Myanmar anti-coup protesters staged more rallies on Friday after the military reportedly shot dead nine people a day earlier and as the World Bank warned the country’s economy could slump 10% this year due to the turmoil.
In a bid to increase pressure on the junta over the Feb. 1 coup, the United States and Britain imposed sanctions on conglomerates controlled by the military, with Washington calling it a response to the military’s “brutal repression.”
Candle-lit protests took place across the country overnight including in the Mandalay and Sagaing regions, as well as in Karen and Chin states, media reports said
In Myanmar’s second city of Mandalay, protesters marched on Friday morning in front of a “civil disobedience movement” banner, Mizzima news reported.
Myanmar has been rocked by almost daily protests since the army overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and installed the junta. Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign to bring democratic civilian rule to Myanmar, and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) are being held in detention.
At least 320 people have been killed in the subsequent crackdown, according to figures compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.
The World Bank on Friday slashed its forecast for Myanmar’s economy to a 10% contraction in 2021 from the growth expected previously.
Myanmar “has been heavily affected by protests, worker strikes, and military actions; reductions in mobility; and the ongoing disruption of critical public services in addition to banking, logistics, and internet services,” it said.
Video shows Myanmar police officer forcing protester to crawl in street
U.S., British sanctions
In Washington, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new sanctions targeting Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited.
Both are part of a military-controlled network which spans sectors from mining to tourism and has enriched the generals. Representatives for the two entities had no immediate comment.
“These actions will specifically target those who led the coup, the economic interests of the military, and the funding streams supporting the Burmese military’s brutal repression,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
In a move coordinated with the United States, former colonial power Britain said it would also target Myanma Economic Holdings Ltd, citing human rights violations against civilians and its association with senior military figures.
The European Union announced sanctions on 11 individuals on Monday and is expected to target the conglomerates soon.
But although many foreign governments have condemned the military’s actions, Thomas Andrews, special U.N. rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said the diplomatic response was slow and called for an emergency summit on the crisis.
Myanmar protesters try to douse tear gas as police open fire
A volatile Armed Forces Day
The AAPP recorded nine deaths of protesters at the hands of the security forces on Thursday.
Other media outlets reported at least seven protesters were wounded when security forces opened fire in various places. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
The military was trying to stifle protests before Armed Forces Day on Saturday, the AAPP said.
The day commemorates the launch of armed resistance against Japanese occupation in 1945 and typically involves military parades through the capital Naypyitaw.
A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Residents said that after dark on Thursday, soldiers raided Yangon’s Mingalar Taungnyunt district and arrested people on the streets after curfew. Residents heard bangs that could be either stun grenades or gunfire, they said.
One resident said soldiers had shot at his building every night this week and checked houses they deemed suspicious.
“Even if they find nothing, they take everything they want,” he told Reuters.
The junta has tried to justify the takeover by saying a Nov. 8 election won by Suu Kyi’s NLD was fraudulent – an accusation the electoral commission has rejected. Military leaders have promised a new election but have not set a date and have declared a state of emergency.
(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Michael Perry)
© 2021 Reuters
CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03
* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03
* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc, higher by 5.5%.
* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd, lower by 5.7%.
* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.
* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.
* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.
* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]
* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.
Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge
By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.
Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.
“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”
Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.
The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.
The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.
Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.
The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.
Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)
Canadian dollar rebounds from one-week low ahead of jobs data
By Fergal Smith
TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, recovering from a one-week low the day before, as the level of oil prices bolstered the medium-term outlook for the currency and ahead of domestic jobs data on Friday.
The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4% higher at 1.2560 to the greenback, or 79.62 U.S. cents. On Wednesday, it touched its weakest intraday level since March 31 at 1.2634.
“We have seen partial retracement from the decline over the last couple of days,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.
“With oil prices where they are – let’s call WCS still at roughly $49 a barrel – I still think CAD has room to strengthen over the medium term and even over a one-week horizon.”
Western Canadian Select (WCS), the heavy blend of oil that Canada produces, trades at a discount to the U.S. benchmark. U.S. crude futures settled 0.3% lower at $59.60 a barrel, but were up nearly 80% since last November.
The S&P 500 closed at a record high as Treasury yields fell following softer-than-anticipated labor market data, while the U.S. dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of major currencies.
Canada‘s employment report for March, due on Friday, could offer clues on the Bank of Canada‘s policy outlook. The central bank has become more upbeat about prospects for economic growth, while some strategists expect it to cut bond purchases at its next interest rate announcement on April 21.
On a more cautious note for the economy, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, initiated a four-week stay-at-home order as it battles a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year fell 3.3 basis points to 1.469%.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith;Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)