Understanding Jamaica’s fx market part 2





Prices jump in July in Jamaica

Inflation rose 1 percent in July, exceeding the 0.4 percent rise in June bring inflation for the year to July to 0.7 percent after the All Jamaica Consumer Price Index recorded negative inflation to June of 0.3 percent.
Inflation for the past twelve months to July rose 3.2 percent.
The upward movement in the July 2018 CPI was influenced mainly by a 3.4 percent rise in “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels,” the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) stated. This resulted Statin said from increased electricity, water and sewage rates. Electricity, Gas and other Fuels and Water Supply and Miscellaneous Services Related to the Dwelling, registering increases of 5.8 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.
Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages recorded an increase of 0.9 percent, influenced by a 2.9 percent upward movement in the prices of Vegetables and Starchy Foods. A 0.8 percent increase in the index for the Transport division due primarily to higher petrol costs also contributed to the movement in the inflation rate.

T&T central bank raised repo rate to 5%

Down town Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago Central Bank hiked the repo rate by 25 basis points to 5 percent in June, in response to rising rates in the United States and signs of some improvement in the Trinidad economy.
The bank said, “rising interest rates in the US combined with relatively stable rates domestically have pushed the TT-US yield differential on three-month Treasuries further below parity. The differential currently stands at -74 basis points. The US Fed has signaled that further hikes are planned in the context of the solid US growth outlook. Should this materialize it could further widen the negative TT-US interest rate differential if domestic interest rates remain unchanged.”
The Central Bank further stated, “on the domestic front growth in the first five months of 2018 has been concentrated in the energy sector and is expected to spill over into non-energy activities, and there are encouraging signs in distribution and a recovery of business credit, although construction remains sluggish. Meanwhile, headline inflation continued to be low, measuring 1.1 percent(year-on-year) in April 2018, up from 0.8 percent in the previous month.”
The central bank went on to state that “private sector credit growth maintained its positive momentum, rising in April by 5.8 percent (year-on-year). Lending continued to be driven by loans for refinancing and debt consolidation, while some rebound in business credit suggests that private sector confidence could be strengthening. Further, the commercial banks’ weighted average lending rate has been falling since December 2017 and stood at 8.15 percent at end-March 2018. Liquidity levels trended lower but remain comfortable.”

Investors push interest rate to 1.74%

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Liquidity remains high, in the Jamaican financial market with investors driving the average to 1.74 percent on Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) 30 days certificate of deposit earlier this week, as demand of $24 billion chased $8.5 billion on offer.
In mid -July, more than $50 billion in government bonds expired with interest, but government took up less than $15 billion in new bonds, as it paid back the bonds in cash, using a large draw down from funds held at Bank of Jamaica by Public sector entities, amounting to $50 billion.
At the end of June, Public sector entities deposit at BOJ was $97 billion but fell to $46 billion after the payout of the bond. The payout added to the high level of liquidity in the market that helped drive interest rates down to 2 percent at the mid-July Treasury bill Auction.
On Tuesday, July 31, applications were received by BOJ for $8.5 billion BOJ 3 percent Certificate of deposit through a competitive price auction. The issue attracted 61 bids amounting to $24 billion, only 41 bids were successful, with the average yield of 1.74 percent. The lowest submitted rate was 1.39999 percent for $40 million and the highest was 6 percent for $40 million. The highest rate for full allocation was 1.83 percent in the amount of $100 million.
The average rate is below BOJ’s overnight rate of 2 percent and the last 91 days Treasury bill rate of 1.95963 percent.

Employment jumps 10,700 for 2018

Employment in Jamaica jumped by 10,700 persons since the start of 2018, to 1,217,300 persons in April, and 14,700 more than the 1,202,600 recorded in April last year.
A total of 1,206,600 persons, were employed, in January 2018 this year data out of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin)shows.
The effect of the increase in the number of persons employed, is that the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent In April, compared to 12.2 percent in April 2017, but inched up slightly from the 9.6 percent recorded in January, this year.
“Among major occupation groups, the largest increase in the Employed Labour Force between April 2017 and April 2018 occurred in ‘Elementary Occupations’. This occupation group includes, among other jobs, car washers, street vendors and housekeepers in hotels. There were 174,900 persons employed in this occupation group in April 2018, an increase of 13,200 or 8.2 percent when compared with April 2017,” the Statin report showed.

GOJ rakes in $4 billion more taxes

Jamaica’s Ministry of Finance newest office building

Government of Jamaica’s fiscal operations continue to perform above target with tax revenues to June rising $4 billion above forecast to $128 billion versus projection of $124.6 billion and expenditure falling $6 billion below forecast.
At the end of the quarter, the central government operations delivered a surplus of $6.5 billion with May and June enjoying surpluses of $4 billion and $8 billion respectively, but April suffered a deficit of $5.7 billion.
Expenditure fell $6 billion below the $128 billion projected. Interest cost ended at $25 billion or nearly $4 billion lower than planned and expenditure other than wages, came in at $3.6 billion lighter than the $48.6 budgeted. Grants received, fell $3 billion below forecast of $4 billion. The primary surplus set to end at $28.5 billion, ended instead at $31.34 billion.
Income tax collections bettered forecast by $3 billion, to reach $46 billion, while consumption taxes, rose nearly $2 billion above forecast.

Treasury bill rates plunged

Treasury bill rates plunged at the latest auction to raise $1.4 billion for Government of Jamaica held today.
At the latest Treasury bill auction the rate on the 91 days bill declined by just over 58 basis points to just 1.9596 from to 2.544 percent at the June auction, while the 182 days instrument average rate dipped 65 basis points to 2.07 percent from 2.656 percent from the June Auction. The two offerings of $700 million each attracted a total of just over $6.2 billion up from $5.3 billion in June, an indication of continued high liquidity in the market. The latest fall in rate follows a recent 50 basis point drop in Bank of Jamaica’s (BOJ) overnight rate to 2 percent and is almost certain to trigger another cut in the BOJ overnight rate.
The continued fall in rates comes against the back ground of negative inflation of 0.3 percent for the first half of the year. The sharp fall in rates is bound to be reflected in increased demand for stocks and real estate going forward as investors seek higher returns on their investments. Technical indicators point to a big break out for local stocks starting in August and the recent fall in rates will be a critical fuel for it.

Inflation in June but deflation intact

Jamaica recorded an increase of 0.4 percent inflation for June, leaving country still in deflation for the year to June at negative 0.3 percent and inflation for the last twelve months to 2.8 percent.
“Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels, moved up by 1.2 percent, an upward movement in the rate for electricity resulted in the group ‘Electricity, Gas, and Other Fuels increasing by 2 percent.

The price of electricity helped spike inflation in June.

While Water Supply and Miscellaneous Services Related to the Dwelling increased by 0.8 percent as a result of higher water and sewage rates. Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages rose 0.3 percent due to an increase of 0.7 per cent in the class ‘Vegetables and Starchy Foods. Higher prices were recorded for produce such as Irish potato, yam, carrot, lettuce and onion during the month under review” the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) indicated. Transport recorded an increase of 0.8 percent for the period, mainly due to increased prices for petrol the STATIN concluded.

BOJ chops policy rate

The overnight policy rate was chopped by an unusually large 20 percent by Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) to take effect on Thursday 28 June 2018, as local prices  deflated for the year to May.
BOJ announced its decision to lower the policy rate by an above the more accepted 25 basis points by slashing the rate by 50 basis points to 2 percent. The falls also come as a result on the continued fall in June’s Treasury bill rates that had fallen just around the overnight rate and against a high level of liquidity in the financial system.
Bank of Jamaica’s decision to increase monetary policy accommodation reflects its assessment that, inflation over the June to December 2018 quarters is likely to remain below the target of 4 percent to 6 percent and that the previously projected increase in inflation towards the centre of the target in the March 2019 quarter is at risk of coming in at a lower level.
According to the BOJ,” in March, April and May 2018, inflation fell below the lower end of the Bank’s inflation target of 4 percent to 6 percent.” Data released by Statistical Institute of Jamaica reported Jamaica as having recorded a period of deflation for the three months. BOJ also stated that “core inflation (measured by changes in the CPI excluding agriculture and fuel) has also been low, in the region of 2 percent to 3 percent. The main factors that contributed to inflation being lower than the target included a stronger-than-anticipated recovery in agricultural supplies following adverse weather shocks in 2017, lower-than-forecasted imported inflation (associated with an appreciation in the Jamaican dollar over the year to April 2018 and a reduction in the pass-through of oil prices to inflation) and weaker-than anticipated domestic demand.”
The Bank’s view on inflation for the remainder of 2018 is largely predicated on expectations for continued weak domestic demand, which is being constrained by tight fiscal policy and increased uncertainties about global trade. The assessment also reflects the expectation for agricultural food prices to remain low for longer than previously anticipated and the possibility that international oil prices could be lower than previously projected. In the medium-term, the Bank’s outlook for inflation continues to reflect a sluggish recovery in economic activity.
The decision to loosen the policy stance is aimed at fostering greater credit expansion and a faster pace of GDP growth which will support inflation returning to the target of 4 percent to 6 percent.

No Inflation in Jamaica

With 5 months having elapse for 2018 data put out by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) show Jamaica still having deflation of 0.7 percent, the same as in April.
According to STATIN, the All Jamaica Consumer Price Index recorded a negligible movement for May 2018, The main contributor to this movement was the 0.2 percent fall in the index for the heaviest weighted division ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages, due mainly to lower prices for agricultural produce, especially vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, sweet pepper, tomato and lettuce.
Tempering the declining items was a 0.2 per cent increase in ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’, primarily resulting from higher electricity rates, offset by a reduction in water and sewage rates. May out turn brings inflation in the past twelve months to May to was 3.1 percent.