Today's top business news: SEBI to allow live testing of new products; Fitch ratings on Budget and more

News updates from the world of economy, markets, and finance

4:45 PM

Sebi plans ‘regulatory sandbox’ to allow live testing of new products, services on select customers

With an aim to facilitate use of latest fintech innovations in capital markets, regulator Sebi is planning to allow live testing of new products, services and business models for selected customers by providing various relaxations and exemptions.

Initially, all Sebi-registered entities will be eligible to participate in such a ‘regulatory sandbox’ (a live testing environment), while fintech startups and other entities that are not regulated by Sebi may also be allowed at a later stage, but no exemptions would be granted from the existing investor protection framework, KYC and anti-money laundering rules, officials said.

A proposal in this regard will be discussed by Sebi’s board later this month, the officials added.

The proposed ‘regulatory sandbox’ is intended to serve as a testing ground for new business models and technologies that benefit investors, Indian markets and the economy at large.

Under this framework, the eligible entities would be granted certain facilities and flexibilities to experiment with fintech solutions in a live environment and on real customers, while ensuring that there are necessary safeguards for investor protection and risk mitigation. PTI

4:00 PM

Sensex rallies 353 pts; Nifty reclaims 12000

Extending its gains for the third consecutive session, market benchmark Sensex rallied 353 points on Wednesday as reports of a breakthrough in coronavirus treatment enthused global investors.

Domestic participants also cheered improving business sentiment after a survey said India’s services sector activity surged to a seven-year high in January.

The 30-share BSE Sensex settled 353.28 points, or 0.87 per cent, higher at 41,142.66. It hit an intra-day high of 41,154.66.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty rose 109.50 points, or 0.91 per cent, to 12,089.15.

Tata Steel was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rallying 5.14 per cent, followed by Bharti Airtel, HDFC, TCS, L&T, SBI and Reliance Industries.

On the other hand, Hero MotoCorp was the top laggard, shedding 3.83 per cent. PowerGrid, Maruti, Asian Paints and Nestle India too ended with losses.

According to experts, reports of a significant breakthrough in coronavirus treatment research has boosted global stocks. PTI

3:40 PM

Confident of meeting Rs 11.7 lakh cr tax collection target in FY20: CBDT chief

The tax department is “reasonably confident” of meeting the revised direct tax collection of Rs 11.7 lakh crore in current fiscal, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman P C Mody said the department is doing data mining and using artificial intelligence to augment revenue, and will not undertake any coercive action.

Whatever estimates have now been given, I think there is absolute realism to that... I am reasonably confident that we will be able to meet this year’s target, Mody said at a CII post-budget interaction here.

He said tax collection so far has been fairly good and, historically, tax collections are highest in the last quarter of fiscal.

Of the total direct tax collection for 2019-20, estimated income tax collection stands at Rs 5.59 lakh crore and corporate tax mop at Rs 6.10 lakh crore. PTI

3:20 PM

Tesla will delay February delivery of some made-in-China Model 3 cars-senior exec

Tesla Inc will temporarily delay their planned early-February delivery of some made-in-China Model 3 cars due to the coronavirus outbreak, a senior executive at the automaker said.

The company plans to restart production at its Shanghai plant on February 10, the executive said. Reuters

3:00 PM

Stocks jump on media reports of drug breakthroughs for coronavirus - traders

European stocks jumped sharply on reports that a Chinese university found a drug to treat people with the new coronavirus and researchers in the UK saying they made a “significant breakthrough” in finding a vaccine, several London-based traders said.

A scientist leading UK's research into a coronavirus vaccine told Sky news that his team have made a ”significant breakthrough” by reducing a part of the normal development time from two to three years to just 14 days.

Meanwhile, traders also cited a Chinese TV report that a research team at Zhejiang University has found an effective drug to treat people with the new coronavirus sharp for a rise in stocks. Reuters

2:40 PM

MG Motor India lines up 14 global models,  including Marvel X

MG Motor India, which is participating in the Auto Expo for the first time, has showcased a line up of 14 global models at the event, including Marvel X — world’s first mass produced autonomous car.

Marvel X comes with integrated internet, electric, and autonomous capabilities. “Its augmented reality (AR) maps, for instance, make navigation more precise and visual – allowing the vehicle to autonomously find a parking bay and park itself,” the company said.

Read more
 

2:20 PM

Russia’s Rosneft keen to bid for BPCL

Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft is keen to bid for acquisition of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), sources said after the Russian firm’s CEO Igor Sechin met Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday.

Rosneft, which is the majority owner of India’s second-biggest private oil refinery, is keen to expand in the world’s third-largest and the fastest-growing energy market.

Sechin first met Pradhan over breakfast, and then in delegation-level talks expressed interest in bidding for the acquisition of government stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), officials privy to the discussions said.

The government is selling all of its 53 per cent stake in BPCL in the country’s biggest privatisation plan.

Officials said national oil companies from the Middle East, such as Aramco of Saudi Arabia and ADNOC of UAE, have also been primed for bidding for BPCL. PTI

2:00 PM

China stocks rise on policy hopes; start-ups lead

China stocks climbed on Wednesday as investors bet on further policy support from Beijing to offset the impact of a fast-spreading new coronavirus, with start-ups leading the gains.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.3% at 2,818.09, moving further away from a one-year bottom hit during Monday's selloff. The blue-chip CSI300 index gained 1.1%.

** CSI300's financial sector sub-index was higher by 0.3%, the consumer staples sector rose 1.4%, the real estate index was up 0.4% and healthcare shares rallied 3.3%.

** The smaller Shenzhen index rose 2.5%, while the tech-heavy start-up board index ChiNextP rallied as much as 4.4% before closing 3% higher - trading at levels last seen before the Lunar New Year holiday.

** Among best performers in the index were Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics and battery maker CATL . Both surged by their 10% daily limits.

** Strong gains in China's start-up board companies boosted broader market sentiment, said Zhang Gang, an analyst with China Central Securities.

** Reuters reported on Tuesday Chinese policymakers are readying measures to support an economy jolted by a coronavirus outbreak that is expected to have a devastating impact on first-quarter growth.

** China's central bank said on Tuesday that its huge liquidity injections through open market operations this week showed its determination to restore market confidence. Reuters

1:30 PM

GWM commits $1 billion investment in India

China’s largest SUV manufacturer Great Wall Motors (GWM) on Wednesday said it will invest USD 1 billion in the Indian market in a phased manner.

The USD 1 billion (about Rs 7,100 crore) investment will be made in areas like research and development, manufacturing, sales and marketing, GWM Marketing and Sales Director (India) Harpreet Singh Brar said at the Auto Expo here.

The company also intends to use manufacturing capabilities in India to export to other countries, he added.

GWM has a research facility in Bengaluru.

Recently, it also inked an agreement to acquire General Motor India’s Talegaon facility. PTI

1:15 PM

China February copper output to fall more than 15% on virus woes

China's copper smelters will reduce output by more than 15% in February from last month due to the coronavirus outbreak, said Antaike, the research arm of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

Base metal prices slumped last week as the number of coronavirus deaths and infections rose, spurring fears the outbreak will reduce economic activity and metals demand in China, the world's biggest copper consumer.

The death toll in China rose to 490 on Wednesday.

Weak downstream demand, high inventories of copper byproduct sulphuric acid and logistical problems mean it is “inevitable” there will be some reduction in output this month, Antaike said in a note late on Tuesday, adding that its estimate of more than 15% was “conservative” and March output may also be affected.

Antaike did not provide a tonnage figure for January production but China's December refined copper output came in at a record monthly high of 930,000 tones, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“It is currently known that some ports have been temporarily closed,” Antaike said. “And it remains to be seen whether the epidemic will affect the subsequent import of copper concentrate into the ports,” it added, referring to the partially processed copper ore used to make refined metal.

Downstream, copper-processing firms in southern and eastern China have postponed their return to work until Feb. 10 but some Chinese firms will not restart until after Feb. 15, Antaike said, after several regions extended the Lunar New Year holiday in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Most scrap copper companies plan to resume work on Feb. 10, it added. Reuters

1:00 PM

Maruti Suzuki India exec says auto industry under pressure due to high acquisition cost, low demand

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd Managing Director & CEO Kenichi Ayukawa:

* says industry under pressure due to high acquisition cost, low demand

* says have stopped production of older emission cars

* says aim to manufacture and sell a million green energy vehicles over the next few years

12:30 PM

Force Motors domestic sales in Jan at 2,349 units

Force Motors Ltd on Wednesday said its domestic sales stood at 2,349 units in January.

The automaker sold 1,667 units of small and light commercial vehicles in January 2020, Force Motors said in a filing to BSE.

Utility vehicles, SUVs and tractor sales stood at 682 units last month, it said.

The company had exported a total of 292 units of vehicles last month. Force Motors shipped 257 units of small and light commercial vehicles in January 2020.

The automaker produced 2,620 units of vehicles last month, the company said. PTI

12:00 PM

Fitch says Budget light on new structural reforms

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget for 2020-21 was light on new structural reforms, Fitch Ratings said on Wednesday adding ?it has not materially altered its forecasts for India’s economic growth to rise to 5.6 per cent in the next fiscal from 4.6 per cent in 2019-20.

“We believe it is highly unlikely the country’s general government debt will be brought within the ceiling of 60 per cent of GDP by FY25, as stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act,” it said.

Fitch projected that the government debt will remain close to 70 per cent of GDP throughout the period to 2021-22.

“India’s high public debt levels are a weakness relative to its rating peers (the BBB median stood at 41.1 per cent in 2019),” it said.

The Union Budget 2020-21 implies a modest degree of slippage from previous targets to consolidate public finances, it said. “However, its contents are consistent with our expectations when we affirmed the country’s sovereign rating at ‘BBB-’/Stable in December 2019.?”

The Budget projects a deficit of 3.5 per cent in 2020-21 and implies a further postponement of the central government’s medium-term fiscal deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP as it prioritises efforts to support economic growth in the context of the ongoing sharp slowdown.

“A slippage of 0.5 per cent of GDP in both FY20 and FY21 relative to the earlier targets is in line with the tendency for deficit outturns to exceed targets in the past few years,” Fitch said.

Sitharaman projected that the deficit would fall from 3.8 per cent of GDP in 2019-20 to 3.5 per cent in 2020-21.

“We believe most assumptions in the budget, such as nominal GDP growth of 10 pr cent and a 9.2 per cent rise in fiscal revenues, are credible,” Fitch said.

“However, risks are likely skewed towards the downside, particularly for revenues in light of previously announced cuts in the corporate income tax rate and newly unveiled income tax rate reductions.”

The tax cuts may stimulate economic activity in the medium term, but their impact on fiscal revenues is likely to be negative in the short term, it said.

“The Budget was light on new structural reforms, although the government had already unveiled some measures last year,” it said.

The finance minister announced some easing of restrictions on foreign portfolio inflows, and schemes to encourage manufacturing in electronics and textile sectors.

“However, we have not materially altered our forecasts for India’s economic growth, which we expect to pick up to 5.6 per cent in FY21 from 4.6 per cent in FY20,” it said. PTI

11:20 AM

Aim to sell one million environment-friendly cars over next few years: Maruti

The country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) on Wednesday said it aims to manufacture and sell another million “green vehicles” in the next couple of years as it accelerates its eco-friendly mobility drive.

Kicking off the Auto Expo here, MSI Managing Director and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said the company has already sold a million green cars, comprising CNG and smart hybrids in the last decade.

Showcasing its concept Futuro-e, an electric SUV, he said the car is being shown for the first time globally here, reflecting the importance of Indian customers in Suzuki’s business.

“Our theme at the Auto Expo 2020 - Mission Green Million - explains our commitment towards bringing affordable and sustainable green technologies for India. We aim to manufacture and sell the next million green vehicles at a much faster pace, over the next couple of years, ” Ayukawa told reporters here.

The next million green vehicles from company will include a range of technologies and power trains such as CNGs, smart hybrids, strong hybrids and electric vehicles, he added.

“We are banking on customers to accept and upgrade to new technology including the electrified powertrain,” he said adding mass acceptance will give original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) desired volumes to bring in localisation benefits to customers.

On the concept Futuro-e, he said, the electric SUV-coupe which is defined by its bold and sporty characteristics has been conceptualised and designed in India by the company.

“The Concept Futuro-e has the potential to redefine next generation SUV design language in India,” Ayukawa added.

Reiterating the company’s commitment to CNG technology, he said, “In the coming times we are committed to expand our CNG portfolio to include many more models.”

At present, eight of the company’s most popular models are offered with CNG option, he added. PTI

11:00 AM

Solid demand lifts India services activity to 7-year high in January

India's dominant service industry began 2020 in a buoyant mood as activity accelerated in January at the fastest pace in seven years on strong domestic demand, a private survey showed on Wednesday.

The results would likely bring some relief for markets and policymakers after only modest spending increases in a recent budget had disappointed investors looking for more robust stimulus to support a stuttering economy.

The Nikkei/IHS Markit Services Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 55.5 in January from December's 53.3. It was the highest reading since January 2013 and above the 50-mark separating growth from contraction for a third straight month.

“The Indian service sector sprung to life at the start of 2020, defying expectations of fragility and building on to the momentum gained at the end of 2019,” Pollyanna De Lima, principal economist at IHS Markit, said in a release.

“With business revenues rising, service providers continued to increase capacity to meet further strong growth in sales. This is good news for jobseekers, particularly when we consider the results from the manufacturing industry which showed the steepest upturn in employment since August 2012.”

A sub-index tracking new business also climbed to its highest since January 2013, encouraging firms to maintain a strong hiring rate.

Yet, not everything was rosy. New export business - a proxy of foreign demand - contracted last month, falling to its lowest since May 2018 on weaker demand from China, the United States and Europe. Pressure could heighten further amid growing global risks from China's coronavirus epidemic which has rapidly spread to other countries and claimed nearly 500 lives, nearly all in mainland China.

Moreover, prices charged by service firms increased at the fastest pace in nearly two years after a sharper rise in input costs forced businesses to transfer some of the inflationary pressure to consumers.

That suggests overall inflation could remain above the Reserve Bank of India's medium-term target of 4%, making it difficult for the central bank to ease monetary policy further.

“One worrying development, however, was the trend for inflation. This may translate into quicker increases in selling prices in months to come, which may curb sales,” De Lima said.

“Firms could also choose to restrict hiring in order to protect profit margins.”

Service providers remained optimistic about growth in the year ahead, although the expectations index remained well below the long-term average.

A sister survey on Monday showed factory activity accelerated at the fastest pace in eight years last month which, along with the strong expansion in services activity, pushed a composite index to 56.3, its highest since January 2013. Reuters

10:40 AM

Hyundai unveils new Tuscon; eyes greater share in premium SUV segment

Hyundai Motor India on Wednesday launched a new version of its premium SUV Tuscon as it looks to bolster its presence in the segment.

Read more

 

10:20 AM

Maruti Suzuki kicks off Auto Expo with Concept FUTURO-e

Country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki on Wednesday kicked off the Auto Expo 2020 with the global premiere of Concept FUTURO-e.

“The India-first preview reflects the importance of Indian customers in Suzuki’s business. Concept FUTURO-e has been conceptualised and designed in India by our young and bright team,” company’s Managing Director Kenichi Ayukawa said.

Read more
 

 

10:00 AM

Sensex rises over 100 points; Nifty reclaims 12K

Market benchmark Sensex jumped over 100 points in opening session on Wednesday tracking gains in index-heavyweights Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank amid firm recovery in global equities.

Read more
 

 

9:40 AM

China virus toll nears 500; cruise ships, Hong Kong flights hit

The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China passed 490 on Wednesday, as two U.S. airlines suspended flights to Hong Kong following the first fatality there and 10 cases were confirmed on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan.

China's National Health Commission said another 65 deaths were reported on Tuesday, a new daily record bringing the toll on the mainland to 490, mostly in and around the locked-down central city of Wuhan where the virus emerged late last year.

Across mainland China, there were 3,887 new confirmed infections, bringing the total accumulated number to 24,324.

Ten people on a cruise liner under quarantine at the Japanese port of Yokohama tested positive for coronavirus, Japan's health minister said, a figure that could rise as medical screening of thousands of patients and crew continued.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the flu-like virus a global emergency and experts say much is still unknown, including its exact mortality rate and transmission routes. Reuters

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 7:47:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/businesslive-05-feb-2020/article30740164.ece

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