OECD unemployment rate at 5.2 pct in September

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – The unemployment rate in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries fell to 5.2 percent in September, the organization reported on Tuesday.

On a monthly basis, the OECD unemployment rate showed a 0.1 percentage point down, while the number of unemployed people totaled 33.1 million across the 36 member countries.

The highest figures were seen in Greece — 19 percent in July, the latest month available — and Spain with 14.9 percent, as the lowest figures were recorded in Czechia and Japan, 2.3 percent for both countries.

"The OECD unemployment rate for youth [people aged 15 to 24] remained stable at 11 percent in September, while the rate for people aged 25 and above declined by 0.1 percentage point to 4.5 percent," it said.

The organization also said the youth unemployment rate remained above 30 percent in Italy, Spain and Greece.

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Trump hopes OPEC will refrain from oil production cuts

By Ovunc Kutlu

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump expressed hope on Monday that OPEC and the cartel's heavyweight Saudi Arabia would refrain from production cuts, in an effort to keep crude oil prices low in the global market.

"Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and OPEC will not be cutting oil production. Oil prices should be much lower based on supply!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

In addition to the U.S. granting waivers to eight major importing nations of Iranian crude, rising oil production worldwide has also created fears of oversupply in the global market, and has pushed crude prices into the bear market territory.

International benchmark Brent crude lost around 19 percent since the beginning of October, hitting as low as $68.88 per barrel on Monday — its lowest level since April 10, according to official data.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell on 11 out of the past 12 days to plummet 13 percent since Oct. 26. WTI reached as low as $58.69 a barrel on Monday, marking its lowest level since Feb. 14.

The U.S.' crude oil production climbed to a fresh record high of 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd) for the week ending Nov. 2, according to the country's Energy Information Administration.

With this result, the U.S. surpassed Russia, which produced 11.36 million bpd of crude on average so far this month, and climbed to the top spot among crude oil producing nations.

Meanwhile, the world's biggest crude exporter Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that it would trim its December exports by 500,000 bpd, and signaled that OPEC may cut more output in the near future to raise prices, however Russia was not partial to this plan.

IMF team lands in Pakistan for talks on financial help

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – A delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday arrived on a two-week visit to Pakistan for talks on a financial package on request of the government.

"The IMF team has arrived and today they will hold meetings with State Bank of Pakistan officials," Mehrin Liaqat, spokesperson of the Finance Ministry told Anadolu Agency.

Pakistani officials will brief the international money watchdog over the country's economic situation and its urgent need.

During the stay in Islamabad, the IMF team will also meet Finance Minister Asad Umar and heads of the country's Finance Bureau of Revenue and State Bank of Pakistan.

Pakistan has approached the money watchdog for the second time during the last five years after the country faced serious financial challenges. It will be the 22nd program since Pakistan and the IMF relations began.

On Tuesday, a day before the arrival of IMF team, the finance minister announced that his country had overcome the balance of payment crisis with help from Saudi Arabia and China.

"Pakistan urgently needed $12 billion to bridge the gap of the current account deficit and that gap was filled with the help of Saudi Arabia and China," Umar told reporters in Islamabad.

Last month in October, Pakistan formally approached IMF for financial assistance to overcome the deficit.

UPDATE – Turkey's annual inflation at 25.24 pct in October

UPDATES WITH BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND MONTHLY FIGURES

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – Consumer prices in Turkey rose by 25.24 percent year-on-year in October, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) announced Monday.

The annual inflation increased by 0.72 percentage points from 24.52 percent in September.

On a yearly basis, the biggest price hike of 37.92 percent was in furnishing and household equipment in October.

"Transportation with 32 percent, miscellaneous goods and services with 31.5 percent, food and non-alcoholic beverages with 29.26 percent and housing with 25.72 percent were the other main groups where high annual increases realized," TurkStat said.

Last month, Treasury and Finance Ministry launched an "all-out war" on inflation with a set of measures to limit the extreme increases in consumer prices.

Over the past five years, the annual inflation saw its lowest level at 6.13 percent in April 2013, while the figure reached its highest level this October.

As noted in Turkey's new economy program announced in September, the country's inflation rate target is 20.8 percent this year, 15.9 percent next year, 9.8 percent in 2020, and 6.0 percent in 2021.

Last week, the Turkish Central Bank revised Turkey's year-end inflation rate forecast to 23.5 percent.

On a monthly basis, the consumer prices rose by 2.67 percent in October, with the highest monthly increase at 12.74 percent in clothing and footwear.

TurkStat noted that the only monthly decrease in consumer prices was recorded in transportation with a 0.85-percent down.

Children's coat, women's pullover and men's anorak jacket were the top three items with the biggest price hikes last month while the price of lemon, cucumber and banana saw the biggest drop.

"In October 2018 within average prices of 407 items in the index, average prices of 42 items remained unchanged while average prices of 328 items increased and average prices of 37 items decreased," TurkStat said.

Turkey: Banking sector's net profit surges in Jan-Sept

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's banking sector's net profit reached 42.2 billion Turkish liras ($7.06 billion) this January-September, the country's banking watchdog reported Tuesday.

The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) said the sector's nine-month net profit saw a 13.4-percent annual rise, up from 37.2 billion liras ($10.5 billion) over the same period last year.

As of September, the banking sector's total assets were 4.2 trillion liras ($705.2 billion), a climb of 55.4 percent year-on-year.

Loans, the biggest sub-category of assets, grew 29.7 percent on a yearly basis to 2.6 trillion liras ($433.7 billion) at the end of September.

On the liabilities side, deposits held at lenders in Turkey totaled 2.1 trillion liras ($358.2 billion), up 30.6 percent in the same period.

At the end of this September, one U.S. dollar was traded for some 6.10 Turkish liras, versus a USD/TRY rate of around 3.60 at the end of September 2017.

UPDATE – Turkey's Central Bank keeps policy rate unchanged

UPDATES WITH COMMENTS FROM CENTRAL BANK; ADDS BACKGROUND INFORMATION

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – The Turkish Central Bank on Thursday held its one-week repo rate — also known as the bank's policy rate — constant at 24 percent.

The decision came in a statement from the bank's Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

Thursday's committee meeting is the seventh of eight meetings scheduled for the year. At the last meeting on Sept. 13, the bank hiked its policy rate by 625 base points, up from 17.75 percent to 24 percent.

This year's last Monetary Policy Committee meeting is to be held on Dec. 13.

The bank said the rebalancing trend in the economy became more noticeable.

External demand maintains its strength partly due to tighter financial conditions, while the slowdown in economic activity continues, according to the bank.

Turkey's economy saw an annual growth of 5.2 percent in the second quarter of 2018, while growth rates were 7.3 percent in the January-March period this year.

Pointing significant risks to price stability due to the inflation outlook, the bank said: "Price increases have shown a generalized pattern across subsectors, reflecting the movements in exchange rates."

The U.S. dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate stood at around 5.60 as of 4 p.m. local time (1300GMT) Thursday, while it was nearly 3.75 at the beginning of this year.

"Although weaker domestic demand conditions will partially mitigate the deterioration in the inflation outlook, upside risks on the pricing behavior continue to prevail.

"Accordingly, the committee has decided to maintain the tight monetary policy stance," the bank said, adding, it will continue to use proper tools to achieve price stability objective.

Turkey's annual inflation reached 24.52 percent in September, up from 17.90 in August.

"Inflation expectations, pricing behavior, lagged impact of recent monetary policy decisions, contribution of fiscal policy to rebalancing process, and other factors affecting inflation will be closely monitored and, if needed, further monetary tightening will be delivered," the bank stated.

Over the past five years, annual inflation saw its lowest level at 6.13 percent in April 2013, while the figure reached its highest level this September.

Turkey's Central Bank keeps policy rate unchanged

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas

ANKARA (AA) – The Turkish Central Bank on Thursday held its one-week repo rate — also known as the bank's policy rate — constant at 24 percent.

The decision came in a statement from the bank's Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

Thursday's committee meeting is the seventh of eight meetings scheduled for the year. At the last meeting on Sept. 13, the bank hiked its policy rate by 625 base points, up from 17.75 percent to 24 percent.

This year's last Monetary Policy Committee meeting is to be held on Dec. 13.