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Dollar Declines as Asian Markets Surge Following Fed’s Interest Rate Cut Signal

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The Federal Reserve’s announcement of a planned interest rate cut next year had a profound impact on global markets. Wall Street celebrated this dovish pivot, with the Dow closing at a record high above 37,000, and the S&P 500 reaching a near two-year high.

The central bank, after holding rates at a 22-year high as expected, signaled a shift toward a more accommodative monetary policy, acknowledging their belief that the peak rate for this cycle is likely at hand. Fed chief Jerome Powell emphasized that the decision allows policymakers to assess the need for additional policy adjustments.

In addition to maintaining rates, the Fed released its “dot plot,” revealing an unexpected 75 basis points of cuts in 2024, exceeding previous indications. Traders, responding to this development, are now betting on 140 basis points of cuts over the next year. The news sparked a bullish surge on Wall Street, with Treasuries strengthening, indicating a favorable response to the outlook for future rates.

The positive sentiment carried over to Asian markets, where Hong Kong, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Manila, and Jakarta all recorded gains of over one percent. Shanghai also joined the rally. Gold, reacting to the news, held above $2,000, while oil prices extended their rally, supported by data showing a decrease in US stockpiles.

However, Tokyo experienced a decline, partly due to a stronger yen, which appreciated approximately 1.8 percent against the dollar. Japanese traders were also monitoring a political crisis involving Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, with three ministers resigning over a major corruption scandal in the ruling party.

While the markets are in a buying mood, some analysts urge caution, emphasizing that the Fed will likely ensure inflation is under control before implementing rate cuts. Despite the positive response in the short term, uncertainties remain, particularly concerning rising output and weakening demand, especially from China, which have kept oil prices around six-month lows.

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Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests

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The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.

This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.

Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.

Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.

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Saudi Imposes Tk15 lakh Fine for Unauthorized Hajj Performances

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The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia has declared a fine of SR50,000 (equivalent to Tk15 lakh) for individuals, whether tourists or local residents, who perform Hajj without official permission. According to Gulf News, the ministry emphasized the illegality of undertaking Hajj without the necessary approvals. Additionally, hefty fines of up to Tk15 lakh will be imposed on those found transporting Hajj pilgrims without the required documents.

Furthermore, the ministry outlined severe consequences for foreigners involved in such violations, including a six-month imprisonment and subsequent deportation from Saudi Arabia. Those deported will also face a 10-year ban on reentering the country. This stringent announcement aims to ensure the proper implementation of the Hajj process and deter any potential breaches of laws and regulations.

The penalties will be enforced through collaboration between the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports.

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UN Commemorates International Mother Language Day

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The International Mother Language Day was commemorated at the UN headquarters for the 8th consecutive year, organized jointly by the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh, Austria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Romania, and South Africa in collaboration with the UN Secretariat and UNESCO. Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly, attended as the chief guest. The event included a multilingual discussion and cultural performances.

Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, paid homage to language martyrs and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He acknowledged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s role in UNESCO’s recognition of February 21 as the international mother language day and reiterated her call to make Bangla an official UN language. The importance of mother tongue-based education for quality and inclusive learning was emphasized.

The President of the UN General Assembly and other speakers appreciated Bangladesh’s leadership in celebrating the day, recognizing its role in proclaiming a day dedicated to mother languages. They highlighted the significance of mother tongue-based multilingual education for continuous learning and development. The event, attended by ambassadors, diplomats, UN officials, civil society, and the Bangladeshi community, featured interpretation in Bangla, Hindi, and Romanian. Cultural presentations included the theme song ‘Amar Bhai-er Rokte Rangano Ekushe February’ by the UN Chamber Music Society.

In the morning, the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh observed Martyrs Day and International Mother Language Day with solemnity. Wreaths were laid at the Shaheed Minar, and messages from the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister were read out by mission officials.

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