FCCI welcomes motorways

FAISALABAD (APP): Faisalabad Chamber on Saturday welcomed the construction of motorways, as these would play an important role in socio-economic development of the country. In their comments about construction of Shorkot-Khanewal motorway, a section of Faisalabad-Multan Motorway (M-4), inaugurated by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Chaudhary Muhammad Nawaz said that regional connectivity, coupled with positive socio-economic policies would lead Pakistan to become economic hub of South Asia. He welcomed Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif's speech at Shorkot and said that present government attached high priority to the completion of motorways and CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) related projects. He said that first section of M-4 Motorway (Faisalabad-Gojra) has already been completed while work on Gojra-Shorkot section is near completion.

"Now the Prime Minister has laid down the foundation stone of the third section of motorway connecting Shorkot with Khanewal", he said, adding that Khanewal-Multan section of M-4 Motorway has already been completed and fully operational. He said that this motorway will reduce the distance as well travelling time for the cargo between Karachi and Peshawar. It will also make Faisalabad as main stop over for the cargo as well as passengers travelling from South to North and from North to South, he said and added that this short-cut will also encourage transporters carrying cargo from Karachi port to the land locked Afghanistan and Central Asian States.

'Rs100b funding benefiting farmers'

MULTAN (APP): MPA Mehdi Abbas Langah has said that Rs100 billion funding being pumped into the agriculture sector development in Punjab had started benefitting farmers. He said this at a ceremony at Markaz Hafiz Wala after distribution of soil sampling and pest scouting kits under 'Extension Service 2.0: Farmer Facilitation Through Modernized Extension" here. EDO Agriculture Shafqat Hussain Bhatti, DO Agriculture Extension Chaudhry Naseer Ahmad, DDO Agriculture Rana Arif and other officials besides a large number of farmers attended the ceremony. The MPA said that reduction in power tariff and prices of fertilizers had greatly reduced the cost of production for farmers. EDO Agriculture said that performance of field staff was being monitored closely and advised them to perform duty with dedication. DO Agriculture Chaudhry Naseer Ahmad said that field assistants and agriculture inspectors would soon get 125cc motorcycles fitted with soil analysis and pest scouting kits to facilitate farmers at their door step.

He advised field staff to improve their on-field performance and operations of plant clinics.

He also ordered them to monitor availability and prices of fertilizers to plug chances of black marketing and for prompt action against fertilizers adulterators.

US retail sales flat in July

WASHINGTON (AFP): US retail sales were virtually unchanged in July after rising in June, suggesting a key driver of the world's largest economy had reached a plateau by mid-summer. The Commerce Department said that advance estimates put sales at retailers and restaurants for July at $457.7 billion, the same as the previous month but up 2.3 percent year-on-year. Analysts had expected a rise of 0.4 percent. June's reading was revised upwards, however, from 0.6 percent growth to 0.8 percent. Auto and auto parts sales were up 1.1 percent in July, helping to boost the overall figure. Online retailers saw sales rise 1.3 percent, offsetting a drop in sales at department stores. "Much weaker than in the last few months but the last few months were quite strong and the data are quite volatile," said Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics. The figures dovetailed with data also released Friday by the Labor Department, which said producer prices had unexpectedly fallen last month by 0.4 percent.

The less-than-robust results will again add a measure of ambiguity to the mosaic of economic data consulted by US policy makers in considering whether to raise interest rates in 2016.

Inflation has remained stubbornly low and, while the labor market has been strong in recent months, overall economic growth was weak in the second quarter, making the current recovery the slowest since World War II.

"The consumer paused in July and, with price pressures soft, the Fed members will probably gain a few more gray hairs," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.

"If soft consumer spending was not enough of a concern for the worrywarts at the Fed, they also have to deal with soft wholesale prices," he wrote in a research note.

"Producer costs were down in July, led by drops in both food and energy. Excluding those components, prices still went nowhere."

Dollar weakens against euro on middling economic data

NEW YORK (AFP): The dollar weakened against the euro on Friday as lackluster reports on producer prices and retail sales dampened appetite for the greenback. Toward 1800 GMT, the euro was at $1.1166, up from $1.1138 at 2100 GMT the day before. The dollar also weakened against the yen, standing at 101.14, down from 101.97 on Thursday, but it strengthened against the pound, which bought $1.2911, versus $1.2955 the day before. The euro was nevertheless down against the yen, at 112.93 versus 113.56 on Thursday. The Commerce Department said Friday that US retail sales were unchanged in July at $457.7 billion, falling short of analyst expectations. Meanwhile the US producer prices index fell 0.4 percent for the month. "The dollar was pretty steady overnight but we have the retail sales numbers that disappointed," said Omer Esiner of Commonwealth Foreign Exchange. "However, when you look at a three-month chart, the dollar is still at a pretty good place against the euro."