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Asian Markets Slide Amidst Gaza Escalation & Fears of Iran Involvement

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Asian markets experienced a significant decline on Monday amidst growing concerns that Israel’s anticipated ground offensive in Gaza against Hamas might trigger a regional war involving Iran. There are warnings that such developments could lead to surging oil prices, further complicating the efforts of central banks to control inflation.

After a week-long bombing campaign, Israel has positioned a substantial army on the border with Gaza, signaling an expected ground incursion with the objective of rooting out militants following surprise attacks on October 7 that resulted in hundreds of casualties.

The situation escalated as Tel Aviv ordered over a million Palestinians to evacuate the northern part of the territory, intensifying worries about a looming humanitarian crisis.

While President Joe Biden acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense, he expressed concerns on the “big mistake” of reoccupying the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, reports suggest that he may visit Israel after being invited by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a recent phone call. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also scheduled for his second visit since the Hamas attacks.

Amid these developments, there are growing fears that this local conflict might evolve into a regional crisis should Iran, accused of aiding in this month’s attack, become further entangled.

Tapas Strickland from National Australia Bank emphasized, “The key uncertainty is whether a ground operation risks widening the conflict, with markets focused on whether Iran and its allies are drawn into the conflict.”

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co, has already warned of a geopolitical crisis if the situation escalates further, saying, “This may be the most dangerous time the world has seen in decades.”

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine, combined with last week’s attacks on Israel, has far-reaching implications on energy and food markets, global trade, and geopolitical relationships.

These uncertainties weighed heavily on Wall Street stocks, leading to drops in the Nasdaq and S&P 500. Simultaneously, oil prices witnessed a significant increase, rising by nearly six percent.

Despite these challenges, the Dow experienced a modest increase thanks to strong earnings reported by JPMorgan, Citi, and Wells Fargo, driven by elevated interest rates.

In contrast, the Asian markets were all in decline, with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei, Wellington, and Manila all registering losses. Oil prices, on the other hand, saw a dip due to profit-taking activities.

Adding to the somber atmosphere was the news that the White House would tighten rules on Chinese access to chips and chip-making equipment, exacerbating the longstanding security standoff between the United States and China.

Market participants will closely monitor speeches this week from several Federal Reserve decision-makers, including Jerome Powell, in the hope of gaining insights into their plans regarding interest rates. This comes after a series of recent indications from officials that they are inclined to maintain borrowing costs, addressing concerns about potential tightening measures that could potentially tip the U.S. economy into recession.

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Bearish Trend on DSE

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Dhaka Stock Market DSE, Bourse on the last working day of the week, 18th July, ended with a drop in Indices and Turnover from the previous working session. This information is known from DSE sources.

391 crore 52 lakh taka shares were traded on this day. 192 crore 89 lakh less tradings were done in DSE today compared to the previous workday, July 16th, Shares worth Tk 662 crores 24 lakh shares were traded last time, Tuesday.

The benchmark DSEX decreased 36.64 points or 5,446 The Shariah-based index DSES dropped 10.43 points or 1,191 and the blue-chip index DS30 lost by 8.10 points or 1,953.

Of the issues traded, 38 advanced, 311 declined and 46 remained unchanged.

Techno Drugs Limited ranked top gainer on DSE, the share price increased by Tk 3.10 paisa or 9.72 percent. On this day, the share was last traded at Tk 35.00 paisa.

BD Thai Aluminium Limited ranked top loser on the DSE, the share price dropped by Tk 0.60 paisa or 3.00 percent. On this day, the share was last traded at Tk 19.40 paisa.

DSE topped on trade is Sea Pearl Beach Resort & Spa Limited 15 crore 86 lakh takas of company shares have been traded.

A total of 31 companies’ shares were traded in the Block on Dhaka Stock Exchange. A total of 1 crore 6 lakh 61 thousand 203 shares of the companies were traded. The financial value of which is 31 crore 82 lakh taka

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Asian markets drop with Wall St as Biden sparks fresh chip fears

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Asian markets sank with Wall Street on Thursday after a warning from the White House that it would target firms supplying China with key semiconductor technology, and Donald Trump’s comments on crucial chip supplier Taiwan.

The dollar remained subdued following its latest retreat caused by growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at least once this year.

Firms linked to artificial intelligence have led a surge in equities this year as investors see the sector as the next major growth area, with market darling Nvidia piling on more than 140 percent since the start of the year.

The industry has helped push the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to multiple records in the past seven months, helped by the prospect of lower borrowing costs.

But the rally took a blow Wednesday when Bloomberg News reported that Joe Biden was looking at imposing strict curbs on firms such as Tokyo Electron and ASML if they continue allowing Beijing access to their chip tech.

The report, which comes as he looks to buttress his credentials as strong on China ahead of November’s presidential election against Trump, sent shivers across trading floors, sending the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index plunging nearly seven percent — its heaviest loss since 2020.

Nvidia dived more than six percent and Dutch firm ASML collapsed more than 12 percent.

Tokyo Electron fell 7.5 percent on Wednesday and a further 9.5 percent Thursday. TSMC shed more than three percent in Taipei.

Meanwhile, Trump’s comments that Taiwan — home of the key chip-maker TSMC and other major producers — should pay the US for its defence caused some geopolitical unease.

The fear fuelled a sell-off across Asian equities, with Tokyo and Taipei down at least two percent, while there were also hefty losses in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore and Manila.

Analysts warned that the imposition of more chip restrictions could fuel further selling and lead to a correction in markets, which some warn have become overbought.

– ‘A big currency problem’ –

Worries over tech have offset the feel-good mood that has been sparked by recent data and comments from Fed officials indicating they are ready to cut interest rates as soon as September, and possibly again before January.

The latest boost for doves came in the central bank’s Beige Book summary of the economy, which said there were signs it was slowing.

“Expectations for the future of the economy were for slower growth over the next six months due to uncertainty around the upcoming election, domestic policy, geopolitical conflict, and inflation,” the report said.

The prospect of lower rates has weighed on the dollar, while the yen — which has been battered against the greenback this year — has won support from bets on a Bank of Japan hike in coming months.

“Markets are pricing in the Fed to start cutting rates in September, and risks of yen carry trade — the practice of borrowing low yielding currencies to invest in high yielding currencies — unwinding are building as yield gap narrows,” Saxo researchers said in a note.

“Recent comments from Trump have also hinted at concerns from US dollar strength.”

Trump, in Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention, has also weighed in on the dollar’s relative strength against the yen and yuan, telling Bloomberg Businessweek “we have a big currency problem” and “I would always notice they fought very hard to keep their currency low”.

Taylor Nugent, at National Australia Bank, said: “The comments play to the view (that) bilateral trade deficits and currency valuations are a key focus, and tariffs would be a key negotiating tool.”

Investors are keeping tabs on Beijing, where China’s leaders are expected to wrap up a key gathering, with hopes President Xi Jinping will unveil fresh measures to boost the world’s number two economy.

– Key figures around 0300 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 percent at 40,277.86 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.5 percent at 17,652.42

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 2,944.67

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3007 from $1.3012 on Wednesday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0938 from $1.0941

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 155.92 yen from 156.33 yen

Euro/pound: UP at 84.09 pence at 84.07 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $83.39 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.5 percent at $85.49 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 41,198.08 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 8,187.46 (close)

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LafargeHolcim reveals their Q2 Financials

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One of the listed companies, LafargeHolcim Bangladesh Limited discloses its financial reports for the second quarter, (April – June 24).

The company’s Consolidated earnings per share (EPS) Tk 1.14 paisa in Q2 of the current financial year (April – June 24). Consolidated EPS was Tk. 0.69 for January-June 2024 as against Tk. 1.47 for the same period last year. EPS  was Tk 0.80 paisa during the same period last year. Consolidated NAV per share was Tk. 16.60 as of June 30, 2024.

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