministry of Commerce briefed the meeting on the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones project.

The ECC was informed that wheat stock on Sept 7 was 9.216 million tons, compared to 3.458 million tons during the same period last year —an increase of about 5.758 million tons.

The trade deficit declined by 38.5 per cent to $2.19 billion in July-Aug 2009-10 from $3.56 billion in the same period last year.

Workers’ remittances amounted to $1,525.4 million in July-August 2009-10, compared to $1,219.5 million over the same period last year, showing an increase of 25.1 per cent.
Foreign exchange reserves stood at $14.4 billion on Sept 10 —up from $6.4 billion on Nov 25 last year.

Loan programme for poor families launched

ISLAMABAD: The government launched on Tuesday an income generation programme, ‘Waseela-i-Haq’, under which interest-free loans of Rs300,000 will be given to ‘needy and deserving’ people under a formula prepared by the World Bank.

The programme announced by President Asif Ai Zardari will provide monetary assistance to 731 families each month. The cash support will be for specified purposes, like buying tractors, rickshaws or cabs.
‘It will be a venture of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Pakistan Post,’ presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn.
He said the BISP would give money to deserving families through Pakistan Post after necessary verification.
The spokesman said that in other similar schemes the criteria had been set by elected representatives, and for this project by the World Bank.
‘Under the criteria which cover the poorest of the poor, the facility will not be given to families with a member working in the government, having travelled abroad or holding a passport,’ Mr Babar said.
He said the beneficiaries would have to repay the loan in easy monthly instalments over 12 to 15 years.
‘Selection was made through a computerised draw in the presidency today from among poor families identified by a poverty scorecard prepared by the BISP,’ he said. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani attended the launching ceremony. Speaking on the occasion, the president described Waseela-i-Haq as ‘a ground-breaking poverty alleviation programme and the beginning of the end of a generational poverty trap for the poor’.
The programme was ‘without precedent’, he said.‘Through such initiatives poor people will get a lifetime chance to extricate themselves from poverty.’
President Zardari said the BISP was designed to be much more than merely a poverty alleviation programme. ‘It will be a comprehensive social protection scheme and a platform for women’s empowerment.’
‘It will also cover health and accident insurance, vocational training and interest-free financing for self-employment of the poor.’
The president asked the government to complete a nationwide survey of the poor in a transparent manner to raise credibility among international donors.
He said Rs34 billion had been allocated for the programme in the budget for 2008-09, which had been increased to Rs70 billion for 2009-10 to give cash assistance to five million families.
The government plans to expand the coverage to seven million families by 2010-11.
According to the spokesman, the president advised the government to consider allowing the beneficiaries of the Waseela-i-Haq programme duty-free import of vehicles for generating income.
President Zardari said payments under the BISP would be made only to women heads of the families. ‘This will be a highway to women’s emancipation.’
BISP chairperson Farzana Raja said the survey to list poor families had been completed in 15 districts and the nationwide survey would be completed by the end of next year.
She said the programme would meet international standards for social safety net mechanisms.
Money orders of Rs2,000 are delivered every other month at the doorstep of eligible families and details of payments are posted on the internet

Blasphemy accused found dead in jail

LAHORE / SIALKOT: Tension gripped Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur after a young Christian man who was arrested on blasphemy charges was found dead inside his jail cell on Tuesday.

Jail Superintendent Ishtiaq Lodhi claimed that the accused, Robert alias Fanish Masih, being kept in solitary confinement, had committed ‘suicide’ in his cell.
But his relatives and members of the Christian community refused to accept the jail authorities’ claims and alleged that he was tortured to death.
Robert, 19, belonged to a poor family and was arrested on Saturday by the Sambrial police for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran in Jatheki village the previous day.
Members of the Christian community had fled the village after Muslims took to the streets in protest against the alleged desecration.
Robert was sent to the Sialkot jail on a 14-day judicial remand by a local court on Monday.
Jail authorities claimed that the accused had committed suicide by hanging himself, using the lace of his Shalwar to tie with the latch of his cell’s door.
The situation in Sialkot was tense till late in the evening as relatives of the dead man protested by placing his body on the Kashmir Road.
Demanding arrest of jail officials responsible for Roberts death, they attacked 13 shops and damaged some vehicles.
They dispersed after senior police officers assured them of justice. The Christian community has decided to observe a two-day mourning.
An inquiry committee said Robert had committed suicide, suspending three officials of the jail for negligence.
Lahore DIG Salim Shahid Beg told Dawn over telephone that the committee had inspected the accused’s body and questioned police officers.
He said that they had also consulted senior doctors and leaders of the Christian community, and found that there was no mark of torture on the body. Leaders of the Christian community were satisfied with the findings, the DIG said.
The suspended officials included Assistant Superintendent Sibtain Raza, Head Warden Mohammad Yusuf and Warden Javed Iqbal Awan.
The DIG said the suspended officials would face an inquiry under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act.
The Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, said the government had ordered a probe into the death and promised that its findings would be made public.
In Sialkot, the district administration and police high-ups and leaders of Christian and Muslim communities were trying to keep people calm. Provincial Minister Michael Kamran was also part of the effort.
Christians believed that the accused had been tortured to death by jail officials, who had later hanged his body to give impression that he had committed suicide.
Roberts family claimed that there were torture marks on his body and his ribs were broken. His father, Riasat Masih, called for a judicial probe into the death and asserted that no one could commit suicide with a weak lace of shalwar.
Our Sialkot correspondent adds: The situation was tense not only in Sialkot but also in adjacent towns of Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur.
Scores of Christians took to the streets, blocking traffic and torching tyres. All shops and markets in Sialkot and Sambrial were closed.
Robert’s body would be kept in the Bethania Christian Hospital in Sialkot, and his last rites would be performed on Wednesday.
The deceased would be buried in a cemetery in Sialkot instead of his native village because of security reasons.
The Sambrial police have registered a case against around 100 people for burning the local Catholic Church.

Ponting ton keeps Aussies on course for whitewash

NOTTINGHAM: Australia captain Ricky Ponting's superb century paved the way for the world champions to beat England by four wickets in Tuesday's fifth one-day international (ODI) here at Trent Bridge.
Victory saw Australia go 5-0 up in the seven-match series as they stayed on course to whitewash their oldest foes.
Set a seemingly challenging 300, master batsman Ponting's 126 - his best ODI score against England, surpassing the 119 he made at Melbourne in 2002 - took Australia to within sight of victory.
They still needed 39 off 36 balls after Stuart Broad had struck twice in the 44th over, to dismiss Callum Ferguson plumb lbw and have Ponting driving to Owais Shah at long-off.
But Cameron White and Mitchell Johnson, who ended the match with a six off Ryan Sidebottom, saw Australia home with 10 balls to spare.
England's batting had repeatedly failed this series. But here they made 299 - and still it wasn't enough.
This was only Ponting's second match back since his post Ashes break and the 34-year-old was glad Australia had maintained their winning streak ahead of the Champions Trophy, which starts next week in South Africa.
‘I felt good all day,’ said Ponting. ‘Michael Clarke and myself got us in a position where I would have been disappointed if we hadn't won the game. It shows our one-day cricket is going the right away ahead of the Champions Trophy.’ He added: ‘Anyone we've rested over the last few years has generally come back and played really well.’
Former Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan top-scored for England with 58 - his best for his adopted country.
But Ponting, who shared a third-wicket stand of 133 with vice-captain Michael Clarke (52), showed how hundreds, not fifties, win games.
England captain Andrew Strauss said his side's batting had improved but that several misfields had let them down.
‘The batting was bolder and Eoin Morgan embodied that but the fielding was poor, there was no excuse. In a tight game, you don't want to let yourselves down in an elementary area.’
Ponting was soon into his stride and struck a huge straight six off Sidebottom.
But on 40 he was dropped by Strauss, a drive off leg-spinner Adil Rashid skimming the England skipper's fingers at short extra-cover on its way to the boundary.
Ponting went on to complete a near run-a-ball fifty under the floodlights and two magnificent sixes in as many deliveries from Rashid took him to 97.
A single off Rashid saw Ponting to his 27th hundred in 317 ODIS off 92 balls with three sixes and 10 fours.
Earlier 22-year-old left-hander Morgan, a Middlesex colleague of Strauss, reached fifty with a six off Nathan Bracken.
And he later audaciously reverse-hit Bracken for four, a shot Morgan has developed out of the Gaelic sport of hurling.
But, trying for a repeat next ball, he was caught at short third man.
Both the new ball duo of Peter Siddle, recalled in place of Brett Lee despite the rested fast bowler's five-wicket haul in Australia's seven-wicket win at Lord's on Saturday, and Bracken started with a maiden.
But Strauss, who after leading England to Ashes glory has won five straight ODI tosses but not much else, was again in good form with three boundaries in four balls off Siddle.
However Strauss, who the previous ball had driven off-spinner Nathan Hauritz back over his head, was given out lbw for 35 after attempting a reverse sweep having made 63 in both the previous two ODIs.
Morgan should have been out for 38 when he skied all-rounder Shane Watson to Hussey, who dropped the chance after four juggled attempts.
The series continues with another day/nighter here on Thursday.

Musharraf’s statement regarding war equipments foolish: Wajid

LONDON: The Pakistani High Commissioner in London Wajid Shamul Hassan has termed the statement of former president Pervez Musharraf over the use of western provided arms and equipments as highly irresponsible, Geo news reported on Tuesday.
He said the arms and equipments Pakistan has been receiving from western countries for the activities to counter terrorism is being utilized for nothing but to uproot terrorism.
Wajid termed Musharraf’s statement an attempt to seek people’s support as a last resort during disappointment hours he is undergoing these days.
He said at the time when Pakistan is combating the most difficult war on terrorism, his statement is akin to undermine Pakistan’s efforts.

Row over clearance of dues occurs b/w KESC, Water Board

KARACHI: The KESC has cut down the electric supply of Water Board Head Office including all pumping stations across metropolis over the dispute of clearance of electricity bills between two departments, Geo news reported.
According to spokesman KESC, the electricity supply of the main water pumping stations namely Peri, Gharo, Dhaneji and others has been cut down while the four-hour long loadshedding on daily basis will be observed unless the clearance of KESC dues which water board owes
Four-hour long power outages, on all water pumping stations of the city, have commenced from today meanwhile, already suppressed people of Karachi are ready to suffer from water shortage due to load shedding in water pumping stations, Geo has been informed.

Iran talks must address nuclear issue: Clinton

Updated at: 0038 PST, Wednesday, September 16, 2009 WASHINGTON: Iran must answer concerns about its nuclear program "head on" in any negotiations, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.

Clinton, speaking to reporters here, added that a six-power meeting with Iran on October 1 will test Iran's readiness to discuss international concerns about its uranium enrichment program.

"We have made clear to the Iranians that any talks we participate in must address the nuclear issue head on. It cannot be ignored," Clinton said.

Clinton conceded that "there is no prediction" as to what will emerge from the talks when she was asked how Washington could agree to them without any Iranian commitment to discuss its own nuclear program.

"The point is to meet and explain to the Iranians face to face the choices Iran has and to see whether Iran is prepared to engage with us around its nuclear program," Clinton said, referring to a carrot-and-stick approach toward Iran.

The five UN Security Council permanent members -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- plus Germany are due to take part in the talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on October 1.

The six powers had called for urgent talks with Iran after it handed over the proposals last week.

British bank acquires football club sponsorship for 80m Pound

LONDON: Standard Chartered has acquired the shirt sponsorship of Liverpool Football Club for £80million at a time, when the world is marking the first anniversary of the global slowdown.
Foreign sources said that Standard Chartered has signed an agreement with Liverpool Football Club for the display of its logo on the T-shirts of the premier football club team players against annual payments of 20 million pounds for four years.
Standard Chartered will take place of Carlsberg, which had offered payment of 10 million pounds annually.

Proper management vital for CNG shortage in winter

KARACHI: The better scheduling is vital to cope with the potential shortage of the CNG during upcoming winter season, Geo News reported Sunday.

CNG Station Owners Association Chairman Malik Khuda Bux said there are at the moment at least 2.4 million CNG-fuelled vehicles in the country, which has given rise to the saving of petrol imports worth $2 to 4 billion.

Malik Khuda Bux said the national forex reserves are not such that could be burdened with heavy fuel imports with CNG pumping station closed.

Malik further said the crude oil price goes up in winter season in international market; under the circumstances, increased petrol price and its imports would be hard nut to crack for both government and people

$200 million investment back to Pak stock markets

KARACHI: Seventy-eight per cent of the amount withdrawn by foreign investors from January to May 2009 has been returned to Pakistan stock markets.

As per statistics released by National Clearing Company, foreign investors withdrew an amount of $261 million in January-May 2009 while they brought back the amount of $203 million in June-September 2009 which is 78 per cent of the total amount withdrawn.

After an improvement by world rating agencies – Modis International and Standard and Pores, confidence of foreign investors in stock markets is increasing and investment in Pakistan’s stock markets is being considered as the most attractive in Asian countries.

Sugar supply beings from Punjab to NWFP

PESHAWAR: The sugar supply to NWFP province from Punjab has begun, as sugar crisis to a large extent has been brought under control, Geo News reported Tuesday.District Coordination Officer (DCO) Peshawar Sahibzada Muhammed Anees told Geo News that the intensity of sugar crisis is largely reduced and the sugar supply from Punjab to the NWFP is underway.He said at least 10 truckloads of sugar from Khazana Sugar Mill are being supplied to the market.Anees said the price of sugar has been pegged at Rs47/kg and the people are buying the commodity on the same price.

KSE-100 Index sustains 9,000 level

KARACHI: Profit taking at Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) on Tuesday eroded 45 points from the benchmark KSE-100 Index which closed at 9,029.
The major Index witnessed ups and downs right from the beginning during today’s trade.
Foreign investors off loaded their holdings in energy stocks and at one point the Index was seen below 9,000 level. However, later reports of oil and gas discovery helped the stock market some of the losses and the Index closed at the current level.
The trade volume stood at 170 million shares.Bank of Punjab was today’s volume leader which gained 74 paisas to close at Rs14.90.
KSE-30 Index slipped 64 points to peg at 9,611.

Asian stock markets narrowly mixed

HONG KONG: Asian markets were narrowly mixed Tuesday after Wall Street shrugged off trade tensions between the U.S. and China to end at its highest point in nearly a year.
The dollar clawed back some losses against the yen, while oil prices hovered below $69 a barrel.
The slight gains in some markets followed Wall Street, where major benchmarks bounced back after sliding early in the day as investors eyed a brewing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. But analysts said a full-out trade war was highly unlikely given how much is at stake for the two increasingly intertwined economies.
Global markets have recovered much of their losses since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. a year ago froze the financial system and deepened the world downturn.
With little in the way of economic data, company announcements and government policy changes to drive the markets, many investors were waiting for reasons to buy in the short term, said Andrew Orchard, Asian strategist for Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong.
"Liquidity is still strong, and until they remove the excess liquidity, there's a good chance of the markets will keep rising," Orchard said.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock average was up just 0.1 point at 10,202.16, and Shanghai's benchmark was off 0.1 percent at 3,022.94. Australia's index was fractionally lower. Hong Kong's stock market was closed in the morning following a typhoon.
Most other markets were higher, with Korea's Kospi adding 1 percent to 1,651.58 and India's Sensex rising 0.9 percent to 16,301.15. Taiwan's benchmark added 1.1 percent.
Overnight in the U.S., major benchmarks posted moderate gains, with Utility AES Corp. helping pull the market higher after The Wall Street Journal reported that China's investment arm is interested in buying a stake in the company.
The Dow rose 21.39, or 0.2 percent, to 9,626.80.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.61, or 0.6 percent, to 1,049.34, an 11-month high. The Nasdaq composite index rose 10.88, or 0.5 percent, to 2,091.78.
U.S. markets were headed for a muted open. Dow futures were flat at 9,611 and S&P futures climbed 6.3, or 0.6 percent, to 1,047.90.
Oil prices were down modestly in Asia as investors weighed concerns about weak crude demand against optimism of a global economic recovery. Benchmark crude for October delivery fell 14 cents at $68.72. On Monday, the contract fell 43 cents to settle at $68.86.
The dollar gained to 91.05 yen from 90.89 yen. The euro fell to $1.4615 from $1.4627.

More oil, gas reserves found in Attock

KARACHI: The efforts to discover the oil and gas reserves in the country are afoot, as more reserves of oil and gas have been found in District Attock, Geo News reported Tuesday.According to a notice issued to Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) by Oil and Gas Development Company Limited, the discovery was made in Well-11 in Attock.According to preliminary research, 95 barrel of oil and 3.6 million cubic foot of gas would be acquired from this well.It merits mentioning here that Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has 100 percent share in discovery of reserves at Dakhni’s Well-11

TCP floats tender for import of 25000 tons sugar

KARACHI: Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has floated tender for import of additional 25,000 tons sugar.According to TCP spokesman Khizr Hayat, the tender will be opened on September 30.Tenders for import of 200,000 tons sugar was floated earlier. A as a result of this, 108000 tons sugar has arrived while 40,000 tons local sugar is already is in TCP stock.Thus, a total stock of 148000 tons sugar is available in TCP godowns at present, the spokesman said.

Oil prices higher on positive US data

LONDON: Oil prices were mostly higher Tuesday as the market digested positive US economic data pointing to recovery in the world's largest energy consumer.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for October delivery, leapt 2.07 dollars to finish at 70.93 dollars a barrel, after two daily declines.
In London, Brent North Sea crude for October delivery drifted nine cents lower to settle at 67.35 dollars a barrel.
In New York, "market participants looking for directional cues from the (US) producer price index and retail sales readings have concluded that the data are supportive for oil prices," said Mike Fitzpatrick of MF Global.
Action came after official data showed that US retail sales leapt a stronger-than-expected 2.7 percent in August from July, led by the government's popular "Cash for Clunkers" rebate program that boosted car sales.
In a separate report, the US government said a surge in energy costs pushed up US producer prices 1.7 percent in August as inflation at the wholesale level turned positive, after a 0.9 percent decline in July.
"All of those data pushed the price of crude higher as they showed more potential for growth," said Jason Schenker of Prestige Economics.
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke added to the upbeat tone, declaring the US recession, which began in December 2007, "is very likely over" technically but that the economy remained weak due to difficult credit conditions and high unemployment.
MF Global's Fitzpatrick cautioned that "while there seems to be general agreement that recovery is underway, a return to pre-recession economic performance is still a long way off.
"Traders also digested news that the OPEC oil producers' cartel lowered slightly its forecast for lower crude demand this year, but maintained its projection of a modest recovery in 2010.
World oil demand will decline slightly in 2009 but start growing again next year, OPEC said Tuesday in a monthly report

Zardari denies giving safe passage to Musharraf

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has denied his statement in which he said that former president Pervez Musharraf was given a safe passage under a deal. According to the presidential spokesman President Zardari did not give any statement about giving safe passage to Musharraf. It may be recalled that on Monday while talking to newsman in an Iftar dinner Zardari was said to state, that local and international stockholders were involved in giving the safe passage to former president and that in this regard some issues were settled between both sides. In his statement Zardari was further reported to say that, “When approached regarding former president’s safe exit I had replied ‘I hope Pervez Musharraf will play golf’.” Presidential spokesman denied that dialogues with international stockholders were held to give amnesty to the former president.

PML-N moves privileged motion in NA

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) has moved a privileged motion in the National Assembly (NA) against the statement of President Asif Ali Zardari on giving the safe passage to the former president Pervez Musharraf. The motion, signed by 91 MNAs, has been brought by Hanif Abbasi, Dr. Tariq Fazal and Anjum Aqeel, the NA Members of PML-N. It may be recalled that opposition leader in NA, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had annou ... Full Story