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Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Wednesday, 20 March 2019 15:10

Markets WRAP: Rand closes at R14.38/$

The rand closed at R14.38 on Wednesday.
Here's how the day ended: 
USDZAR 14.3794
EURUSD 1.1357
EURZAR 16.3225
GBPUSD 1.3195
GBPZAR 18.9480
AUDZAR 10.1870
CADZAR 10.7630
CNYZAR 2.1462Z
ARJPY 7.7422
CHFZAR 14.3974
R186 8.75%
US 10 Year 2.59%
JSE -1.06%
FTSE -0.15%
S&P 500 -0.25%
US stocks slip before fed announcement
US equities slipped Wednesday as cautious investors awaited the Federal Reserve policy decision and further news on U.S.-China trade talks.
Ten-year Treasury yields slipped.
The S&P 500 Index opened lower as FedEx tumbled after cutting its annual profit forecast. The dollar ticked higher after three days of losses, while two-year Treasury yields remained below the top of the Fed’s policy target range amid expectations of a dovish tone from the central bank. Apart from a hold on rate increases, markets will watch for any word on plans to end the Fed’s current bond-portfolio run-down.
“All eyes will be on the dot plot this afternoon, as most FOMC participants have signaled they are on board with the Fed’s new ‘patient’ guidance and those who have talked about it in terms of rates have indicated they expect no hikes or one hike this year,” Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, wrote in a note to clients.
“The Fed is likely to reveal the end date for balance sheet runoff today, but may not yet be quite ready to reveal the disposition of maturing assets once runoff ends.”In Europe, a series of negative corporate news stories dragged down the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Germany’s DAX Index led the retreat as BMW warned earnings would fall and chemical maker Bayer headed for the biggest drop in 15 years after losing the first phase of a U.S. trial over claims its weed killer caused cancer. In Asia, Japanese shares finished higher, while most other markets dipped.
The pound fell as UK Prime Minister Theresa May sought to extend the Brexit deadline to June 30, while the opposition called for the public to have the final say over the country’s EU exit. The euro held steady after German producer prices missed estimates. European sovereign bonds were mixed.
Elsewhere, emerging-market currencies and shares were steady. West Texas crude slid before the release of the weekly U.S. oil inventory report. - Bloomberg
South Africa CPI came out at 4.1% YoY and 0.8% MoM which was in line with expectations.
TreasuryONE said this will likely support the decision that the SA Reserve Bank will keep rates on hold next week. 
The rand is currently trading at R14.51 to the greenback.
Andre Botha, Senior Dealer at TreasuryONE said in a morning note to clients that the rand was in for a rough ride, particularly in terms of the impact of load shedding.
By 09:26, the rand was trading at R14.48 to the greenback.
“As we stated yesterday the rand is facing some tough headwinds which could lead to an interesting time for the rand in the short term," he said.
Botha said the rand lost about 15 cents on the back of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan's briefing on Eskom yesterday and the news, revealed by Fin24, that the power utility and government was planning for Stage 5 and Stage 6.
"The rand closed around the R14.50 level after looking to push stronger in morning trade. The move lower was due to some positive sentiment in the market as we expect the US Fed to be dovish in tonight's press statement.
"Further headwinds that started to blow yesterday was the bump that the US-China trade talks suffered from China looking at not sticking to their commitment to buying several Boeing 737 aircraft. This has caused a little uncertainty in the market with the leaders of the two countries only meeting in April.
"Coupled with the uncertainty on whether the UK will get the desired extension from their March 29 deadline of Brexit has thrown more uncertainty into the market melting pot.
"The latest development in the load-shedding conundrum will make Moody's rating review at the end of the month a bigger event than we expected a couple of weeks ago.
"The headwinds faced by the rand will surely see the rand gain less ground than its EM peers should the Fed be dovish tonight, but in the same breath weaken more if the Fed surprises markets. Locally, we have CPI data out this morning but the main event will be the Fed later on this evening.”
Peregrine Treasury Solutions's Bianca Botes also said that the rand remained on the back foot as SA's electricity woes weighed heavily on the local unit.
"Local CPI data is expected to show an uptick in inflation as a weaker ZAR and increasing fuel prices take their toll. All eyes will be on the Fed later today with markets expecting the same dovish and patient tone with an unchanged federal funds rate.
"Any deviation will lead to some volatility in the currency markets. The rand opened at R14.50/$ today and the expected intraday range is R14.44 to R14.58," she said.
Asian stocks mixed before fed
Asian stocks traded mixed early Wednesday as investors held back from making big changes prior to the Federal Reserve’s policy decision.
Treasuries and the dollar steadied.
Shares in Japan, South Korea and Australia edged lower. A rally in US stocks earlier sputtered out after a report that US and Chinese negotiators remain at odds on aspects of their current trade talks soured sentiment.
A rally in oil stalled. Money managers will be looking for clues on future policy from the Fed Wednesday after its dovish shift in recent months helped reboot global equities on bets that interest-rate hikes will be put on hold to support the economy.
News that the Trump administration is concerned that China is pushing back against US demands threatens to curb hopes of a deal.
Elsewhere, a senior European Union official said the bloc is likely to tell Theresa May that she must decide by mid-April whether to extend Brexit until 2020 or risk leaving in three months without a deal.
The euro edged higher as data showed German investor confidence rose for a fifth straight month.
Palladium tops $1 600
Palladium topped $1 600 an ounce for the first time, and there’s little sign of the rally slowing as global supply tightens.
The price of the metal - mainly used in autocatalysts in gasoline vehicles - has almost doubled from a recent low in August. Demand has remained robust as manufacturers scramble to get hold of palladium to meet more stringent emissions controls, particularly in China, even as auto sales in key markets slow.
Credit: TreasureOne
Published in Bank & Finance
The European Union on Wednesday ordered Google to pay 1.49 billion euros ($1.69 billion) for stifling competition in the online advertisement sector.
The European Commission said Google had placed exclusivity contracts on website owners, stopping them from including search results from Google's rivals. It said these clauses were replaced in 2009 by premium payments and in the same year, Google had asked publishers to seek permission on how rival ads were displayed.
The EU's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said Google had prevented rivals from being able to "compete and innovate fairly" in the online ad market.
"Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules," Vestager said in Brussels.
In response, Google's senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker said: "We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest. We've already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission's concerns. Over the next few months, we'll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe."
The Alphabet company has previously defended the use of its ad technology, claiming it had been in place since 2006, is now superseded, and is a minor product.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, Google's core advertising business saw revenue increase 20 percent from the previous quarter to $32.6 billion — the same rate of growth as the last quarter.
The European Commission said between 2006 to 2016, Google was by far the strongest player in online search advertising in the European Economic Area, with a market share above 70 percent.
It is the third antitrust fine from Brussels against the search engine giant.
Last July, regulators in Brussels hit the Alphabet unit with a $5 billion fine for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system.
Google lets phone makers use the open-source Android software for free, but the EU accused it of benefiting its own services, including forcing phone makers to bundle Google products like Search, Maps and Chrome with its app store, Play.
In a blog post Tuesday, Walker said European Android customers will now be asked which apps they would like to use instead.
Vestager said Wednesday it was welcome news that Google was "stepping up its effort with the Android system" and the the European Commission would watch to see how the improved choice unfolded.
In 2017, the EU fined Google $2.7 billion for favoring its shopping service over competitors.
In an interview with Pressmen following the announcement, Vestager rejected any suggestion that the fines against Google would disrupt the relationship between Europe and the United States.
The competition supremo added that the commission had also imposed a number of fines on European companies.
"One should understand that you are more than welcome to do business in Europe but with our rule book and with no illegal behavior," she said.
Vestager has just 6 months left in her role but said her successor would enjoy the same strong mandate.
Published in World
Nigerian refineries made a total loss of N132.5 billion in 2018, a 39 percent increase from the N95.09 billion loss it incurred in 2017.
According to data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. NNPC, the Port Harcourt refinery, which did not process any crude oil in seven months, recorded the biggest loss of N59.96 billion in 2018, while Kaduna refinery, which was idle for 11 months, lost N31 billion, with Warri refinery recording a deficit of N41.71 billion.
The data also showed that a total of N13.58 billion was lost in January; N8.05 billion in February; N11.88 billion in March; N20.08 billion in May; N14.51 billion in June; N10.45 billion in July; N10.79 billion in August; N6.97 billion in September, N9.32 billion in October, N9.58 billionin November and N17.31 billion in December.
The refineries however made a profit of N6.32bn in April for the first time in 10 months.
Similarly, the NNPC. in its monthly report released on Tuesday, revealed that its group operating revenue for December stood at N731.88bn, N439.59bn higher than the previous month performance.
It however said its expenditure also surged by N429.52bn.It said: “This month’s revenue is far more than the budgeted revenue which resulted in a marked increase in trading surplus despite the drag in operating expenditure in the month.”
The corporation recorded a trading surplus of N12.13bn in December.“This increased performance is attributable to NPDC’s higher revenue recorded during the period following NPDC continuous revenue drive, arising from recent average weekly production of 332,000bpd making the target of 500,000bpd for 2020 achievable. This also captured the updated previous months’ revenue and expense,” it said.
Published in Business
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has disclosed plans to extend the ongoing Ajaokuta – Kaduna – Kano (AKK) gas pipeline system through the Sahara to North Africa.
The Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru revealed this on Tuesday during a courtesy visit on him by the Executive of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN)
The AKK gas pipeline which is designed to enable gas connectivity between the East, West and North of the country is currently inadequate.
According to Baru, the expansion plan was part of the corporation’s African integration drive to enable gas supply and utilization to key commercial centres in the Northern corridor of Nigeria.
Bark also noted that the Federal Government had plans to extend the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) to Morocco.
To achieve this, the country has entered an agreement with the northern African country in June 2018 to design a regional gas pipeline which would enable Nigeria to provide gas to countries in West Africa sub-region that extend to Morocco and Europe.
The project, Nigeria – Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP) would be a 5,660km design, capable of reducing gas flaring in Nigeria and encourage diversification of energy resources in the country.
Published in Business

Namibia’s South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) is an exception among the liberation movements that became governments in Africa. As Namibia celebrates its 29th Independence Day on 21 March, it can look back on a period of increased consolidation of power.

At the last elections in November 2014 it scored 80% of votes for the National Assembly, while its presidential candidate Hage Geingob garnered a record 86.7% of votes.

Other liberation movements haven’t fared as well in the role of governing parties. Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF is the most prominent case in point. For its part, South Africa’s African National Congress had to part from its two thirds majority in parliament in 2009; in 2016 it lost control over most metropolitan municipalities. It faces tough elections on 8 May.

Swapo has not, so far, had to bother about such a loss of legitimacy. Namibia’s system of a post-liberation democracy is a classic case of “competitive authoritarianism”. The term was coined by the US political scientists Steven Levitsky and Lucan A Way. They argue that:

…parties whose origins lie in war, violent anti-colonial struggle, revolution, or counterinsurgency are more likely to survive economic crisis, leadership succession, and opposition challenges without suffering debilitating effects.

They conclude that “revolutionary or liberation struggles also tend to produce a generation of leaders… that possesses the necessary legitimacy to impose discipline during crises”.


new ruling parties that emerged from violent struggle, such as Swapo in Namibia… appear to be more durable.

But the limits to liberation led some time ago to a reexamination of the liberation gospel and its claimed social transitions.

While Swapo continues to dominate, some cracks are starting to show.

Gerontocracy, crisis and populism

Geingob is expected to be the party candidate again for the next presidential elections in late 2019. He is 77 years old. Swapo’s political office bearers provide evidence of the party’s gerontocratic structures. If the country’s retirement age of 60 for public servants applied to politicians, its political bureau and central committee would have different compositions.

Geingob digressed from his predecessors Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, by replacing the image of Swapo as the nation with a wider formula. In his first state of the nation address in April 2015 he introduced the powerful metaphor of the Namibian house, providing room for all.

But the question about who should be accommodated – and how – remains unanswered.

In 2016 Geingob proclaimed the Harambee Prosperity Plan. It was based on an anticipated annual economic growth rate of 7%. At the time Angola’s oil economy was already in shambles, and South Africa had begun on its rapid economic decline. One of Namibia’s worst droughts was ravaging and the government’s over-expenditure had drained the state coffers.

Then a recession which hit in 2017 turned into a fully-fledged depression. The state’s total debt skyrocketed, which led to spiralling interest payments. As a local report put it:

Namibia has been sleepwalking its way into troublesome debt-to-GDP ratios that have increased from 7% of GDP in 1990/91 to 45% to GDP in 2018/19,

The tabling of the 2019/20 annual budget was postponed twice and is now scheduled for 29 March.

This has fuelled speculation about what the problem might be. One possible answer is that, because parliamentary and presidential elections are taking place in November, the government wants to avoid presenting a budget that signals the fiscal constraints and asks for sacrifices.

The art of denialism

Namibia has problems beyond its economy, too. In his closing comments to the second national Land Conference, Geingob said:

We need to ensure that we are living in a just and fair society, a society in which the mantra of ‘No Namibian must feel left out’ permeates every facet of our coexistence.

But these are just words. The contrast to be found in Namibia’s social realities is striking; for instance, it remains among the world’s most unequal countries.

According to a 2016 survey by the United Nations 37% of the population was malnourished and 24% of all children below the age of five were stunted.

But only external factors were blamed for this miserable performance. After all, populists are never responsible for failures: others must be blamed, along with circumstances beyond leaders’ control.

Urban squatters living in informal settlements are estimated at almost a million people – 40% of Namibia’s total population.

In his new year’s message for 2019, Geingob promised to end this humanitarian crisis by eradicating informal settlements. But he offered no explanation as to how this might be achieved.

Cracks are beginning to emerge

Activists from the Swapo Youth League have fallen out with the party leadership over urban land. Their formation of an Alternative Repositioning Movement in 2015 has turned into a relevant political factor. A frustrated new generation has entered grassroots politics.

Other tensions have become visible too. A fall out between the Deputy Minister for Land Reform Bernardus Swartbooi and his Minister Utoni Nujoma (a son of Namibia’s first President Sam Nujoma) led to Swartbooi’s dismissal first from office and later from Parliament and Swapo.

Previously regional governor in the Southern/Karas region, he founded a Landless People’s Movement in 2017. It has since registered as a political party that’s due to be launched in May.

At a Swapo central committee meeting at end of August last year Geingob denounced those mobilising around the issue of land as “failed politicians” who were merely looking for personal gains. He accused them of playing with people’s emotions, and warned that they could instigate civil war.

Such rhetoric doesn’t sit comfortably with the image of a “Namibian House” in which everyone has a room to live in peace and stability.

The results of the next parliamentary and presidential elections should confirm Swapo’s dominance. But it remains to be seen to what extent the house’s foundations are cracking. On Independence Day not everyone who cheered the hoisting of the Namibian flag 29 years ago will be celebrating.The Conversation


Henning Melber, Extraordinary Professor, Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Economy
Amidst fears that the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex might be up for sale, the Federal Government has denied such plans.
The government through its privatisation agency, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said it has only consulted transaction adviser for the concessioning of the complex.
This claims were made in a statement released on Tuesday by the Head of Public Communications of BPE, Amina Othman.
Othman ssid, “For the avoidance of doubt, the bureau states that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the BPE does not intend to sell the complex rather the facility would be concessioned through a competitive transaction process.
“It is for this reason that the government has procured the services of Messrs Feedback Infrastructure Services to advise on the way forward for the proposed concession.
‘’It is apt to inform the public that the bureau on Friday, March 1, 2019, met with the entire Traders’ Associations to explain the essence of the planned concession.”
He added that the bureau had stated in a publication on national dailies on August 23, 2017 that the lease of the property to Aulic Nigeria Limited had been terminated and the Federal government had since gained full possession since the said date.
He recalled, “Members of the public were, therefore, warned that ‘any purported allotment, buying, selling, letting, leasing, charging, and subdivision, construction upon or dealings in connection with the said property and parcels of land in any other manner howsoever without the written permission of the FGN represented by the BPE is unlawful, illegal, fraudulent and amounts to trespass.
“It further warned that any person(s) interfering with the said parcels of land ‘stand to lose their money as the FGN through the BPE will neither honour agreements, contracts nor arrangements entered into with person(s) purporting to have authority to transact the property and or parcels of land whether in the manner described or in any other manner whatsoever nor will it reimburse any monies paid in respect of such transaction”, he submitted.
Published in Business

Stiegler's Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station (SGHPS), which will be able to generate over 2,100MW.

Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani, told the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals, which visited the construction site recently, that 5,000 Tanzanians would be employed as temporary workers and 400 others would be employed under permanent contracts.

The parliamentary committee, which visited the construction site to assess mobilisation procedures, was led by its chairman, Mr Danstan Kitandula.

According to Mr Kalemani, between 3,000 and 5,000 Tanzanians will be employed during the construction, while between 250 and 400 others will get permanent employment after construction.

"Other 400 Tanzanians will be employed when the project starts to generate 2,225MW. This means they will be employed after construction," he noted.

He added: "Employment opportunities will help Tanzanians get income and improve their lives."

According to Dr Kalemani, the implementation of the project will uplift the livelihoods of Mloka villagers in Rufiji District in Cost Region and of Kisaki villagers in Morogoro Region.

He added that the project would enable the supply of electricity to 37 villages in Kibiti and Chalinze. A total of 12 villages will be connected to electricity under Tanzania Rural Energy Agency (REA) programme.

The government signed a construction agreement with Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric from Egypt in December 2018.

Speaking after the signing of the contract, Speaker of National Assembly Job Ndugai reaffirmed the Parliament's commitment to supporting the implementation of the hydropower project. Mr Ndugai praised the government for achieving what he described as a "historic landmark."

He added that: "As Parliament, we will support the initiative by allocating sufficient funds to make this project successful and useful."

The project is expected to cost 6.5tri/-. In October 4, 2018, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa visited the construction site and asked all Tanzanians and experts to play their roles effectively in ensuring proper implementation of the project.

In February, this year, the government handed over the site to the Egyptian contractor. The move paved the way for the contractor to officially start the job that will avail additional 2,100MW to the national grid.


Source: Daily News

Published in Engineering

It has become costly for expats to live in Nairobi compared to other African cities, according to the latest survey.

A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living survey says the cost of living in Kenya’s capital has risen 13 places compared to the previous year’s ranking, placing it at position 69 globally.

This is in contrast to Lagos at position 127, putting it among the 10 cheapest cities in the world. The findings are based on comparison of more than 50,000 individual prices of 160 products and services. The survey tracks prices of food, drinks, clothing, household supplies and personal care items alongside private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.

The report is usually used by companies to help calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers. Kenya’s inflation dropped to 4.69 per cent last year compared to 6.3 per cent the previous year. Appreciation of Kenyan shilling against the dollar leaves expatriates worse-off because it means less money for them after conversion to the local unit.

The shilling gained one per cent against the dollar, becoming the only African currency to strengthen against the greenback in 2018.

“Last year inflation and devaluations were prominent factors in determining the cost of living, with many cities tumbling down the ranking owing to economic turmoil, currency weakness or falling local prices,” the report says.

Nairobi’s ranking by the London-based Economist reinforces the findings of the 2018 survey conducted by UBS, a global bank headquartered in Switzerland.

Prices and Earnings

The study, dubbed Cost of living in cities around the world: Prices and Earnings 2018, also ranked Nairobi at position 68 and the most expensive city to reside in Africa.

The findings, based on prices, earnings, purchasing power and working time, ranked Cairo and Lagos as the least expensive cities globally. A June 2015 survey by Mercer’s 21st Cost of Living also ranked Nairobi 104 out of 207, making it one of the most expensive cities.

For the first time in the history of the Economist’s survey, three cities— Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris — share the title of the world’s most expensive cities. The report found Asia and Europe continuing to dominate the top 10 list.

The cheapest city on Earth was found to be Caracas, displacing Syria's Damascus, as a result of the economic crisis in Venezuela. Singapore is the only city to have maintained its ranking from the previous year. It has been the most expensive city now for five consecutive years.


Credit - Daily Nation Kenya

Published in Business
The USA added 64,389 full-time legal cannabis jobs in 2018, according to a new report from Leafly and Whitney Economics. That brought the total number of positions for the year to 211,000 – a 44% rise from a year earlier.
And that's not counting jobs indirectly related to the marijuana industry, like lawyers, accountants, security consultants, media companies, and marketing firms. With those included, there were 296,000 payrolls in the sector last year.
Jobs in the industry are expected to grow 110% between 2017 and 2020, outpacing what are often seen as the top sectors. For comparison, the BLS projects positions in solar panel installation and home healthcare will expand 105% and 47%, respectively, over the same period.
Because dagga is still considered an illegal substance under US federal law, the American Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't report employment figures for the industry. The report authors used state data and industry figures to reach its estimates.
While the marijuana industry faces significant legal uncertainty, it has made headway in recent years. Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 US states and Washington, DC.
And across the US, there are other signs the industry is booming. Job openings in the cannabis industry listed on the career site Glassdoor rose by more than three quarters last year, for example, jumping to 1,512 from 858 in 2017.
"Investment in hiring is one of the strongest indicators for business confidence as it requires a substantial long-term investment of time, effort and money," said Daniel Zhao, the author of the Glassdoor report.
Overall hiring in the US slowed more than expected in February, with the economy adding the fewest jobs since 2017. Economists will be closely watching the next BLS report for signs of whether that was just month-to-month noise or the start of a downward trend.
It's unclear if the marijuana industry would be able to keep up the current level of growth in the face of a slowdown, said Josh Wright, the chief economist at iCIMS, a hiring software firm.
"The cannabis industry sounds big enough to make a difference for a lot of individual workers and perhaps communities, but on its own, it's not much of a recession-fighter," Wright said.
Published in Business
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has revealed that its trading surplus hit N12.13 billion for the month of December 2018.
This was contained in the monthly financial and operations report released on Sunday in Abuja.
The corporation’s upstream subsidiary, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) recorded a positive upswing of average production of 332,000 barrels of oil per day with the corporation targeting 500,000bpd production in 2020.
According to the reports, 257 pipeline points were vandalised within the month under review out of which one pipeline point failed to be welded and six pipeline points were ruptured.
NNPC recorded 197 breaches on its pipelines in November last year.
A total of 197 breaches were recorded on all pipelines in November out of which Ibadan-Ilorin, Mosimi-Ibadan, and Atlas Cove-Mosimi network accounted for 90, 69 and 57 compromised points respectively or approximately 34 per cent, 26 per cent and 22 per cent of the vandalised points respectively.
Aba-Enugu pipeline link accounted for seven per cent, with other locations accounting for the remaining 11 per cent of the pipeline breaks.
The report further states that 1.8 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petroleum, translating to 58.17 million litres/day were supplied in the month under review.
The distribution of white products to its downstream subsidiaries rose from 1.09 billion litres in November to 1.96 billion litres in December.
1.94billion litres of the products were Petroleum, 0.007 billion litres of kerosene and 0.014 billion litres of diesel.
Total sale of white products for the period, December 2017 to December 2018, was 21.84 billion litres and PMS accounted for 20.17 billion litres or 92.36 per cent.
Published in Business
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