Top Business News of the Day: Sensex, Nifty scale fresh lifetime highs; P. Chidambaram takes dig at govt over fuel prices; Singer Rihanna is officially a billionaire, Forbes says and more

A view of the BSE building in Mumbai. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

5:05 P.M.

PVR eyes business reaching pre-pandemic level by FY22-end; to add 19 more screens

Leading multiplex chain operator PVR Ltd expects its business to return to pre-pandemic level by the end of the ongoing fiscal year, hoping there is a consistent supply of good films and no third wave and further lockdowns in the country, its chairman and managing director Ajay Bijli has said.

PVR would add around 19 screens by September. PVR currently operates a cinema circuit comprising 846 screens at 176 properties in 71 cities in India and Sri Lanka, PTI reported.

5:00 P.M.

Birla Corp Q1 net profit doubles to Rs 141 cr

Overcoming pandemic-related disruptions, Birla Corporation Limited on Thursday reported a net profit of Rs 141.5 crore in the first quarter ending June 2021, rising 115% from the same period in the previous year.

The cement major sold 3.35 million tonne of cement in the June quarter, registering a growth of 38.4% from last year, but sales by volume were 8% lower than the pre-pandemic levels of Q1 of 2019-20, PTI reported.

4:53 P.M.

Inflation rise not structural, rate hike to begin from next June

Arguing that the recent elevation in retail inflation is not structural but supply-driven and therefore potentially transitory, a foreign brokerage report has forecast that the benign interest rate regime will continue at least until next June.

The assessment comes a day ahead of the third bimonthly monetary policy review on Friday wherein it's widely expected that the monetary authority will leave the key rates unchanged at 4% even though the consumer prices have been on remaining above 6% since May and crude prices have been north of $70 a barrel for months, PTI reported.

4:48 P.M.

Nintendo reports slump in quarterly sales for its flagship Switch console

Japan's Nintendo Co Ltd said on Thursday sales of its Switch console fell 22% in the first quarter as demand for the hit device fades in its fifth year on the market.

Nintendo saw sales of Switch Lite units more than halve to 1.14 million during the April-June quarter. In contrast, Sony Corp said on Wednesday sales of its new PlayStation 5 were robust, helping it post a record profit during the quarter, Reuters reported.

4:17 P.M.

Sensex, Nifty scale fresh lifetime highs

Extending its winning streak to the fourth straight session, equity benchmark Sensex ended 123.07 points higher at a fresh record on Thursday amid gains in index majors Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank and ITC.

Sensex settled 123.07 points or 0.23% higher at its record high of 54,492.84. NSE Nifty rose 35.80 points or 0.22% to an all-time peak of 16,294.60.

Bharti Airtel was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, surging around 4%, followed by ITC, Tech Mahindra, Tata Steel and HCL Tech. On the other hand, SBI, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Finance and ICICI Bank were among the laggards.

4:10 P.M.

Singer Rihanna is officially a billionaire, Forbes says

Pop star Rihanna’s net worth is estimated at $1.7 billion, making her the richest woman musician in the world, but her music is not the primary source of her wealth, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.

The Barbados-born singer, whose birth name is Robyn Fenty, derives an estimated $1.4 billion of her fortune from her 50% stake in the Fenty Beauty cosmetics line. The rest of Rihanna’s wealth comes from her share of the Savage x Fenty lingerie company and her income as a singer and actress, the magazine said.

4:06 P.M.

GAIL Apr-Jun net profit surges sixfold to 15.3 bln rupees

GAIL (India) Ltd's net profit jumped sixfold on year in the June quarter to 15.3 bln rupees. Revenue during the quarter jumped 43.8% to 173.84 bln rupees.

Shares of GAIL (India) closed 0.4% higher at 142.90 rupees on the National Stock Exchange today.

3:55 P.M.

Tata Motors' JLR UK sales down 47% on year in Jul on chip shortage

Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc, a subsidiary of Tata Motors Ltd, sold 4,528 units in the UK in July against 8,476 units sold in the same month a year ago, according to data released by UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

New car registrations across UK were down 29.5% on year at 123,296 units in July, said the automotive body and cited shortage of semiconductors for the slowdown.

3:51 P.M.

Owners lack of confidence on Vodafone Idea's survival sees shares crash

The lack of confidence shown by Vodafone Idea Ltd promoters--Aditya Birla Group and Vodafone Plc--on the survival of the telecom operator has left investors in anguish, as the stock price has crashed 42% in three sessions, Informist reported.

Earlier, Kumar Mangalam Birla stepped down from the post of non-executive director and non-executive chairman on Wednesday. Following this, Vodafone Plc too, has reportedly offered its stake to the lenders and the government for free, if they were ready to take over the company. The stock had hit a 15-month low of 4.55 rupees earlier in the day, on the National Stock Exchange.

3:40 P.M.

Drinks makers target high-end spirits for post-COVID growth

Major drinks companies are making deals and reaching joint ventures to boost their offerings of spirits priced at $200-a-bottle and up, the fastest-growing segment in the $1 trillion global market for alcoholic drinks.

Drinks companies are seeking M&A opportunities because sales of higher-priced drinks are expected to grow more than moderately priced beverages in the next five years. Sales of 750 ml bottles of premium drinks priced at $200 and up are expected to grow 9.3% annually until 2025, outpacing lower-priced drinks,  according to  the International Wines and Spirits Record's (IWSR) Drinks Market analysis.

3:34 P.M.

ByteDance Lays Off Hundreds After China’s Education Crackdown

TikTok-owner ByteDance Ltd. has laid off at least hundreds of employees as the social giant shuts down most of its online education businesses to comply with Beijing’s new regulatory regime for the after-school tutoring industry, Bloomberg reported.

China’s government last month enacted its harshest ever curbs on the $100 billion after-school tutoring industry, banning private firms teaching school subjects to kids from earning profits and from raising capital. The curbs sparked a sell-off that wiped out more than $1 trillion of value from Chinese equities, as investors weighed the extent to which Beijing would go to rein in its vast internet industry.

3:09 P.M.

Bharti Airtel shares hit six-month high, analysts see further upside

Shares of Bharti Airtel hit a six-month high of 619 rupees today as the company indicated it might announce some more tariff hikes in the coming quarters, which could take its average revenue per user to 200 rupees.

At 1423 IST, shares of the company were trading 5.3% higher at 605 rupees on the National Stock Exchange, Informist reported.

3:04 P.M.

Biden Sets U.S. Goal of 50% Clean Cars as Carmakers Ask for Help

President Joe Biden plans to call for half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. to be emission free by the end of the decade, an ambitious goal that automakers say can only be achieved with a bigger government investment in charging stations and other infrastructure.

Automakers say they are counting on the government’s help to meet the new vehicle goals.

2:48 P.M.

Swiggy inks pact with RBML to build EV ecosystem in India

Food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy on Thursday said it has signed an agreement with Reliance BP Mobility Ltd (RBML) to build an EV ecosystem and battery-swapping stations for its delivery partners across the country, PTI reported.

The company has also partnered with Hero Lectro and Fast despatch logistics to enable end-to-end delivery of its orders through cargo e-cycles, Swiggy said in a statement.

2:41 P.M.

World stocks off record peak, dollar up on hawkish Fed official

World stocks eased from the previous session's record highs while the dollar reached its highest in eight days on Thursday, after hawkish remarks from a senior U.S. Federal Reserve official.

The MSCI world shares index was steady at 729.68, versus a record peak of 731.88 hit in the previous session.  U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Wednesday after the Fed remarks, with the S&P 500 receding 0.46% from a record high after data signalled a slowdown in jobs growth in July. European stocks hit record highs, however, and were up 0.21% on strong earnings from Danish company Novo Nordisk and German industrial firm Siemens. The dollar was steady against an index of currencies after hitting an eight-day high of 92.352, Reuters reported.

2:34 P.M.

Tesla chair Denholm sells shares worth more than $22 mln

Tesla Inc chair Robyn Denholm sold more than $22 million worth of shares in the electric-car maker after exercising stock options, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Denholm sold 31,250 shares at weighted average prices ranging from $703 to $726.200 in transactions that took place on Aug. 2, according to the filing from Wednesday, Reuters reported.

2:26 P.M.

Pegasus row: Allegations of snooping, if correct, are serious, says SC

Allegations of Pegasus related snooping are "serious in nature" if reports on them are correct, the Supreme Court said on Thursday and asked the petitioners seeking probe into the Israeli spyware matter whether they have made any efforts to file criminal complaint on this.

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware. Editors Guild of India has sought in its plea that a special investigation team be set up to conduct probe into the reported surveillance of journalists and others, PTI reported.

2:16 P.M.

realme becomes the fastest brand to ship 100 million smartphones

realme became the fastest global smartphone brand to reach the milestone of shipping 100 million smartphones in just three years, according to Strategy Analytics, a market research consultancy. It is also the fastest growing major smartphone brand globally in Q2 2021 growing 149% from the same period in the previous year, as data from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) showed.

realme also became the fastest brand to reach 50 million smartphone shipments in India as per Counterpoint . It is quite aggressive with its 5G push and led the market in 5G smartphone shipments, capturing more than 22% share in Q2 2021 in India as per Counterpoint.

2:00 P.M.

P. Chidambaram takes dig at govt over fuel prices

Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Thursday took a dig at the government over fuel prices, asking whether there was no change in them in the last 19 days as Parliament was in session or chiefs of oil marketing companies "cannot talk to each other because their phones are infiltrated by Pegasus spyware".

Petrol prices have crossed Rs 100-a-litre mark in several cities with the Opposition protesting the high fuel prices, PTI reported.

1:54 P.M.

Continued closure of malls in Maharashtra a big blow to business, employment: RAI

Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Thursday said that the continued closure of malls in Maharashtra due to COVID-19 pandemic is a big blow to business and lakhs of people working there.

Stating that malls in Maharashtra generate a business of around Rs 40,000 crore and contribute Rs 4,000 crore in GST, per month, RAI said the prolonged closures are impacting more than 2 lakh people employed in about 50 malls in the state.

The retailers' body claimed there is a misconception that being air-conditioned spaces, malls could exacerbate the pandemic situation and "there is no medical guideline or evidence that prohibits the use of air conditioners in view of the virus", PTI reported.

1:45 P.M.

First Taiwan Arms Sale in Biden Administration Is Approved

The Biden administration has approved its first arms sale to the island democracy of Taiwan, a potential $750 million deal, amid rising tensions with China, Bloomberg reported.

It calls for selling Taiwan 40 new M109 self-propelled howitzers and almost 1,700 kits to convert projectiles into more precise GPS-guided munitions, according to a State Department notification to Congress on Wednesday.

1:42 P.M.

World food prices fall for second month in July

World food prices eased for a second month in a row in July, reflecting declines for cereals, vegetable oils and dairy products, but remained up nearly a third over the past year, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 123.0 points last month compared with 124.6 in June, Reuters reported.

1:35 P.M.

APAC commercial property investment back to pre-COVID volumes

Property consultancy CBRE said on Thursday the volume of investments in commercial real estate in Asia Pacific leapt 99% to $41 billion in the second quarter from a year ago, returning to pre-pandemic levels, led by big-ticket transactions.

India posted the largest growth at 354%, followed by Hong Kong and Australia, which rose 270% and 196%, respectively. Mainland China increased 117%, Reuters reported.

1:30 P.M.

Lufthansa Sees Long-Haul Recovery After $1.1 Billion Loss

Deutsche Lufthansa AG is expecting long-haul travel to finally pick up this year alongside loosening Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine take up after a second-quarter loss of $1.13 billion, Bloomberg reported.

North America could open up from late summer with Asia following from the end of the year, the company said in a Thursday statement.

1:23 P.M.

Asian markets hit as Delta, US data and China trump recovery hope

Asian markets mostly fell Thursday following a tepid Wall Street lead as traders contemplated mixed US data, concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant and indications that the Federal Reserve could begin winding back its ultra-loose monetary policy by the end of the year, AFP reported.

Hong Kong led the losses after a report in China's state-backed Securities Times said the government should end tax breaks for gaming companies as they have grown into global firms. There were also losses in Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Bangkok.

The key headache now is the highly transmissible Delta strain, which is forcing some governments to reimpose lockdowns or other containment measures, blurring the economic outlook.


12:45 P.M.

Adidas raises outlook despite fall in China sales

Sportswear giant Adidas raised its sales and profit outlook for the year after demand rose in most parts of the world, Reuters reported. The company hiked the outlook despite fall in sales in China where western brands faced a boycott in March over statements that they would not source cotton from Xinjang after reports of human abuse against Uyghur Muslims.

The Germany-based firm said its confidence was underlined by the planned launch of its new versions of NMD sneakers, Olympics and the start of the club soccer season in Europe.

Adidas's second-quarter sales surged 52% and operating profit came in at 543 million euros, beating analysts' average estimates. It now expects 2021 sales to grow up to 20%, and net income from continuing operations to reach 1.4-1.5 billion euros, up from a previous 1.25-1.45 billion.

12:15 P.M.

Indonesia exits recession, dark clouds on recovery as COVID infections rise

Indonesia has pulled out of recession in the second quarter after the country reported its strongest annual growth rate in a decade, Reuters reported. Indonesia grew 7.07% in the quarter ended June as compared with the same quarter previous year.

Last year, Indonesia's GDP shrank for the first time since 1998, by 2.1% due to COVID.

While South Asia's largest economy posted its first expansion in five quarters, analysts noted that Indonesia's economic recovery will suffer a setback as COVID-19 cases rose in June, driven by the spread of the Delta variant. Post which, authorities imposed a new round of restrictions since early July.

"This inevitably will adversely impact the recovery progress," Bank Mandiri's economist Faisal Rachman told Reuters.

11:45 A.M.

Zerodha co-founder's True Beacon launches new fund focused on equity, tax-free bonds

Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath's Asset management firm True Beacon launched a new alternative investment fund, which will invest in equity and tax-free bonds, PTI reported.

This is company's second fund after GIFT City's global hedge fund which is launched to cater to international investors.

The new fund, a Category III AIF True Beacon Two, is a multi-asset fund that will consists of dynamic equity and a tax-free fixed income component, Kamath told PTI.

"The ideal split will be 65:35 -- 65 per cent to equity and 35 per cent to tax free bonds on an average over the long term. Tax-free bonds are the safest asset class in India. These instruments are very safe and stable."

The fund plans to invest in the country's largest 200 companies to capture value appreciation combined with a sovereign-backed debt component to hedge against inflation and volatility.

"We are aiming to deliver an annual return of 9-10 per cent to investors through the new fund," Kamath said.

11:15 A.M.

Tencent's WeChat resumes new user registrations in mainland China

Tencent Holdings' WeChat has allowed new users to register on its platform after suspending the service last month to upgrade its security technology, Reuters reported. Tencent confirmed the resumption to Reuters but declined to provide further comment.

The company said it was upgrading WeChat to "align with relevant laws and regulations". China is ramping privacy and data security policy in the country. It is set to introduce a Personal Information Protection Law under which tech platforms will be required to impose stricter measures to ensure secure storage of user data.

11:00 A.M.

Vodafone Idea tanks 24% after Birla steps down as chairman

Shares of Vodafone tanked as much as 24% after Kumar Mangalam Birla stepped down as non-executive director and non-executive chairman of the board. Himanshu Kapania will take over as the non-executive chairman, Reuters reported.

Vodafone's shares hit their lowest since May 15, 2020 at session low. The company has lost subscribers to rivals Airtel and Jio in the recent years and the woes compounded when Supreme Court rejected a plea by mobile carriers seeking re-evaluation of dues owed for the use of airwaves and license fees.

9:45 A.M

Sensex, Nifty open higher

The Indian benchmark equity indices opened higher on Thursday. The BSE Sensex opened 0.38% higher while Nifty was up 0.19%. Sensex opened at 54,576.64 points and Nifty at 16,288.95 points, continuing their gains after opening at record high levels the previous day. The gains were led by pharma and IT stocks.

9:30 A.M.

ED warns Flipakart, founders with $1.35 billion fine

The Enforcement Directorate has sent a show-cause notice to Flipkart and its founders for allegedly violating foreign investment laws, Reuters reported.

The financial-crime agency official told Reuters the case concerned an investigation into allegations that Flipkart attracted foreign investment and a related party, WS Retail, then sold goods to consumers on its shopping website, which was prohibited under law.

The notice was issued in early July to Flipkart's founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal and current investor Tiger Global, asking them to explain why they should not face a fine of 100 billion rupees ($1.35 billion) for the lapses.

A Flipkart spokesperson said the company is "in compliance with Indian laws and regulations". "We will cooperate with the authorities as they look at this issue pertaining to the period 2009-2015 as per their notice," the spokesperson added.

9:15 A.M.

Asian stocks hold gains despite hawkish remarks from fed official

Asian shares retained recent gains on Thursday despite hawkish comments from senior official at the US federal reserve, Reuters reported. The remarks strengthened dollar as it weighed on risk appetite and uncertainty about Chinese policy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-pacific shares outside Japan surged 0.22% while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.32%. Australia soared 0.18% and Hong Kong gained 0.45% while Chinese blue chips plunged 0.28%.

9:00 A.M.

Kumar Mangalam Birla steps down as Vodafone Idea chairman

Telecom Major Vodafone Idea said on Wednesday that Kumar Mangalam Birla will step down as the chairman of Vodafone Idea Ltd, PTI reported. Birla had offered to hand over his stake to the government to keep the firm afloat.

In a filing to the stock exchanges, VIL noted that Birla will cease to be a director and non-executive chairman of the company at the end of business hours on Wednesday and will be replaced by Himanshu Kapania as the new chairman. However, the company did not give any reason for his exit.

"The Board of Directors of Vodafone Idea, at its meeting held today, have accepted the request of Kumar Mangalam Birla to step down as Non-Executive Director and Non Executive Chairman of the Board with effect from close of business hours on 4 August, 2021," VIL said in a BSE filing on Wednesday.

"Consequently, the board has "unanimously elected" Himanshu Kapania, currently a non-executive director and a nominee of the Aditya Birla Group, as the non-executive chairman."

8:50 A.M.

Oil prices rise on tensions in the Middle East

Oil prices rose on Thursday due to tensions in the Middle East coupled with build in crude stockpiles in world's top oil consumer, the United States, Reuters reported.

Brent crude oil future increased 0.2% to $70.52 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose 0.3% to $68.33 a barrel. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note it expects the Brent oil prices to rise to $85 a barrel by the fourth quarter as oil demand outpaces supply growth.

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