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U.S. unemployment rolls seen swelling as coronavirus restrictions bite Published: 07 May 2020

  • Millions more Americans likely sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting a broadening of layoffs from consumer facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.
  • Initial claims for state unemployment benefits likely totaled a seasonally adjusted 3.0 million for the week ended May 2, according to a Reuters survey of economists. That would be down from 3.839 million in the prior week and mark the fifth straight weekly decrease in applications since hitting a record 6.867 million in the week ended March 28.
  • Last week’s filings would lift the number of people who filed claims for unemployment benefits to about 33.3 million since March 21, roughly 22% of the working age population.

(Source: Reuters)

Oil jumps on China export bounce but long-term outlook remains weak Published: 07 May 2020

  • Oil prices jumped on Thursday on news that China’s exports unexpectedly rose last month, and on the back of U.S. output cuts and the slow return of some activity in Europe.
  • Brent crude rose $1.87, or 6.3%, to trade at $31.59 per barrel, after dropping 4% on Wednesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures gained $2.40, or 10%, to trade at $26.39 per barrel, after declining more than 2% in the previous session.

(Source: CNBC)

Iron Rock reports lower losses for Q1 2020 supported by non-core Income Published: 07 May 2020

  • Iron Rock Insurance reported unaudited net loss of $2.81Mn (EPS:-$0.01) for the three months ended March 31, 2020. This represents a  71.1% (or $6.92Mn) reduction from the $9.73Mn net loss that was reported one year prior.
  • The main drivers of this outcome was a 161.0% (or $12.49Mn) increase in other income due to improvements in investment income, gains from sale of investment and foreign exchange gains.. 
  • The stock has fallen 38.73% since the start of the calendar year and closed Tuesday’s trading session at $2.16.  At this price the company’s stock currently trades at a P/B of 0.88x  which is below the Junior Market Financial Sector Average of 2.72x.

(Source: Iron Rock Financials)

250,000 Compassionate Grants To Be Paid By Weekend Published: 07 May 2020

  • Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says 250,000 persons who have been confirmed for compassionate grants under the Government’s COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme, are expected to receive their payments by the end of the week.
  • They are part of the initial 380,000 persons confirmed as eligible for the grant, out of the 400,000 individuals applying during the verification exercise conducted between April 24 and May 1. The payments will be processed in batches of 1,000, which will be uploaded to the electronic payment system through the Bank of Jamaica, and payments will be remitted thereafter,” Dr. Clarke outlined.
  • It forms part of the $25-billion relief package initiated by the Government to deal with the health crisis.

 (Source: Fitch)

EU to add Panama, Bahamas, Mauritius to money-laundering blacklist Published: 07 May 2020

  • The European Commission is set to include Panama, the Bahamas, Mauritius and nine other countries to its list of states that pose a financial risks to the bloc because of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing shortfalls.
  • The document, expected to be published on Thursday, also includes Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe to the EU listing.
  • Countries on the list “pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union,” the draft document, which is still subject to changes, says.
  • Under EU law, banks and other financial and tax firms are obliged to scrutinize more closely their clients who have dealings with countries on the list.

(Source: Reuters)

Chile sells bonds for coronavirus response Published: 07 May 2020

  • Chile said it raised $2 billion in a two-part bond sale on Tuesday, raising money to fund part of its emergency relief efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The sovereign, in a statement, said it sold $1.458 billion in new 2031 notes and added €500 million ($542 million) to its 1.625% 2025 euro-denominated bonds with order books that were "well supported".
  • According to the government and market sources, the new long 10-year notes priced at 99.958 with a coupon of 2.45% to yield 2.454% or 180 basis points over benchmark US Treasuries. The order book, with 250 investors, reached $8.2 billion, more than 5.7 times what was sold.
  • Chile's Finance Ministry said, the government will use the money to fund programs to support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has announced a series of measures designed to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus, including a $3 billion guarantee fund for small businesses.

 (Source: Latin Finance)

 

Oil prices fall as rising U.S. inventories reassert supply concerns Published: 07 May 2020

  • Oil prices fell on Wednesday, ending a multi-day streak of gains, as investors focused on oversupply risks after U.S. crude inventories rose more than expected amid a slump in demand caused by restrictions to halt the coronavirus spread.
  • U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell as much as 2.1% to $24.05 a barrel and were down 14 cents at $24.41 a barrel at 0201 GMT. WTI has snapped a five-day winning streak. Brent crude futures were flat at $30.97 a barrel.
  • Oil prices had gained recently as European and Asian countries had ended their lockdowns to halt the coronavirus spread and as producers had axed supply after the demand crunch.

(Source: CNBC)

U.S. trade deficit increases in March Published: 07 May 2020

  • The U.S. goods trade deficit widened in March as declining exports offset a shrinking import bill, suggesting the novel coronavirus outbreak was upending the global flow of goods and services.
  • The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the trade deficit increased to $44.4 billion from a revised $39.8 billion in February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap increasing to $44.0 billion in March from the previously reported $39.9 billion in February.

 (Source: Reuters)

Covid-19 Will Raise Political Risks, Delay Election In Jamaica Published: 05 May 2020

  • The economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic will increase political risks in Jamaica as rising unemployment and limited government spending could spark unrest among an austerity-weary population.
  • Fitch, expects the domestic outbreak of Covid-19 to delay parliamentary elections, which had been expected to take place in H120, for several months.
  • The research firm has revised down Jamaica’s score in its Short-Term Political Risk Index (STPRI) to 68.8 out of 100, from 70.0 previously, reflecting higher social stability risks.

 (Source; Fitch)

Profit Soars at PBS Published: 05 May 2020

  • For the year ended December 31, 2019, Productive Business Solutions (PBS) Limited reported audited net profit of US$2.09Mn (EPS: US$1.46), which represents a 1456.0% (or US$1.95Mn) increase in net profit relative to the previous year.
  • This performance was driven by a 6.2% (or US$4.02Mn) decline in selling, general and administrative expenses as well as a 17.9% (or US$1.64Mn) decline in finance costs year-over-year.
  • Since the start of the year, PBS stock price has risen 18.5%, closing Monday’s trading session at US$0.77. At this price, the company trades at a P/E of 52.7x earnings, which is above the $USD Stock Market Average of 24.6x.

 (Source: PBS’s Financials)