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Stock Futures Rise Sharply, Indicates Higher Open

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Expectations for another round of upbeat U.S. economic reports and China’s reassurance it will hold onto European debt sent stock futures sharply higher Thursday.

Dow Jones industrial average futures are up almost 200 points.

Reports on weekly jobless claims and first-quarter gross domestic product are expected to show the domestic economy is strengthening.

Asian markets rose overnight and European markets are also significantly higher. The euro, which is seen as an indicator for confidence in the health of Europe’s economy, rose to $1.2270.

The gains came after the agency that manages China’s $2.5 trillion in foreign reserves denied a Financial Times report that China was considering cutting its exposure to European debt.

Concerns about whether mounting debt problems in Europe will upend a global economic recovery have dragged down stocks around the world in recent weeks. Volatility has also increased as investors remain jittery about how budget cuts in some European countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal could affect growth.

In the U.S., traders are expected to get another batch of upbeat economic reports for the second straight day. Some focus has returned to the domestic economy in recent days, though investors are still keeping an eye on Europe.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 189, or 1.9 percent, to 10,110. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures surged 24.70, or 2.3 percent, to 1,085.90, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 41.75, or 2.3 percent, to 1,833.25.

Economists predict the Labor Department will say initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week after an unexpected jump a week earlier. Claims likely fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 455,000, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

High unemployment remains a stumbling block to a stronger recovery in the U.S. The unemployment rate jumped to 9.9 percent last month.

A separate report is expected to show the nation’s economy grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the first three months of the year. That is better than a previous estimate that said GDP rose 3.2 percent during the first quarter.

While slow, steady growth is seen as a positive coming out of the recession and helped drive stocks higher early in the year, it still isn’t strong enough to make a big dent in unemployment. Growth would have to climb to around 5 percent for a year to cut the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point.

Even if the reports top expectations and stocks open higher, early morning gains have not necessarily meant the market will remain strong throughout the day.

Twice this week, stocks have rallied early in the day only to see those advances erased in late-day selloffs. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 135 points Wednesday morning, but ended the day down about 69 points. It was the Dow’s eighth drop in the last 10 trading sessions.

The slide Wednesday afternoon was tied to the Financial Times report questioning whether China would cut its holdings of euro-denominated bonds.

Stocks had been rallying for most of the day after two upbeat reports on the U.S. economy. April durable goods orders and new home sales both rose more than forecast, providing evidence that the volatility in markets and concerns about a potential slowdown in Europe’s economy have not affected a domestic recovery.

Bond prices fell Thursday as investors moved into riskier assets. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.28 percent from 3.19 percent late Wednesday.

Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.8 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 2.2 percent, and France’s CAC-40 jumped 2.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.2 percent.

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FOI Act Implementation Bothers BPST Boss

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The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Dasuki Arabi, has expressed regrets that the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has remained very low since the law was enacted.
The BPSR boss made the observation during a workshop held on Wednesday in Abuja on the appraisal of Freedom of Information Act.
Arabi said the Act was meant to entrench transparency and openness in governance through improved compliance to annual reporting obligations of public institutions.
“It is also expected to guide and improve compliance of public institutions in proactive disclosure of mandatory publication requirements, as well as empower citizens, the right to access information held by the state.
“Regrettably, since the introduction of the FOI Act, it is evident that the level of compliance among public institutions still remains low.
“While the level of engagement by citizens still remains insignificant and in some cases fraught with misunderstanding between the State and Non-State actors,” he added.
Arabi, therefore, said that the workshop was to resolve some of the grey areas around FOI, as well as foster a harmonious relationship between the State and Non-State actors towards the implementation of the Act.
He said good governance and transparency would only thrive in the country when citizens access to Information is assured.
The DG emphasised that the FOIA provided platform for inclusiveness that sought to hold leaders to account and feed into the decision making process.
Arabi said that the Bureau had worked assiduously towards the implementation of the Act and was making efforts to ensure that it was institutionalized across the public sector.
He said that the interventions were in the areas of training public service workers and development of feedback mechanism through which a portal for application and responses for FOI request were deployed.
Others, he said, are score-card for ranking the performances of websites of public institutions using specific benchmarks, including FOI portal.
“Creating platforms for citizens engagement with Civil Societies Organizations on topical issues of government through the BPSR flagship programmes such as the monthly Lunchtime Seminar series,” he added.
Arabi said that the Bureau had also deployed information technology to provide innovative means to improve record keeping and management using intranet and Electronic Data Management Systems.
He continued that they were working in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group to gauge the perception of citizens on public policies.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria, Dr Gloria Ahmed, said making information open was a hallmark of democracy and a basic human right.
She said that the FOIA has given citizens the opportunity to access information as regards government policies and reforms.

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FCTA Harmonises Mobile Adverts, Haulage System Against Double Taxation

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS), has launched the FCT/State Mobile Advertisement and Haulage permits for 2023 financial year.
Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, while launching the system sought the cooperation of the business owners in the FCT, in order to achieve the objective of the initiative.
Adesola said the move was part of efforts to facilitate the ease of doing business drive in the nation’s capital.
He commended DOAS for the initiative. aimed at improving institutional cooperation and partnerships with the critical stakeholders.
Adesola warned: “FCTA would no longer tolerate acts of thuggery in the collection of taxes, as there are better ways of doing such, which will ensure the attainment of ease of doing business.”
He commended the leadership of Area Councils for resolving to synergise with DOAS to streamline the system.
The Permanent Secretary said the proliferation of collection authorities for mobile advertisements had led to serious loss of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the FCT.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, Kwali Area Council, Danladi Chiya, said although Area Councils have the constitutional right to collect such advertisements, they have no issue with FCTA over the establishment and mandate of DOAS.

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LASG Begins Vehicle Parking Lanes Demacation

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The Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) has revealed it will today commence creating additional Vehicle Parking Lanes in some selected locations across the State.
The Authority stated that all efforts have been geared towards improving the parking system of the State.
Speaking on the planned initiative on Friday in Ikeja, the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, stated that the vehicle parking lane mark exercise, which will begin with designated streets within Surulere, Ikoyi, Lekki, Obalende, Ikeja and Victoria Island axis of the State, is a step towards improving street parking from 2023.
Adelabu noted that the Parking Lane Markings will further guide motorists and pedestrians on appropriate parking regulations and spaces, minimise indiscriminate parking, confusion and uncertainty, while conveying a range of information to residents on parking procedures within each specified environment.
According to her, the lane markings will also include special consideration for people living with disabilities and signposts for parking directives, among other features.
The General Manager, however, solicited the understanding of residents within the locations who might be affected by any inconvenience the process might cause, assuring that the government is working rigorously in regulating and improving the parking culture as part of its Traffic Management and Transportation Agenda to ensure parking is convenient, safe and secure across the state.
Recall that the Authority had recently unveiled plans to begin full implementation of parking policy in the second quarter of 2023 and has continued to sensitise the public on the need to embrace the parking culture.

By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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