Dollar pauses for breath as China GDP beats estimates

Dollar pauses for breath as China GDP beats estimates
The dollar index, which measures the currency against six major rivals, eased 0.078 percent to 102.01 after rising 0.5 percent overnight. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 18 April 2023
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Dollar pauses for breath as China GDP beats estimates

Dollar pauses for breath as China GDP beats estimates

SINGAPORE: The dollar slipped on Tuesday after a sharp rise overnight as strong US economic data reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in May, while China’s economic recovery gathered pace in the first quarter.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against six major rivals, eased 0.078 percent to 102.01 after rising 0.5 percent overnight.

China’s gross domestic product grew 4.5 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2023, data showed on Tuesday, beating analyst forecasts for a 4 percent expansion as the end of COVID-19 curbs lifted the world’s second-largest economy out of a slump.

Separate data on March activity also released on Tuesday showed retail sales growth quickened to 10.6 percent, beating expectations and hitting a near two-year high, while factory output growth also sped up but was just below expectations.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. currency strategist Christopher Wong said it was quite an encouraging report, with retail sales, GDP and property sales all higher than expected, reinforcing that post-pandemic recovery momentum remained intact.

The offshore Chinese yuan fell 0.02 percent to $6.8795 per dollar. In the US, data released on Monday showed confidence among single-family homebuilders improved for a fourth consecutive month in April, while manufacturing activity in New York state increased for the first time in five months.

Markets are pricing in a 91 percent chance of the Fed raising interest rates by 25 basis points at its next meeting in May, the CME FedWatch tool showed, with traders expecting rate cuts toward the end of the year.

“The dollar can remain sensitive to the strength, or not, of the economic data as the Fed likely nears the end of their tightening cycle,” said Kristina Clifton, an economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Meanwhile, the euro was up 0.07 percent to $1.0934 but was below the one-year high of $1.10755 it touched last week, with traders expecting the region’s central bank to stick to its monetary tightening path.

The Japanese yen was flat at 134.48 per dollar, while the sterling last traded at $1.2381, up 0.06 percent on the day. Investors will focus on UK employment data due later in the day, which could cause some volatility in the pound if the report shows that the labor market is not cooling.

CBA’s Clifton said Britain’s policymakers would be watching the wages data closely for further confirmation that private sector income growth is slowing.

The kiwi rose 0.10 percent to $0.619, while the Australian dollar gained 0.22 percent to $0.672.

Minutes of the last Reserve Bank of Australia meeting showed that the central bank considered an 11th-consecutive rate hike in April before deciding to pause. The central bank, however, said it was ready to tighten further if inflation and demand failed to cool.


Qatar to invest 10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

Qatar to invest 10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 
Updated 33 sec ago
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Qatar to invest 10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

Qatar to invest 10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

PARIS: France and Qatar have sealed a strategic partnership under which Qatar has agreed to channel €10 billion ($10.85 billion) into start-ups and investment funds in France between 2024 and 2030, the French presidency said in a statement. 

The investments “to the mutual benefit of both countries” will target key sectors ranging from energy transition, semiconductor, aerospace, artificial intelligence, digital, health, hospitality and culture, it added. 

The investment was announced as Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s ruling emir, started a two-day visit to France on Tuesday, his first state visit to the country since his accession to the throne in 2013. 


Saudi Arabia aims for 150k new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy, says minister

Saudi Arabia aims for 150k new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy, says minister
Updated 7 min 8 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia aims for 150k new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy, says minister

Saudi Arabia aims for 150k new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy, says minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is poised to create 150,000 new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy facilities, with a commitment to achieving 75 percent localization, said a top official. 

During the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman emphasized that the energy sector has the biggest chance to achieve that localization target compared to any other sector.    

The minister said: “We see somewhere around 150,000 jobs being created, including not only working in chemical plants and with heavy wind or renewable facilities but also we see a lot of jobs are coming through the localization programs. We also are committed to a localization program which is 75 percent.” 

He added: “This is what we are going try to achieve with using this approach just to give you an idea of how we are thinking and how much it is being elaborated.” 


Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says

Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says
Updated 52 min 52 sec ago
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Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says

Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says

RIYADH: Global estimates suggest that technology adoptions and expansion are set to transform 70 percent of business practices globally, according to a top official.

Speaking during the opening of the Human Capability Initiative held in Riyadh, Saudi Minister of Education Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan highlighted that global estimates indicate a potential disruption of 40 percent of workers’ skills within the next four to five years thanks to these changes.

“During the next two days, over 250 global leaders and experts will join us to share their knowledge and insight on how to unleash potential for humankind capability and catalyzing international corporations to maximize resilience in times of uncertainty,” Al-Benyan said.

He added: “Technology adoptions and expansion are set to transform 70 percent of business practices globally. As economists continue to navigate these dynamic labor market landscape, it is more critical than ever to work inclusively to promote positive human capability outcomes.”


UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 

UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 
Updated 28 February 2024
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UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 

UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 

RIYADH: The UAE’s economy is projected to grow by 5 percent in 2024, a leading member of the government has reiterated.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency, also known as WAM, Minister of the Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri said that more than 73 percent of the national economy is now non-oil, a historic first for the country.

His projection is in line with recent assessments by the Ministry of Finance and S&P Global, which forecast growth of 5.7 percent and 5 percent respectively.

“This achievement reflects the confidence of the private sector and investors around the world in the UAE’s investment environment,” Al-Marri said. 

The minister added that the private sector is a key pillar in the new economic and investment landscape and is at the heart of global changes and challenges. 

“And in implementation of the directives of the wise leadership, the UAE has identified the most sustainable and flexible economic sectors, which have reached more than 16 sectors, including health technology, agriculture, education, financial services, artificial intelligence, and other sectors that contribute to the sustainability of economic sectors and enhance the strength of the national economy,” Al-Marri highlighted.


More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official
Updated 33 min 11 sec ago
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More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official
  • Only 25 percent of the sector’s workforce are female

RIYADH: Saudi women should explore more opportunities in the petrochemical industry, as only 25 percent of the sector’s workforce are female, said a top official. 

Speaking at the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh on Feb. 28, Faisal Al-Suwailem, executive vice president of corporate human resources at Saudi Basic Industries Corp., said that the industrial sector in the Kingdom has been witnessing a sharp rise in female employment over the past three years. 

“If we take a look at the petrochemical industry, in the last 20 years, I have seen a great increase in the participation of females in the petrochemical industry. However, if you look at the number of women in the petrochemical industry, it is still about 25 percent. So, I believe we still have room to grow,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “In the industrial sector, the hiring of females has increased 93 percent over the last three years. We have right now over 63,000 females working in plants around the Kingdom.” 

Al-Suwailem further pointed out that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the female workforce target outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

“Let us first look at Vision 2030, and under the thriving economy for female participation in the labor market, the baseline target was set at 22.8 percent, and now we are at 34.5 percent,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added that SABIC stands out as one of the companies offering structured training programs aimed at nurturing and enhancing the skills of young individuals.

Al-Suwailem also underscored that SABIC offers scholarship programs that provide equal opportunities for both men and women. 

“SABIC is a national champion for sure in petrochemicals, but it also has a proven record of being a national champion for development, job creation, learning and contribution to the gross domestic product,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “SABIC’s scholarship program, which is meant for Saudi bright young talents, is right now equally split between men and women.” 

For her part, during the same panel discussion, Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kenya Florence Bore said that the country is preparing its youth to adapt themselves to procure jobs in the international market. 

“Our focus currently is on labor migration, and even as you focus on labor migration, it is one of the areas where we get foreign remittances,” said Bore. 

She added: “Kenya has been undergoing lots of changes in the workplace. We have both the informal and formal jobs. The informal sector is really growing at a faster rate than the formal jobs. And because of that, you will find most of our Kenyans are now venturing out for jobs in the international market.”