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Report: Emefiele, fund managers meet in London



Report: Emefiele, fund managers meet in London

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, met fund managers in London last week to lure investors back into the local naira currency, Reuters reported two banking sources as saying yesterday.

Emefiele told investors that currency stability would continue, a fund manager and a banking source said. The naira weakened to 364 last week as oil prices fell.

The naira has come under pressure at the investors and exporters forex window in recent weeks due to a decline in oil prices as well as a drop in yields, which led to a sell off by foreign investors.  The development led the CBN to hold unscheduled Treasury bill auctions at higher rates last week in its bid to lure foreign inflows.

“FX pressures have intensified as global risk-off sentiment incentivises some portfolio reversals, and the UK judgment could add further fuel to the fire,” said Cobus de Hart, senior economist at South Africa’s NKC African Economics.

“Worryingly, the central bank is employing unconventional tools more regularly to try and keep the naira stable and safeguard reserves, and risk exists … which could ultimately come at the cost of slower growth and higher inflation,” De Hart said.

Yesterday,  traders raised their secondary-market bids for one-year treasury bills to 14 per cent from 11 per cent  last week as the naira weakened, and bid-offer spreads doubled in volatile trades.

The naira has been quoted at 364 per dollar for foreign investors at I&E window since last week from 363.50, as liquidity dried up on the forex market.

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FOI: BudgIT flays lawmakers’ 552% budget increase



Nigerian lawmakers’ flair for budgeting enormous funds for themselves without consideration for decaying infrastructure and ordinary Nigerians going through difficulties has again been highlighted as it moved from N23.3 billion in 2003 to N150 billion in 2014.

The increase, according to details released by transparency monitor outfit, BudgIT, represents a whopping 552 per cent within the period in view.

Meanwhile, Nigerian lawmakers are among the highest paid in the world. Last year, a Nigerian senator revealed that the legislators receive N14.25 million (over $40,000) monthly.

Further details, however, shows that the budget moved steadily for another period of five years from 2015 to the current year.

According to the details, while the lawmakers budgeted N115 billion for 2015/2016, it, however, increased by N10 billion in 2017 to N125 billion, increased by N14 billion to N139 billion in 2018 before dropping by N11 billion to N128 billion in the current year.

BudgIt, whose founder, Seun Onigbinde, recently resigned from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari over barrage of criticism from supporters of the administration, is, however, demanding from the office of Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to give a breakdown of how the whole budget amounting to N668.8 billion over the years was disbursed.

According to the transparency body, Nigerians should give their tacit support to the Freedom of Information request sent to RMAFC so as to unravel whatever secrets are behind the disbursements.

The letter dated September 4, 2019, referenced BN/FOI/RMAFC/2019/001, and addressed to the Chairman of the commission, Engr. Elias Mbam, was posted on BudgIt’s twitter handle, @BudgeITng.

The letter, signed by Principal Lead, BudgeIT, Mr. Gabriel Okeowo, is titled ‘Freedom of Information Request for Details/Breakdown of Salaries and Allowances to Legislators in Nigeria.’

It read in part, “On behalf of BudgeIT Nigeria in accordance with Freedom of Information Act 2011 and in the spirit of transparency and accountability, we request the following information; breakdown of salaries and allowances of 469 legislators in the National Assembly.

“We would appreciate if explicit responses are given to each of these questions above and within 7 days as stipulated in the Freedom of Information Act 2011. Kindly note that refusal to respond is subject to prosecution under the law. 

In May this year, BudgIT demanded a big cut from the annual budget of the National Assembly, saying that 50 per cent of the budget be centralised in the General Service Unit for efficiency.

Proposing a 58 per cent slash from N125 billion to N52 billion, it also called for a probe into the buying and selling of certain items by the lawmakers.

“NASS budget ballooned from N23.3 billion to N125 billion between 2003 & 2019. On a yearly basis, 50 per cent of this money is spent on stationery, computers, cars etc – all for sale below. Surely there’s a cartel within NASS mgt. Who’ll probe this?” the agency tweeted.

It listed some of the materials for sale to include a Samsung double door refrigerator was given out for N25,000; HP Envy Core 13, N49,000; Apple Ipad Air computer, N41,980; LED TV Samsung UA4600AR 50, N59,500. Shredding machine, N19,800; Water dispenser with bottle, N8,990.

“Photocopying machine Sharp Copier AR 6021 N57,172; Scanner HP Scanjet Pro 3900 Fi N20,130; HP Laserjet Pro M201 N10,038; Desktop Computer Model Envy 23” Touch screen; and Suit hanger N1,900.

“Any member taking the entire 11 items would pay N349, 970.50 with N17,498 .83 as VAT.”

At the moment, a lawsuit to stop the lawmakers from spending  N5.5 billion on vehicles is on with thousands of Nigerians seeking to block members of the Senate from using public money to buy luxury cars. The suit was initiated by rights groups that became tired of government corruption.

More than 6,700 Nigerians have joined suit that aims to prevent parliament from releasing 5.5 billion naira — equal to about $15 million — that would enable leaders of the Senate to purchase luxury vehicles.

Three domestic rights groups originated the suit, which was filed with the Nigerian Federal High Court.

BudgIT’s Communications Associate, Shakir Akorede, while speaking on the class action suit, said: “This is living the luxury life by the so-called representatives of the people. How in any way does this plan show the seriousness, the commitment on the part of the government to solve our socioeconomic crisis?”

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South Africa holds key rate in unanimous decision



South Africa’s central bank left its main interest rate on hold at 6.5 per cent yesterday as expected, saying it would like to see inflation expectations anchored closer to the midpoint of its target range.

The decision by the bank’s monetary policy committee was unanimous.

South Africa has seen benign inflation outcomes this year, but growth has been sluggish. That has piled pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has staked his reputation on lifting the economy out of a deep slump.

The South African Reserve Bank left its 2019 economic growth forecast unchanged at 0.6 per cent but cut its forecasts for growth in 2020 and 2021 to 1.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.

It repeated calls for structural reforms to raise potential growth rate, saying weakness in many sectors of the economy remained a cause for concern.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is also expected to hold rates at the end of its meeting today.

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NBS: Lack of market-oriented policies stifling growth



NBS: Lack of market-oriented policies stifling growth

Latest merchandize trade report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which showed a decline in the country’s foreign trade surplus in the first half of this year, as well as weak second quarter 2019 capital importation data earlier released by the bureau, indicates that a lack of market-oriented policies is hindering Nigeria’s economic growth, analysts at Cowry Asset Management Limited, have said.

The analysts, who stated this in a report obtained by New Telegraph yesterday, said they expected the weak data to lead the Federal Government into amending its policies to encourage private sector participation in building the economy.

They said: “We expect FG to tweak its policies to drive private participation as the meagre FDIs inflow and the shrinking foreign trade surplus suggest that Nigerian economy is stifled due to dearth of market-driven policies. Also, Nigeria is still at the mercy of ‘hot money managers’ for currency and interest rate stability as portfolio investments still constitute the major foreign capital inflow.”

As the analysts pointed out, the NBS merchandise trade report shows that while Nigeria’s foreign sector merchandise trade value rose year-on-year (y-o-y) by 15.43 per cent to N16.84 trillion in H1 2019,  the merchandise trade surplus declined by 63.14 per cent to N1.42 trillion in the same period.

Similarly, according to the capital importation report released by the NBS, th

e economy recorded a decline of $3.2billion in investment inflow from $8.48billion in the first quarter of this year to $5.82billion in the second quarter.

The report stated: “The total  value  of  capital  importation  into  Nigeria  stood  at  $5.82billion  in  the  second  quarter  of  2019. This represents a decrease of 31.41 per cent compared to Q1 2019 and 5.56 per cent increase compared to the second quarter of 2018.”

It further disclosed that the largest amount of capital importation by type was received through portfolio investment, which accounted for 73.76 per cent or $4.29billion of  total  capital  importation.

The report added that this was followed by “other investment,” which accounted for 22.41 per cent of $1.3billion of total capital imported and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which accounted for a paltry 3.83 per cent or $222.89million of total capital imported in the second quarter of this year.

Although the NBS did not give reasons for the decline in investment inflows, the general belief in financial circles is that delay in appointing and assigning portfolios to cabinet members may have affected investor confidence.

In addition, analysts believe that President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to appoint mainly experienced politicians and very few technocrats as ministers sent a signal to foreign investors that the president was not disposed to carrying out major fiscal reforms in his second term in office.

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OECD: Global economy sliding towards weakest growth in decade



Intensifying trade conflicts have sent global growth momentum tumbling toward lows last seen during the financial crisis, and governments are not doing enough to prevent long-term damage, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has said in its latest outlook.

The Paris-based organisation cut almost all economic forecasts it made just four months ago, as protectionist policies take an increasing toll on confidence and investment, and risks continue to mount on financial markets. It sees world growth at a mere 2.9 per cent this year.

The OECD lowered its growforecasts for most major economies

“Our fear is that we are entering an era where growth is stuck at a very low level,” OECD Chief Economist, Laurence Boone, said: “Governments should absolutely take advantage of low rates to invest in the future now so that this sluggish growth doesn’t become the new normal.”

The OECD is the latest institution sounding the alarm over the state of the global economy. In the past two weeks, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the People’s Bank of China and numerous of their peers have eased policy to shore up demand, urging governments at the same time that fiscal stimulus will be needed to ensure their efforts won’t be futile.

Manufacturing has borne the brunt of the economic crisis brought about by a tit-for-tat trade war between the U.S. and China. The services sector has proved unusually resilient to the malaise so far, but the OECD warned that “persistent weakness” in industry will weigh on the labor market, household incomes and spending.

Additional risks stem from a sharper slowdown in China and a no-deal Brexit that could push the U.K. into a recession and would considerably reduce growth in Europe, according to the report.

“Trump’s brinkmanship on trade with China has left consumers, businesses and financial markets on edge. Not knowing whether the next Presidential tweet will ease or exacerbate tensions makes for an environment of extreme uncertainty, pushing businesses to turn cautious on investment and hiring, and households to swing from spending to saving.”

The OECD said: “collective effort is urgent,” and the effectiveness of monetary policy could be enhanced by “stronger fiscal and structural policy support.”

It’s a point central bankers have made for months, and their requests are getting more intense. Following the ECB’s latest monetary stimulus push, President Mario Draghi said it’s “high time” for fiscal policy to take charge, signaling there’s not much more his institution can do.

“The takeaway for the euro zone today is not to rely on monetary policy to do the job alone,” Boone said.

“Start investing to do the structural reforms that need to be done for more sustainable growth, and do it now,” he added.

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Dow Jones names Coca-Cola most sustainable beverage company



global benchmark for sustainability in business, the 2019 Dow Jones Sustainability Index, has rated Coca-Cola HBC as Europe’s most sustainable beverage company.

This is the 6th time in seven years that the company has been ranked number one in the index and the 9th year in a row that it has been ranked in the top three Global and European beverage companies.

According to a statement signed by Ekuma Eze, Public Affairs and Communications Director, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) Limited, the breakdown for this new rating, CCHBC was adjudged to have scored 100 per cent in 11 categories while the company secured 90 per cent in nine other categories, with the cumulative points placing it in second position in global ranking.

Speaking on the achievement by the company, Chief Executive Officer, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Zoran Bogdanovic, stated that the company was proud for the recognition accorded it, saying that the employees and partners remain committed to delivering on its sustainability goal.

“We are honoured and proud that the commitment of our employees and partners to sustainable practices has again resulted in this recognition. We are well aware though that this is just a snapshot.  In reality, the work never stops and there is always more to be done.  That’s why we put so much focus on the consistent, long-term delivery of our sustainability goals,” Bogdanovic said.

While reeling out some of the company’s sustainability highlights in 2018, he identified them to include reduction of carbon emissions in the business value chain by 25 per cent, employee engagement score of 88 per cent, 37 per cent gyincrease in number of women in management roles, huge contribution of taxes to local economies, huge investment in community projects, 22 per cent reduction of water usage in production, among others.

“We achieved our science-based commitment to reduce carbon emissions in our value chain by 25 per cent (compared with 2010), two years ahead of the 2020 target date. In other words, we have saved 1.27 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

“We have also achieved an employee engagement score of 88 per cent, above the average of FTSE 100 companies. In Addition, we have successfully recovered the equivalent of 45 per cent of the total primary packaging we placed in the market for recycling,” he noted.

Bogdanovic noted that the company remains committed to achieving its sustainability goals stating that 2025 sustainability commitments launched recently would address key areas that include emissions reduction; water use and stewardship; World Without Waste; ingredients sourcing; nutrition; and our people and communities.

Over the years, Coca-Cola HBC’s sustainability performance has been recognized by other respected industry rankings, such as the CDP Climate Disclosure, the MSCI ESG Rating and the FTSE4Good Index.

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Financial services sector leads NSE’s fall



Financial services sector leads NSE’s fall

The Nigerian equities market yesterday reversed the previous day’s positive sentiment, recording a decline of 0.13 per cent as sell pressure by speculators heightened in quest of profit taking.

This was majorly impacted by sell down on financial services stocks.

Conversely, market breadth closed positively, recording 23 gainers as against 16 losers.

Consequently, the All-Share Index dipped 35.46 basis points or 0.13 per cent to close at 27,646.15 index points as against 27.681.61 recorded the previous day while market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N17 billion from N13.475 trillion the previous day to N13.458 trillion as market sentiment remained on the negative territory.

Meanwhile, a turnover of 245.4 million shares exchanged in 3,450 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 108.million shares exchanged by investors in 1,427 deals.

Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of FBNH Plc and UBA Plc.

Also, the banking sub-sector boosted by  activities in the shares of Sterling Bank Plc and GTBbank Plc followed with a turnover of76.9 million shares in 431 deals.

Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that in percentage terms, CHI Plc topped the day’s gainers’ table with 10 per cent to close at 33 kobo per share while UACN Plc followed with 9.93 per cent to close at N7.75 per share.

Linkage Assurance Plc added 9.80 per cent to close at 56 kobo per share.

On the flip side, UPL Plc led the losers with a drop of 8.70 per cent to close at N1.05 per share while Neimeth Pharmaceuticals Plc shed 8.33 per cent to close at 44 kobo per share. Cutix Plc trailed with 7.79 per cent to close at N1.42 per share.

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Microsoft, health shares boost Wall Street



Gains in Microsoft and healthcare shares boosted Wall Street’s main indexes on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates as expected and left the door open for further monetary easing.

Shares of the software giant (MSFT.O) rose 1.5 per cent and drove the broader technology sector .SPLRCT up 0.37 per cent after the company unveiled a $40 billion stock buyback plan.

The S&P 500 was about 12 points shy of its record high of 3,027.98, as markets also turned optimistic on talks between U.S. and Chinese deputy trade negotiators aimed at laying the groundwork for high-level negotiations in early October.

According to Reuters News, a recent easing in trade tensions has helped the three main indexes recover all their losses from August.

On Wednesday, the Fed announced a quarter percentage point cut in interest rates for the second time this year and said future reductions would be “largely data-dependent.”

Traders see a nearly 50 per cent chance for another 25 basis point rate cut in October, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

“The market just continues to believe the Fed is going to be accommodative,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

The Fed injected another $75 billion into the U.S. banking system on Wednesday, restoring a measure of order after the central bank’s benchmark interest rate rose above its targeted range for the first time since the financial crisis.

The healthcare index .SPXHC, the worst performing S&P sector this year, gained about 0.77 per cent as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a proposal on drug pricing policy.

The plan is a “big negative” for drugmakers and the stock reaction has already been priced in to some degree, said Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at GlobAlt Investments.

> The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 55.42 points, or 0.20%, at 27,202.50 and the S&P 500 .SPX was up 8.49 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 3,015.22. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 25.24 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 8,202.63.

Shares of retailer Target Corp (TGT.N) rose nearly 1 per cent after it announced a $5 billion share buyback plan.

 Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.29-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.76-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 22 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 59 new highs and 28 new lows.

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Helios Towers confirms intention to float on LSE



Helios Towers plc yesterday confirmed its intention to proceed with an initial public offering of the ordinary shares of the company.

This follows the announcement by Helios Towers Limited on September 12, 2019 regarding the publication of a registration document.

The company intends to apply for admission of the shares to the premium listing segment of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and to trading on the main market of the London Stock Exchange plc (LSE).

Admission will be subject to the requisite regulatory approvals being obtained.

The final offer price in respect of the IPO will be determined following a book-building process, with admission currently expected to occur in October 2019, according to a statement from Bola Adekoya-Olukuewu,  the company’s media consultant.

Kash Pandya, CEO of Helios Towers, said: “I am very pleased to confirm our intention to float Helios Towers on the London Stock Exchange.

“The sub-Saharan telecoms market is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Helios Towers has a proven track record of growth, providing high quality, economically compelling and reliable tower infrastructure and services that drive economic development.

“We believe that we are well-positioned to drive the long-term growth and value of our business and look forward to presenting our investment proposition to investors.”

The confirmation of IPO details showed “admission to the premium segment of the official list of the FCA and to trading on the main market of the LSE. The allotment and issuance of new shares, from which the Company expects to raise gross proceeds of $125 million, as well as the sale of existing shares by existing shareholders including, inter alia, funds managed by Newlight Partners LP, Helios Investment Partners, Albright Capital Management LLC, RIT Capital Partners plc, International Finance Corporation, IFC African, Latin American and Caribbean Fund, L.P., Millicom Holding B.V. and Bharti Airtel.

“Proceeds from the issuance of new shares will provide the group with enhanced flexibility to take advantage of future opportunities in line with the company’s growth strategy, either in current markets or new geographies, including growing and expanding relationships with customers by adding colocation tenants and colocation amendments;  growing organically through the construction of additional sites on a build-to-suit basis for telecommunications operators;  strategic acquisitions of site portfolios; and  expansion into adjacent technologies and services, and be used for general corporate purposes.

“The Company is targeting a free float for Helios Towers plc of at least 25 per cent. and expects that Helios Towers plc would be eligible for inclusion in FTSE UK indices. It is intended that an over-allotment option of up to 15 per cent of the total share offer will be made available.


“UK Plc corporate governance, remuneration and incentivisation arrangements will be described in the prospectus, when published. The Company has engaged Merrill Lynch International, Jefferies International Limited  and The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited to act as Joint Global Co-ordinators and Joint Bookrunners and EFG Hermes UAE Limited and Renaissance Securities (Cyprus) Limited to act as Joint Bookrunners in the event the IPO proceeds.”

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China’s new mega-airport ready to open




China’s new mega-airport ready to open

China is poised to open a new mega-airport to the south of Beijing, already home to the world’s second-busiest aviation hub, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) will see its first commercial flight take off around September 20, according to Chinese state media, with main tenant China Southern planning to deploy an Airbus A380, the world’s biggest airliner, for the maiden journey.

The greatly anticipated airport ushers in a new era for air travel to and from the Chinese capital, which has been in desperate need of a second global gateway.

The existing Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is hitting full capacity, making it nearly impossible for airlines to add flights at desirable times.

In 2018, more than 100 million travelers passed through its three terminals — making it only the second airport in the world to cross that passenger traffic milestone, after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta. China is projected to overtake the United States as the world’s biggest air travel market by 2022.

The multibillion-dollar Daxing, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and her Chinese partners, is built for the future, boasting four runways and a terminal the size of 97 soccer pitches upon opening of the first phase — as well as customer-service robots that will provide travelers with flight updates and airport information.

The “modest” initial operational target is to accommodate 72 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo annually by 2025. The ambitious master plan calls for the building of a total of seven runways, and moving at least 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo a year through the airport.

Construction for the $11.5 billion project began in 2014, with more than 40,000 workers on site at its peak. The terminal bears all the hallmarks of Hadid’s signature contour lines, with plenty of natural light shining through its more than 8,000 distinct rooftop windows.

Nicknamed “starfish” by Chinese media for its shape of five concourses connected to a main hall, Daxing aims to reduce walking for passengers, long a complaint about many new mega-hubs. The airport authority has promised a distance of no more than 600 meters (650 yards) — about eight minutes of walking — between security checkpoints and the remotest gates.

Another passenger concern is Daxing’s location. It’s in the far south of Beijing, a city notorious for traffic jams. The new airport is some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Tiananmen Square in the city center — and even farther away from the main business districts in the east and north.

Brushing aside such worries, officials say they have built more than just an airport — but rather a truly integrated transportation hub that will eventually see high-speed rail, inter-city services and downtown-to-airport express trains all stopping right beneath the terminal. The airport express trains, traveling at a top speed of 160 kilometers an hour (100 mph), promise to whisk arriving passengers to the city in less than 20 minutes.

Yet others say a new mammoth aviation hub will only worsen flight delays in Beijing, already ranked near the bottom of on-time performance lists among airports worldwide.

There is no indication that the Chinese military, which controls most of the country’s airspace, will loosen its grip to give airliners more maneuver room. But aviation officials and airline executives predict reduced delays at Daxing thanks to its multi-directional runway design that improves operational efficiency in the air, as well as its location south of Beijing — eliminating many flight detours aimed at avoiding the city’s large “no-fly” zone.

Alliance shakeups, time slot shifts

For frequent fliers around the world, though, it may take some time to figure out if Daxing will be their preferred gateway to the Chinese capital.

It was going to be a crown jewel for Skyteam, one of the three global airline alliances, with China-based members China Southern and China Eastern — each assigned 40% of the new airport’s departure and arrival time slots by the government — moving all their Beijing flights to Daxing to become anchor carriers. Other Skyteam members such as Delta, Korean and Air France-KLM will move to the new airport in phases.

China Southern, however, will now leave Skyteam by the end of this year, having signed agreements with several members of rival Oneworld alliance, including American Airlines and British Airways, for closer cooperation.

Adding another twist to the confusing plot, Air China — the country’s flag carrier and a Star Alliance member — was supposed to remain at the current Capital Airport along with other Star carriers. But it was recently given 10% of Daxing’s time slots after authorities allowed China Eastern to keep its highly profitable Beijing-Shanghai shuttle flights at Capital, reports CNN.

All the tenant intrigue aside, Chinese officials are eager to showcase the country’s newest mega-hub to the world upon its grand opening, announcing that flights from Daxing will cover 112 destinations around the globe by next spring.

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U.S. stocks edge lower as FedEx profit warning drags



U.S. stocks edge lower as FedEx profit warning drags

U.S. stocks came under pressure on Wednesday after FedEx issued a profit warning, while investors waited for the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates in what has been a rocky week for global markets.

Shares of the package delivery company tumbled 13 per cent and were on course for their sharpest one-day percentage drop since the financial crisis after the company blamed U.S.-China trade tensions and its split with Inc for its dismal full-year profit forecast.

According to Reuters, the stock was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 index and drove a 1.4 per cent drop in shares of rival United Parcel Service Inc. The broader industrial sector was off 0.57 per cent.

The central bank is expected to lower interest rates by a quarter percentage point for the second time in three months, but a deep divide among policymakers has seen traders abandon all bets on a third reduction this year.

“The focus is going to be on the policy statement, specifically, whether or not he gives any indication if this is a shift in policy or another mid-cycle rate cut,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

Shares of interest-rate sensitive banking index slipped 0.35 per cent and were on pace for a third day of losses.

Expectations of lower rates have spurred a Wall Street rally this year, with the benchmark S&P 500 now about 1 per cent below its all-time high hit in July.

Equity markets took a hit on Monday after attacks on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refinery sparked concerns about a supply shortage, leading to a spike in oil prices. However, a reassurance by Saudi Arabia that it would quickly to restore full production calmed investor nerves.

ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 58.42 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 27,052.38, the S&P 500 was down 9.10 points, or 0.30 per cent, at 2,996.60. The Nasdaq Composite was down 25.38 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 8,160.64.

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