Gang involved in theft of transmission line material arrested

LAHORE (PR): Dacoit gang of 10 persons involved in theft of strung conductors has been arrested by local police with the help of National Transmission and Dispatch Company and contractor’s security teams near Trimu Head Works in Jhang area. Toba Tek Singh Police arrested the thieves red handed and detained them in concerned police station. Whereas, 4 dacoits managed to escape by taking advantage of the darkness. Weapons and cutters (used to cut the conductors) recovered from the gang have been taken into custody by the police. The arrested dacoits have confessed that they were involved in stealing of expensive conductor and other material of under constructions high voltage transmission lines. The gang seems to be part of professional dacoits who are involved in many such cases. Application has been launched in Toba Tek Police Station to register the case against the culprits.

Cement sector experiencing high growth

LAHORE (Staff Reporter): The cement industry’s total tax and duties contribution during last four years has increased by around 200 percent to Rs117 billion in 2016-17 from Rs39 billion in 2012-13. All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has said that cement industry has now become one of the highest contributors to the national exchequer. The spokesman, attributing domestic growth in the sector to the policies of the government and its thrust on mega infrastructure projects, said that cement sector is experiencing high growth particularly in the domestic market for the last three years. According to data, in May 2018 the industry dispatched 3.919 million tons of cement against 3.708 million tons dispatched in May 2017. In May 2018 the domestic cement dispatches in the northern region were 2.812 million tons against 2.811 in May 2017 whereas, dispatches in the southern region amounted to 0.669 million tons in May 2018 against 0.588 million tons in the same month last year.

Total cement dispatches in the first 11 months of this fiscal have been the highest ever in history as cement industry dispatched 42.915 million tons during July-May 2017-18 period against 37.588 million tons during the corresponding period last year. The sector grew by a healthy 14.17 percent in the first 11 months of this fiscal.

Capacity utilisation in the first 11 months of this fiscal was 94.69 percent, that is the highest ever in the history of Pakistan’s cement industry. The previous highest capacity utilisation was achieved in 1992-93 which totaled 93.62 percent.

Domestic consumption in the northern parts of the country stood at 31.811 million tons, showing a growth of 16.76 percent over the corresponding period of last fiscal. The cement plants in the south dispatched 6.755 million tons of cement, posting a growth rate of 12.12%.

Petroleum products local production up by 12.9pc in ten months

ISLAMABAD (APP): The production of petroleum products witnessed 12.98 percent increase during the first ten months (July-April) of the current fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period of the last year. According to latest data of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the petroleum products that contributed in positive growth included motor spirits, output of which grew by 18.61 percent during the period under review while the production of jet fuel oil increased by 0.57 percent. The production of High Speed Diesel went up by 14.06 percent, diesel oil by 33.25 percent while the output of furnace oil witnessed growth of 7.76 percent. Similarly, the production of Jute batching oil increased by 13.16 percent, Solvent Naptha by 6.51 percent while the production of LPG increased by 47.66 percent. The petroleum products that witnessed negative growth in production included kerosene oil, output of which decreased by 13.62 percent, while the production of lubricating oil declined by 12.82 percent.

Meanwhile, on year-on-year basis, the production of petroleum products increased by 18.71 percent during the month of April 2018 against the production of same month of last year.

UK retail sales jump in May

LONDON (AFP): British retail sales soared unexpectedly in May as consumers basked in warm weather and enjoyed the royal wedding, official data showed on Thursday. Sales rallied 1.3 percent last month after a jump of 1.6 percent in April, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement, adding that there was growth across all sectors. "Feedback from retailers suggested that a sustained period of good weather and royal wedding celebrations encouraged spending in food and household goods stores in May," the ONS said. Market expectations had been for a more moderate 0.5-percent increase in May, according to economists polled by Bloomberg. Britain's Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle got married last month, with many Britons holding street parties to mark the occasion. Thursday's data "was well ahead of economists' forecasts, and sterling reacted positively, jumping almost half a cent against the dollar", said Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"Some traders will be betting that a stronger retail performance strengthens the case for higher interest rates this summer," he added.

However Brettell pointed also to the gloom surrounding some major UK retailers.

Troubled UK budget chain Poundworld on Monday fell into adminstration, putting it closer to collapse with the loss of up to 5,100 jobs unless a last-ditch buyer can be found.

Poundworld, which is battling against discounting in supermarkets, appointed financial group Deloitte to help it find a buyer and stave off store closures and job losses.

The announcement came just days after House of Fraser, the Chinese-owned department store chain, said it is closing more than half its shops across Britain and Ireland, risking the loss of 6,000 jobs.

British retailers with large amounts of stores are suffering also from fierce online competition from the likes of US giant Amazon.

The UK is experiencing also weak household spending generally amid Brexit uncertainty.

Last month, British food-to-clothing retailer Marks and Spencer said it would shut more than 100 UK stores as it looks to shift at least one third of overall sales online.

Emphasising the fast-growing shift to online among British consumers, Amazon last week said it plans 2,500 new UK jobs by the end of the year.

"While the squeeze on household finances looks to have accelerated the demise of retailers not abreast with current consumer shopping habits, it has presented an opportunity to gain market share for those nimble enough," noted Christian Jaccarini, an economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

The latest retail figures are however likely to be "an aberration given the one-off drivers of growth, meaning tough trading conditions induced by weakened household finances are likely to persist", he added.