Today's top business news: Shares rise as metal stocks extend gains, fuel prices rise to hit record highs, rupee rises against the dollar for 3rd straight session, and more

A view of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai. File.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Nifty and the Sensex opened the day on a positive note as metal stocks rallied.

Join us as we follow the top business news through the day.

4:30 PM

Rupee settles 16 paise higher at 73.35 against dollar; rises for 3rd session

The rupee continues to appreciate against the greenback.

PTI reports: "The rupee rose by 16 paise to close at 73.35 (provisional) against the US dollar on Monday, marking its third straight session of gains on the back of positive domestic equities and weak American currency.

At the interbank forex market, the rupee opened at 73.34 and hit an intra-day high of 73.33 and a low of 73.48.

The local unit finally settled at 73.35, registering a gain of 16 paise over its previous close. On Friday, the rupee had settled at 73.51 against the American currency.

The rupee has strengthened by 56 paise in the three sessions to Monday.

"The Indian rupee appreciated amid weakness in dollar and rise in risk appetite in the global markets. Markets sentiments improved on speculation that US Federal Reserve will maintain its ultra low interest rates for quite some time," said Saif Mukadam, Research Analyst, Sharekhan by BNP Paribas.

However, sharp gains were prevented on surge in crude oil prices and FII outflows.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market on Friday as they offloaded shares worth Rs 1,142.75 crore, as per exchange data.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.09 per cent to 90.15.

On the domestic equity market front, the BSE Sensex ended 295.94 points or 0.60 per cent higher at 49,502.41, while the broader NSE Nifty advanced 119.20 points or 0.8 per cent to 14,942.35.

Rupee may slip on concern that rising COVID-19 cases in India and lockdown restriction in some states may hurt economic recovery. Traders fear that worsening situation in India may put pressure on central government to announce nationwide lockdown for few days to curb outbreak, Mukadam said.

After recording over four lakh fresh cases for four consecutive days, India witnessed a single-day rise of 3,66,161 COVID-19 cases on Monday, which pushed its tally to 2,26,62,575, according to the health ministry.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.51 per cent to USD 68.63 per barrel."

4:00 PM

Sensex jumps 296 pts; Nifty ends above 14,900

A positive day for stocks.

PTI reports: "Extending its gains for the fourth consecutive session, equity benchmark Sensex surged about 296 points to recapture the key 49,500-level on Monday, led by intense buying in pharma and energy stocks.

At the closing bell, the 30-share BSE index quoted 295.94 points or 0.60 per cent higher at 49,502.41.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty jumped 119.20 points or 0.80 per cent to 14,942.35.

L&T was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rallying over 4 per cent, followed by Dr Reddy’s, Sun Pharma, NTPC, IndusInd Bank, PowerGrid, ONGC and M&M.

On the other hand, UltraTech Cement, Infosys, Reliance Industries and HCL Tech were among the laggards.

"Domestic equities continued to defy concerns of rising COVID-19 cases and extended mobility restrictions by several states by extending gains for the fourth consecutive trading day," said Binod Modi Head-Strategy at Reliance Securities.

Notably, sharp rebound in metals, pharma, auto and PSU banks supported market's rally. Most of key sectoral indices traded in green.

"Favourable global cues, steady March quarter earnings along with favourable commentary, liquidity support announced by the RBI and absence of nationwide lockdown have aided domestic equities to shrug off rising COVID-19 cases in the country," Modi noted.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul ended on a positive note, while Hong Kong was in the red.

Stock exchanges in Europe were largely trading with losses in mid-session deals.

Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.53 per cent higher at USD 68.64 per barrel."

3:30 PM

Ola to start doorstep delivery of oxygen concentrators to consumers

India Inc to the rescue.

PTI reports: "Ola Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Ola, on Monday said it has partnered with donation platform GiveIndia to provide consumers with oxygen concentrators, joining the growing roster of companies contributing towards relief efforts amid the deadly second wave of the COVID pandemic.

The service, which will be provided for free through the Ola app, service will start rolling out in Bengaluru from this week with an initial set of 500 oxygen concentrators.

Ola and GiveIndia will scale it up across the country with up to 10,000 concentrators in the coming weeks, a statement said.

Consumers request for an oxygen concentrator from the Ola app by providing a few basic details. Once submitted, the request will be validated and Ola will then pick up the concentrator via one of its cabs with a specially trained driver and bring it to the consumer's doorstep.

Once the patient has gotten better and no longer requires the concentrator, Ola will pick the device back up and return it to GiveIndia to get it ready for the next patient who needs it.

"We must come together and help our communities during these unprecedented times. We hope this initiative brings much-needed support during these very difficult times and helps in mitigating the pain and the anxiety among those impacted,” Ola Chairman and Group CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.

As India reels under the impact of the second wave, hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds. Social media timelines are filled with SOS calls with people looking for oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, plasma donors, and ventilators.

Organisations across the spectrum have come forward to source and donate oxygenators, breathing machines, and ventilators.

Digital payments solutions provider Razorpay said it has enabled a 'Donate Now' feature on the payment checkout page of all its merchants that will allow its merchant partners to nudge their customers to donate any amount after completing their payment.

Within 7 days of launching this feature, over 2,000 merchants have enabled the feature and almost Rs 20 crore have been collected by the partner NGOs through Razorpay's platform.

Fintech major Paytm said it is offering its Payment Gateway services to all registered NGOs across the country at zero transaction fees - on donations of up to Rs 10 lakh - to help them secure maximum resources for swift and smooth COVID relief work.

RapiPay Fintech said it has introduced a tool on its website and app that assists users to check vaccination availability in their area and accordingly, register for the vaccination slot via Co-WIN.

iCreate said three startups incubated by it have launched critical health-tech devices that will help in altering ICU ventilators to host multiple patients and in augmenting large-scale oxygen supply chains.

Developed by Social Hardware, 3D printed splitter is a ventilator expansion device that allows a single ventilator to support up to four patients during a time of acute equipment shortage.

The IoT-enabled Chief Beta (Industrial IOT Gateway) - developed by Limelight IT solutions - is an industrial gateway that can easily plug into the oxygen supply lines of hospitals and allied healthcare institutions to monitor, perform audits, detect and send leakage alerts.

RedCarbon TechnoHub, on the other hand, has developed a portable oxygen generator 'Oxyter' that works on electrolysis.

"With the healthcare system in the country being stretched thin, deploying pragmatic technological interventions is the need of the hour. The most pressing need being an augmented O2 supply chain across the country. These innovations that our startups have come up with are cost-effective and quickly deployable," Anupam Jalote, CEO of iCreate, said.

Another tech firm, Collabera Technologies said it has converted its office in Gotri Baroda (Gujarat) into a COVID Care Centre for their employees and immediate family members. The centre, which is equipped with oxygen concentrators, is also open for individuals with mild symptoms.

Software firm Intuit is undertaking a slew of steps, including setting up a donation matching campaign where employees can contribute to the relief efforts and their contribution will be matched by Intuit 2:1."

2:30 PM

April retail vehicle sales fall 28% month-on-month

With almost all States resorting to either a partial or a full lockdown amid the second wave of COVID-19, total retail vehicles registrations declined by 28% to about 11.85 lakh units in the last month as compared to sales of over 16.49 lakh units in March 2021, the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) said on Monday.

For the full year ending March 31, 2021, total vehicle sales fell nearly 30% to 1.52 crore units. The annual vehicle registrations are below FY12-13 levels, lowest in eight years.

The automotive dealers’ body added that the second wave of the pandemic had not only hit urban markets but also unsettled the rural markets, which were relatively insulated during the first wave. Hence, the recovery for the sector was expected to take longer compared to the recovery which followed the first wave.

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2:00 PM

Amazon blocked 10 billion listings in counterfeit crackdown

Amazon, which has been under pressure from shoppers, brands and lawmakers to crack down on counterfeits on its site, said Monday that it blocked more than 10 billion suspected phony listings last year before any of their offerings could be sold.

The numbers were released in Amazon’s first report on its anti-counterfeiting efforts since it announced new tools and technologies in 2019. The number of blocked phony listings last year was up about 67% from the year before.

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth said the number of counterfeiters attempting to sell on the site rose as scammers tried to take advantage of shoppers who were buying more online during the pandemic.

Amazon has been wrestling with counterfeits for years. But since 2019, it has warned investors in government filings that the sale of phony goods poses a risk to the company and its image. Brands may not want to sell their items on the site if they know there are fake versions being offered. And knock-offs could cause shoppers to lose their trust in Amazon.

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1:30 PM

Economic activity down in April, May but shock less severe than 2020: Fitch

Economic activity set to suffer as lockdowns clamp down demand.

PTI reports: "Fitch Ratings on Monday said the shock to economic activity from the latest wave of COVID-19 pandemic will be less severe than the one in 2020, but recovery is likely to be delayed as economic activity dropped in April-May.

The global rating agency said there are growing indications that the latest wave of COVID-19 infections will add to risks among financial institutions (FIs) and anticipates that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may introduce additional measures to support the financial sector if indications of economic stress mount.

"We expect the shock to economic activity from the latest wave of the pandemic in India to be less severe than in 2020, even though caseloads and fatalities are much higher... Nonetheless, indicators show activity dropped in April-May, which is likely to delay the country's recovery, and the number of newly recorded cases remains extremely high," Fitch Ratings said in a report.

It said currently authorities are implementing lockdowns more narrowly, and companies and individuals have adjusted behaviour in ways that cushion the effects.

"There is a risk that disruption could persist longer and spread further than our baseline case assumes, particularly if lockdowns are introduced in more regions, or nationwide," it added.

India is facing the world's worst outbreak of COVID-19 cases with more than 3 lakh new daily COVID-19 cases being reported for two weeks now and the new cases reached more than 4 lakh new daily cases over the weekend.

Over 2.46 lakh people in India have died from the virus infection. Public health system is buckling under the weight of surging infections and deaths with several parts of the country reporting shortage of hospital beds, medical oxygen, medicines and vaccines.

"India's slow pace of vaccination means that the country could remain vulnerable to further waves of the pandemic even once the current surge subsides. Just 9.4 per cent of the population had received at least one vaccine dose as of 5 May, according to figures from Our World in Data," it added.

Fitch had last month said that the surge in COVID-19 cases could add to headwinds facing India's banks and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) if it led to a resurgence in asset quality pressures. The latest data suggest that this risk is mounting, the agency said.

"There are growing indications that India's latest wave of COVID-19 infections will add to risks among FIs by sapping near-term momentum from the economic recovery," it said.

The measures announced by RBI on May 5 will provide some relief to financial institutions in the next 12-24 months, but largely at the expense of postponing the recognition and resolution of underlying asset-quality problems.

Among the RBI's measures, the reintroduction of a restructuring scheme for individuals, small businesses and MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) may be significant for financial institutions.

It covers those which have not previously taken up restructuring, but also allows flexibility to extend the period of moratorium and/or the residual tenor by up to two years for previously restructured amounts.

The scheme, available end-September 2021, may provide borrowers with additional time to resolve repayment stresses and allow financial institutions to spread credit costs over a longer period and the take-up under the last scheme, which ran to March 2021, was modest.

"However, the economy at the time was posting a strong post-lockdown recovery. Since then, we believe risks to small businesses have risen, particularly as many would have balance sheets that have weakened since 2020. Meanwhile, many individuals face medical bills that will add to strains on their income and savings," Fitch added.

RBI has also allowed funding by small finance banks to smaller microfinance institutions (MFIs) for on-lending to be classified as priority-sector lending. This could support liquidity among those MFIs, some of whom have concentrated regional exposures that increase the risk of collection shortfalls as the virus spreads into India's hinterlands this time around.

"We anticipate that the RBI may introduce additional measures to support the financial sector if indications of economic stress mount, such as credit guarantee schemes or a blanket moratorium like the one that ran from March-August 2020. The last moratorium led to sharp drops in collection rates for many NBFIs, and any such announcement would be assessed against corresponding industry support to determine its rating impact," Fitch added.

Fitch Ratings last month had said that the resurgence of COVID-19 infections may delay India's economic recovery but won't derail it, as it kept the sovereign rating unchanged at 'BBB-' with a negative outlook.

It projected a 12.8 per cent recovery in GDP in the fiscal year ending March 2022 (FY22). Indian economy is estimated to have contracted 8 per cent in the last fiscal, which ended March 2021."

1:00 PM

Insurance, MF players cut equity investments in Q4; LIC booked profits: Report

Institutions withdraw from the stock bourses.

PTI reports: "Insurance behemoth LIC opted for profit-booking by selling its equity stakes in companies during the March quarter, a report said on Monday.

The IPO-bound company's stakes in 296 companies where it holds over 1 per cent stake slipped to an all-time low of 3.66 per cent at the end of March as against 3.70 per cent in December, the report by Prime Database said.

Pranav Haldea, the managing director of Prime Database Group attributed this to profit-booking by India's largest institutional investor, adding that the stake held had touched an all-time high of 5 per cent in 2012.

Interestingly, in value terms there was an increase in the equity assets held by the state-run company at an all-time high of Rs 7.24 lakh crore in March, which represents a 6.30 per cent increase, it said, pointing out that market benchmarks Sensex and Nifty rose by 3.70 and 5.10 per cent, respectively, during this period.

Holdings by insurance companies declined to a 5-year low of 4.80 per cent as on March 31, down from 5 per cent at the end of December 31, 2020. In value terms, it went up by 3.09 per cent from the previous quarter to an all-time high of Rs 9.48 lakh crore as on March 31, 2021.

LIC accounts for over three-fourths of the overall value of the stakes held by insurance companies in equities, it added.

Mutual funds' holding reduced to 7.23 per cent as on March 31, 2021 down from 7.42 per cent as on December 31, 2020, and Haldea said that this is the fourth straight quarter where the MFs have sold their holdings after 24 continuous quarters of an increase.

However, in value terms, the holding of domestic mutual funds went up by 4.81 per cent to Rs 14.30 lakh crore on March 31, 2021 from Rs 13.64 lakh crore on December 31, 2021.

Net outflows by domestic mutual funds stood at Rs 26,810 crore during the quarter, as retail investors booked profits.

On the back of decrease in holdings of mutual funds and insurance companies, holding of domestic institutional investors (DII), which includes domestic mutual funds, insurance companies, banks, financial institutions, pension funds also decreased to a 10-quarter low of 13.03 per cent as on March 31, 2021 from 13.56 per cent as on December 31, 2020.

Net outflows of DIIs stood at Rs 23,124 crore during the quarter, while in value terms, DII holding went up to an all-time high of Rs 25.75 lakh crore as on March 31, 2021, which is an increase of 3.27 per cent over the last quarter.

Haldea said foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) holdings stood at 22.60 per cent as on March 31, 2021, down from 22.74 per cent as on December 31, 2020, despite net inflows of Rs 55,741 crore during the quarter.

In rupee value terms, FPI ownership also reached an all-time high of Rs 44.66 lakh crore as on March 31, 2021, up 6.77 per cent from Rs 41.83 lakh crore as on December 31, 2020.

The percentage holding of the government (as promoter) in companies listed on NSE increased to 5.60 per cent as on March 31, 2021, from 5.22 per cent as on December 31, 2020.

Retail investors' holding went down in 713 companies despite a 15.57 per cent increase in their stock prices, and went up in 863 companies which had the share prices move up by 5.52 per cent, Haldea said, adding that this validates the oft-used phrase that retail buys at the peak and sells at lows."

12:30 PM

India's COVID-19 cases dip from peak, calls for shutdown mount

Signs of the peak being hit.

Reuters reports: "Calls grew for India to impose a nationwide lockdown as new coronavirus cases and deaths held close to record highs on Monday, increasing pressure on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths reported by the health ministry were off a little from recent peaks, taking India's tally to 22.66 million with 246,116 deaths. (Graphic on global cases and deaths) https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi

As many hospitals grapple with an acute shortage of oxygen and beds while morgues and crematoriums overflow, experts have said India's actual figures could be far higher than reported.

Sunday's 1.47 million tests for COVID-19 were this month's lowest yet, data from the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research showed. The figure compared with a daily average of 1.7 million for the first eight days of May.

The number of positive results from the tests was not immediately clear, however.

Many states have imposed strict lockdowns over the last month while others have placed curbs on movement and shut cinemas, restaurants, pubs and shopping malls.

But pressure is mounting on Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown as he did during the first wave of infections last year.

He is battling criticism for allowing huge gatherings at a religious festival and holding large election rallies during the past two months even as cases surged.

"A failure of governance of epic and historic proportions," Vipin Narang, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, said on Twitter.

Sonia Gandhi, the chief of the main opposition Congress party, blamed the government for abdicating its responsibility by leaving vaccinations to states, Reuters partner ANI said on Twitter.

Delhi's health minister said the city was running out of vaccines, with just three to four days of supplies remaining of AstraZeneca's vaccine, made by the Serum Institute of India and branded Covishield, the NDTV news channel reported.

By Sunday, the world's largest vaccine-producing nation had fully vaccinated just over 34.3 million, or only 2.5%, of its population of about 1.35 billion, government data shows. (Graphic on global vaccinations) https://tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta

SHUT DOWN NEEDED

On Sunday, top White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said he had advised Indian authorities they needed to shut down.

"You’ve got to shut down," Fauci said on ABC's "This Week" television show. "I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission. And one of the ways to do that is to shut down."

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also called for a "complete, well-planned, pre-announced" lockdown.

New Delhi, the capital, entered a fourth week of lockdown, with tougher curbs such as the shutdown of the suburban rail network, while residents scrambled for scarce hospital beds and oxygen supplies.

"This is not the time to be lenient," Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday.

"This phase is so tough, this wave is so dangerous, so many people are dying...the priority at this hour is to save lives," he said in a televised address.

Late on Sunday, the northern state of Uttarakhand said it would impose curfew from Tuesday until May 18, just days after mass religious gatherings held in the state became virus super spreading events.

Shops selling essential food items will stay open for some hours in the morning, while malls, gyms, theatres, bars and liquor shops are among the enterprises that will be shut, the government said.

Measures announced by India's central bank last week for relief to lenders and borrowers during the new devastating wave of infections will only delay the stress for financial institutions, Fitch Ratings said.

Fitch said disruptions could persist longer and spread further than its baseline case scenario, especially in case of more regional lockdowns or one nationwide, adding that a drop in April-May activity would delay recovery.

Organisers of the popular and lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament conceded the remaining games would have to be played overseas after having suspended the contest over the virus this month.

Global support, in the form of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and other medical gear, has poured in.

On Monday, U.S. company Eli Lilly and Co said it signed licensing deals with Indian drugmakers, such as Cipla Ltd , Lupin and Sun Pharma to make and sell its arthritis drug baricitinib for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

India's drug regulator has approved the drug for restricted emergency use in combination with remdesivir for hospitalised adult sufferers requiring oxygen."

12:00 PM

Clubhouse app says hello to Android

A little over a year after making its debut in iOS, audio-chatting app Clubhouse is now opening its account in Android. The app was launched last March exclusively for iOS users to let them connect with others via chat rooms sans cameras.

By the time it was ready for general use to all Apple users in June, ‘zoom fatigue’ was starting to set in, making people log on to Clubhouse to socialise. Within ten months of its launch, the app enabled over two million people, from musicians to stock traders, to meet, to talk and connect on the platform.

Clubhouse’s success has made several other social media firms start their own versions of audio-chatting feature. Twitter launched Spaces for its users to meet and join impromptu discussions started by those they follow. Facebook is said to be working on a similar interface that can be accessed by people via its Messenger app.

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11:30 AM

Slow vaccination pace makes India vulnerable to more COVID-19 waves: Fitch Ratings

Fitch Ratings has warned that India’s slow pace of vaccination means that the country could remain vulnerable to further waves of COVID-19 even once the current surge subsides. Just 9.4% of the population had received at least one vaccine dose as of May 5, it pointed out.

Last month, the firm had said that the second pandemic wave in the country could ‘delay’ but not ‘derail’ the economic recovery. However, it has now expressed concerns about the adverse implications of a longer disruption.

“We expect the shock to economic activity from the latest wave of the pandemic in India to be less severe than in 2020, even though caseloads and fatalities are much higher. The authorities are implementing lockdowns more narrowly, and companies and individuals have adjusted behaviour in ways that cushion the effects,” Fitch said in a note on Monday.

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11:00 AM

India cenbank relief measures to only delay stress for financial institutions - Fitch

Looks like RBI relief measures may only kick the can down the road.

Reuters reports: "Relief measures announced by India's central bank last week to help lenders and borrowers during the new devastating wave of COVID-19 infections will only delay the stress for financial institutions, Fitch Ratings said on Monday.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rolled out last Wednesday a slew of measures including a loan restructuring scheme to help lenders tide over mounting bad loans and give some borrowers more time for debt repayment.

Fitch said these measures would provide some relief to financial institutions over the next 12-24 months but at the expense of delaying the recognition and resolution of underlying asset-quality problems.

The central bank may unveil more measures to support the financial sector, like credit guarantee schemes or a blanket moratorium, if indications of economic stress mount, the ratings agency said.

Asia's third-largest economy is battling a ferocious surge in coronavirus cases that has forced several states to go into lockdowns, although institutions like Fitch expect the shock to economic activity will be less severe than in 2020.

"The authorities are implementing lockdowns more narrowly, and companies and individuals have adjusted behaviour in ways that cushion the effects," Fitch said in a report https://www.fitchratings.com/research/banks/relief-to-postpone-financial-stress-from-indias-covid-19-surge-09-05-2021#:~:text=The%20scheme%2C%20which%20runs%20until,to%20March%202021%2C%20was%20modest.

However, it said disruptions could persist longer and spread further than its baseline case scenario, especially if lockdowns were introduced in more regions or nationwide, noting that a drop in April-May activity would delay the country's recovery.

Last week, S&P Global Ratings said its outlook on India's sovereign debt remained stable, even though surging cases could threaten the economic recovery it had seen so far.

India could remain vulnerable to further waves of the pandemic even once the current surge subsides due to its slow pace of vaccination, Fitch warned."

10:30 AM

Petrol, diesel prices at record highs; Petrol crosses Rs 100-mark in Maharashtra

Fuel prices begin to rise once again.

PTI reports: "Petrol and diesel prices on Monday hit record highs across the country after rates were increased for the fifth time in a week, following which Maharashtra joined Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in the league of states where petrol rates breached the Rs 100-a-litre mark.

Petrol price was hiked by 26 paise a litre and diesel by 33 paise per litre, according to a price notification by state-owned fuel retailers.

This was the fifth increase in prices since May 4, when the state-owned oil firms ended an 18-hiatus in rate revision during assembly elections in states like West Bengal.

The increase took petrol and diesel prices to their highest-ever level. In Delhi, petrol now comes for Rs 91.53 per litre and diesel is priced at Rs 82.06 per litre.

While petrol prices had crossed the Rs 100-mark in some places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh a few days back, Maharashtra's Parbhani joined the league on Monday. Petrol in Parbhani was priced at Rs 100.20 a litre, while in Bhopal it came for Rs 99.55 a litre.

The fuel is sold at Rs 102.42 a litre in Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan and at Rs 102.12 in Anuppur of Madhya Pradesh.

This is the second time this year that rates in some parts have crossed the Rs 100-a litre mark. Rates had breached the physiological mark for the first time in mid-February.

Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT and freight charges. Rajasthan levies the highest value-added tax (VAT) on petrol in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh.

In five increases in the last one week, petrol price has risen by Rs 1.14 per litre and diesel by Rs 1.33 - more than neutralising all of the reduction that came between March 24 and April 15.

After raising petrol price by a record Rs 21.58 per litre and diesel by Rs 19.18 since the government raised excise duty to an all-time high in March last year, state-owned fuel retailers, IOC, BPCL and HPCL had reduced petrol price by 67 paise a litre and diesel by 74 paise per litre effected between March 24 and April 15.

Oil companies, who have in recent months resorted to unexplained freeze in rate revision, had hit a pause button after cutting prices marginally on April 15. This coincided with electioneering hitting peak to elect new governments in five states including West Bengal.

No sooner had voting ended, oil companies indicated an impending increase in retail prices in view of firming trends in international oil markets.

They said prices have been on a continuous uptrend since April 27, crude oil price is hovering near USD 70-per-barrel mark.

Central and state taxes make up for 60 per cent of the retail selling price of petrol and over 54 per cent of diesel. The union government levies Rs 32.90 per litre of excise duty on petrol and Rs 31.80 on diesel.

In Mumbai, the petrol price was hiked to Rs 97.86 a litre on Monday from Rs 97.61, while diesel rates were increased to Rs 89.17 from Rs 88.82, the price notification showed."

10:00 AM

Indian shares rise as metal stocks extend gains on strong commodity prices

A good start to the day for stocks.

Reuters reports: "Indian shares rose for a fourth straight session on Monday as metal stocks climbed further on strong commodity prices, with Tata Steel scaling a fresh peak.

The NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.77% to 14,944.25 by 0351 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex advanced 0.78% to 49,575.49. Last week, the indexes gained 1.3% and 0.9%, respectively.

Metal shares rose nearly 3% in early trade as iron ore futures surged on strong Chinese demand and copper prices hit a record high amid an outlook for tight supply and strong demand fuelled by a global economic recovery..

The sub-index added 4.73% on Friday and was on track for its fourth straight session of gain early on Monday.

Tata Steel rose 3.95% to a record high and was the top gainer on the Nifty 50 index.

Meanwhile, benchmark Nifty 50 component Hero MotoCorp slipped 0.66% in early trade after the world's largest two-wheeler maker said it was extending closure of its manufacturing facilities across India until May 16 due to rising cases of the coronavirus infections.

Asian equity markets were firm on hopes that interest rates will remain low due to receding inflationary pressure after weak U.S. jobs data on Friday."

9:30 AM

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Being alive, being well, and being safe is all that matters today. Everything else is small stuff and not worth your sweat right now. In case you have been fretting about the following issues to do with your money, let’s just allay some of your concerns.

If you’re worried no end about the low interest your deposit is fetching you and making calls to banks or visiting their branches (with masks), to know where there are better rates, let it go. While the RBI is using many tools to keep the government bond rates low, the creeping inflation is slowly pushing rates up. If you have not noticed, some of the large NBFCs deposits have started increasing their deposit rates offered to senior citizens and you will likely see many such hikes slowly. Just renew your deposits for shorter periods of 3-6 months so that you can lock into higher rates a while later. If you have longer horizons, go for floating rate bonds from RBI or the other small savings schemes which still offer good rates.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 4:18:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/business-live/article34524404.ece

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