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Vietnam Shifts Leaders But Keeps Key Economic Policies in Place – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Vietnam’s Communist Party on Monday nominated a little-known official to be the country’s next prime minister, tasked with reviving the economy in the wake of the pandemic while navigating growing U.S.-China tensions.

Pham Minh Chinh, who rose through the ranks of Vietnam’s national security apparatus and has a PhD in law, is the only candidate for prime minister put forward by the Politburo. The National Assembly is expected to approve the 63-year-old, who has also served on a powerful anti-corruption steering committee, later in the day.

Chinh will be the main point person for Vietnam’s interactions with the world even though other members of Vietnam’s Communist Party are better known and seen as more powerful. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, 76, was re-elected to a rare third term on Jan. 31 by the National Party Congress during the once-in-five-year leadership transition wrapping up this week.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, 66, was elected president on Monday, allowing him to stay among the country’s top leaders. Vuong Dinh Hue, 64, a former minister of finance and ex-deputy prime minister, has been approved as chairman of the National Assembly — one of the four top positions in the government.

Vietnam has a collective “four pillar” leadership structure made up of general secretary, prime minister, president and chair of the National Assembly, as the parliament is known. The leaders govern in consultation with the 18-member politburo with the prime minister holding significant influence over project funding and detailed policy implementation.

Chinh was first secretary at Vietnam’s embassy in Romania in 1989 and became deputy public security minister in 2010. He is also a member of the country’s Central Steering Committee for Anti-Corruption led by Trong.

The new prime minister was party chief of the northeastern coastal province of Quang Ninh, home to the World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay.

Analysts do not expect Chinh and the other leaders to veer from Vietnam’s long-held policies, including further opening its markets to the global economy and balancing relations with its powerful neighbor China and the U.S.

“You don’t have people vying for prime minister who have alternative economic policies,” said Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia. “His job is to implement policies that have already been well thought out.”

The new prime minister will grapple with economic reforms required by new trade deals and the need to address bottlenecks in the manufacturing sector with improved infrastructure, including ensuring reliable energy, said Peter Mumford, Southeast & South Asia practice head at risk consultancy Eurasia Group. The government will also be pressed to deal with pollution that increasingly concerns the nation’s growing middle class.

Key priorities will include working closely with the Biden administration to resolve tensions around trade and Vietnam’s currency, Mumford said.

The party’s five-year plan continues to endorse “socialism with a market orientation.” Hanoi has signed more than a dozen free trade agreements in recent years.

The latest blueprint calls for average economic growth of 6.5%-7% during 2021-2025, versus 5.9% the previous five years and increasing per capita GDP to $4,700-$5,000 by 2025, from $2,750 at the end of 2020.

The leadership selection process occurs in secret and involves political compromises for party unity.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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TSX extends gains as gold prices rise, set to rise for third week

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(Reuters) -Canada’s main stock index extended its rise on Friday after hitting a record high a day earlier as gold prices advanced, and was set to gain for a third straight week.

* At 9:40 a.m. ET (13:38 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange‘s S&P/TSX composite index was up 24.24 points, or 0.1%, at 19,326.16.

* The Canadian economy is likely to grow at a slower pace in this quarter and the next than previously expected, but tighter lockdown restrictions from another wave of coronavirus were unlikely to derail the economic recovery, a Reuters poll showed.

* The energy sector climbed 0.6% even as U.S. crude prices slipped 0.1% a barrel. Brent crude added 0.1%. [O/R]

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.3% as gold futures rose 0.7% to $1,777.9 an ounce. [GOL/] [MET/L]

* The financials sector gained 0.2%. The industrials sector rose 0.1%.

* On the TSX, 117 issues advanced, while 102 issues declined in a 1.15-to-1 ratio favoring gainers, with 14.26 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Cascades Inc, which jumped 4.2%, and Ballard Power Systems, which rose 2.9%.

* Lghtspeed POS fell 5.6%, the most on the TSX, while the second biggest decliner was goeasy, down 4.9%.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Zenabis Global Inc, Bombardier and Royal Bank of Canada.

* The TSX posted 23 new 52-week highs and no new low.

* Across Canadian issues, there were 160 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows, with total volume of 29.68 million shares.

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru;Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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Canadian economy likely to slow, but COVID-19 threat to growth low

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By Indradip Ghosh and Mumal Rathore

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The Canadian economy is likely to grow at a slower pace this quarter and next than previously expected, but tighter lockdown restrictions from another wave of coronavirus were unlikely to derail the economic recovery, a Reuters poll showed.

Restrictions have been renewed in some provinces as they struggle with a rapid spread of the virus, which has already infected over 1 million people in the country.

After an expected 5.6% growth in the first quarter, the economy was forecast to expand 3.6% this quarter, a sharp downgrade from 6.7% predicted in January.

It was then forecast to grow 6.0% in the third quarter and 5.5% in the fourth, compared with 6.8% and 5.0% forecast previously.

But over three-quarters of economists, or 16 of 21, in response to an additional question said tighter curbs from another COVID-19 wave were unlikely to derail the economic recovery, including one respondent who said “very unlikely”.

Canada is undergoing a third wave of the virus and while case loads are accelerating, the resiliency the economy has shown in the face of the second wave suggests it can ride out the third wave as well, without considerable economic consequences,” said Sri Thanabalasingam, senior economist at TD Economics.

The April 12-16 poll of 40 economists forecast the commodity-driven economy would grow on average 5.8% this year, the fastest pace of annual expansion in 13 years and the highest prediction since polling began in April 2019.

For next year, the consensus was upgraded to 4.0% from 3.6% growth predicted in January.

What is likely to help is the promise of a fiscal package by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late last year, which the Canadian government was expected to outline, at least partly, in its first federal budget in two years, on April 19.

When asked what impact that would have, over half, or 11 of 20 economists, said it would boost the economy significantly. Eight respondents said it would have little impact and one said it would have an adverse impact.

“The economic impact of the federal government’s promised C$100 billion fiscal stimulus will depend most importantly on its make up,” said Tony Stillo, director of Canada economics at Oxford Economics.

“A stimulus package that enhances the economy’s potential could provide a material boost to growth without stoking price pressures.”

All but two of 17 economists expected the Bank of Canada to announce a taper to the amount of its weekly bond purchases at its April 21 meeting. The consensus showed interest rates left unchanged at 0.25% until 2023 at least.

“The BoC is set to cut the pace of its asset purchases next week,” noted Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.

“While it will also upgrade its GDP forecasts, we expect it to make an offsetting change to its estimate of the economy’s potential, implying the Bank will not materially alter its assessment of when interest rates need to rise.”

 

 

(Reporting and polling by Indradip Ghosh and Mumal Rathore; editing by Rahul Karunakar, Larry King)

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX rises 0.78% to 19,321.92

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange‘s TSX rises 0.78 percent to 19,321.92

* Leading the index were Martinrea International Inc <MRE.TO​>, up 7.4%, Fortuna Silver Mines Inc​, up 7.1%, and Hudbay Minerals Inc​, higher by 6.7%.

* Lagging shares were AcuityAds Holdings Inc​​, down 6.7%, Ballard Power Systems Inc​, down 6.5%, and Northland Power Inc​, lower by 6.0%.

* On the TSX 165 issues rose and 60 fell as a 2.8-to-1 ratio favored advancers. There were 18 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 203.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Royal Bank Of Canada, Suncor Energy Inc and Air Canada.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 0.59 points, or 0.5%, while the financials sector climbed 0.86 points, or 0.3%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.27%, or $0.17, to $63.32 a barrel. Brent crude  rose 0.36%, or $0.24, to $66.82 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.8% for the year.

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