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Asian stocks rise after Wall Street barrels to records

Asian stocks rise after Wall Street barrels to records

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Asian stocks rise after Wall Street barrels to records

Asian markets rose Thursday after Wall Street barreled to records Wednesday as the frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology kept sending stocks higher.

U.S. futures and oil prices gained.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.9% to 38,841.75. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.8% to 18,569.48 and the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.1% at 3,068.31.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 7,824.40 after data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the country’s trading surplus rebounded in April, with exports falling 2.5% and imports dropping 7.2%.

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Taiwan’s Taiex surged 2% after contract electronics maker Foxconn’s shares jumped 0.6% after the company reported its revenue rose 22.1% year-on-year in May, a record high for the month. In Bangkok, the SET was up 0.4%.

South Korea’s markets were closed for a holiday.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 climbed 1.2% to 5,354.03, hitting the top of its all-time high set two weeks ago. The Nasdaq composite jumped 2% to 17,187.90 and likewise set a record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has less of an emphasis on tech, lagged the market with a gain of 0.2% to 38,807.33.

Technical issues briefly halt trading for some NYSE stocks in the latest glitch to hit Wall Street
The rally sent the total market value of Nvidia, which has become the poster child of the AI boom, above $3 trillion for the first time.

Nvidia is leading the way because its chips are powering much of the rush into AI, and it rose another 5.2% to bring its gain for the year to more than 147%.

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The chip company also joined Microsoft and Apple as the only U.S. stocks to ever top $3 trillion in total value. Apple regained that milestone valuation after rising 0.8% Wednesday.

The gains for tech stocks helped offset a 4.9% drop for Dollar Tree, which matched analysts’ expectations for profit but fell just shy for revenue. The retailer also said it’s considering selling or spinning off its Family Dollar business.

The broad retail industry has been highlighting challenges for lower-income U.S. households, which are trying to keep up with still-high inflation.

Treasury yields fell in the bond market following some mixed data on the economy. One report said real estate, health care and other businesses in the U.S. services sector returned to growth last month and beat economists’ forecasts. Perhaps more importantly for Wall Street, the report from the Institute for Supply Management also said prices rose at a slower pace in May than a month before.

Another report suggested hiring slowed last month by more than expected at U.S. employers outside the government.

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Stocks had been shaky recently after reports suggested the U.S. economy’s growth is fading under the weight of high interest rates. Wall Street has actually been hoping for such a slowdown because it can drive down inflation and convince the Federal Reserve to deliver much-desired cuts to interest rates.

But it also raises the possibility of overshooting and sending the economy into a recession, which would ultimately hurt stock prices.

Treasury yields sank after the weaker-than-expected economic reports raised expectations for coming cuts to rates by the Federal Reserve. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 4.29% from 4.33% late Tuesday and from 4.60% a week ago.

The next big move for Treasury yields and Wall Street overall could come Friday, when the U.S. government releases its monthly jobs report. That report is much more comprehensive than Wednesday’s from ADP, and economists expect Friday’s data to show a slight pickup in overall hiring. The hope continues to be that the job market slows its growth but not by so much that it devolves into widespread layoffs.

In other dealings, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 40 cents to $74.47 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Brent crude, the international standard, was up 30 cents to $78.71 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 155.59 Japanese yen from 156.10 yen. The euro climbed to $1.0892 from $1.0868.

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

The Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the portfolio of finance minister, presented the budget in the provincial assembly on Friday. 

He said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees. 

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Presenting the budget with a total outlay of Rs3,352 billion, he said, the government had decided to allocate Rs959 billion for development projects.

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

The Sindh government has revised the minimum wage for unskilled labourers to Rs37,000 in line with decisions of the federal and Punjab governments. 

The minimum salary has been increased by Rs5,000 as previously it stood at Rs32,000. The proposal was laid forth by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah while presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. 

Meanwhile, the Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

The chief minister said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

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Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees.

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Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

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Budget 2024-25: Let's figure out the cost of essentials

The federal government has announced a staggering Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) worth Rs1,500 billion. 

According to the budget document, all federal divisions have been allocated budget, except the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division, which deals directly with matters concerning 95 million people who are living in abject poverty. 

Sadly, the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division gets nothing in the PSDP 2024-25. 

Worse still, the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety does not have any minister as its head, rendering it almost moribund for more than 10 months. Earlier, Dr Sania Nishtar was chairing it during the PTI government, followed by Shazia Marri during the PDM government. 

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Last year, 12.5 million people slipped into poverty, which took it from 34.2pc to 39.4pc, according to the World Bank. 

The government has conveniently ignored the poor in the budget. Other than announcing Rs598.71billion under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), no substantial amount has been earmarked for reducing poverty. 

Your next read: BUDGET 2024-25 – A LAYMAN’S GUIDE 

Analysts believe that 27 percent increase in BISP from Rs471.3 billion to Rs598.71 billion has been made to placate the Pakistan Peoples Party, which may take the wind out of PML-N’s sails anytime. 

BURGEONING TAXES 

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On the other hand, if we delve into the details of burgeoning taxes, Sales Tax stands out in afflicting the poor the most. 

Now a sales tax of 10pc will be charged on stationery items. 

Tribal area residents who have been experiencing extreme poverty will now have to pay 6pc tax on the supply and import of plant machinery as well as electricity on both residential and commercial connections. 

Following the similar trajectory, a 10pc sales tax will be charged on the local supply of vermicelli, buns, poultry feed, cattle feed, sunflower seed meal, newsprint, books, oil cakes and tractors. 

On mobile phones whose value is less than $500 (Rs139,240), 18pc tax has been imposed. If the value of purchased phone exceeds $500, an existing rate of 25pc will remain unchanged. 

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Earlier, the retailers of leather and textile products who paid 15pc sales tax will now have to pay 18pc tax. 

Drug prices will increase massively as the sales tax on raw materials used in production of pharmaceutical items has been raised to 18pc from 1pc. This will be applicable on medical treatment, diagnostic equipment, heart surgery, neurosurgery, electrophysiology, endoscopy, endosurgery, oncology, urology, gynaecology, disposables and other medical equipment.

Besides, 20pc sales tax on import of syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae, blood collection tube of glass and blood collection tube of PET.

Moreover, charitable hospitals with 50 or more beds will pay 18pc sales tax on imported medical goods. 

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