Sunday, 21 October 2018

Bailing out Pakistan by IMF or plunging it deeper into debt trap

The critics of Prime Minister Imran Khan are firing all sorts of shots at him. The biggest blame is that the person who didn’t want to approach International Monetary Fund (IMF) has conveniently bowed down rather than making an effort to live without the crutches of lender of last resort. Khan has been critical of borrowing during his election campaign, might be that he failed in understanding the gravity of situation. Let everyone try to find a logical reply to the basic question, will abstaining from borrowing from IMF save Pakistan from committing default? The immediate and logical reply is a big no because the countries that were most likely to extend supporting hands have done the contrary.
Therefore, it is imperative for the ruling regime to strike the best deal and it is also the responsibility of the opposition to help the incumbent government to have consensus on a home grown plan to make debt servicing sustainable. Let PML-N and PPP leadership not forget that they ruled the country for 10 years and supported each other under the much talked about ‘Charter of Democracy’. The country would have not faced the present crisis, had they followed ‘prudent policies’, contained extravaganzas and corruption and supported flight of capital from Pakistan. The ongoing investigations indicate that Pakistanis have parked billions of dollars outside Pakistan, own properties and doing thriving business in many neighboring countries.
After the victory in election, Khan was assured support by United States and Saudi Arabia and told not to approach Iran. Now it is evident that that these countries were willing to extend financial support to Pakistan, only if it agrees to support their geopolitical agenda. The US was prompt in instructing IMF not to lend any money to Pakistan to pay off Chinese debt. The much talked about Saudi oil facility and credit has not come to Pakistan, till this article is going into print. In such a hostile environment Pakistan has no option but to approach IMF and accept its stringent conditions.
Two of the most contentious issues faced by Pakistan are growing current account deficit and shrinking foreign exchange reserves. Therefore, the first target is establishing a ‘lifeline’ before the patient goes into coma and chances of recovery diminish. It may also be kept in mind that issue of ‘Certificate of Health’ by IMF also facilitates in borrowing from other multilateral lenders that include the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Finance Corporation (IFC). This may also pave way for disbursement of loan by Islamic Development Bank.
Those who do not believe in my narrative, should look at the movement of US$-Rupee parity over the last few days. Till it was not clear that Pakistan will approach IMF and would also receive an encouraging reply, stock market kept plunging and the benchmark index of Pakistan Stock Exchange kept registering erosion of a magnitude that was hardly witnessed in the recent years. However, the situation started reversing after Finance Minister, Asad Umar met IMF Chief. Though, a lot of clarifications are yet to be made, the commitment by multilateral lenders have started pouring in. Someone has said it right that the markets are impervious to emotional appeals, and investors cannot be inspired or persuaded, other than through the cold inducements of gain and loss.
The likely IMF bailout package is certainly not enough to pull Pakistan out of the ‘default like situation’.  However, it offers the space to take corrective steps and put the economy on track. The next but biggest challenge will be to undertake much delayed structural reforms. Almost all the previous governments have promised that while approaching IMF but many failed in fulfilling the commitments.
I will not hesitate for a second in saying that Imran Khan is the propagator of change but he is still surrounded by those who are known for maintaining status quo. Pakistan suffers from ‘confidence deficit’ that is a far bigger threat as compared to budget or current account deficit. What needs to be done is comparatively straightforward and the best path forward can be mapped out quickly as well as the PTI leadership has no shortage of competent people to make Imran Khan’s dream come true.
Khan has a strong social media team that can play a pivotal role in changing the perception, but the real issue is to change the ground realities. What need to be managed urgently right now are the fundamentals not the perceptions. That is where the prime minister’s focus is immediately required.
To put the country on the fast growth trajectory, it is necessary to point out that IMF recipe of raising electricity and gas tariffs, hiking interest rate and withdrawing subsidies could prove fatal blow to country’s economy. It is known to all and sundry that Pakistan suffers from cost pushed inflation that also renders ‘Made in Pakistan’ goods uncompetitive in the global markets. Unless exports are boosted containing current account is not possible. Boosting remittances may bring some additional dollars, but producing exportable surplus and attaining competitive advantage is a must.
PML-N and PPP regimes are known for extravaganzas and wastages; PTI has to follow austerity by discouraging import of luxury items. In a country where a huge percentage of population lives below the poverty line, there is no room for import dog food, luxury cars, expensive mobile phone. Let Pakistan follow the models that enabled Turkey and many other countries to bid farewell to IMF. The citizens of Pakistan ought to thank IMF for the 18 assistance program, but will also have to learn to live within means. It is not difficult but needs solid commitment and support by all the political parties.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Can re-imposition of sanctions on Iran by United States cause any disruption in oil trade?

With 4th November 2018, the date for re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran drawing closer, uncertainty about how much of global oil supply will be affected is running high. Mixed signals are coming from some of Iran’s biggest oil customers. Analysts fear that uncertainty is likely to linger on even after the sanctions become effective. There is a need to understand the motive behind the US decision.
There is growing consensus that the US decision is based on achieving three key objectives: 1) weakening Iran economically to stop it from becoming a regional power. Both the US and Israel have learnt that an economically strong Iran is the biggest hurdle in maintaining their hegemony in the region, 2) by creating rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the US also succeed in selling more arms to Saudi Arabia, which has been brainwashed to an extent where the monarch considers Iran a bigger threat as compared to Israel and 3) the biggest beneficiary of high oil price is the US that has attained the status of largest oil producing country.
According to energy sector analysts, if crude price plunge below US$50/barrel most of the US shale companies will go bankrupt. It is on record that in the past when crude price touched US$147/barrel the number of active rigs rose to around 1,600. When the price plunged to less than US$40/barrel the number of active rigs declined to less than 600. Therefore
One of the objectives of western media, controlled by the Zionists, is to keep the level of uncertainty high by promoting geopolitical crises. By keeping level of uncertainty high, speculators are facilitated and one thing has been proved without any doubt that even the hawkish statements of the US present keeps oil prices volatile.
This volatility also keeps many economic super powers subservient to the US. There are credible evidences that the association of Japanese refiners has suspended its crude oil purchases from Iran and South Korean refiners have also stopped buying Iranian crude in the hope that Washington will grant the heavily import-dependent nation a sanction waiver.
Reportedly, India’s largest refiners have not ordered any Iranian crude for November deliveries, which suggest that India might follow other countries buying oil from Iran. One can’t ignore a fact that the deadline for purchasing oil cargoes for November delivery is still a couple of weeks away. Earlier, India had indicated to use its currency to settle oil transactions with Iran.
The European Union has come up with a mechanism to continue buying oil and oil products from Iran, but analysts are skeptical about how effective it will be. The mechanism basically means transactions will use the barter principle rather than money—a mechanism the USSR used during the Cold war. Since a transaction is a transaction, with or without money, the U.S. could expand sanctions to cover barter deals also.
Some close observers of the situation warn that despite all the rhetoric from Washington, things in Iran are not as bad as being portrayed by the western media. The country has the resources to withstand the crisis. Reportedly Iran has enough to handle 1.85 million bpd in exports, and Iranian insurers are sure to provide coverage, the uncertainties continue.
After entering into different controversies, the US president has hit Saudi monarch below the belt by saying that its rule could no last beyond two weeks without the US support. Analysts say that after facing defeat in Syria and Iraq, the US seems adamant at dragging Saudi Arabia into some proxy war and putting all the blame on Iran.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Do the US citizens know how many people have been killed using tax payers’ money?

A few days back I posted a blog “US: Peace Broker or War Monger” and my conclusion was “United States is the biggest war monger”. This morning I read one of the most popular Global Research 2017 articles, its tile is “US has killed more than 20 million people in 37 victim nations since World War II. This prompted me to arrive at another conclusion “The US Citizens have hardly bothered to find out where tax payers’ money is being used”. I have taken extracts from this article to remind the US citizens to open up their eyes and try to stop the government from spending their money on wars.
After the catastrophic attacks of 9/1, monumental sorrow and a feeling of desperate and understandable anger was inculcated in the American psyche. A few people at that time attempted to promote a balanced perspective by pointing out that the United States had also been responsible for causing the same feelings in people in other nations, but they produced hardly a ripple. Although, Americans understand in the wisdom of people around the world empathizing with the suffering of one another, such a reminder of wrongs committed by their government was soon overshadowed by an accelerated “war on terrorism.” The efforts of US citizens must continue to develop understanding and compassion in the world. Hopefully, this article will help in addressing the question “How many 9/11s has the United States caused in other nations since WWII?”
The causes of wars are complex. In some instances nations other than the US may have been responsible for more deaths, but if the involvement of United States appeared to have been a necessary cause of a war or conflict it was considered responsible for the deaths in it. In other words they probably would not have taken place if the US had not used the heavy hand of its power. The military and economic power of the United States was crucial.
This study reveals that US military forces were directly responsible for about 10 million to 15 million deaths during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the two Iraq Wars. The Korean War also includes Chinese deaths while the Vietnam War also includes fatalities in Cambodia and Laos.
The US citizens are probably not aware of these numbers and know even less about the proxy wars for which the United States is also responsible. In the these wars from 9 million to 14 million people have been killed in Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan.
But the victims are not just from big nations or one part of the world. The remaining deaths were in smaller ones which constitute over half the total number of nations. Virtually all parts of the world have been the target of US intervention. The overall conclusion reached is that the United States most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of 20 million to 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.
To the families and friends of these victims it makes little difference whether the causes were US military action, proxy military forces, the provision of US military supplies or advisers, or other ways, such as economic pressures applied by the US. They had to make decisions about other things such as finding lost loved ones, whether to become refugees, and how to survive.
The pain and anger spreads even further. Some authorities estimate that there are as many as 10 wounded for each person killed in these war. Their visible, continued suffering is a continuing reminder to their fellow countrymen. It is essential that Americans learn more about this topic so that they can begin to understand the pain that others feel. Someone once observed that the Germans during WWII chose not to know, the US citizens must not allow history to say this about them.
Let every reader keep this in mind that gathering the actual count of deaths is not easy. The collection of data was undertaken with full realization of this fact. These estimates will probably be revised later either upward or downward, but undoubtedly the total will remain in the millions.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Indian Frustration or War Mania

According to news reports, New Delhi has called off a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, just a day after confirmation.
The reason for cancellation of meeting was stated by Indian External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, "unclean intentions" on Pakistan's side. He said, "It is obvious that behind Pakistan's proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office," he said. "Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless."
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed the development "unfortunate", saying, "We had already told India that if they take one step towards us, we will take two. However, it seems that they faltered after taking just one step."
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman sent a Twitter condemning the move, saying, "Shame that on International Peace Day, India has refused to talk peace with Pakistan in even a routine manner at the UN on the sidelines of the General Assembly." "Running from talks won’t change the fact that this time Indian repression in Kashmir has been noticed in a UN report ", she added.
The Indian arrogance can be attributed to a recently signed agreement between the US and India that would pave the way for New Delhi to buy advanced American weaponry and to share sensitive military technology, strengthening their military partnership as both powers warily eyes the rise of China. The countries also promised to hold joint land, sea and air military exercises in India next year.  
On the day Jim Mattis, the US Defense Secretary had said, “Today’s fruitful discussion illustrated the value of continued cooperation between the world’s two largest democracies. We will work together for a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
If I refer back to the visit of Jim Mattis, Defense Secretary and Mike Pompeo, State Secretary, despite the friendly handshakes and flattering remarks exchanged as the two met with their counterparts, their counties remain deeply skeptical of each other.
The US is worried about how willing India will be to openly counter China as the Chinese expand their influence in the waters between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is also unhappy about India’s reluctance to cut trade relations with Iran.
India views the Trump administration as erratic, and it is troubled by the United States’ recent barriers to trade, which threaten to impose tariffs on Indian goods and force New Delhi to import more American products.
I would also attribute Indian attitude as assign of frustration, because the US has failed in convincing Pakistan to allow Indian goods to pass through for Afghanistan and Iran. It is irony of fate that the US remains dependent on Pakistan for the passing of NATO supplies. The US has not forgotten the adversities faced after Pakistan put a temporary embargo on the movement of NATO supplies.  

Saturday, 15 September 2018

US attempt to contain Iranian oil export aimed at keeping crude prices high

I have often wondered why the US is adamant at containing oil export from Iran. This morning I have found some clue after reading the weekly email sent to me by Oil &Energy Insider, captioned “A Crucial Period for Oil Markets”. It covers many news but two most important for me are: "Oil prices rose this week on the back of continued outages from Venezuela and Iran. The EIA also warned “We are set to enter a 'crucial period' for oil markets”.
The report also gave details that U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry held two high-profile meetings, one with his counterpart from Saudi Arabia and the other with his Russian counterpart. These meeting were aimed at ensuring ample supply of crude oil after re-imposition of sanctions on Iran become into effect in November. Perry praised OPEC as a whole and Russia for responding to higher prices by increasing production, even using the word “admiration” as something the cartel and Russia deserved for their efforts to keep oil prices under control. For my readers understanding the US objective will become much clear after reading the following details.
By pulling itself out of the agreement with Iran, the US aims at achieving multiple objectives, the top of the agenda item being initiating the hype for the change in regime in Iran. The sole purpose of the US is to cripple the Iranian economy to an extent that could lead to regime change. However, observers familiar with Iranian politics have warned this is an unlikely outcome. Crippling Iranian economy will also please Saudi Arabia, which has been brainwashed to the level for singing the manta, “Iran is a bigger enemy as compared to Israel”.
Another key US objective is to mend its relationship with Russia. While the US administration has been trying to bring down Iranian oil export to virtually zero, it is encouraging Russia to keep its production at the highest level to ensure there will be enough oil even when Iran’s exports slump. There is a need to understand the shift in the US policy towards Russia. The situation is particularly interesting as U.S.-Russian relations are at a historic low but Russia is one of the world’s top oil producers, enjoying the power to control global oil supply and prices.
According to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, the global oil market remains fragile because of production declines and geopolitical unrest. “This is huge uncertainty on the market – how the countries located in Europe and Asia Pacific region, which buy almost 2 million barrels per day of Iranian oil will act. The situation should be closely watched, to make the right decisions,” said Novak. He also said Russia could step in if the market needs more supply. Russia has potential to raise production by 300,000 barrels per day.
Worries of OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia are multiple. OPEC has cut its 2019 oil demand forecast because of economic uncertainties arising from Sino-US trade war. The 1.41 million barrels per day (bpd) demand growth forecast is 20,000 bpd lower than last month’s figure. “Rising challenges in some emerging and developing economies are skewing the current global economic growth risk forecast to the downside,” said an OPEC report.
The protests and riots in Iraq’s oil-rich southern region are flaring up again, potentially posing a threat to the country’s record oil export levels. Some companies have taken their foreign workers out. Production hasn't been hit yet, but if anyone facility goes down, the production loss could be as high as 800,000 bpd, so it's a big story to watch. Global experts also highlight that the lack of spare capacity makes such an outage especially worrisome. They also say that the real problem right now is limited availability of options to absorb shocks.
Within the US, Hurricane Florence is battering the coast of North and South Carolina, but there very little fallout is expected for the oil market since no oil refineries or upstream production facilities are located in those states. But if the Hurricane travels further inland into the Appalachian region, it could curtail shale gas production.
The US shale companies emerge clear winners. They took advantage of relatively high oil prices in the second quarter to lock in hedges beyond 2019. Permian shale drillers increased 2020 hedging by 431 percent in the second quarter of this year, an indication that E&Ps are worried about pipeline bottlenecks stretching beyond 2019. The quantum of hedging appears unusual. The risk of hedging is that some companies could eliminate upside exposure if pipelines are completed on time and oil prices rise.
It may not be wrong to infer that after minimizing oil exports from Libya and Venezuela, the next likely US targets are Iran and Iraq. It is also evident that in the US pursuit to keep oil prices high, it is fully supported by Saudi Arabia and Russia. A point to be watched microscopically is how many countries succeed in acquiring US exemption to buy oil from Iran?

US: Peace Broker or War Monger

On Friday, 14th September 2018 I was among the audience who were invited by Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi to a talk led by Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President, Asia Centre, United States Institute of Peace. The other two worthy speakers were former Defence Secretary of Pakistan (Rtd) Lt. Gen. Tariq Waseem Ghazi and former Chairman of Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Jams­hed Hashmi.
Dr. Yusuf spoke about his latest book ‘Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia’, in which he studied environments where nuclear weapons were present which changed the dynamics of any crisis. He also proposed the theory of ‘brokering of peace’, and crisis management in the regional nuclear environment of Pakistan and India.
Dr. Moeed said, “My findings suggest that you will always have stronger third parties who want to influence the crisis because they are worried that things may escalate to the nuclear level. These third parties will show up on their own; for instance the US exaggerates the risk of nuclear escalation because of the lesson it drew from the Cold War which was that nuclear war, if it ever happens, will happen not because countries deliberately want it, but despite them not wanting it.”
“It is not that Pakistan and India want the third party,” he elaborated. “However, when the third party shows up to offer mediation and help mitigate the crisis, Pakistan and India recognize they do not have any dependable bilateral ties to bank on. Also, both states then tend to force the third party to deliver concessions rather than directly engage with the opponent. Both Pakistan and India try to use the third party, in this instance the US, to get concessions.”
Tariq Waseem Ghazi disagreed with this model. According to him, there is a general disregard from India’s side to engage with Pakistan on a bilateral level as well as in the presence of a third party, whether it be the UN, the US or China. “Indians say everybody else is irrelevant and wish to solely dictate the terms of engagement. In the last 10 years we have been trying to do exactly what Moeed has been proposing for crisis resolution and conflict prevention, but no proposal from us has been acceptable to India.”
Jams­hed Hashmi was of the opinion that the US tends to do more harm than good when trying to deescalate crises between Pakistan and India. “The US will continue to ‘broker’ conflicts and we have to accept that. However, nowhere during this brokerage has the biggest point of contention between Pakistan and India — Kashmir — ever been debated on or the crisis resolved.”
Having listened to the worthy speakers, a question came to my mind, is US a peacekeeper or a war monger? With reference to Pakistan I am witness to many frustrating experiences with the US. Some of these include unwillingness of the strongest super power to mediate in the resolution of Kashmir issue, which is often termed flash point. The super power didn’t play any role in stopping East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh. The US first used Pakistan along with Taliban to fight USSR troops in Afghanistan and post 9/11 Pakistan was used against Taliban. Over the years ‘do more’ manta continues. Now Afghans have been brain washed to a level where they consider Pakistan a foe rather than a friend.
During the cold war era, India was provided military hardware by the US to equip it to fight against China. The US also facilitated India to attain the status of regional super power. The program has been further accelerated after the commencement of work on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The relationship between Iran and India are being supported to counter relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. A closer look in the neighborhood shows proxy wars going on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon for years.
Based on Pakistan experience and ongoing US proxy wars in the region, one is forced to arrive at a conclusion that US is not a peacekeeper but warmonger. Having said this, I would like to thank Dr. Moeed for providing an opportunity to the newly elected government of Pakistan to understand the paradigm shift in US foreign policy, imposing itself as a peace broker on Pakistan and India. My suggestion to the Indian government is also to engage with Pakistan directly, rather than asking the US to mediate.  

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Pakistan Stock Exchange witnesses 22 percent decline in daily trading volume

With a modest recovery in the first couple of days, the benchmark index of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), lost most of the gains posted recently. The week ended 7th September closed at 40,855 points, down 2.1%WoW. Showcasing all the tell-tale signs of a highly volatile, illiquid (average daily trading volume shrinking  by 22%WoW) and dampened near term outlook, investors remained cautious. The news impacting the market included: 1) a number of crucial and time sensitive decisions for the new government where clarity is awaited and 2) growing risk of a cyclical downturn in consumption led demand where monetary tightening and high fuel prices suggest reduced spending. Other news affecting investors’ sentiments were: 1) US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo stating that his visit to Islamabad led to an agreement that it’s time for the United States and Pakistan to deliver on their commitments, 2) the central bank announcing auction of Rs5.15 trillion worth Market Treasury Bills and Pakistan Investment Bonds during the four remaining months of the current calendar year, 3) Prime Minister Imran Khan approving 46% increase in gas prices as proposed by OGRA, along with ordering steps to control annual gas theft of Rs50 billion and 4) President on the advice of the Prime Minister reconstituting the Council of Common Interests (CCI), and constituting the Cabinet Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CCoCPEC). Volume leaders for the week were: BOP, KEL, AGL and EPCL. While the gainers were led by: ABL, KAPCO, UBL, KEL, the laggards included: PIOC, DGKC, CHCC and NCL. Volatility is expected to mar investors’ sentiments over the coming weeks because of some difficult to comprehend decision, also lacking prudent thinking. Accumulating positions on dips and tactical sector switching could yield returns. Overall, market participants will be closely monitoring policy decisions, particularly regarding gas and electricity tariff hikes (proposed by OGRA and NEPRA with ECC's formal decisions pending) and near term measures to curtail the external account deficit.
Ballooning current account deficit (CAD) due to the hefty debt repayments have led to a mammoth external financing gap (US$20.42 billion for FY18) as insufficient external inflows (US$14.35 billion loans in FY18) plunged the foreign exchange reserves held by State Bank of Pakistan to US$9.79 billion, down US$6.34 billion during FY18. Going forward, an estimated CAD of US$17.8 billion for FY19 with additional drags from upcoming redemption of Eurobond and commercial borrowing repayments are likely to push gross external financing to US$22.44 billion for FY19. In this regard, inadequate external inflows estimated at US$13.45 billion (excluding bailout financing should translate into a net shortfall of US$8.84 billion by the end of FY19, plunging the reserves to unsustainable levels. Moreover, for recent policy makers, the path to possible remedies for the prevailing BoP shortfall include: 1) approaching international debt market, 2) investments from non-residential Pakistanis, 3) Chinese bailout, 4) 'gifts' from friendly countries, and 5) eventual IMF financing facility. With each mode of financing carrying inherent benefits and associated risks, GoP conceding to another IMF financing facility along with accompanying caveats (with the sole purpose of improving on external vulnerabilities). Under an IMF facility, GoP could likely tap in other external avenues as well as fetch better yields in international debt market to create a blend of financing to bridge the external gap.
Pakistan’s largest exploration and production company OGDC has announced its FY18 earnings at Rs78.74 billion (EPS: Rs18.31) as compared to R63.80 billion (EPS: Rs14.84) for FY17, up 23%YoY. The Board of Directors has also approved payment of a final dividend of Rs2.5/share, taking the cumulative full year payout to Rs10/share for the year. The results are above market expectations on account of higher gross profit, translating into higher profitability. Net sales were up 19%YoY mainly due to the hike in international oil prices by 25%YoY and depreciation of Pak rupee by more than5%, despite falling hydrocarbon volumes. Exploration expense were reported at Rs16.19 billion, may be due to recording of a previously suspended well at Ranipur. The quantum of other income was almost at the level of previous year. During 4QFY18 fourth earnings rose to Rs21.92 billion (EPS: Rs5.10) from R16.21 billion (EPS: Rs3.77), on the back of favorable macro/oil price shifts, overcoming the drop in volumetric output (gas volumes were stagnant but oil volumes declined by more than 7%YoY). At present the scrip is being traded at a heavy discount to its 3 year historical price. While the likely positive is further hike in international oil price, the dry wells in Baluchistan or a decline in global oil prices could pose risks to the profitability of the Company.
The decline in petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) sales plunged by 18% MoM/46%YoY during August 2018 as volumetric offtake declined to 1.35 million tons, proving to be the lowest monthly for sales since February 2007. The lofty decline was observed in FO sales falling by 46%MoM/79%YoY. Along with this retail fuel segment also tapered (HSD and MOGAS sales also posted decline of 20%MoM/38%YoY and 1%MoM/11%YoY) respectively, the 8MCY18 cumulative volumes also declined by 18% YoY. Among all the products, only MOGAS recorded a 3%YoY increase, while HSD/FO offtake declined 7%MoM/45%YoY, sapping growth from overall sales. Sizeable shifts in market share PSO, APL, and HASCOL during 8MCY18 was observed as smaller unlisted players were seem to be claiming bigger chunk in the pie.
Some of the worth mentioning corporate announcements were: 1) National Foods (NATF) announced its 4QFY18 result posting consolidated EPS of Rs4.37 up 100% YoY as compared to EPS of Rs2.19 for the corresponding quarter last year. Sales improved by 13% YoY, while distribution cost declined by 18% YoY. Earnings were considerably up despite 1) increase in administrative expenses by 75% YoY, 2) hike in financial charges by 37% YoY, 3) decline in gross margins and 4) fall in other income by 65% YoY. NATF also announced cash dividend of Rs3.75 per share along with issue of 20% bonus shares. 2) Engro Polymer and Chemicals (EPCL) informed PSX that the Company has decided to enter Hydrogen per Oxide business through a Greenfield manufacturing facility with a CAPEX of US$23 million, funded through internal cash generation. 3) Pak Suzuki Motor announced that it would stop production of its much sought-after and low-priced Mehran from next year.