Global shares slip from four-month high

European and Asian shares hovered near four-month highs on Tuesday as investors took heart from some progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks, while the yen dribbled lower as Japan’s central bank said it could ease policy again.

World markets were struggling a bit for direction after a slow but buoyant start to the week and with a fresh round of Sino-U.S. trade talks, this time in Washington, being held later.

Stocks traders were largely happy to keep their powder dry.

Europe’s main bourses spent most of their first hour dithering before eventually heading lower after a subdued Asian session had seen most markets there barely get out of first gear. Currency dealers had at least a bit more to keep them busy.

The yen had slipped to 110.70 per dollar after Japan’s central bank governor had said it could redeploy stimulus if the yen’s relative strength this year hurt the economy and inflation prospects.

The euro was just above $1.13 after more talk of ultra-cheap ECB bank loans, while Sweden’s crown dived to a 2-year low against the dollar as inflation data came in weak just two months after a rise in interest rates.

“Stokkie (dollar vs Swedish crown) is off to the races,” said TD Securities’ head of global research, Richard Kelly.

“You had especially weak inflation and as you see (from the yen and euro) it comes against this backdrop of central banks becoming more dovish again,” although he also said that bond markets has seen far less reaction to the Swedish data. Most other currencies were stuck in familiar ranges.

Sterling was flat at $1.2923, with the ongoing Brexit talks between Britain and the European Union overpowering strong employment and wage data, while the Australian dollar held at $0.7112.

The precious metals market was more animated, with palladium surging to a record high of $1,471.0 per ounce as stricter emissions standards are seen increasing demand for the auto catalyst metal.

Gold held around $1,323.66 per ounce after earlier rising to a near 10-month high of $1,327.64 too.

Oil prices were mixed, with Brent futures off 29 cents at $66.21, although that was not far from Monday’s $66.83 which was the highest since mid-November. U.S. crude futures added 21 cents to $55.8.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow were a shade weaker ahead of a busy day of U.S. earnings, including from the world’s biggest retailer Walmart which is expected to report a 1.8 percent increase in revenue.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei nudged up 0.1 percent after holding flat for most of the day. Australian shares climbed 0.3 percent to a 4-1/2 month peak, after gaining over 8 percent so far this year, partly on expectations the central bank could ease policy to temper pressure on growth.

Chinese shares slipped into the red though after surging in the previous session, with the blue-chip index off 0.2 percent.

HSBC – Europe’s biggest bank – saw its shares fall 3 percent as it missed forecasts due to slowing growth in its two home markets of China and Britain.

The results spoke to a wider problem for European banks, which are struggling to return to growth after a decade of post-crisis restructuring due to a worsening global economic outlook.

Trade talks were also dominating headlines again with a new round of negotiations between the United States and China expected in Washington on Tuesday, and follow-up sessions at a higher level later in the week.

Reports of progress in the talks have kindled hopes among investors that the two countries can reach a compromise in their trade war by a March 1 deadline, although few details from the talks have emerged.

President Donald Trump said last week he might extend the March 1 deadline, which would stop an immediate increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent.

Reflecting changing sentiment, Chinese shares have risen rapidly so far this month, with MSCI’s China A shares index up 6.5 percent, by far the best performance among major markets despite China’s weakening economy.

Additionally, investors are now seen returning to riskier asset markets after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled earlier this year it could halt rate hikes in light of U.S. economic softness.

“In the last week, it seems like global central banks have started a possible process of monetary easing,” Bank of America-Merrill Lynch strategist Ajay Singh Kapur said in a note.

“If so, this would be very positive for Asia/EM stocks,” Kapur added.

Customs January revenue is N117.7b

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in January 2019, recoded a revenue collection of N117.792billion it was gathered yesterday.

This is an indication that the Service exceeded its collection of N79.26billion in January last year by N38.53b.

A summary of the monthly revenue collection for January this year, which was obtained from the Customs Headquarters in Abuja yesterday, showed that the Service collected N60,101,134,387.04 cash from import duty.

The document noted that it collected N12,150,327,576.41 excise duty and N7,344,973 ,717.62 under Federation Account levies.

According to the summary, the NCS collected N16,793,781,143.36 non-Federation Accounts levies and a Value Added Tax of N21,256,080,630.51. The collections totaled N117,792,457,223.18 in the month of January, 2019.

The NCS had last year exceeded its revenue target when it collected a total of N1.22trillion.

Its Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) had on January 28 this year, boasted that although the Federal Government had only given the organisation a revenue collection target of N887billion, with the provision of the right equipment, the Service could surpass its target.

As at August last year, the NCS had collected  N792billion.

A breakdown of the revenue collection showed that it generated N96.6 billion in January, N79.26 billion in Februar, N87.58 billion in March and N94.3 billion in April.

It also generated N100.5 billion in May, N98.4 billion in June, N94.9 billion in July and N140.4 billion in August respectively.

‘World Bank’s funded project on course’

The Project Implementation Unit, World Bank Growth and Employment Project (GEM) has assured stakeholders its funded project is on course in the country.

The Unit, in a statment yesterday, said contrary to insinuations to the contrary, GEM, a $160million World Bank-funded project, being implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), is a success story. It said it has contributed to the diversification of the  economy, by supporting sectors that have high growth potential and creating massive employment.

The project supports Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) operating in five high potential sectors of the economy, which are information communications technology (ICT), entertainment, tourism, hospitality, light manufacturing and construction.

It also offers more direct support to firms channelled through a platform- called the Business Innovation and Growth (BIG) Platform – to provide various trainings, technical assistance and grant schemes

At the end of 2016, the World Bank rated the GEM project “unsatisfactory and underperforming” and considered scrapping it. But after three years of operation, the project has low deployment and was not meeting its job creation and economic development objectives, so it had to be restructured

Oil rises to $66 on U.S, China deal, others

Oil prices rose yesterday, extending last week’s gains amid rekindled hopes that the United States (U.S.) and China could reach a trade deal. Also, there is growing signs of a tightening market, driven by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC’s) production cuts and U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

WTI Crude  traded up 0.80 per cent at $56.43, while Brent Crude eased off earlier gains to trade down 0.02 per cent at $66.24.

Economic analysts say this is a healthy devleopment for Nigeria’s budget 2019 currently under the consideration of the National Assembly. The budget has $60 as its benchmark. The extra cash will hopefully enable the Federal Government to fund the massive infrastructure propjects in Africa’s largest oil producing country with monolithic revenue base.

Still, Brent Crude is currently on track for its best performance in a first quarter of a year since 2011. So far into 2019, oil prices have gained around 25 per cent.

On Friday afternoon, oil prices reached their highest in three months and the highest so far this year, with Brent Crude exceeding $65 a barrel for the first time since November 2018. Bigger-than-expected cuts from OPEC and its de facto leader and largest producer Saudi Arabia helped push prices up. This bullish signal combined with renewed optimism coming from both the U.S. and China that they had made some progress in last week’s trade talks.

Representatives of the world’s two largest economies will be meeting in Washington this week for another round of trade talks and the markets, including the oil market, are currently banking that the worst of a trade war could be averted

Why we cut petrol price to N140 per litre, by IPMAN

Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) National Chairman Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo has clarified that the association decided to reduce the pump price of petrol from N145 to N140 per litre as part of its contribution to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians travelling to vote during elections.

Okoronkwo told The Nation on phone that the N140 per litre directive would be carried out by IPMAN members nationwide.

He said the reduction was a sacrifice that would be made by IPMAN members since no amount of sacrifice is much for national peace.

Okoronkwo said: “Everybody must be involved in nation-building. This reduction of fuel price is our own contribution to nation-building, entrench peace and ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians. This is a sacrifice IPMAN members will make for the nation and Nigerians. No amount of sacrifice is too much for peace. The fuel price reduction will help reduce the expenses of Nigerians during this period of elections.

“The reduction will last till March 12 to help reduce transport fares for Nigerians as they travel to vote for their candidates for the presidential, National Assembly, governorship and Houses of Assembly elections. After that date, we will review the price.”

On how the association would monitor its members to ensure compliance, Okoronkwo said: “We have a mechanism of reaching every member and ensuring that all comply.”

Okoronkwo had on February 17, through the Northwest Zonal Chairman of IPMAN, Alhaji Bashir Salisu Tahir in Kano, directed IPMAN members to reduce pump price of petrol from N145 to N140 as part of the association’s contribution towards encouraging voters to participate in the election processes.

However, another IPMAN factional leader, Mr. Sanusi Fari, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), countered the directive and told IPMAN members to disregard Okoronkwo’s directive on price reduction.

Fari called on members to disregard the national president’s directive on plans to reduce the petrol pump price from N145 to N140.

He urged members to continue to render their services to the public in view of the one-week postponement of the elections. He urged members not to sell petrol above the Federal Government’s approved pump price of N145.

The Deputy National President, IPMAN Western Zone, Alhaji  Debo Ahmed, said  Okoronkwo had no right to direct any member to sell at N140.

Ahmed added that Okoronkwo did not have filling stations and he was not the association’s president.

He wondered how marketers would reduce price when government as the sole importer and supply of the product had not reduced price.

“Where will Okoronkwo get the product that would be sold at N140 from? The price of transportation to take product to station has increased due to increase in diesel price. It’s not possible to reduce price to N140 per litre. We don’t know where he got his information from, since he is not the president. He is on his own. The Southwest will not align with his directive; he should not politicise people’s business for his personal interest,” Ahmed said.

TCN delivers 450MVA power transformers to Abia, Kano

Image result for General Manager, Public Affairs, TCN, Ndidi MbahThe Transmission Company of Nigeria has installed and inaugurated a 300MVA 330/132/33kV power transformer in its Alaoji Transmission Substation in Abia State.

It has also delivered a 150MVA, 330/132/33kV power transformer from the port in Lagos to Kumbotso Transmission Substation in Kano, to replace one of the four 150MVA transformers taken out for repairs.

TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah, said that the new 300MVA power transformer, which was energised on February 12, 2019, in the company’s Alaoji substation, had increased the station’s installed capacity from 450MVA to 750MVA, making it the biggest substation in the southern part of Nigeria and made the station consistent with redundancy requirement of N-1.

Mbah noted that with the development, TCN had increased its capacity to supply power to the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company for onward supply to communities in Abia North, including Ohafia, Arochukwu, Item, Abriba.

She said supply had also increased to communities in Imo State such as Okigwe, Arondi-izuogu, as well as parts of Ebonyi and Rivers states.

TCN further stated that some projects under construction would also benefit from the newly energised 300MVA transformer.

It outlined some of the projects to include four 132kV substations at Okigwe in Imo State; Mbalano, Ohafia and Arochukwu in Abia State.

“The newly energised 300MVA transformer will also enhance evacuation of power generated into the 132kV grid network from the Alaoji NIPP and Afam Power Stations. The installation of the transformer was carried out by Messrs Power Control with the active support of TCN engineers in Aba Sub-Region,” Mbah stated.

On the new 150MVA, 330/132/33kV transformer, Mbah said the power transmission equipment arrived Kumbtso Transmission Substation Kano on February 15, 2019, from the Apapa Port in Lagos.

She said installation would commence immediately the transformer was placed on a plinth, adding that the transformer was an addition to the recently repaired 150MVA power transformer which got burnt five years ago in Kumbotso Substation.

Mbah said, “It is noteworthy that this is the first time a badly damaged 150MVA transformer was repaired in the history of Nigeria power sector. As soon as the installation of the new 1X150MVA transformer is complete, the capacity of Kumbotso will become 4X150MVA and will further improve bulk power supply for onward delivery to Dakata, Wudil and Dan Agundi in Kano, Dutse and Hadeja in Jigawa, Azare in Bauchi, Katsina, Kankia, and Daura in Katsina and finally to Maradi and Gazawa in Niger Republic.”

Envoy wants Dangote to invest in Tanzanian oil industry

Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Muhidini Ally-Mboweto, has sought the assistance of the President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, in the development of his country’s oil and gas industry

Ally-Mboweto led a delegation from Tanzania High Commission and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation on a study tour of the Dangote refinery and fertiliser plants to seek collaboration between Dangote Group and the Tanzanian government in making the country self-sufficient in petroleum products, according to a statement from Dangote.

Ally-Mboweto was quoted as saying, “Tanzania possesses vast natural resources and is endowed with unique comparative advantages, thus offering exceptionally attractive opportunities to investors.”

According to him, Tanzania has gas, gold, diamonds, and gemstones including tanzanite and base metals.

He said the country had bilateral trade agreements with eight countries including the Indian Ocean, describing them as potential markets for investors.

Ally-Mboweto said, “Tanzania has a politically stable economy; it is surrounded by eight countries and six are landlocked; so their ports depend on Tanzania. Also, we are a member of the East Africa Community, which include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. We are also part of a 16-country member with an average of 400 million people. So, when you invest in Tanzania, you are exposed to this huge potential.

“It is really worth investing in Tanzania because it will expose you to a large market. We want him (Dangote) to expand his investment in other areas of the economy. We have varieties of minerals, diamond, gold and other areas. You can invest in wildlife. We also have a lot of tourist attractions.”

He commended Dangote for helping to reduce the price of cement in Tanzania through his massive investment in the country’s cement industry.

“Dangote Cement is already in Tanzania and the plant is doing very well. So, the Dangote Cement plant has made a huge contribution to our cement demand. Now, the majority of the people in Tanzania can access cement for their building construction,” he added.

The Production Manager, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation, Mr Modestus Lumato, called on Dangote to partner the Tanzanian oil company to set up a refinery in the country.

According to him, about six countries are depending on Tanzania for petroleum products, thus the need for collaboration between the two countries.

“The Tanzanian petroleum products market is huge. We are also looking forward to buying petroleum products from Nigeria when the refinery is completed,” he added.

Presenting the status of the Dangote refinery project in Lagos, the Head, Quality Assurance/Quality Control, Dangote Oil Refinery Company Limited, Rama Putta, disclosed that erection of the refinery equipment had started.

Putta described the project as the largest single train petroleum refinery in the world with a capacity to process 650,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

FAAC disbursed N270bn to FG in January –NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics says the Federation Account Allocation Committee disbursed the sum of N270.17bn to the Federal Government in January 2019.

The bureau said this in FAAC January 2019 disbursement statistics posted on its website.

According to the information on the website, the states received a total of N178.04bn while local governments received N133.83bn.

The sum of N6a9.19bn was disbursed to the three tiers of government in January 2019 from the revenue generated in December 2018 the News Agency of Nigeria had reported.

The report said that the amount disbursed comprised N547.46bn from the Statutory Account, N100.76bn from Valued Added Tax and N976.53m on exchange gain differences.

Besides, the sum of N45.36bn was shared among the oil producing states as 13 per cent derivation fund.

Revenue generating agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service and Department of Petroleum Resources were said to have received N4.69bn, N4.04bn and N8.04bn respectively, as the cost of revenue collections.

A further breakdown of the revenue allocation distribution to the Federal Government revealed that the sum of N216.57bn was disbursed to the Federal Government consolidated revenue account.

In addition, the sum of N4.81bn was disbursed as the share of derivation and ecology and N2.43bn as stabilisation fund.

Also, the sum of N8.15bn was shared for the development of natural resources and N5.82bn to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Nigerian government operates a  financial structure where funds flow to the three systems of government from what is termed the Federation Account.

Only 12% of workers contributing to pension scheme –PenCom

Out of the over 70 million people that represent the working population in Nigeria, only 8.41 million of them are currently making contributions into the Contributory Pension Scheme.

The 8.41 million contributors, according to figures obtained from the National Pension Commission, are about 12.09 per cent of the country’s working population.

When compared to the entire population of the country, the 8.41 million contributors are just about 4.29 per cent.

These figures are contained in a document sent by the Acting Chairman of PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, to an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives set up to investigate the activities of the commission.

The Contributory Pension Scheme commenced in 2004 with the key objectives to assist individuals to save to cater to their livelihood during old age;

as well as establish a uniform set of rules and regulations for the administration and payment of retirement benefits in both the public and private sectors.

In the document obtained by our correspondent, the commission said that total pension fund assets had grown to N8.63tn as of December 2018, with average monthly contributions of N29.15bn.

It said the total pension asset was equivalent to 7.40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the country.

The documents stated that as of December 2018, over 260,808 persons had retired under the scheme.

These 260,808 retirees, according to PenCom, are currently receiving an average monthly pension payment of N10.18bn.

It read in part, “The pension reform has gained public confidence and acceptability within the short period of its implementation.

“The private sector, which hitherto was apprehensive of the Contributory Pension Scheme as a ploy by the public sector to raise funds to address its huge pension liabilities, has come to accept and is religiously implementing the reform.

“To date, about 200,000 private sector employers of labour are implementing the CPS and have contributed about 60 per cent of the total pension fund assets.

“The Contributory Pension Scheme has also introduced transparency and integrity in the pension administration system in Nigeria.

“From the inception of the reform to date, there had not been a single incidence of fraud or mismanagement of the pension funds and assets under the scheme.”

Africa growth prospects remain steady, says AfDB

Africa’s general economic performance continues to recover and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is projected to accelerate to four per cent  in 2019 and 4.1 per cent in 2020, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said.

It said  improved macro-economic and employment outcomes require industry to lead growth, according to the 2019 African Economic Outlook report, launched by the AfDB.

Published annually since 2003, the African Development Bank’s flagship report provides headline numbers on Africa’s economic performance and outlook.

The focus of the 2019 report on regional integration for Africa’s economic prosperity, highlights integration for trade and economic cooperation and the delivery of regional public goods.

In opening remarks to diplomats, government officials, policy makers and students gathered at the bank’s Babacar Ndiaye auditorium in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Senior Vice President Charles Boamah said even though the report presents daunting challenges, “Africa has the means to overcome them by joining hands together and removing barriers to integration and drivers of migration.”

Guest speakers included Kanny Diallo, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation for the Republic of Guinea and Alma Oumarou, Minister and Special Advisor to the African Union Champion for Regional Integration.