Today's top business news: Apple joins Fido Alliance; Mobile World Conference 2020 canceled; Satya Nadella to visit India and more

The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance was formed in July 2012 to address the lack of interoperability among strong authentication technologies, and remedy the problems users face with creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords

The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance was formed in July 2012 to address the lack of interoperability among strong authentication technologies, and remedy the problems users face with creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

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

4:50 PM

Apple joins Fido Alliance, commits to eliminate passwords

Today's top business news: Apple joins Fido Alliance; Mobile World Conference 2020 canceled; Satya Nadella to visit India and more

Apple has signed up as a board member of the Fido Alliance, an organisation committed to eliminating the need for passwords.

The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance was formed in July 2012 to address the lack of interoperability among strong authentication technologies, and remedy the problems users face with creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords.

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4:25 PM

Indian shares end lower on inflation, industrial output worries

A view of the BSE building in Mumbai. File

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


Indian shares snapped two days of gains and ended lower on Thursday due to concerns related to growth after data showed a surprise drop in industrial output for December and a rise in January inflation to a six-year high.

Annual retail inflation in Asia's third-largest economy rose to 7.59% in January, while December industrial output contracted 0.3%, after rising for the first time in three months in November.

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4:00 PM

Pernod Ricard cuts annual profit growth forecast due to China virus

China is Pernod's second largest market after the United States, accounting for around 10% of sales, and the company has been banking on China's growing middle class and younger generation to further boost sales.

China is Pernod's second largest market after the United States, accounting for around 10% of sales, and the company has been banking on China's growing middle class and younger generation to further boost sales.   | Photo Credit: Reuters


World's second-biggest spirits group is now targeting an organic rise of between 2% and 4% in profit from recurring operations for the year to June 30, 2019. That compares to a previous forecast for 5%-7% growth.

Lost sales in China, which according to credit rating agency Moody's consumes 26% of global alcoholic beverage volumes, and from the Asia travel retail market could cut 2% off Pernod's 2020 sales and 3% from its profit from recurring operations.

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3:30 PM

Hong Kong property developers cut retail rents in Feb amid virus battle

Picture used for representational purpose only.

Picture used for representational purpose only.  


The city's largest property developer by value, Sun Hung Kai Properties, which owns major district malls that host international fashion brands ranging from Coach to Zara , said on Wednesday it would reduce February rent by 30% to 50% for most of its tenants.

Separately, Sun Hung Kai Properties said home sales and hotel occupancy rates have been affected by the epidemic.

Hong Kong's economy contracted for the first time in a decade in 2019 and the worst yet to come, with no end in sight to the protests in the Chinese-ruled city and the virus outbreak in mainland China.

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3:00 PM

Satya Nadella to visit India later this month: sources

Satya Nadella is also likely to meet senior Indian industry leaders during his visit, the sources said

Satya Nadella is also likely to meet senior Indian industry leaders during his visit, the sources said   | Photo Credit: REUTERS


Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is planning to visit India later this month, multiple sources familiar with the plans told Reuters, a test for the Indian-born head who recently criticised Indian immigration policy.

Nadella is planning to be in India between February 24 and February 26 and will likely visit New Delhi, tech hub Bengaluru and the financial capital of Mumbai, two people familiar with the plans said.

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2:30 PM

Mobile World Congress 2020 cancelled

Today's top business news: Apple joins Fido Alliance; Mobile World Conference 2020 canceled; Satya Nadella to visit India and more

Global telecom industry body GSM Association on Thursday said it has decided to cancel the 2020 edition of the sector’s largest event Mobile World Congress due to health safety concerns around novel coronavirus outbreak.

The industry body has been organising the event annually since 2006 in Barcelona, Spain, where governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem discuss developments in technology sector with telecom as a common thread.

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2:00 PM

Tesla seeks approval to build longer range Model 3s in China

File photo of Telsa company logo

File photo of Telsa company logo   | Photo Credit: AP


Tesla Inc is seeking approval from Chinese regulators to offer a new China-made Model 3 variant, a government document shows, Reuters reported.

Like the current China-made Model 3, which has a standard driving range of more than 400 kilometres, it would be a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the source said, who was not authorised to talk about the matter and declined to be identified.

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1:30 PM

China arrests former China Development Bank chairman

Firmer China Development Bank chairman Hu Huaibang has been arrested for suspected serious violations of discipline, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Thursday.

Hu had been with the policy bank since 2013 and was also the top official of the ruling Communist Party at the bank.

He stepped down last September amid corruption allegations and has been investigated by country's graft-busting agency since late July. Hu was expelled from the Communist Party for serious violations of discipline in January. Reuters

1:15 PM

Royalties included in mining law to limit growth potential of iron ore industry: Fitch

Although the MMDR law will support iron ore output growth, the royalties included in the Act will limit the overall growth potential of the sector, Fitch Solutions said.

The government last month promulgated an ordinance for amendment in the MMDR Act 1957 and the CMSP (Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015, a move aimed at enhancing the ease of doing business, among others.

Although the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) MMDR Act will support ore output growth, the royalties included in the Act will limit the sector’s overall growth potential, Fitch Solutions said in a statement.

“As part of India’s 2016 Union Budget, export duties for iron ore lumps and fines below 58 per cent Fe content were reduced to nil from 30 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. This reduction was aimed at boosting shipments from the western state of Goa where the Supreme Court lifted an earlier iron ore mining ban,” the rating agency said.

However, the decision by the apex court to cancel all iron ore permits in Goa in February 2018 will mean that production from that state is likely to head lower rather than increase, it said.

“As a result, we forecast India’s iron ore output to grow from 219 mnt (million tonne) in 2020 to 243 mnt in 2029. This represents an average annual growth of 0.6 per cent during 2020-2029, greater than the 1.9 per cent Y-o-Y growth witnessed over 2010-2019,” it said. PTI

1:00 PM

China's Hubei province asks firms not to resume work until Feb 21

China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the country's coronavirus outbreak, said on Thursday it would extend a work suspension and asked all enterprises not to reopen before the end of Feb. 20.

The local government made the announcement in a statement on its website. Reuters

12:45 PM

Tunnel works worth over Rs 1 lakh crore to be undertaken in next five years: Gadkari

Union minister Nitin Gadkari has said that works worth over Rs 1 lakh crore will be undertaken for tunnels at strategic locations in the next five years to ensure all-weather connectivity.

Also, the minister said, competent players, whether small or big, need to be given opportunity and there is a need to relax parameters including technical and financial qualifications for bidders.

“There is a need for tunnels in the country, especially at the strategic locations, to provide all-weather connectivity. In the next five years, we will undertake work worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore for tunnels,” the road transport and highways minister said.

Gadkari said this after holding a round-table discussion with senior officials, stakeholders and industry players during a workshop on ‘Underground Construction and Tunnelling’ by Assocham and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.

He said the need of the hour is to reduce cost and improve quality and added that departments cannot function in silos and need to work in a comprehensive manner. PTI

12:30 PM

Credit Suisse posts best profit since 2010 in Thiam swan song

Credit Suisse posted a 69% rise in annual net profit on Thursday in a bittersweet swan song for outgoing Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam.

Thiam quit after a spying scandal at the bank sparked a boardroom revolt and will leave formally on Friday. He will be replaced by company veteran Thomas Gottstein.

Gottstein said the group remained committed to its strategy and previously announced targets.

Net income rose to 3.419 billion Swiss francs ($3.50 billion) for the year. Analysts had on average expected Credit Suisse to generate 3.5 billion francs, according to a consensus of 13 analysts compiled by the bank.

Thiam spent much of his four and a half years at Credit Suisse trying to put the lender on a more stable footing -- slashing costs and exiting riskier and more capital-intensive investment banking activities.

But his legacy will be defined by the spying controversy which saw Credit Suisse, one of the most high-profile names in European banking, admit to snooping on two former executives. The bank blamed the espionage on a rogue operation run by one of Thiam's closest lieutenants. Credit Suisse and Thiam have said the CEO knew nothing of the activities.

Even with the restructuring undertaken by Thiam, Credit Suisse is facing a tough operating environment with more competitors now focusing on wealth management, ultra-low interest rates and the threat from passive investing. Reuters

12:15 PM

Mahindra EPC Irrigation shares to be listed on NSE on Friday

Mahindra EPC Irrigation on Thursday announced that the National Stock Exchange has approved its application for the listing of shares.

The company, it said, has made an application for listing of equity shares on the NSE.

“We would like to further inform that the National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) has approved our application for listing and the date of listing of our equity shares would be February 14, 2020,” the company said in a filing to the BSE.

The trading of the shares at NSE may follow soon thereafter, the filing said.

On the BSE, the shares were trading at Rs 153.00 apiece in the morning trade, up 4.01 per cent from their previous close. PTI

12:00 PM

Yes Bank delays quarterly results; shares up amid fresh fund raise talks

Troubled Indian lender Yes Bank Ltd said it will delay disclosing its October-December earnings by at least a month, and that it was in talks with potential investors for a cash infusion, sending its shares up almost 6% in Thursday trade.

Yes Bank, in a regulatory filing late on Wednesday, said it had received non-binding expressions of interest from JC Flowers, Tilden Park Capital Management, OHA (UK) and Silver Point Capital.

“Given that the current capital raising process has the bank's fullest attention, it would like to inform the exchanges that it will publish its unaudited financial results for the quarter and nine month period ending Dec. 31, 2019 on or before March 14, 2020,” the bank said in the filing.

The earnings delay comes as the bank fends off criticism of its corporate governance levelled by a former board member. It is also contending with a rise in bad loans and, for two quarters, has been trying to raise $2 billion in fresh capital.

Yes Bank, whose shares have slumped more than 85% in the last 10 months, recently appointed global investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald headed by former Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Anshu Jain to ramp up its effort to raise capital.

Last month, Yes Bank said it had rejected a $1.2 billion investment offer from Canadian investor Erwin Singh Braich and Hong Kong-based SPGP Holdings - an offer about which many analysts expressed doubt. Reuters

11:45 AM

Yuan drops after virus death toll hit like “ton of bricks”

China's yuan slid against the dollar on Thursday after a record daily rise in deaths in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, fuelled concerns over the threat of a global pandemic.

The number of deaths rose by 242 to stand at 1,310 in the province by Wednesday, provincial health officials said on their website, sparking a sell-off in offshore yuan to a low of 6.9910 before onshore trade began. Both markets later recouped some losses after the authorities clarified that the jump was due to a new methodology for diagnosis.

“The Hubei coronavirus update headline had initially hit like a ton of bricks given this is one of the market's biggest fears,” said Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp. By midday, onshore spot yuan changed hands at 6.9804, some 86 pips weaker than the previous late session close.

Several traders said the numbers of newly confirmed cases and deaths were beyond market expectations, as many investors had thought the situation was starting to stabilise. Reuters

11:30 AM

Gold gains as surge in virus cases dents risk-taking

Gold rose on Thursday as a surge in the number of new coronavirus cases in China dashed hopes that the epidemic was slowing and drove investors to safe-haven assets.

Spot gold was up 0.4% to $1,571.70 per ounce as of 0312 GMT. U.S. gold futures gained 0.2% to $1,574.90.

“The unfortunate increase in number of cases in the Hubei province, which is ground zero... has affected risk-on sentiment,” said John Sharma, an economist at National Australia Bank.

Hubei reported 242 new deaths and confirmed 14,840 new cases as of Wednesday, a dramatic rise from the 2,015 new cases a day earlier after China began using a new clinical method for diagnosis.

The fastest rise in the daily death count since the outbreak weighed on Asian equities, but lifted the safe-haven yen from a three-week low against the U.S. dollar.

However, gold's rise was slow as the U.S. dollar was hovering close to a more than four-month high scaled against key rivals in the previous session.

“It is more of a situation of capping gold's gain than having a major negative impact. With higher dollar index, the scope for gold to go much higher is limited,” NAB's Sharma said.

Amid slowing global economic growth, negative Treasury yields and easing monetary policy around the world, investors are now looking for any information regarding the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic. Reuters

11:15 AM

Fed Chair Powell: 'no reason' rising wages, job gains can't continue

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday reiterated his confidence in the U.S. economic outlook, even as he said he expected some drag “soon” from China's new coronavirus epidemic and called out the threat from income inequality and an expanding federal debt.

“Theres no reason why the current situation of low unemployment, rising wages, high job creation - theres no reason why it cant go on,” Powell told the Senate Banking Committee in his second day of congressional testimony.

The record-long U.S. economic expansion is now in its 11th year. U.S. wages are now growing at about a 3% annual pace, the unemployment rate is 3.6%, and job growth has more than kept up with an increase in the workforce.

“There is nothing about this economy that is out of kilter or imbalanced,” Powell said.

His remarks underscored the central bank's view that its current target range for short-term borrowing costs, between 1.5% and 1.75%, is the right setting to keep the expansion on track. Reuters

11:00 AM

China's central bank sells 30 billion yuan of bills offshore

China's central bank said on Thursday it had issued 30 billion yuan ($4.30 billion) of offshore bills in Hong Kong.

The People's Bank of China priced a 20 billion yuan three-month tranche at a coupon of 2.55%, and sold another 10 billion yuan of one-year bills at 2.60%, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said in a statement on Feb. 13.

The offshore yuan was 0.11% weaker at 6.9834 per dollar at 0453 GMT. Reuters

10:45 AM

Interest in private jets surges as coronavirus keeps airlines away from China

A drop in airline flights from China and Hong Kong due to the coronavirus is increasing demand for private jets as wealthy passengers try to get out, executives say, but travel bans and nervous crew have kept that from translating to more business.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 1,300 people in China, has led premium Asian airlines like Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd to drastically cuts their flight schedules.

UK-based consultancy Ascend by Cirium said the number of flights scheduled to operate to, from and within China had dropped by 34% from Jan. 23 through Feb. 11.

Those cuts have left stranded passengers to rely on government-led evacuations. For those who can afford it, there are private jet charters carrying smaller groups and promising less risk of exposure to the virus, executives said.

Strict quarantine requirements, travel bans on Chinese citizens and concerns for crew safety have left only a limited pool of private jet operators willing to fly to China compared with the situation during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003, operators said.

“While we are receiving an uptick in inquiries, it has not amounted to more flights,” said Patrick Gallagher, president sales and marketing for Berkshire Hathaway Inc's NetJets. Reuters

10:30 AM

Japan's lower house approves reflationist Adachi to join BOJ board

Japan's lower house on Thursday approved Seiji Adachi, an economist known as a proponent of massive monetary stimulus, to join the central bank's nine-member policy board, paving the way for parliament approval of the government nominee.

Adachi, a 54-year-old economist at Marusan Securities, would replace Yutaka Harada, a reflationist-minded board member whose five-year term expires on March 25.

Adachi's addition is unlikely to tip the balance of the board, which is split between those who see room for additional easing and others who are worried about the cost of prolonged low-rate policy such as a hit to bank profits.

The nomination, which needs approval from both chambers, is likely to sail through the upper house on Friday, given the ruling coalition's solid majority in both houses of parliament.

Adachi's policy-meeting debut will be on April 27-28, when the Bank of Japan will issue a quarterly report of its long-term economic and price projections.

Adachi is close to Koichi Hamada, an economic adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who backed BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's aggressive stimulus adopted in 2013 to beat deflation.

Under a policy dubbed yield curve control, the BOJ now guides short-term rates at -0.1% and the 10-year government bond yield around 0%. It also buys government bonds and risky assets such as exchange-traded funds to reflate the economy.

Many market players expect the BOJ to stand pat on monetary policy for the foreseeable future to support a fragile economy. Reuters

10:15 AM

Rupee slips 9 paise to 71.42 against US dollar in early trade

The rupee opened on a weak note and declined by 9 paise to 71.42 against the US dollar in opening trade on Thursday, after weak macro-economic data disappointed market participants.

Forex traders said disappointing macro economic numbers weighed on the local unit.

Government data on Wednesday showed that industrial output contracted by 0.3 per cent in December, while retail inflation jumped to a 68-month high of 7.59 per cent in January on high food prices.

The rupee opened weak at 71.35 at the interbank forex market and then fell further to 71.42, down 9 paise over its last close.

The rupee had settled at 71.33 against the US dollar on Wednesday.

Market participants further said that factors like weak opening in domestic equities and rising crude oil prices weighed on the local unit, while weakening of the American currency supported the local unit to some extent.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.14 per cent to USD 55.87 per barrel.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net buyers in the capital markets, as they purchased shares worth Rs 48.81 crore on Wednesday as per provisional data.

Domestic bourses opened on a cautious note Thursday with benchmark indices Sensex trading 144.79 points down at 41,421.19 and Nifty down 32.40 points at 12,168.80.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, fell by 0.04 per cent to 99.01.

The 10-year government bond yield was at 6.46 per cent in morning trade. PTI

10:00 AM

Sensex, Nifty open in the red on dismal macro data

Equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty slipped into the negative zone in opening deals on Thursday, weighed down by disappointing macroeconomic data.

The BSE gauge Sensex was trading lower by 51.28 points or 0.12 per cent at 41,514.62 in early trade; while the NSE barometer Nifty was down 16.55 points or 0.14 per cent at 12,184.65.

Both key indices were in the red primarily due to emergence of selling in financial and auto stocks.

Hurting market sentiment, government data on Wednesday showed that industrial output contracted by 0.3 per cent in December while retail inflation jumped to a 68-month high of 7.59 per cent in January on high food prices.

Ahead of the release of IIP and inflation data, the Sensex had settled 349.76 points, or 0.85 per cent, higher at 41,565.90; and the Nifty had clocked 93.30 points, or 0.77 per cent, gains to settle at 12,201.20 on Wednesday.

Provisional data showed that foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 48.81 crore on a net basis on Wednesday.

The Indian rupee was trading lower by 8 paise at 71.41 gainst the US dollar in opening deals on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Asian stocks were trading mixed as coronavirus concerns continued to impact investor sentiment globally.

The number of fatalities and new cases from China’s coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with over 200 more deaths and thousands of new patients. PTI

9:45 AM

OPEC chops global oil demand growth forecast over coronavirus

The OPEC oil cartel on Wednesday lowered its forecast for growth in global oil demand this year by nearly a fifth due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

In its monthly report on the world’s oil market, OPEC said it now expects growth in global oil demand of 0.99 million barrels per day (mbd) this year, down from the 1.22 mbd forecast last month.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus in China during the first half of 2020 is the major factor behind this downward revision,” OPEC said. Read more

9:30 AM

Jump in new coronavirus cases stymies stock rally

Asian stock markets wobbled on Thursday while safe-havens such as the yen, gold and bonds rose as the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the outbreak's epicentre jumped.

China's Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated, reported 242 new deaths, double the previous day's toll, and confirmed 14,840 new cases on Feb. 12.

The rise in the number of cases, which came as officials adopted a new methodology for counting infections, is a sevenfold increase from a day earlier.

It was not immediately clear how the new methods affected the results, nor why the death toll rose so sharply, but it seemed to dash hopes that the virus' spread might be slowing.

E-mini S&P 500 futures turned from positive to fall 0.3% . Dow Jones futures fell by the same margin, suggesting a pause in Wall Street's strong rally.

Ten-year U.S. Treasuries fell about 3 basis points to 1.607% , the yen strengthened past 110 per dollar and a rally in Asian currencies against the dollar halted.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was steady in morning trade but the news knocked the week's momentum from stock markets.

“The slowdown (in cases) was the key driver of the rally in growth-exposed assets,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“A lot of people leapt to the conclusion that we might have seen a peak...the reversal of what appeared to be good news is enough to have people scrambling for the exits.”

Japan's Nikkei was flat while Australia's ASX/S&P 200 index retreated from a record high. The Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong's Hang Seng wavered either side of unchanged.

Gold rose 0.3% to $1570.12 per ounce. Reuters

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:54:28 PM |

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