(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.
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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)