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Rupee strengthens against dollar

ARACHI: The rupee strengthened against the dollar at 105.35/105.55 in the inter-bank market on Thursday compared to Wednesday’s close of 105.4/105.6.

The currency market has fluctuated regularly in recent months with hefty rises and falls on some occasions. In the long run, however, the rupee has stood firm after experiencing extensive volatility, when it weakened from around Rs98 to a dollar to above Rs103 in the wake of political impasse over alleged election rigging.

The central bank has imposed 100% cash margin on the import of certain consumer goods to restrict the demand for US dollars. The rupee has been one of the best performing currencies in Asia for over three years despite the dollar’s sharp appreciation against other currencies.

However, the International Monetary Fund has repeatedly said that Pakistan’s rupee is overvalued by 5-20%. According to analysts, the artificial support for the rupee has adversely affected Pakistan’s exports.

Cement production gains optimum pace

LAHORE: The cement industry operated at 88.18% of its installed capacity in the first quarter of this fiscal year, allowing sales of 10.348 million tons of cement, according to data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association (APCMA).

Analysts believe the sector is well-poised to cross the 40-million ton barrier this year.

The APCMA data reveals that 3.199 million tons of cement was sold in September 2017, up 4.61% from September 2016, with a 10.33% increase in domestic consumption of the commodity being the main driver. Hence, the export sector continued to register a huge decline, decreasing 23% in September compared to the same month of the previous year.

The local sales from mills based in northern parts of Pakistan stood at 2.367 million tons, 12.05% higher than 2.113 million tons in the previous year. However, exports from the region fell 16.27% from 0.368 million tons in September 2016 to 0.308 million tons in September 2017.

Mills based in southern regions posted a meagre increase of 1.77% in local sales from 0.423 million tons in September 2016 to 0.431 million tons in September 2017. Exports from the region dropped considerably to 0.093 million tons from 0.155 million tons in the same month of last year, registering a decline of 39.63%.