Daily Review, September 26: Pound Hits All-Time High; Central Bank of Malaysia announces new measures to combat scams; HK braces for increased travel after quarantine lifted

Let’s catch up on the stories of the day.

The pound fell to a record low against the dollar on Monday (September 26th), sparking speculation of an emergency response from the Bank of England.

Fears that high interest rates could hurt growth also sent Asian stocks down to two-year lows, with stocks such as Australian miners and automakers in Japan and Korea hit hard.

The pound plunged nearly 5% at one point to break through 1985 lows and hit US$1.0327. The moves were exacerbated by weaker liquidity in the Asian session, but even after stumbling to US$1.05, the currency is still down around 7% in just two sessions.

Against the Singapore dollar, the pound fell 2.7% in early trading to hit 1.5111 Singapore dollars at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The collapse of the pound came as markets around the world were swept up in fears of recession caused by a sharp tightening of monetary policy by central banks battling high inflation for decades.

Analysts at Japanese bank Nomura have predicted further difficulties for the pound and expect it to reach parity with the dollar by the end of November and then continue to decline.

Malaysia’s central bank has announced a series of additional security measures and features to curb the growing number of financial scams.

Measures include requiring banks to migrate one-time passwords via SMS to “more secure forms of authentication” for online activities and transactions, and a cooling-off period for first-time sign-ups to online banking.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd acknowledged that the new measures would inevitably cause friction or inconvenience for customers, but stressed that they were necessary.

In 2019, a total of 13,703 scam cases were reported, with losses of RM539 million (US$117 million), and in 2020, this increased to 17,227 cases with losses of 511, 2 million RM.

Hong Kong is bracing for a surge in travel, with travel agencies reporting a 10-fold increase in demand.

The mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine for international arrivals was lifted on Monday for the first time in more than two and a half years. These arrivals could return home or seek accommodation of their choice, but had to self-monitor for three days upon entry.

Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council expects outbound travel to increase by 50% in the coming months.

International aviation body IATA said the next step would be for Hong Kong to remove all COVID-19 measures.

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