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DAILY TRUST

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Busi ness/l nternationa I

Ghana inflation dips in April GHANRS annual inflation rate fell to 9.02 percent in April, the country's statistics office said yesterday, the second dip in a row that reinforces prospects of a rate hold decision by the Bank of Ghana this week. Analysts said the surprise fall from 9.13 percent in March might spark calls for a further rate cut, but for now the consensus was for the prime rate to be held at 13.5 percent and some analysts warned that inflation could take off again soon. Fuel price hikes pushed inflation higher in January but the national statistics office said the stabilisation of fuel prices, coupled with the abundance of food and a relatively stable exchange rate, had led to dip in April. "This is a good reading, especially given the inflationary pressures stemming from high oil prices and a relativelyweal< currency;' said Lisa Lewin, an analyst at London-based Business Monitor International. "It looks almost certain that rates will be kept on hold this time around, but as soon as inflation edges back into the double digits (probably not until H2) we can expect a hiking cycle to commence;' she added. Separately, the statistics office said the Ghanaian economy grew 7] per cent in 20la. Analysts see that accelerating to around 13 per cent this year thanks to oil revenues. An expected announcement of first quarter 20 11 growth was put back to June. The Bank of Ghana's Monetary Policy Committee is due to announce its decision on interest rates on Friday. Ahead of Wednesday's announcement, seven out of ten banks polled said they were expecting the rate to be unchanged at 13.5 per cent (Reuters).

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Egypt's North Sinai Cement regains licence NORTH Sinai Cement will resume operations within a week after a court cancelled a government decision to

scrap the firm's licence, its chairman told Reuters yesterday. Egypt's Industrial Development Authority (IDA) removed North Sinai's licence late in 2009 over start-up delays and financing shortfalls. The firm was granted a 60-day appeal period but tailed to meet conditions to challenge the decision.

Investors in listed rivals, such as South Valley Cement and National Cement, were watching the case for any hints

on how it might affect future .licence policy. "We will resume production immediately next week. We have won the case on Tuesday and the licence is returned, .. said Chairman Abdel Hameed Selmy. North Sinai has one production line, with annual production capacity of I.B million tonnes. In February, an Egyptian prosecutor ordered the deten. tion ofthe head of the IDA, Amr AssaI, as it probes allegations that he squandered 670 million Egyptian pounds of public funds. (Reuters)

Mauritius'Rogers Hl profit down 6% MAURITIUS-BASED conglomerate Rogers reported a 6.1 percent fall in first half pretax profit, hit by the performance of the hotel sector - the company said yesterday. The group, which operates in the island's financial, property, hotel, aviation and logistics sectors - said profit before tax fell to 392.9 million Mauritius rupees for the half year to the end of March. In its outlook, the company said with all the hotels and retail outlets being fully operational, profit for the second halfis likely to be better than that ofiast,year, but gave no specific details. Earnings per share fell to B.32 rupees from 11.29 rupees a year earlier. Revenue jumped 22.1 percent compared with the same period in 2010 to 5.B2 billion rupees due mainly to the property and agribusiness sectors, Rogers said in a statement. How~ver, Rogers said its hotels sector was affected despite achieving the same occupancy rate <>fIB percent as last year. "The results were adversely impacted by the newvilla rental activity and additional depreciation associated with the recent renovation and revalu~tion ofthe hotels. Furthermore, the rela-

tive strength of the Mauritian rupee continued t" affect the profitability ofthe sector;' it said. Mauritius is famed for its white $andy beaches and luxury spas that lure the top end of the leisure market. (Reuters)

Food prices push Ethiopia infiation to nearly 30 pct ETHIOPlA:S year-on-year inflation rate rose for a second straight month to 29.5 percent in April, from 25.0 percent a month earlier, driven by a sharp rise in food prices, the statistics agency said on Thesday. "The total price index of cereals in April 20 11 has increased by 14.6 per cent as compared to the same month last year, which Significantly contributed to the rise in the indices of food and the general consumer price index;' the Centrai Statistical Agency said in a statement Ethiopia has imposed price ceilings on more than a dozen commodities including some essential foodstuffs. Food accounts for just over 57 percent of the basket used to measure the inflation rate. Government officials have accused traders of artifiCially inflating food prices on the back of higher global prices and a Scptem\Jer devaluation of the birr currency. Ethiopia is grappling with rising inflation like other countries in Africa, including Uganda where spiralling food and fuel prices have led to protests. (Reuters)

Sudan inflation 16.5 pet, food costs add to hardship ANNUAL inflation in Sudan eased to 16.5 percent in April from 17.1 percent in March, data showed on Tuesday, but food prices remain high, adding to the country's economic challenges after its southern part voted to secede. Month-an-month inflation accelerated by 0.4 percent in April, Sudan's Central Bureau ofStalistics said in a statement. Food prices, which make up more than half of the consumer price index, were up IB.B percent in April, slightly down from 20.4 percent in March. Costs for bread, fruits, vegetables and meat fell though for many ordinarySudanese, food remains expensive. Costs for restaurants and hotels rose IB.7 percent in April after 15.5 percent in March, the data showed. Housing, water and power rose 7.5 percent in April, up from 7.3 percent in March. Sudan's south, where most of its oil wealth comes from, has voted to become independent in July. North and south have yet to work out how to share oil revenues although there is now more optimism for an agreement.

Analysts say food inflation could stoke dissent among people already hit hard by unemployment, a devalued local currency, lack of foreign currency and U.S. trade sanctions. Most food is imported. Bankers in Khartoum said flows of foreign currencies from the central bank have recently slightly increased, helped by high global prices for the country's oil and smaller-scale gold output. (Reuters).

Uganda's May coffee exports seen higher . UGANDA expects to export more coffee this month compared with May last year because farmers will release more of their harvested beans to raise cash for school fees, an industry source said yesterday. The country is expected to export 21 0,000 60-kg bags of the commodity in May compared with 177 ,3BO bags a year ago, the source at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said. "We are expecting farmers to release a bigger amount of stock.路:rheywill be needing school fees to pay for their children to go back to school;' the source told Reuters. Ugandan schools re-open for the second term of tl,e year later this month. (Reuters)


DAILY TRUST, 12 MAY, 2011