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Businesses’ Inflation Expectations Rise Published: 27 October 2020

  • The September 2020 inflation survey indicated expected inflation of 6.7% for the calendar year  2020, which is marginally higher than the July 2020 survey outturn of 6.2%. The expected inflation 12 months ahead also increased marginally to 7.0% relative to the previous survey outturn of 6.5%.
  • The perception of inflation control declined slightly in the September 2020 survey relative to the July 2020 survey.
  • Respondents anticipate that the currency will depreciate over the 3-month, 6-month, and 12- month time horizons at a faster pace relative to the previous survey. The majority of respondents continued to believe that the Bank’s policy rate will remain the same over the next three months.
  • The Present Business Conditions Index reflected a slightly higher level of optimism while the Future Business Conditions Index illustrated a sharp decline in optimism compared to the previous survey.

(Source: BOJ)

Everything Fresh Jamaica Limited (EFRESH) Completes Expansion to Bahamas Published: 27 October 2020

  • Consistent with its vision when Everything Fresh Jamaica Limited (EFRESH) completed its IPO, the company has sought to replicate its operations in other islands of the Caribbean region.
  • In early 2019, the company began exploring a transaction that would accomplish this critical diversification goal. Now with the completion of the transfer of a 60% stake of Everything Fresh Bahamas Limited to the parent company Everything Fresh Jamaica Limited, the listed company takes this opportunity to update all shareholders.
  • Everything Fresh Bahamas Limited is focused on supplying food products to supermarkets and the retail trade in the Bahamas. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that the company will continue to deliver value to the market and grow further in the near term.

(Source: JSE)

Investors Brush Off Downgrade Risk and Pile Into Colombian Debt Published: 27 October 2020

  • International investors are piling back into Colombian bonds amid optimism the economy is poised to recover from its worst downturn on record, brushing off risk the nation could lose investment-grade credit status.
  • Foreign demand for the local debt hit a record in September, with net inflows of 5.3Tn pesos ($1.4Bn), leaving overseas investors holding a total of about $21.4Bn, according to the Finance Ministry. It marked the fifth consecutive month of increases after investors sold off emerging-market assets as the coronavirus lockdowns accelerated in March.
  • While there is uncertainty over whether a second outbreak may cause another wave of lockdowns, Lopez forecasts a 4.2% rebound in 2021. The government expects the economy to contract 5.5% this year, the worst since record-keeping began more than a century ago.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Argentina Mulls Incentives for Job Growth, Labour Minister Says Published: 27 October 2020

  • Argentina is considering fiscal incentives to encourage companies to hire workers after unemployment spiked to 13% in the second quarter, the highest in at least 16 years amid the pandemic.
  • Labour Minister Claudio Moroni said he’s been working with the Production Ministry to lower some employer contributions. The incentives will probably be aimed at hard-hit industries in Argentina’s least-favored provinces, he said. The administration of President Alberto Fernandez also recently rolled out an ambitious initiative to provide some 3 million workers with training customized to employers’ needs.
  • The fast deterioration of the labor market comes in spite of the government’s initiatives to offset the economic impact of the pandemic. Argentina has banned firing workers and also forced companies to pay double the ordinary amount of severance if they discontinue operations in the country. On top of that, the government is paying half of private-sector workers’ salaries to support firms that have lost revenue during the crisis.

(Source: Bloomberg)

China Ramps Up Imports From U.S. as Trade Deal Target Looms Published: 27 October 2020

  • China ramped up purchases of American goods in September as its economy strengthened, though it still remains far from the full-year target set out under its Phase One trade deal with the U.S.
  • The monthly value of U.S. goods that China bought under the trade agreement reached a monthly record high of $9.9Bn in September as oil, soybean, and car imports surged.
  • That still leaves China’s purchases at only 38.5% of a total target of more than $170Bn for the year, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Customs Administration data.

(Source: Bloomberg)

ECB Stimulus Signal Sought as Euro Economy Sinks Into Gloom Published: 27 October 2020

  • The European Central Bank will get much of the evidence it needs this week to justify adding more monetary stimulus as the resurgent coronavirus rampages across the continent.
  • While economists and investors do not expect policy action at Thursday’s virtual meeting, they do want a signal from President Christine Lagarde that more support will almost certainly be coming before the end of the year.
  • Confidence gauges are set to show businesses and consumers turning despondent as a second wave of the pandemic forces renewed lockdowns. Economic data will highlight falling prices and elevated unemployment, and the sole bright spot -- a strong summer rebound in the gross domestic product -- is already out of date.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Unemployment Rate Reaches Double Digits Published: 22 October 2020

  • In July 2020, the unemployment rate was 12.6%, 4.8 percentage points higher than in July 2019. There was an increase in the number of persons unemployed (54,600) and persons outside the labor force (80,600).
  • The Employed Labour Force had 135,800 fewer persons in July 2020 compared to July 2019 resulting in a total of 1,118,300 persons. Males accounted for a little over one-half of the decline.
  • The largest decline for males was in the occupation groups ‘Elementary Occupations’ and ‘Crafts and Related Trades Workers’, while for females it was ‘Service Workers and Shop and Market Sales Workers’ and ‘Elementary Occupations’.
  • Overall, the number of persons in the Labour Force was 1,279,600, a decline of 81,200 (6.0%) when compared with the 1,360,800 recorded in July 2019. The male labor force decreased by 35,300 (4.8%) to 700,600 in July 2020, and the female labor force decreased by 45,900 (7.3%) to 579,000.

(Source: STATIN)

Suspension of Tree of Knowledge International Corporation (TOKI) Published: 22 October 2020

  • The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) has advised of the suspension of Tree of Knowledge International Corporation (TOKI) effective October 16, 2020, for breaching Rule 407 by failing to file its Q2 financial statements, which are currently more than Forty-five (45) days overdue.
  • This decision followed several correspondences and telephone communications with the Company regarding overdue filings of TOKI’s 2nd Quarter Financial Statements for the period ended June 30, 2020.

(Source: JSE)

Moody's Changes Panama's Outlook To Negative, Affirms Baa1 Ratings Published: 22 October 2020

  • Moody's Investors Service, has changed the outlook on the Government of Panama's ratings to negative from stable. Moody's has affirmed the long-term issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings at Baa1, and Panama's senior unsecured shelf ratings at Baa1.
  • The key driver for the change in outlook to negative is the consideration that, absent meaningful fiscal consolidation and a sustained economic recovery, the sharp deterioration in fiscal and debt metrics will continue to undermine Panama's credit profile in the coming years.
  • A continued rise in the government's debt and interest burdens would bring Panama's fiscal metrics in line with Baa peer medians, materially eroding a credit strength that supported the upgrade of Panama's ratings to Baa1 in 2019.
  • The Baa1 rating incorporates the sovereign's still-present underlying credit strengths, including trend growth in excess of 4%, which has been above that reported by most Baa-rated peers. Additionally, Panama's ability to access market funding at relatively low borrowing costs keeps government liquidity and refinancing risks contained.

(Source: Moody’s Investors Service)

Haiti's Sharp Currency Appreciation Will Threaten Exporters Published: 22 October 2020

  • Fitch Solutions believes the rapid appreciation of the Haitian gourde over recent weeks will create significant headwinds to exports, private consumption, and government revenues over the coming months.
  • While the factors underpinning the gourde's rise are not entirely clear, the government is most likely supporting the currency in an attempt to control elevated inflation.
  • The core view is that the gourde is unsustainable at current spot rates, although the government could choose to take a more active role in managing the exchange rate to sustain its value over the coming months.

(Source: Fitch Solutions)