Jamaica’s FX inflows surpass 2020 flows

There is a sharp surge in the earnings of foreign exchange in the first two months of this year and the first week of March for Jamaica over the similar period despite the impact that the Covid pandemic has had on business in the country and, in particular the tourism industry.
Data out of Bank of Jamaica shows purchasing by Authorized dealers and Cambios for the year to March 4 amounts to $777 million US$103 million more than in 2020, while selling was just $33 million more in 2021 than in 2020. This development is a huge revelation with the tourism sector, a large foreign exchange sector operating around a third of capacity compared to a full capacity for the similar period last year.
Trading for last week’s Friday resulted in purchases of US$38.5 million and selling of US$60 million against 2020 purchases on the same day of $34.5 million and sales at $47.7 million in all currencies. On Thursday, purchases totalled US$63,861,970 and sales US$59,145,237, well ahead of the same day in 2020.
On Wednesday, purchases amounted to US$54,236,293 and sales US$63,794,632, with the amounts purchased being well ahead of last year’s figure but with sales just $2 million less than last year. Tuesday’s purchases amounted to US$62,667,923, with sales of US$71,359,269, both being much higher than for the similar day in 2020. On Monday, US$67,469,686 were purchased while US$61,868,091 were sold, falling below the 2020 trades.
Last year, trading on the first Monday in March brought in US$73,900,712 while selling amounted to US$73,904,949. Tuesday’s purchases amounted to US$44,971,292 and selling US$65,382,991, while on Wednesday purchases were US$55,679,393 and sales US$79,738,789 and on Thursday, March 5 last year, dealers purchased US$53,369,689 from the system and sold US$47,373,166.
Financial institutions have been selling US dollar short as demand weakens and the rate is appreciating. Monday last week saw just US$2.5 million sold in excess of purchases, but National Commercial Bank went short by nearly US$7 million and JMMB Bank by $3 million. Traders went short on Tuesday to the tune of US$15 million with NCB, the major short seller with US$9 million and BNS, FCIB, JMMB Bank, Sagicor and VMBS, making up the bulk of the rest.

NCB is a big player in the FX market.

On Wednesday, net selling amounted to just over US$12 million, with the big net sellers being First Caribbean International Bank, First Global Bank, JMMB Bank, NCB and Sagicor Bank.
On Thursday, there were no overall net sales as purchases exceeded sales, but Scotia Bank, JN Bank and Sagicor Bank sold more than they bought on that day.
One usually reliable and knowledgeable source indicates that from where he sits, “increased inflows are coming from remittances, entities selling US dollars to pay taxes, increased BPO flows and from some exporters”. The high level of short selling is based on demand being soft currently as financial institutions take advantage of the higher rate that the Jamaican dollar sits at. Others are confirming increased flows from the BPO sector that has grown over 2020, increased remittances and exports. Additional flows may be coming from entities or individuals who bought last year in anticipation of the local dollar running away but may have decided to cash in with the price peaking around the $150 million mark.
On Monday, March 8, dealers bought a total of US$43.3 million in all currencies and sold US$59 million, with short selling of US dollars amounting to $20 million and the selling rate for the US dollar ending at J$148.97. The major short-sellers are BNS, US$3 million, Citibank, US$7.6 million, JMMB Bank, US$2.5 million, JN Bank US$US$2.3 million and Victoria Mutual, US$1.8 million.

Jamaican$ improved value

The Jamaican dollar closed trading on Tuesday at $145.91 to one US dollar, with dealers selling US$60 million after buying US$51.4 million at an average rate of $144.81. The improved value for the local currency compares with the August 19 low of $151.27 for each US dollar.
On Monday, dealers sold US$36.5 million at an average of $146.89, while dealers bought just US$23.2 million, at an average rate of $144.02.
The big sellers on Tuesday were Bank of Nova Scotia, US$9.6 million at an average of $147.23 after buying a mere US$2.3 million at $142.04. JN Bank bought just $336,000 at $138.16 each and sold US$4.4 million at $142.14 each and National Commercial Bank bought US$6.5 million at an average of $144.79 and sold US$14.4 million at $145.42. JMMB Bank bought US$8.7 million at $143.34 and sold only US$688,334 at $146.19 while JMMB Securities bought US$6.4 million at $146.72 each and sold US$7 million at $146.99.

Sharp rise in Jamaican$ value

NCB purchased US$32m and sold US$73m at J$130.16 on Thursday & drag the US$ down vs the J$.

The Jamaican dollar enjoyed a big rise in value against the US dollar with the rate for buying funds from the market falling to JS$131.72 and selling by dealers closing at an average of $131.52, down from J$133.06 buying and J$134.76 selling.
The sharp improvement in the value of the local currency may not last in the short term, as the drop in the value of the US dollar versus the Jamaican dollar, was due mostly to big trades by National Commercial Bank well below the average for the rest of the market. The market is now in a period of increased supplies and lower demand that is likely to result in further appreciation of the local currency until April unless the central bank intervenes to buy excess flows from the market.
At the end of 2019, the selling rate for the US dollar was J$127.716 but the currency depreciated during the year to a low of J$141.89 to the US dollar on November 7. National Commercial Bank bought US$32,148,142.99 at an average rate of J$129.83 and sold US$73,145,676 at J$130.16 each. The trade by the country’s largest commercial bank accounted for 48 percent of the total of US$67.5 million purchased and 70 percent of the US$104.3 million sold. After NCB, the next biggest trades were by Bank of Nova Scotia, in buying US$10.3 million, at an average of $132.60 and selling $7 million at $133.54.
The largest single purchase is US$25 million at $129 and the largest sale was US$68.35 million at J$130 each.

Jamaican dollar makes more gains

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NCB had the highest net sale of US$ on Friday

The rate of exchange for the United States and Jamaican dollar inched further in favour of the local currency on Friday as dealers sold US$42.2 million at an average rate of $127.99 on Friday, down from an average of 128.126 with the sale of $67 million on Thursday.
On Friday, dealers bought US$37.38 million at an average of $126.74, a decline from $127.38 with the buying of US$61 million on Thursday.
Dealers bought $45,56 million in all currencies on Friday and sold US$50.28 million compared to purchases of US$77.6 million and sale of US$82.5 million on Thursday. Thursday’s trading includes the buying of Can$19.7 million and sale of Can$19.4 million.
Major net sellers of US dollars on Thursday are, Citibank with the purchase of US$160,000 and sale of US$1.65 million, First Global Bank buying US$271,000 and selling US$1.96 million. JMMB Bank ended with the buying of US$839,000 and selling $3.6 million, JN Bank purchased $868,000 and sold $2.48 million, Victoria Mutual Building Society bought $720,000 and sold of $2.45 million but First Caribbean purchased $5.6 million and sold just $1.38 million.
On Friday, Bank of Nova Scotia purchased $9.2 million and sold just $5 million, First Caribbean Bank bought US$813,000 and sold US$1.3 million, JMMB Bank ended buying US$1.87 million and sold $4.8 million, JN Bank purchased $1.16 million with sales of $1.87 million. National Commercial bought US$3.56 million and sold $8.5 million, Sagicor Bank bought $852,000 while selling US$1.99, Victoria Mutual Building Society purchased $693,000 and sold $1.3 million but Citibank purchased US$1.7 million and sold just US$587,000.

Contrast of two ScotiaBanks

Scotia Group head quarters in Kingston.

The economies of Trinidad and Tobago and that of Jamaica have been performing in opposite directions in recent years. While Trinidad continues to be in deep recession, Jamaica has been recording mostly moderate growth.
In such environments, it would be expected that businesses would be doing better in the one that is growing and poorly in the other.
The performance of Bank of Nova Scotia’s subsidiaries in each of the countries, shows differing fortunes, with the Scotiabank Trinidad enjoying an increase in loans in its latest results to October and the Scotia Group in Jamaica remaining flat, year over year at $166.5 billion. Banks make the bulk of their profits from lending money. Lending not only generates interest on the amounts lent but fees associated with loans such as commitment fees and in a number of cases annual review fees.
For Scotia Group Jamaica, profit after tax rose just 7.7 percent for the year to October, resulting in $12.17 billion attributable to the Group’s shareholders. For the October quarter profit, rose to $3.36 billion from $3.1 billion in 2016.
Net interest income grew by $1.27 billion to $26.64 billion for 2017 versus $25.38 billion in 2016, but a sharp climb in bad loan provisioning of $746 million, reduced the impact of the rise in net interest income. Other income grew by $1.6 billion for the year to $15 billion.
Trinidad’s Scotiabank’s profit before Taxation increased by 11 percent and 5 percent after an increase in corporation tax rate in that country. Profit for the October quarter, dipped to $151 million due to increased taxation, from $158 million in 2016. Earnings per share ended the year at $3.73 for a PE ratio of 16.35.
Total Revenue, comprising Net Interest Income and Other Income amounted to $1.7 billion for the period ended October 2017, an increase of $117 million or 7 percent over the comparable period in 2016. Net Interest Income for the period ended October 2017 was $1.2 billion, $115 million or 10 percent higher than for 2016, driven mainly by growth in the retail loans and investment securities portfolios. Other Income for the same period was $481 million, $2 million higher than the prior year mainly driven by revenues earned from the credit cards portfolio.
Loan Loss Expense for the period ending October 2017 was $106 million, an increase of $29 million over the prior year for the Trinidadian bank. Loans advanced to Customers, closed the period at $13.9 billion, an increase of $681 million or 5 percent compared to 2016. Retail loans grew by $645 million or 6 percent over 2016.
Total Non-Interest Expenses 2017 was $686 million, down from $691 million in 2016 for Trinidad.
The big question, what resulted in the Trinidadian company enjoying growth in loans in a declining economy while Scotia Group operating in an economy that is growing could only hold the loan portfolio steady, for the most profitable area of operation?

BNS provides C$109m for Carib hotels’ debt

Scotia hq 25 9-14Bank of Nova Scotia decision to shed 1,500 workers globally and close a number of branches, within the Caribbean and Mexico, has led to other developments within the group, in an attempt to recognize areas of potential losses in the worldwide operations.
This had led the bank to record additional loan loss provisions of approximately C$109 million. The amount for “ losses relates, primarily to three existing net impaired loans, within the Caribbean region’s hospitality portfolio. Due to the prolonged economic recovery and continued uncertain outlook. These additional amounts, bring the net carrying value, in line with the expected net recoverable value,” the bankers said in their press release, on Tuesday. There is also an additional amount in the Canadian Banking related to a change in methodology in estimating loss parameters, on the unsecured lending portfolios.
Reports are that the bank plans to shutter 35 branches within the Caribbean region.

Scotiabank Canada to cut 1,500 jobs

Scotia logoScotiabank Canada is to cut 1,500 positions worldwide and take a profit hit in fourth quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, ending in October. About two thirds of the cut will come from its Canadian operation and according to Yahoo.com will result in a charge of $340 million against 2014 profit.
Despite the charge, profit outlook remain good for 2014 and beyond, but the move is as a result of general weakness of Caribbean economies, sporadic use of branches, weekly and bi-weekly, instead of consistent daily use. The sporadic branch use will result in branch closures, mainly in Caribbean and Mexico. The bank’s foot print in Mexico are many, BNS management said, but the branches to be shuttered lack traffic, which means the bulk of the branch closure will occur in this country. The bank says they will be moving to use more ATMs and internet banking facilities, in place of the physical branches.
The BNS has written down its investment in the economically challenged Venezuela, reducing it to only $50 million.
What is known is that the Caribbean region has suffered considerably from the economic downturn experienced since 2008. The operations in Jamaica has seen profit stagnated in Jamaican dollars and slipped in Canadian dollars as the Jamaican dollar was devalued. Profits stagnated in Trinidad banking subsidiary, as well. Loan demand has not been robust within the region either, and the absence of a meaningful pick up in this critical area will result in a drag on profit growth, as long as that remains the case. The sharp fall in the price of oil is going to place pressure on the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension some of the other territories that may be dependent somewhat on business out of Trinidad. This latest development could be negative for Scotia’s Trinidad operation. Compounding the problem for Scotia, is that Jamaica that has started enjoying moderate growth that could lead to increased private sector loan demand, is faced with lower demand for government funding, as the government moves from deficit financing to one of surplus.

Its BNS big sell off day as J$ revalues more

Scotia hq 25 9-14 The Jamaican dollar continues to make slow gains against the US dollar, in Tuesday’s forex trading. Bank of Nova Scotia bought US$6,068,907 at $112.43 each but sold US$13,995,762 at $112.65 to be the largest seller on Tuesday. At the close of the market, there was selling of US$11.5 million more foreign currency, to the public than was bought by dealers. Authorized dealers purchased the equivalent of US$36,902,410 versus US$45,684,367 on Monday. The equivalent of US$48,450,336 was sold compared with US$41,145,809 on Monday.
The selling rate for the local currency to buy one US dollar, settled at $112.61, a slight improvement over the closing price on Monday. The local currency not only gained against the US dollar but also against the Canadian dollar, but fell against the Pound.
In US dollar trading, dealers bought US$29,102,213 compared to US$38,512,175 on Monday. The buying rate for the US dollar rose 5 cents to $112.25 and US$42,208,347 was sold versus US$36,824,756 on Monday, the selling rate inched down 1 cent to $112.61. The Canadian dollar buying rate, rose $1.10 to $100.13 with dealers buying C$5,720,004 and selling C$4,314,882 at an average selling rate that eased 2 cents, to $100.43. The rate for buying the British Pound is down 84 cents to $178.65, for the purchase of £1,633,650, while £1,391,145 was sold, at $180.24, climbing 50 cents. Other currencies bought, amounted to the equivalent of US$98,223, while selling was for the equivalent of US$166,795.
FX HL 7-10-14Highs & Lows| The highest buying rate for the US dollar, closed 3 cents down at $112.80, the lowest buying, the highest and the lowest selling rates, were unchanged at $91.85, $117.70 and $91.85 respectively. The highest buying rate for the Canadian dollar rose 20 cents to $100.75, the lowest buying rate remained at $79.27, the highest selling rate declined 10 cents to $103. The lowest selling rate closed unchanged at $95.50. The highest buying rate for the British Pound, dropped 43 cents to $181, the lowest buying rate did not move from $143.92. The highest selling rate dropped $2.24 to $185.54 and the lowest selling rate was unperturbed at $173.40.

Scotia Investments one time dent

The Government of Jamaica debt exchange cost shareholders $238 million as Scotia Investments participation resulted in the write-off of premium that was originally booked on the bonds that were swapped. The effect after tax would translate to a third less. Net profit for the half year to April was $858 million, down $176 million or 17 percent from the same period last year. Earnings per share was $2.03 compared to $2.45 for the same six month period last year.

Profit for the quarter was $371 million, down $115 million or 24 percent below the $487 million earned in the previous quarter and also below the $536 million earned in 2012. Had it not been for the debt exchange, profits in the quarter would have close to that earned in the similar quarter of 2012.

Net Interest | After impairment losses Net Interest for the six months was $1.39 billion, remaining relatively flat over the same period last year and for the quarter it was $625 million, $137 million or 18 percent below the results of the previous quarter as well as below the 2012 quarter of $706 million. Interest earnings continue to be impacted by lower yields on the securities portfolio and would have suffered from lower yields on government bonds based on the debt swap.  Gains on foreign currency trading and the impact of the movement of the Jamaican dollar on holding of foreign exchange denominated investments would have helped to cushion some of the effects of the lower interest yields.

scotiabanklogo150x150Non-Interest Income | Non-interest income, which includes fee income, securities trading gains and net foreign exchange trading income, was $669 million for the period, down $8 million or 1 percent compared to the same period last year; and $324 million for the quarter, down $21 million or 6 percent over the $345 million recorded last quarter.

Total operating expenses for the quarter was $417 million, 3  percent below the previous quarter. Year-to-date operating expenses was $845 million, representing an increase of 29 percent or $188 million over same period last year. This variance was mainly reflected in staff related costs and other operating expenses associated with the newly imposed asset tax.

Managed Funds | The investment bank is reporting that the Scotia Premium Money Market Fund surpassed the $3 billion mark in just over 18 months since its launch; and the Caribbean Income Fund surpassed the US$75 million mark. The company is placing more emphasis on pooled investment funds so as to move away form the repos investment where the company takes the risk on the underlying investments while granting investors fixed rates of return for a specified period.

As these funds grow either from new investments inflows in or by improvement in values as a result of income or growth in the underlying assets in the funds, management fees earned will increase going forward. This is where the company is planning much of its growth.

PreferenceStock150x150As interest rates stay low, investors will be looking at ways of boosting their income and in some cases with flexibility. The low rates favour increased stock market activities, increased values for stocks and more fees for Scotia Investments as their brokerage arm enjoy more trading income from trading stocks for clients as well as for the equity fund they manage.

Assets under management including the Company’s custody book were $109.5 billion as at the end of the quarter, up $10.8 billion or 11 percent above the same period last year and $2.7 billion or 2.5 percent over the previous quarter. The growth was driven by increased net asset values in managed funds. The company would most likely be holding stocks in its portfolio that would benefit from a stock market rally.

Stock Outlook | The price earnings ratio for the stock is around 6 at $27, the last selling price and a net asset value of $34, placing the stock in the undervalued category.

Scotia Group’s profit surprise

Scotia Group Jamaica was the one exception of the financial institutions to buck the trend of lower profit resulting from the write-off of fair value investments gains from the debt swap of Government of Jamaica bonds in February.

The banking group reported improved results for the second quarter of the 2013 financial year to April, with net income of $2,930 million, $210 million above the previous quarter and $214 million above the quarter ended April, 2012. For the six months ended April, 2013, net profit was $5,651 million compared to $5,364 million for the same period last year. Profit available to shareholders was $5.47 billion, resulting in earnings per share of $1.76, this is after the group took a one time charge of $397 million for the write-off of fair value securities gains.

Net interest income | After impairment losses for the period, Net Interest Income was $11.13 billion, up $341 million or 3%  compared to the same period last year. For the quarter, interest income and interest cost declined but net income fell compared with the January 2013 quarter by $470 million and was marginally up on the similar quarter for 2012 by $48 million. The reduction in interest rates that obtained after the debt swap would have been a major contributing factor to the decline. A partial switch in the portfolio from Jamaican dollar denominated investments to foreign currency ones would also be a contributing factor as foreign exchange gains climbed to $955 million versus $526 million in the first quarter.

scotiabankBuilding150x150Other Revenue | For the six months Other Revenue was $5.5 billion, up $858 million or 18.6% compared with prior year due to increased insurance revenue and fee income gains on securities trading as well as higher gains on foreign currency trading and investments.

Operating Expenses | $9.11 billion for the quarter, an increase of $1 billion or 13% over prior year. Staff related costs represented $439 million (10.2% increase), other operating expenses increased by $606 million reflecting primarily inflationary increases, devaluation of the Jamaican dollar and the impact of new tax measures.

Non-performing loans | (NPLs) at April stood at $5 billion, $440 million less that at April 2012, an increase of $270 million over January this year, the increase is a charge against the income for the year to date. During the six months period in 2012, the bank recovered a large corporate loan that was classified as non-performing during 2011, resulting in a net charge in 2012. Total NPLs is down to 3.88% of total gross loans compared to 4.83% last year and 3.82% as at January 2013 due greatly to the growth in the loan portfolio.

Balance Sheet | Total assets increased year over year by $33 billion or 9.46% to $382 billion as at April this year. Loans grew by $16.2 billion to $127.26 billion. Customer liabilities (deposits, repo liabilities and policyholder’s funds) grew to $294 billion, an increase of $28 billion over last year. As per the management report, “This growth was mainly reflected in the deposit portfolio as we continued to acquire new customers and see increased balances from existing customers.”

scotiabanklogo150x150Bruce Bowen, President and CEO said, “Scotia Group generated strong results for Q2 with continued growth in all of our key business lines. Our culture of prudent risk management and strong liquidity enabled us to weather the challenges in the market during the quarter. Looking forward, the National Debt Exchange (NDX) has reduced margins and recent tax measures have increased operating costs. To offset these effects we are focused on deepening our relationship with clients and growing our customer base, while improving operating efficiencies and maintaining tight control of expenses.”

Bowen went on to say, “In times of turmoil in the financial sector Scotiabank is known for providing Jamaicans a safe place to bank. With the addition of Scotia Investments, Scotia Jamaica Life Insurance and Scotia Jamaica Building Society, and our commitment to providing a great customer experience, I believe that we can truly help our customers be financially better off. If we focus on our customers we are in an excellent position to build market share during this difficult economic period.”