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Concern over table egg imports

21 hours 53 min ago

Over the past six months, more than $5 million in table eggs has been imported into the country and the Association of T&T Table Egg Producers (ATTTEP) is calling swift intervention from the relevant authorities.

In a statement yesterday, the ATTTEP noted the “unnecessary importation of over 65,000 dozen eggs or 780,000 eggs monthly.”

The group said: “These imported eggs are given duty concessions to the detriment of the local industry and have compounded the marketing of locally produced table eggs, that have been sufficiently produced to satisfy the demand for this year. Additionally, the imports are adding to the present burden of foreign exchange demand, with over TT$5,000,000 or equivalent to over US$750,000 being expended for the past six months just for imported eggs.”

The ATTTEP said it is willing to meeting with Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat, who has already been alerted to discuss ways “to curb this current crisis.”

The ATTTEP statement continued: “Members are questioning, if no action is taken then should we all pack up and import, or are the relative authorities willing to assist the local producers to sustain the local table egg industry that employs thousands of locals directly and indirectly. ATTTEP is urging the relative authorities to act swiftly on this matter.”

October inflation at 3.2%

21 hours 55 min ago

The inflation rate increased to 3.2 per cent in October, up slightly from 3.1 per cent, according to data released yesterday by the Central Statistical Office (CSO). The inflation rate for the comparative period—January to October 2015/January to October 2014—was 5.3 per cent.

The Index of Retail Prices for the month, based on data collected in the survey of retail prices during the first two weeks of October, was 105.2, representing an increase of 0.2 point or 0.2 per cent above the All Items Index for September.

Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages decreased by 0.6 per cent from 111.4 in September to 110.7 in October.

The CSO data shows that there was general downward movement in the prices of fresh whole chickens, powdered full cream milk, Irish potatoes, cucumber, carrots, eddoes, garlic, cabbage, full cream milk, and fresh shrimp.

However, these price decreases was were offset by increases in the prices of hot peppers, oranges, fresh carite, brown sugar, lettuce, melongene, fresh king fish, ripe bananas, tomatoes and canned sardines.

There was an increase in the sub-indices for clothing and footwear of 2.4 per cent, while furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house was up by 0.4 per cent, health 2.8 per cent, hotels, cafes and restaurant 0.7 per cent and miscellaneous goods and services 0.3 per cent.

Decreases were recorded in the sub-indices for alcoholic beverages and tobacco of 0.2 per cent, and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels of 0.1 per cent.

All other sections remained unchanged.

Volume leader Guardian Holdings down by $0.32

21 hours 56 min ago

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 12 securities of which three advanced, three declined and six traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 25,307 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $525,553.69. Guardian Holdings Limited was the volume leader with 10,378 shares changing hands for a value of $130,297.62, followed by National Enterprises Limited with a volume of 8,600 shares being traded for $91,160. Massy Holdings Limited contributed 1,498 shares with a value of $76,398, while The West Indian Tobacco Company Limited added 1,316 shares valued at $167,132.

Trinidad Cement Limited enjoyed the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.13 to end the day at $3.38. Conversely, Guardian Holdings Limited suffered the day’s greatest loss, falling $0.32 to close at $12.56.

The Mutual Fund Market did not record any activity.

Imbert: OPEC cut is good news

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 01:44

Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday described the decision by the Organisation of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC) to cut back on oil production tas “good news” but said a proper assessment of how the decision will affect T&T will take a while.

“We still have serious issues with respect to declining oil production and natural gas shortfalls that we are grappling with as a country,” he told the T&T Guardian.

The minister said te Government has to wait to see the details of the agreement and its consequences.

“It is too early to tell. From what I have seen, the agreed production cut is 1.2 million barrels per day, about 4.5 per cent of current production. This has caused the price of WTI (West Texas Intermediate) to jump 8.5 per cent or $3.80 per barrel,” he said.

In a statement sent hours after the agreement was finalised, the Energy Chamber of T&T said: “It remains to be seen how sustainable this increase in prices turns out to be, especially if other producers, most notably US shale oil producers, their activity and begin to increase their production.

“The industry fundamentals that created the ‘lower for longer’ oil price environment have not changed.”

The Chamber said for the T&T government any increase in oil prices is welcomed in the short-term, as this translates into more tax revenue.

“However, for oil companies operating in T&T, oil prices in the low US$50 per barrel range are bad news because of the way in which Supplemental Petroleum Tax (SPT) is calculated. With SPT kicking in when prices average above US$50, oil companies are actually better off when prices average in the high 40s.

“This acts as a disincentive for investment in future production and so in the medium-term is bad news for the country as we struggle to halt the decline in oil production. The government is aware of the need to change the tax legislation and has received recommendations from the IMF. These recommendations have been reviewed by the Energy Chamber and comments have been provided to the Ministry of Finance. We are awaiting further dialogue on these issues.”

The Chamber noted that T&T is primarily a gas economy and increases in oil prices do not necessarily immediately translate into increases in prices for LNG, ammonia and methanol.

Also reacting to the news was former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine who said he not surprised by the agreement.

“The member countries of OPEC were feeling a lot of economic pain. This moves signals that the shale industry in the United States has won the war of attrition,” he said.

Ramnarine is not optimistic that that the agreement will do much in terms of higher oil prices.

“It may nudge prices into the 50’s but there remains a major inventory overhang to unwind. Higher prices are good for T&T’s Government but bad news for small oil producers such as the lease operators and farmout companies who will have to pay the Supplemental Petroleum Tax at a rate of 33 per cent,” he said.

ANSA McAL leads four advancing stocks

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 01:42

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 12 securities of which four advanced, three declined and five traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 166,741 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $4,109,392.83. National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd was the volume leader with 44,900 shares changing hands for a value of $134,700, followed by Scotiabank T&T Ltd with a volume of 38,415 shares being traded for $2,253,392.10. First Citizens Bank Ltd contributed 23,133 shares with a value of $808,078.24, while Trinidad Cement Ltd added 17,678 shares valued at $57,450.25.

ANSA McAL Ltd enjoyed the day’s largest gain, increasing $4.45 to end the day at $66.37. Conversely, Angostura Holdings Ltd suffered the day’s greatest loss, falling $0.50 to close at $15.50.

Centrica sells T&T gas assets

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 01:41

Centrica plc has agreed to sell its entire portfolio of gas assets in T&T to Shell Exploration and Production for an initial cash consideration of US$30 million.

The assets consist of a 17.3 per cent interest in the producing NCMA-1 block and 80 per cent and 90 per cent operated interests respectively in the undeveloped blocks NCMA-4 and Block 22.

In addition to the initial consideration, Centrica will receive further payments subject to Block 22 and NCMA-4 reaching agreed project milestones.

The divestment is in line with Centrica’s strategy to focus its E&P activity in the UK, Netherlands and Norway and to exit its positions in Canada and T&T

The transaction is subject to government and partner approval and is expected to close in the first half of 2017.

Centrica entered T&T in 2010 with the acquisition from Suncor of interests in NCMA-1 and Blocks 22, 1a and 1b. It was awarded its interest in NCMA-4 as part of a shallow water bid round in the same year.

In April Centrica sold its 80 per cent operating interests in Blocks 1a and 1b to De Novo Energy.

OPEC cuts oil output

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 01:40

VIENNA—Breaking with years of inaction, OPEC agreed yesterday to cut its oil output for the first time since 2008.

The move effectively scraps its strategy of squeezing US competition through high supply that had backfired by lowering prices and draining the cartel's own economies.

The reduction of 1.2 million barrels a day is significant, leaving OPEC's daily output at 32.5 million barrels. And OPEC President Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada said non-OPEC nations are expected to pare an additional 600,000 barrels a day off their production.

The combined cut will result, at least in the short term, in somewhat more pricey oil — and, by extension, car fuel, heating and electricity. The international benchmark for crude jumped 8.3 per cent, or US$3.86, to US$50.24 yesterday.

In the longer term, however, analysts say it's highly unlikely that oil will return to the highs of around US$100 a barrel last seen two years ago. That's partly due to the fact that President-elect Donald Trump has promised to free up more oil drilling in the US, which would increase global supply. Demand is also not recovering as the world economy sags.

Playing tribute to "a historic moment," Al-Sada said Wednesday's move "will definitely balance the market and help (in) reducing the stock overhang."

Al-Sada said the OPEC cutback is to take effect January 1, with consultations planned on the exact timing of the non-OPEC reductions. Russia alone is committed to taking 300,000 barrels a day off the market.

With the production cut, OPEC will not only benefit from gaining more dollars per barrel. It can also lay claim once again to playing a part in influencing world prices.

And its tentative alliance with Russia and other non-OPEC nations may give it — and them — additional clout in future competition for market share with US producers, which are sure to return in increasing numbers if crude prices move upward.

Yesterday's decision was a departure from years of infighting among members refusing to give up their market share and a resulting series of inconclusive meetings.

In another reflection of new-found discipline within the cartel, Al-Sada said Indonesia's membership had been suspended after it refused to accept its share of proposed output cuts, reducing the number of OPEC countries to 13.

Part of the focus following yesterday's decision is how well it holds. OPEC gave up assigning quotas in part because members have ignored them in their quest for petrodollars.

But officials were displaying new confidence. In comments addressed to nay-sayers about his organisation's relevance, Al-Sada said its decision "means the weight of OPEC and the resiliency of OPEC is still there and it will continue to be there."

"Today's unity is a very explicit sign about the position of OPEC," he added.

Meetings to turn the planned non-OPEC cuts into reality are planned next month in Doha. From Moscow, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak confirmed his country's readiness to pare 300,000 barrels from its output, adding that it would happen gradually "within a short period of time based on technical capacity."

Al-Sada said the OPEC cutbacks are in effect for six months with the option of renewal after a review by a five-nation committee set up to monitor compliance.

Still, analysts suggested price upswings would be relatively moderate — and the fallout minimal, at least for the United States. Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said oil should rise to an average US$53 a barrel next year.

For the US economy, that's "a sweet spot... a high-enough price to spur investment in the energy industry but not enough to seriously drain purchasing power" of consumers, he said.

"The losers are Europe and Japan — oil-importing regions of the world" with barely growing ecomonies, said Guatieri.

One of the biggest hurdles to yesterday's deal had been a rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose struggle for dominance in the Mideast is also playing out in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The Saudis had long been hesitant to shoulder the lion's share of a cut, while Iran had resisted reducing its own production. It argued that it has yet to recover its output levels hit by years of sanctions and that the onus was on the desert kingdom to pare back the most.

Reflecting their compromise, documents from the meeting showed the Saudis committed to chopping 486,000 barrels off the 10.544 million barrels they were pumping as of October. Iran's quota was set at 3.797 million barrels a day, down 90,000 barrels from October.

All other members cut as well, ranging from tiny Gabon's 9,000 barrel reduction to an Iraqi drop of a daily 210,000 barrels. Non-member Russia was producing over 11 million barrels a day in October. (AP)

$14.8m in Massy shares traded

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 05:08

Overall market activity resulted from trading in nine securities of which four advanced, one declined and four traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 345,479 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $16,556,171.77.

Massy Holdings Limited was the volume leader with 291,086 shares changing hands for a value of $14,844,289.53, followed by Scotiabank T&T Limited with a volume of 23,400 shares being traded for $1,368,700. National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited contributed 12,362 shares with a value of $35,480.65, while JMMB Group Limited added 8,300 shares valued at $7,470.

Angostura Holdings Limited enjoyed the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.50 to end the day at $16 Conversely, Scotiabank T&T Limited suffered the day’s sole decline, falling $0.01 to end the day at $58.49.

The Mutual Fund Market did not record any activity

Chamber president: Bank rates too high

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 05:07

President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC) Richie Sookhai, said he is deeply disturbed at the current state of the T&T economy and the negative effect on local businesses.

“As the national economy has continued to contract, businesses have been forced to adopt various strategies in order to cut costs, manage cash flow, and realign their operations in order to stay afloat,” he said.

“Under these present economic conditions revenue streams have become thinner and profits are declining.

“Yet, even as we have seen companies fail, we note that there are organisations that operate within the financial sector who continue to grow large profits, namely the commercial banks.”

Sookhai said the chamber is concerned about wide gap between deposit and lending rates. He said research showed, that interest rate spreads among commercial banks and perhaps other similar financial institutions are among the largest in countries that have open economies.

“We urge the banks to reflect and do something about this urgently,” he said.

Sookhai noted that Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in responding to a question from the Opposition gave an assurance in Parliament recently that he will ask the Central Bank to look into savings rates versus lending rates in order to manage the spread in an equitable way.

He said: “We are hopeful that this has been done. Banks in this country also need to look to revising their service charges which, in some cases, can be deemed ridiculous and exploitative.”

Sookhai said the fact that there have been no decreases in prime lending and overdraft rates might reflect a lack of interest by banks in adapting like other business organisations and sharing in the burden of adjustment in a very challenging economic environment.

He said commercial banks tend to increase their lending rates when the Central Bank’s repo rate rises.

He said: “There is some potential for this repo rate to increase further in the coming year due to anticipated actions of the United States Federal Reserve. It is also one of the many tools used to combat inflation.

“The commercial banks must realise that this economic recession is deepening and intensifying. People are losing their jobs and businesses are under immense stress. Citizens are under pressure to pay their loans, mortgages and credit cards.

“Therefore, we call on the banks to be much more sensitive and work with their clients for mutual interest and for the best development of our country and our people.”

Uncertainty over OPEC oil deal

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 05:03

VIENNA—Up to this week, chances that OPEC countries would agree to their first cut in output in eight years were looking good. Now, not so much.

Saudi Arabia is questioning the informal agreement made in September. And the desert kingdom, which accounts for about a third of OPEC’s output, normally prevails at ministerial meetings. The price of crude was down on Tuesday, reflecting investors’ caution about a final agreement being reached.

Still, a deal is not out of the question, and even a remote possibility that it will be backed is an exciting prospect. Spencer Welch, an analyst with IHS energy, casts the event as “potentially the most important OPEC meeting since 1973,” when the cartel imposed a highly effective oil embargo on the West.

Those days of OPEC unity have been replaced by infighting and rivalries that have tarnished the cartel’s image and crippled its ability to set world prices and supplies.

Instead of cutbacks, Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih says the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries should do no more than what it has done for nearly a decade—sit back and let demand drive up prices “without an intervention from OPEC.”

He told reporters that the Vienna meeting is wide open, declaring: “We don’t have a single path, which is to cut production.”

The Saudi stance raises chances not only of yet another inconclusive meeting. It also refocuses the spotlight on the battle for influence between the Saudis and Iran.

Once second only to Saudi Arabia in production within OPEC, Iran chafed for years under sanctions that crimped its oil sales while watching its rival increase its output. With sanctions lifted this year as a result of a nuclear agreement, Iran is looking to regain its market share within OPEC while pushing the Saudis to give up gains it says were made while Tehran was sanctioned.

Al-Falih may be hoping that his apparent about-turn on output cuts will pressure Iran and other members to be more open to reducing their own production instead of waiting for the Saudis to go it alone. And at least one important member appears to be listening.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told The Associated Press that his country is ready to pare back output as part of an overall OPEC decrease of 900,000 to 1.2 million barrels per day. That would be cut of between 2.7 per cent and 3.6 per cent from October levels.

But Tehran insists the onus is on the Saudis. Alluding to its Mideast rival, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said Monday that OPEC members that had increased production “dramatically ... should naturally accept more responsibility for decreasing production.”

Even a full OPEC cut will not restore crude prices to the levels over US$100 that a barrel fetched in June of 2014, before increased output from the US and other non-OPEC countries led to oversupply.

OPEC then opted to pump at high volumes instead of throttling production, in an attempt to maintain market share and drive US shale oil and gas producers with higher operating costs, out of business.

Crude prices plunged as a result. In January, they fell below US$30 a barrel for the first time in over a decade before rising to levels now that are still less than half of their mid-2014 peak. On Tuesday, the US benchmark fell US$1.85, or 3.9 per cent, to US$45.23 a barrel. (AP)

$5m in trades in 10 securities

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 00:10

Overall market activity resulted from trading in ten securities of which one advanced, six declined and three traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 74,775 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $5,028,563.42. Republic Financial Holdings Limited was the volume leader with 29,164 shares changing hands for a value of $3,164,142.10, followed by Ansa McAL Limited with a volume of 17,307 shares being traded for $1,071,649.26.

First Citizens Bank Limited enjoyed the day’s sole price increase, climbing $1.26 to end the day at $34.52. Conversely, Republic Financial Holdings Limited suffered the day’s greatest loss, falling $0.22 to close at $108.49.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 1,135 shares valued at

$25,651. It remained at $22.60.

Modest increase in HSF

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 00:07

The Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF), which was valued at US$5,533.4 million on October 1, 2014, increased modestly to US$5,655.4 million by September 30, 2015, registering an increase of just 2.47 per cent.

Fund chairman Dr Ralph Henry said this was well below its performance as in the previous year it grew by 7.65 per cent.

"Behind this lower return, there was an underlying volatility in the market place. Indeed, the asset valuation of the Fund increased over the first two quarters of the financial year, and stood at US$5,779.4 million at the end of March 2015, but declined over the next two quarters," he said in the HSF's 2015 annual report which has just been released by the Ministry of Finance.

Dr Henry added: "Significantly, throughout the entire year, the Fund outperformed its composite benchmark, and, even in decline, performed better by registering decreases lower than the benchmark.

The chairman, in his assessment of the fund's performance, said in September 2014, the Finance Minister based Government's expected revenues for fiscal year 2014/2015 on a projected oil price of US$80 per barrel. However, there was the start of "an inexorable decline in energy prices during the course of the year" and they never reached a level requiring placements by the Government to the HSF.

Dr Henry said the asset valuation of the HSF increased over the first two quarters of the financial year, and stood at US$5,779.4 million at the end of March 2015, but declined over the next two quarters.

He added: "Significantly, throughout the entire year, the Fund outperformed its composite benchmark, and, even in decline, performed better by registering decreases lower than the benchmark."

He said three major issues engaged the attention of fund-managers during the year. They were the date at which the US Federal Reserve Bank would implement a change in its policy of quantitative easing, and in triggering an increase in interest rates; the fiscal crisis of the Greek Government and the treatment of its debt within the European Union; and the weak performance in the European economies along with the slowing of economic growth in China and among the other BRICs, in the global trading system.

New weapon against cyber attacks

Sun, 11/27/2016 - 23:41

As our personal and work worlds become more and more reliant on connected devices, the risks to businesses and government agencies have grown in line with the size of their computer networks. Successful or attempted cyber attacks have become common place and Juniper Networks—a business specialised in secure networks operational in T&T—has just announced a breakthrough in their routers.

Juniper says it is on a mission to tackle the increasing scale and sophistication of software defined threats. The company can do this with their physical and virtual firewalls, open threat intelligence platforms, network switches and MX routers. The company partnered with Ansa McAl Trading to provide these solutions in T&T.

“Juniper Networks MX Routers are present in the world’s largest service providers and it is proven that these service providers have been able to decrease Total Cost of Ownership on average of over 49 per cent,” said Onil J Ledo, regional sales manager, Juniper Networks Caribbean.

In addition to the routers, the Juniper vSRX has been unveiled as the industry’s first virtual firewall in a containerized form factor.

It is a cost effective advanced security service with the ability to scale up to high multi-tenancy.

With its rich security capabilities, low footprint and micro services architecture, the vSRX is not only expected to lower the cost to customers, but also makes deployment throughout the network easier than ever before but without compromising performance.

Both the Juniper vSRX and MX Routers products are anticipated to enable the network to better detect and combat threats.

These products will also increase network routing performance, intelligence and a high density of services.

Juniper’s enhancements to its virtualized security portfolio will allow the network to stop threats faster.

TTMA celebrates 60th anniversary

Sun, 11/27/2016 - 23:40

In addressing a gathering which included current and past presidents and CEOs of the TTMA’s membership at the anniversary luncheon, the minister commended the business organisation for its “unstinting service to local manufacturers over the last six decades.”

Gopee-Scoon also noted the T&T vision to be the voice of manufacturers in T&T, “creating value and providing world-class service to its membership.”

“The official policy framework of the Government highlights Trinidad and Tobago’s strong manufacturing base as an intrinsic area of strength,” she said.

“ Just last Friday in the House of Representatives, the Honourable Prime Minister underscored that the manufacturing sector will remain among the Government’s top priorities as diversification initiatives are expanded.”

Gopee-Scoon took the opportunity the highlight initiatives being undertaken to attract investments that are development-oriented, geared towards improving the country’s overall competitiveness and diversifying and expanding export markets.

She said: “As mentioned in this year’s budget debate, increased trade, in both goods and services, is one way in which Trinidad and Tobago intends to increase its revenue streams, acquire foreign exchange, create sustainable jobs and, in the long-term, make the economy less vulnerable to the volatility of the international commodity markets.

“To this end, we must widen the range of goods and services exported; as well as exploit existing markets and create new market access opportunities with strategic partners.”

She said the Trade Ministry is currently crafting a national export strategy to improve export performance from three broad approaches—strengthening exporter capacity and competitiveness, enhancing the local trading environment and export promotion.

The minister praised TTMA members for their recent participation in the Havana International Trade Fair 2016, which she said signalled their willingness to partner with the Government in pursuit of strengthened commercial relationship with Cuba. She said there are tremendous prospects for expansion of local exports to that country.

Gopee-Scoon added that the Government was pleased to collaborate with the TTMA, as appropriate, in their response to the Prime Minister’s appeal to assist Haiti in their time of distress, following the passage of Hurricane Matthew in October.

TTMA president Dr Rolph Balgobin congratulated the membership on celebrating 60 years of excellence and gave a historical overview of the organisation’s journey over the decades.

He expressed confidence that given the current economic climate, T&T will again see the non-energy manufacturing sector take the lead in strengthening and moving the economy forward.

Four advances, four declines on TTSE

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 01:46

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 14 securities of which four advanced, four declined and six traded firm.

Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 380,289 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $8,666,021.11.

GraceKennedy Limited was the volume leader with 92,429 shares changing hands for a value of $252,525.11, followed by National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited with a volume of 60,750 shares being traded for $174,352.50.

Scotiabank T&T Limited contributed 56,309 shares with a value of $3,305,013.98, while Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited added 50,718 shares valued at $380,385.

First Citizens Bank Limited enjoyed the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.24 to end the day at $33.26.

Conversely, Republic Financial Holdings Limited suffered the day’s greatest loss, falling $0.29 to close at $108.71.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 3,151 shares valued at

$71,212.60.

It advanced by $0.01 to end at $22.60.

Esau retires from PHL board

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 01:44

Joseph P Esau has retired from the board of directors of Prestige Holdings Limited (PHL) after 19 years of service effective November 18.

During his tenure he served as chairman (1997 to 2012) and then as director.

In 1997, Esau headed negotiations with PepsiCo for the acquisition of PHL by Victor E. Mouttet Limited taking the company

public in 1999. During his tenure on the board, PHL enjoyed exponential growth moving from two brands, 37 restaurants, 1,100 employees and $80 million in assets to five brands, 118 restaurants, 3,500 employees and $500 million in assets to become T&T’s leading restaurant management company.

Quick Service brings Wolf Oil to T&T

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 01:40

Quick Service T&T Tires Limited recently launched Wolf Oil in the local market.

Wolf Oil, which prides itself on being a pure player in the oil industry, will be a high quality offering in the engine oil segment for commercial and domestic vehicles.

The oil, manufactured in Europe, will now be available at all quick service outlets across the country:

Wrightson Road, Maraval, Marabella and Point Lisas, and very soon, at selected distributors.

The launch was the result of the marketing relationship being built between Wolf Oil and Quick Service.

Managing director of Quick Service Jean-Baptiste Guiard expressed pride at making Wolf Oil part of his company’s range of products.

Spearheading the Wolf brand launch in T&T is Benoit Raoul, operations manager of Quick Service and Gautier De Braekeleer, export director of the Wolf Oil Corporation, Belgium.

De Braekeleer came in from Belgium for the launch and will return to T&T next year to oversee the marketing of the Wolf Oil brand and extensions into other Wolf products.

Standing with his team at an event to mark the launch of Wolf Oil, Guiard, said he anticipates a successful relationship between the Wolf brand and Quick Service T&T Tires Limited.

Starbucks opens it's doors in Chaguanas

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 01:37

Prestige Holdings Limited (PHL) will open its third Starbucks store in Endeavour Chaguanas at 6.30 am on Monday.

Since the market opening in August, Starbucks T&T has collaborated with Gift for Life Foundation to assist in partnering with a charity near each store.

“Starbucks Trinidad and Tobago is pleased to partner with the Gift for Life Foundation. Its members are committed to providing opportunities to a wide group of children’s charities across the country,” said Charles Pashley, CEO Prestige Holdings Limited. “We look forward to further developing a partnership with each charity near our stores in the New Year, and creating opportunities for our baristas to connect with the community and give back in a meaningful way.”

Starbucks baristas at its San Fernando location have connected with The Hope Centre Children’s Home with children from ages 4 to 13 years. The first intake of baristas spent time with the children in August and Prestige gave a donation to support the management of their building. The SouthPark baristas recently invited the children to an in-store event last month.

Gift for Life member, Lakshmi Ragoonanan said: "The Gift For Life Foundation is really proud to work with Starbucks. They have shared our vision of making a positive difference in the lives of children at homes in our country. Some of the children are more confident and motivated and shared their excitement after the events so far.”

In Port-of-Spain, the Starbucks Movietowne baristas recently connected with The Marian House for boys between the ages of 13 years to 21 years old.

A special social event was held for them before the Movietowne opening.

“We look forward to build these relationships in our community and our goal is for our baristas to continuously connect with the charities near where they work. This is part of the unique work experience we provide—and one we know our baristas value when they join Starbucks,” said Deborah Benjamin, VP of Starbucks.

From the beginning, Starbucks has set out to be a different kind of company—one that not only celebrates coffee and its rich tradition, but also brings a feeling of connection within communities.

Through volunteer efforts like its annual Global Month of Service each April, Starbucks partners (employees) around the world have together contributed over 1 million service hours each year.

This initiative in T&T will join a deep legacy of community service across the company, and continue to build on the company’s mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time.

The Endeavour Chaguanas Starbucks store will open on Monday and baristas at that store will connect with The Jaya Lakshmi Children’s Home nearby.

Slight slowdown in inflation

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 01:34

A slight slowdown in headline inflation to 3 per cent was among the indicators highlighted by the Central bank in its latest Monetary Policy Announcement released yesterday.

The bank, citing data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO), said price pressures remained well contained up to September.

“Core inflation, which excludes food prices, edged upwards to 2.3 per cent in September 2016 from 2.2 per cent in August. Faster price increases within the health and clothing and footwear sub-indices led the pickup in core inflation,” the report stated.

“Conversely, food inflation slowed to 6.2 per cent by September 2016 compared with 7.2 per cent in August.” The Central Bank said since the last Monetary Policy Announcement in September, oil prices had rallied to a 15-month high of near US$50 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude in October, but have declined since.

“Though oil prices generally remained low, they improved in the third quarter of 2016 and averaged US$44.9 compared to US$39.4 in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, production of crude oil and natural gas, as well as some downstream products, continued to be affected by maintenance and other stoppages by energy companies, leading to curtailed energy sector output relative to the first three quarters of 2015,” the Central Bank said.

At the same time, early indicators of non-energy sector activity in the third quarter suggest on-going softening within the construction and distribution sectors. “The latest labour force information from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) put the unemployment rate at 4.4 per cent during the second quarter of 2016 compared with 3.2 per cent in the corresponding quarter of 2015.”

The bank said after falling in October, liquidity in the financial system rose slightly this month and commercial banks’ excess reserves averaged $3.4 billion daily during the period November 1 to 21.

The report continued: “The Central Bank removed $725 million from the system through open market operations while the bank’s sales of foreign exchange to authorised dealers indirectly extracted roughly $500 million.”

The bank reported sluggish private sector credit growth in September—the fourth consecutive month of decline in lending to businesses compared with the corresponding months last year.

“In August and September, business lending registered year-on-year declines of 2.8 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively. Credit to the private sector by the consolidated financial sector rose to 3.5 per cent in September 2016 from 3.1 per cent in August,” the bank said.

“As at November 14, 2016, yield differentials between TT and US 91-day and 10-year Treasury securities stood at 65 basis points and 216 basis points, respectively compared with 86 basis points and 255 basis points, respectively at the end of October 2016. Meanwhile, there is a growing consensus among global financial analysts that the United States Federal Reserve will increase interest rates in the near future.”

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee took note of overall economic conditions, the weak inflationary pressures and current and anticipated trajectory of external interest rates and decided to maintain the “Repo” rate at 4.75 per cent.

The next Monetary Policy Announcement is scheduled for January 27, 2017.

Crowds expected for T&T's Black Friday

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 00:59

Its a shopping trend that has been gaining in popularity in T&T in recent years. Today, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, some local retailers are offering one-day discounts and special offers hoping to attract bargain hunters.

However, president of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud said while the trend is catching on in T&T, it may be an awkward situation for retailers to keep up with given challenges of accessing foreign exchange to replenish goods.

Traditionally US retailers offer deeply discounted sales, usually on clothing and electronic items, on the day after Thanksgiving. This phenomena, known as Black Friday has caught on in T&T. Last year, throngs of shoppers lined up from early at retail outlets offering Black Friday deals. Record crowds were reported at wholesalers PriceSmart and at the Gulf City Mall in south Trinidad as bargain hunters rushed to take advantage of one-day deals.

Aboud said modern technology was at the core of facilitating the spread of sales phenomena such as Black Friday.

“The ease with which information now flows between the US and T&T, whether its from cable television, or the internet, or social media such as Facebook, has made it much easier for the Black Friday idea to be replicated in T&T,” he said.

Aboud added that he expected local retailers and distributors to see a spike in sales.

“T&T consumers are very savvy and discerning so once good value is presented to them, they usually recognise it and try to capture it. So if retailers and distributors are offering discounts and local consumers perceive good value, they will buy,” he said.

He added, however, that retailers and distributors were in trap between determining whether to accelerate sales and run down inventory, or being able to replace stock in the face of difficulties with the supply of foreign exchange.

He said: “Retailers may have one eye on accelerating sales, and another eye on the trouble they will face in getting forex to replace their inventory.”

In South Trinidad, while some retailers are holding Black Friday sales today, president of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett said the trend had not yielded much success.

In the leadup to Black Friday today, some stores in San Fernando have been offering between 10 and 25 per cent off on some purchases.

“This offer has not made a dent because sales continue to be very slow,” Bartlett said.

She added that some stores are not offering anything different for tomorrow because the public has been very careful with spending due to the slowdown in the economy.

PriceSmart is offering ten per cent off on any item for customers using the Scotiabank PriceSmart Diamond Card in a Smart Friday promotion. A supervisor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said items including electronics will be on sale. 

Country manager Dhanraj Mahabir was not available for comment but a source at the popular warehouse shopping outlet, which has branches across the country, said security has been boosted in anticipation of an influx of customers.

Standard Distributors is offering 40 per cent off on select televisions and audio systems for the next four days, while 15 per cent discounts are being offered on beds and mattresses.

Online Black Friday deals are available from Emily Mack of T&T MarketPlace who has a Facebook offer of 15 per cent off all Urban Decay makeup palettes, while John Paul Brenan of BusinessTT is giving 50 per cent off mattresses.

Black Friday is a long held tradition in the US where for decades shoppers have been taking advantage of widespread bargains and scramble for doorbuster deals and deeply discounted products available in limited quantities. It is the biggest shopping day of the year and the official kick-off to the Christmas shopping season.

Andre Worrell 

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