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Dominican Republic showing good economic fundamental: IMF Published: 25 October 2018

15 years after the country’s 2003–04 financial crisis, reforms put in place have contributed to strong economic performance over the past decade and a restoration of external stability. The economy is now growing close to potential, inflation is within the central bank’s target range, unemployment is near historical lows, and the external current account deficit has narrowed. The economic outlook remains positive with broadly neutral monetary and fiscal policy expected to keep economic activity on trend and inflation within the target band over the medium term. However, risks around the outlook persist, with the main downside risks stemming primarily from external factors. Political risks also remain a key issue.

Caribbean Cement Company Limited (CCCL) reports sharp decline in Q3 profit Published: 25 October 2018

For the nine months ended September 30, 2018, CCCL reported a net profit of $1.31Bn, down -30.6% relative to the $1.88Bn reported in 2017. Despite a +7% growth in revenue to $13.24Bn over the period, the reduction in profit was driven by significant increases in a number of expense line items. Increases were recorded in Depreciation and amortization expense ( 101.9%) or -$407.9Mn over the period. CCCL also reported net finance costs of -$1.08Bn for the period, compared to an income of $4.4Mn a year prior; while tax expense increased by 178.3% or  $448.5Mn. The company can look forward to increased competition in the future as Haiti-based Gilbert Bigio Group recently announced its intention to widen its Jamaican footprint with plans to pump $2Bn into the construction of local cement plant. 

Victoria Mutual Investments Ltd (VMIL) reports 9.15% increase in profit for 2017 Published: 24 October 2018

  • For the year ended December 31, 2017, Victoria Mutual Investment Limited reported net profit of $346Mn, a 9.15% increase relative to the $317Mn earned a year prior. 
  • This growth resulted primarily from a 92% increase in fees earned from Capital Market activities and a 64% increase in Asset Management fee income.
  • The company reported significant growth in Assets during the period, with an on-balance sheet and off-balance assets growing by 23% and 30%, respectively. The majority of off-balance sheet asset growth resulted from the introduction of our suite of Unit Trust products introduced in 2016.
  • Revenue Generation through fee income remains a key strategic priority and the company aims to aggressively increase assets under management and advance their Capital Markets business.

Source: VMIL Financial Report

Public Sector Layoffs Begin in Barbados Published: 24 October 2018

  • Days after Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced plans to cut up to 1,500 government jobs, public servants have started going home.
  • Head of the Civil Service Dr. Louis Woodroffe confirmed in a government statement issued yesterday evening that the process began last Friday and is expected to end tomorrow.
  • A second phase of layoffs – up to 1,000 more – is expected to be carried out in the next fiscal year at statutory corporations, according to Government economic advisor Dr Kevin Greenidge.

Source: Caribbean 360

Oil drop Published: 24 October 2018

  • Warnings of $100 crude are rapidly fading from memory as oil continues to tumble on international markets.
  • A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for December delivery was trading at $66.38 by 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time, almost 14 percent below the high reached earlier this month, while a similar Brent contract was at $75.64.
  • A risk-off mood in the wider market, plus comments from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih saying that OPEC and its allies are in “ produce as much you can mode” have put pressure on prices.

Source: Bloomberg

OPEC, allies struggle to fully deliver pledged oil output boost Published: 19 October 2018

  • OPEC is struggling to add barrels to the market after agreeing in June to increase output,  as an increase in Saudi Arabia was offset by declines in Iran, Venezuela and Angola.
  • This adds to fears of a potential future oil crisis due to lack of capacity.
  • Analysts fear that oil prices will return to previous highs in 2019. 

Source: Reuters

China growth Published: 19 October 2018

  • Gross domestic product increased at a slower than expected 6.5% in China during the three months through September, the slowest pace since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009.
  • The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.5%  during the trading session before the market was turned around by a verbal intervention from top officials, leading the gauge to close 2.6% higher.

Source: Bloomberg

Latest Developments with Petrotrin Reorg Published: 19 October 2018

  • An injunction which restrained state-owned Petrotrin from terminating its workers has been discharged, which means there is now nothing preventing the company from going ahead with its plans to shut down.
  • Bidding for Petrotrin refinery will commence shortly.  Notably, the plant will require an im­me­di­ate cash in­jec­tion of be­tween $7 to $8 bil­lion to get the plant and ma­chin­ery in a state that it can con­tin­ue and $25 bil­lion to keep the op­er­a­tion go­ing.

Source: Trinidad Guardian, Trinidad News

Express Catering Limited (ECL) Net Profit Grows 12% for Q1 Published: 19 October 2018

  • Net profit for the first quarter ended August 31, 2018, was US$938 thousand (EPS: ¢0.057), compared with US$834 thousand (EPS: ¢0.051), one year earlier. 
  • The performance over the period was supported by a moderate growth in revenue and improvement in cost efficiency.
  • Revenue grew by a modest 6.61% to US$4.06Mn relative to US$3.81Mn for the corresponding period in 2017.  At the same time operating expense ratio improved from 75.9% in 2017 to 74.7% in 2018.

Source: JSE, ECL Financials

Jamaica Dips in Competitiveness Rankings Published: 19 October 2018

  • Jamaica slid one spot in the ranking of Global Competitiveness Index to 70 among 140 nations, despite improving in its score.  Jamaica’s score improved slightly to 57.9 from 57.4 a year earlier.
  • Jamaica also lost its spot as the most competitive nation in the Caribbean region to Trinidad and Tobago which ranked 78.
  • The US was top of the list for the first time in years.

Source: Financial Gleaner