Remittances up in January

Jamaica continues to benefit from increased remittance flows as the countries that were negatively affected by the down turn in their economies in 2008 continue to mend.

Net remittances for January 2014 were US$138 million, an increase of US$8 million or 6.2 percent relative to the corresponding period of 2013. The growth in net remittance inflows reflect an increase in gross remittance inflows and a contraction in outflows.

Gross remittance inflows amounted to US$158 million, an increase of US$4 million or 2.7 percent compared to January last year. The rise in total remittance inflows emanated from an increase of US$6 million in inflows through Remittance Companies and partly offset by a reduction of US$1.4 million in inflows from Other Remittances.

The January increase follows a record year in which Jamaica topped $2B in remittance inflows.

Related posts | 2013 Remittance inflows top $2B | Remittance inflows continues up

Economy grew in 2013 but barely

Jamaican economy was able to eke out 0.2 per cent growth in 2013 compared to the previous year, preliminary estimate from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) shows. The moderate growth rate, which could be revised later, emanated from growth of 1.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the similar quarter of 2012. The fourth quarter growth rate is the strongest for some time but it represents recovery from a period in 2012 when economic activity was negatively affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The economy recorded a growth of 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the similar quarter of 2012. Earlier in the year, Statin reported that the Jamaican economy declined by 0.1 per cent in the second quarter and declined by 1.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2013. The country has not enjoyed much growth from 1999 has is shown by the table below.

Jamaica_GDPGrowth

Growth in the 2013 final quarter resulted from increased output levels in both the Goods Producing industries and Services industries, Statin said.

Statin stated that “the performance in the Goods Producing industries reflects increased activities in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing (13.1 per cent), benefited from favourable weather conditions, Mining & Quarrying (12.1 per cent) resulting from increased capacity utilization at the bauxite and alumina plants and Construction (2.6 percent) due to an increase in residential housing projects and continued expansion in hotels. Manufacture industry declined by 0.8 per cent”.

All industries within the Services industries recorded increased levels of output with the exception of the Producers of Government Services which declined by 0.2 per cent and the Wholesale & Retail Trade; Repairs; Installation of Machinery & Equipment, which remained relatively unchanged for the period. Higher output levels were recorded for: Hotels & Restaurants (5.5 per cent), Transport, Storage & Communication and Other Services (1.1 per cent), Electricity & Water Supply (1.0 per cent), Finance & Insurance Services (0.4 per cent), Real Estate, Renting & Business Activities (0.3 per cent).

Related posts | Economy declined 0.1% in Q2 | Statin confirms growth of 0.5%

JMMB Insiders sell big

Jamaica Money Market Brokers profits for the year to December 2013 was up 46 percent from ongoing operations putting earnings per share at $1.32 for the nine months period to December, which suggest that the stock is highly undervalued and should be very attractive with a PE of 4 times the 2013/14 earnings.

But some insiders can’t wait for the payoff down the road as the company advised that five related parties sold a total of 9,663,800 JMMB shares during the period March 17 – 18, 2014.

However, this is not the only sale of large amounts in recent times as a connected party sold 1,500,000 of the shares on March 4, 2014. A Director sold a relatively small amount of 31,146 JMMB shares on March 11, 2014 but there was a big sell out of 19,464,448 shares on February 17, 2014.

JMMB is an IC Insider Buy Rated Stock.

Related posts | JMMB in expansion modeBuy Rated: Ja Teas & JMMB big gains | NCB insider buys, JMMB sells

FX: BOJ action pushes rate down

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Thursday, 20 March 2014 | Bank of Jamaica pushed down foreign exchange rate for the Jamaican dollar when it intervened by making funds available to Authorized Dealers and Cambios at a rate of US$1 to J$109.346 for resale at US$1 to J$109.396. This comes against the rate continuing to race after the Central Bank issued a release on Sunday stating that they were willing to lend support to the market. In other words, a veiled attempt at saying the market was being manipulated.

On Sunday the BOJ stated “Against the background of recent movements in the exchange rate, Bank of Jamaica wishes to assure the public that it stands ready to provide support to prevent disorderly conditions from emerging in the foreign exchange market. Since the beginning of March 2014 the exchange rate has depreciated by J$0.93 (0.85%) against the US dollar. This movement over the two-week period compares to a J$0.49 (0.45%) depreciation over the previous two weeks. The faster pace of depreciation has occurred despite increased supply in the foreign exchange market, where volumes from earners for the month to date are higher than for January and February 2014.”

ThumbsupIstockFreePurchases & Sales | Authorized Dealers bought US$44,344,150 at $109.15 which gained a cent but dumped US$66,475,637 or US$22 million more than the amount bought at $109.42, 24 cents less than on Wednesday, as dealers who were hording the currency released a large portion of their holdings. In contrast US$41 million was bought on Wednesday and $39 million sold. Between Friday last and Wednesday, dealers bought US$17.5 million more than they sold resulting in a total of $22.7 million surplus of buying over selling of all currencies traded.

There was buying of C$478,746 at $95.34 that was off by $1.50 and selling of C$358,349 at $1.57 down to $97.53.  The buying of the pound amounted to £636,781 at $1.94 down to $177.75 and sold £317,117 at $181.16 at 76 cents less than on Wednesday.

Other currencies sold came to the equivalent of US$667,774 with US$635,271 sold.

The total amount of foreign exchange traded came to the equivalent US$46,467,181 being bought and US$67,955,336 sold.

Highs & Lows | The highest buying rate for the US dollar fell 70 cents to $110.30, the lowest was up 25 cents to $88.76 while the highest selling rate came out unchanged at $113.74 and the lowest was up $1.40 to $89.91.

The highest buying rate for the Canadian dollar is down $1.25 to $98.50, the lowest moved down by 62 cents to $77.44.  The highest selling rate was lower by 52 cents at $100.63 and $2.40 came off the the lowest rate to end at $93.30.

The highest buying rate for the British Pound is 10 cents down at $183.10, the lowest buying rate gained 21 cents and ended at $144.84, while the highest selling rate climbed $1.59 to $186.71 and the lowest fell $1.90 to $175.10.

Related post | BOJ suggests FX stability close

Inflation plummets

Inflation rate for February plummeted to just 0.1 percent or annualised at only 1.2 percent. The movement in the index for February 2014 resulted in a calendar year-to-date inflation of 0.6 percent.

The latest monthly out-turn is the lowest for since January and February 2011 and except for July 2012 with a negative inflation rate, no other month has come close to it.

The main contributors to the movement were the 0.2 percent advance in the index for the division Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages, the heaviest weighted division, and increases of 0.7 percent each for the divisions Clothing and Footwear and Miscellaneous Goods and Services.

The impact of these increases however was moderated by a 1.2 percent decline in the index for the division Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels as a result of the decline in the cost of electricity, water, and sewage rates. ‘Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco’ rose by 0.2 percent, ‘Furnishings, Household Equipment and Routine Household Maintenance 0.6 percent, ‘Health 0.2 percent, ‘Transport’ 0.1 percent.

Negligible movement was recorded for ‘Recreation and Culture’ 0.4 percent, ‘Restaurants and Accommodation Services’ 0.1 percent, ‘Miscellaneous Goods and Services’ 0.7 percent, ‘Education’ and ‘Communication’ for the period under review. There was zero inflation in the rural areas during the month.

Related posts | Inflation moderates slightly | 2013 inflation 9.7%, worse than 2012

BOJ suggests FX stability close

Bank of Jamaica, in an unusual weekend press release, indicated that positive trends in the economy and increased flows of foreign exchange in March over the first two months of the year will provide an increasingly solid base for improved stability in the foreign exchange market.

“Since the beginning of March 2014, the exchange rate has depreciated by J$0.93 (0.85%) against the US dollar. This movement over the two-week period compares to a J$0.49 (0.45%) depreciation over the previous two weeks. The faster pace of depreciation has occurred despite increased supply in the foreign exchange market, where volumes from earners for the month to date, are higher than for January and February 2014.” the central bank stated in a release this evening.

Us$_Bankroll280X150“Jamaica’s main economic indicators continue to improve with economic growth resumed in the September quarter and is expected to strengthen over the subsequent six months in the range of 1.0 per cent to 2.0 per cent. Preliminary estimates of the balance of payments indicate that the current account deficit was reduced sharply over the period April 2013 to September 2013, by approximately US$350.0 million. The current level of net international reserves (NIR) is US$1,121.4 million, increasing by US$52.0 million since the end of February 2014. Bank of Jamaica now expects to comfortably meet the NIR target under the International Monetary Fund agreement for the March 2014 quarter. Finally, headline inflation was lower than projected at 0.5 per cent for the month of January and the fiscal year to March 2014 is now likely to fall close to or below the bottom of the 8.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent target range. The BOJ stated that against the background of recent movements in the exchange rate, they wish to assure the public that it stands ready to provide support to prevent disorderly conditions from emerging in the foreign exchange market.” the release concluded.

2013 Remittance inflows top $2B

Total remittance inflows into Jamaica for 2013 hit a record of US$2.07 billion, US$23 million more than the amount received in 2012, which was the previous record year at US$2.043 billion according to data from the Bank of Jamaica. Net remittances for January to December 2013 were US$1.82 billion, an increase of US$49 million compared to 2012.

The out-turn for December reflected an increase in gross remittance inflows and a contraction in outflows with net remittances for the month reaching US$176 million, an increase of US$2.2 million over the similar period of 2012. Gross remittance inflows for the month were US$195 million, a decrease of US$1.7 million relative to December 2012.

Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boaz Yiftach/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For the fourth quarter of 2013, net remittances were US$476 million, an increase of US$27 million or 6.0 per cent relative to the corresponding quarter of the previous year resulting from an increase in gross remittance inflows and a contraction in remittance outflows.

Total remittance inflows for the December quarter were US$533 million, representing an increase of US$16 million or 3.0 per cent relative to the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Related posts | Remittance inflows continues up | October remittances up

Jamaica’s trade deficit improves

Jamaica’s trade deficit improvement experienced a recovery in the year to November 2013 as both imports, which fell by US$392 million and exports, down by US$112 million, resulted in the deficit falling by 6.2 percent or US$289 million when compared to the similar period in 2012.

Overall, imports for the 11 month period in 2013 was US$5,664 million, down from US$6,056 million for the same period in 2012 and exports of US$1,442 million, resulted in a trade deficit of US$4,221 million as reported by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).

Imports | Freezone activity accounted for US$295 million in imports, compared to US$352 million in the corresponding 2012 period. The category of Mineral Fuels, which accounts for 35 percent of the country’s import bill, fell by US$229 million to US$1,984 million compared to the same period of 2012. Machinery and Transport Equipment fell by US$20 million to US$831 million. Chemicals imports was valued at US$741 million, a decrease of US$80 million. Manufactured Goods fell by US$41 million or 7.1 percent to US$544 million. Spending on Food, however, rose by US$12 million to US$888 million as a result of the sharp rise in the price of basic commodities.

Traditional Exports | For the period of January to November 2013, the country earned US$724 million from traditional domestic exports which fell by 2.9 percent or US$22 million versus 2012 period largely due to the decline in Manufacturing exports. Non-traditional domestic exports fell by US$104 million or 13.9 percent to US$643 million compared with the first eleven months of 2012.

Trade with USA improves | The value of imports from the United States of America, a major trading partner, fell by US$145 million or 7 percent to US$1,940 million to November 2013 compared to the similar period in 2012. Merchandise exports sold to the USA fell by US$19 million to US$711 million resulting in the trade deficit of US$1,229 million, down from US$1,355 million for the similar 2012 period, a decline of US$126.5 million.

Trade with CARICOM worsens | Goods imported by Jamaica from the CARICOM region from January to November 2013 grew by US$4.5 million to US$822 million, due largely to increased expenditure on “Food” which increased by US$13 million to US$151 million. Total exports fell by 20 percent or US$15 million to US$63 million.

Related posts | USA trade deficit worsens, Caricom improves | Big drop in trade deficit