Inflation averages 5.69pc in 2020, a 3yr high
Average inflation rose to a three-year high of 5.69 per cent in the just-concluded calendar year as food prices maintained an upward trend for most of 2020. In December, the average Consumer Price Index (CPI), however, fell to 5.29 per cent, the lowest in 47 months, driven by a significant drop in food prices. December’s figure was 23 basis points lower than the CPI in November as it fell to its lowest level since February 2017, data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the central bank showed. In December, food inflation declined 0.89 percentage points to 5.34 per cent compared to the previous month. Non-food inflation increased 19 basis points to 5.21 per cent. In December, coarse rice price rose marginally to Tk 52.28 a kg from Tk 52.23 a month ago in markets in Dhaka, BBS data showed. The price of two finer varieties — najershail/minikat and pajam — stood at Tk 68.20 and Tk 66.30 a kg respectively in contrast to Tk 68 and Tk 65.68 in November. Prices of both Moongdal and lentil dropped to Tk 134.30 and Tk 122.50 a kg from Tk 135 and Tk 125 respectively.
Good quality soybean oil became expensive by Tk 5.13 a litre, according to the BBS. The price of dry chilli decreased to Tk 380 a kg from Tk 390 a month ago. It averaged Tk 235 last fiscal year. The price of onion dropped to Tk 80.70 a kg from Tk 88.21 in November. The national statistical agency said inflation in rural areas was down 0.45 percentage points at 5.28 per cent from 5.55 per cent in November. Food inflation dropped 0.81 percentage points to 5.60 per cent, and non-food inflation rose 24 basis points to 4.67 per cent. The government has set a 5.4 per cent inflation target in the current fiscal year.
Stock turnover hits decade high
Stock prices dropped yesterday as investors were more inclined towards profit booking but turnover rose to Tk 2,546 crore, a decade high, led by trade of Robi, Grameenphone, Beximco Pharmaceuticals and banking shares. The DSEX, the benchmark index of Dhaka Stock Exchange, fell 42 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 5,609. Of 30 listed banks, 27 witnessed a rise, one a drop and two stayed as they were. Banking stocks rose 3.53 per cent while telecom 3.41 per cent, according to UCB Capital Management. Grameenphone alone added 12 points to the DSEX yesterday while the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh, Eastern Bank, National Bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank, Islami Bank and Prime Bank jointly contributed 20 points, according to Amarstock.com. Robi’s stocks rose 9.75 per cent but this had little impact on the index as it is still comparatively a new company in the market.
Turnover, another important indicator of the market, rose 16 per cent to Tk 2,546 crore yesterday, the highest in the past decade. On June 28 last year, the DSE witnessed a turnover of Tk 2,543 crore due to share transfers of GlaxoSmithKline to Unilever. But yesterday the market propelled the turnover beyond that point. Stocks of Robi Axiata topped the turnover list yesterday, with a trade of Tk 256 crore, followed by Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Beximco, IFIC Bank and LafargeHolcim Bangladesh. The banking sector dominated the turnover chart, accounting for 18.6 per cent, followed by pharmaceuticals with 13.23 per cent, according to UCB Capital Management. The port city bourse also fell yesterday. The general index of Chattogram Stock Exchange dropped 134 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 16,237 yesterday. Among 298 stocks traded, 115 rose, 149 fell and 34 remained unchanged.
Exports slip slightly
Merchandise shipment declined 0.36 per cent year-on-year to $19.23 billion in July-December 2020 as Bangladesh’s major export destinations continued to struggle to tame the rising coronavirus infections. Of the export receipts, $8.52 billion came from knitwear shipment, up 3.9 per cent from a year ago. Woven exports declined 10.22 per cent to $7.01 billion. Despite the pandemic, the knitwear shipment rose as people mostly wear casual dresses as they stay indoors and work from home because of the health crisis. Merchandise exports in December declined 6.11 per cent year-on-year to $3.3 billion. Last month’s receipts were 6.13 per cent shy of the monthly export target of $3.5 billion.Garment export was down 9.64 per cent in December as the pandemic continues to batter the global economy. Last month, woven garment export posted the worst performance since June plummeting 18.07 per cent. Knitwear export fell 0.45 per cent. Overall, the garment export witnessed an unprecedented 16.94 per cent year-on-year decline in 2020. Earnings from the shipment of leather and leather products, the second-largest foreign currency earning sector, slid 6.24 per cent to $446.13 million. Jute and jute goods fetched 30.56 per cent higher at $668.11 million. Export of home textile, bicycle, agricultural products and pharmaceuticals grew in the first half of the fiscal year. Frozen and live fish export declined by 3.71 per cent to $279.72 million, EPB data showed.
Hyundai cars to be assembled locally
Fair Technology yesterday came one step closer to realising its plans to assemble Hyundai vehicles in Bangladesh to catch up with the demand from a burgeoning middle class. The concern of Fair Group signed a contract with Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA) to establish a plant on six acres of land. The plant will be able to annually churn out 5,000 vehicles. Plans are to initially assemble 1,000 vehicles, he said after signing the agreement at The Westin Dhaka in presence of State Minister for ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak. Meanwhile, Fair Group’s concerns also assemble Samsung smartphones and consumer electronics. Fair Technology estimates that 25,000 to 30,000 cars are sold annually in the country, most of which are reconditioned. Mesbah said prices of locally assembled Hyundai cars were likely to be 25 per cent lower than prevailing market rates.
BIDA, SCB join hands to lure foreign investments
The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and the Standard Chartered Bangladesh (SCB) have joined hands in a bid to attract more foreign investments in the country. The partnership, as its first initiative, will organise a virtual Bangladesh-China investment summit on January 25 aiming to boost the bilateral trade relations between the two countries and promote investment. Besides, the two organisations will continue to implement a wide range of programmes to encourage more foreign investments in Bangladesh in coming days under the agreement. Addressing the ceremony, BIDA chairman said Bangladesh’s vision to become a middle income country by 2024 and a developed one by 2041 largely depends on foreign investments.