Today's top business news: SC order to telecom firms on AGR dues; Microsoft's Pentagon project blocked temporarily; WPI inflation rises and more

The telecom department has withdrawn its order that asked for no coercive action against telecom companies defaulting on statutory dues payment after the Supreme Court on Friday took a strong view of non-compliance with its order.  

4:50 PM

DoT withdraws order on no coercive action against telcos

The telecom department has withdrawn its order that asked for no coercive action against telecom companies defaulting on statutory dues payment after the Supreme Court on Friday took a strong view of non-compliance with its order.

The order also directs field offices to take “immediate necessary action” in compliance with the October judgment of the Supreme Court.

Read more

4:00 PM

Sensex, Nifty fall for 2nd day as banking, auto stocks slide

Market benchmarks Sensex and Nifty dropped by almost half a percentage point on Friday as banking shares tumbled following the Supreme Court taking a strong note of non-compliance of its order asking telcos to pay ₹1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues.

he Supreme Court on Friday directed the top echelons of telecom firms to explain why contempt action should not be taken against them for non-compliance of its order to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues of ₹1.47 lakh crore to the telecom department.

Read more

3:30 PM

Microsoft temporarily blocked from beginning Pentagon project

A federal judge in the U.S. has temporarily blocked Microsoft from beginning work on the $10 billion Pentagon Cloud computing project following a motion filed by Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Amazon had asked the judge to force a temporary stay of work on the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure, or JEDI, project until the court can rule on Amazon’s protest over Pentagon awarding it to Microsoft.

Read more

3:00 PM

NSE declares 3 brokers as defaulters; expels from membership

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has declared three stock brokers -- Vrise Securities, Kaynet Finance and BMA Wealth Creators -- as defaulters for non-compliance with the regulatory provisions of the bourse.

In addition, they have been expelled from the membership of the exchange, the NSE said in three separate circulars.

The move effective from February 13 has been taken as these brokers failed to comply with the NSE guidelines, they added.

Under the guidelines, stock brokers are required to fulfill their obligations and should not involve in any misconduct, or unprofessional conduct among others. PTI

2:50 PM

Chinese property firms bank on virtual reality as virus fears hit market

China's property developers and realtors are turning to virtual reality salesrooms and livestream marketing to thaw a frozen market as the coronavirus epidemic keeps physical offices shut and potential buyers are afraid to leave their homes.

A female employee of Sunac China introduced a residential development in the southern city of Qingyuan on social media platforms Tiktok and Weibo wearing a white gown and waving a paper fan.

The livestream on Tuesday attracted a total of 510,000 viewers for Sunac, China's fourth-largest developer by sales, but it was unclear whether any of them bid for the property.

Twenty of the top 100 developers have done livestream sales since the virus outbreak, property researcher CRIC said, adding that 92 of them run online sales platforms which some recently revamped in response to the virus.

Property sales by floor area in China fell 0.1% in 2019, marking the first full-year decline in five years. Reuters

2:45 PM

Euro skids to new low ahead of GDP data, dollar shines

The euro eased to another nearly three-year low on Friday as investors worried about slowing growth momentum in the euro zone ahead of an estimate of how its economy performed in the fourth quarter.

The European single currency has lost 1% so far this week and is on track for its worst two-week performance since mid-2018. Fourth-quarter gross domestic product data is due at 1000 GMT - economists polled by Reuters expect 0.1% quarter-on-quarter growth, the same as the previous 3-month period.

“The bearish trend on EUR/USD may continue today as growth data out of the euro zone are quite unlikely to improve the grim economic outlook for the area,” ING analysts said in a note. Reuters

2:35 PM

India's curbs on Malaysian palm imports stir up edible oil trade

India's halt on Malaysian palm oil imports has disrupted global edible oil trade flows, with Indonesia diverting supplies to feed India, Malaysia rushing to tap markets left behind by Jakarta, and India substituting palm with other oils.

India, the top global palm oil buyer, imposed restrictions on imports of refined palm oil last month, a move sources said was retaliation against Malaysia's criticism of New Delhi's actions in Kashmir and a new citizenship law. Traders had also held off buying crude palm oil from Malaysia.

Malaysia's latest palm export data revealed the impact of India's restrictions, with shipments to India in January falling 85% from a year earlier to 46,876 tonnes, the lowest since 2011.

India accounted for nearly a quarter of Malaysia's total palm oil exports last year, and has been the biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil for five years.

2:25 PM

Court stalls e-commerce antitrust probe following Amazon challenge

An Indian court on Friday put on hold an antitrust investigation into leading e-commerce companies following a challenge by Inc , two lawyers involved in the proceedings told Reuters on Friday.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) last month ordered a probe into Amazon and rival Walmart's Flipkart over alleged violations of competition law and certain discounting practices.

Amazon this week challenged the investigation in a court in Bengaluru city.

The court on Friday granted a stay on the investigation for two months, according to a lawyer from Indian law firm P&A Law Offices, which is representing Amazon. Reuters

2:15 PM

National Textile Policy to be rolled out by mid-2020

M. Soundariya Preetha

The Central Government is expected to roll out a Textile Policy by the middle of this year, according to Ravi Capoor, Secretary of the Union Ministry of Textiles.

“We are working on a policy. Two rounds of consultations have been held with the stakeholders. Hopefully by mid year we should have the new policy,” Mr. Capoor told The Hindu on Thursday.

“New industries should look at scale. The Ministry plans to develop 10 mega textile parks. Each one will be an integrated park. We hope to bring some economies of scale with this. India should be a destination for Foreign Direct Investment in textiles. We need good infrastructure for it,” he added.

The Secretary was hopeful of textile and garment exports increasing this financial year compared to last year (roughly $38 billion).

2:00 PM

WPI inflation rises to 3.1% in January

Wholesale prices based inflation rose to 3.1 per cent in January, as against 2.59 per cent in the previous month due to increase in prices of food articles like onion and potato.

The annual inflation, based on monthly wholesale price index (WPI), was at 2.76 per cent during the same month a year ago (January 2019).

The rate of price rise for food articles rose to 11.51 per cent during January as against 2.41 per cent a month earlier, while for non-food articles it rose nearly three-fold to 7.8 per cent from 2.32 per cent in November, the data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Friday showed. PTI

1:45 PM

German economy shows zero growth for 2019 final quarter

Europe's largest economy Germany showed zero growth in the final quarter of 2019, preliminary official data showed Friday.

Gross domestic product (GDP) was the same in October-December as in the previous three months, federal statistics authority Destatis said.

Statisticians also revised their third quarter figures, saying that GDP had grown by 0.2 percent rather than 0.1 percent, and confirmed an annual growth rate of 0.6 percent in 2019. AFP

1:35 PM

Vodafone Idea shares tank nearly 19%

Shares of Vodafone Idea (VIL) on Friday tumbled nearly 19% after the company reported widening of losses to Rs 6,438.8 crore in the third quarter of 2019-20.

The scrip tanked 18.30 per cent to Rs 3.66 on the BSE.

On the NSE, it dropped 18.88 per cent to Rs 3.65.

Vodafone Idea on Thursday reported widening of losses to Rs 6,438.8 crore in the third quarter of 2019-20 against Rs 5,004.6 crore a year ago, as the telco continued to sound out warnings on “material uncertainty” casting “significant doubt” on its ability to continue as going concern. PTI

1:30 PM

China urges U.S. to stop suppressing Chinese companies after Huawei indictment

China's foreign ministry said on Friday it urges the United States to immediately stop suppressing Chinese companies without reason, after U.S. prosecutors unveiled a new indictment against Huawei Technologies.

Such actions by the United States seriously damage the country's credibility and image, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a daily press briefing.

U.S. prosecutors on Thursday accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran track protesters in its latest indictment against the Chinese company, escalating the battle with the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker. Reuters

1:20 PM

Cloud over trade talks as U.S. official puts off trip

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer has put off his trip to India this week, at least two official sources said, amid signs that the India-U.S. trade talks have hit a rough patch just ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit.

According to the sources, who are aware of the negotiations, no reason has been given for the change of plans in the USTR’s visit that was expected on February 13, but that there is still a considerable chance that he would visit as a part of Mr. Trump’s entourage to finalise a trade package or a “mini-trade deal” with his counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, on items that the two sides have been negotiating for more than two years now. Read more

1:15 PM

GVK Power Q3 loss narrows marginally to Rs 120 crore

GVK Power and Infrastructure on Friday reported marginal narrowing of consolidated loss at Rs 120.06 crore for the quarter ended December 2019.

The company had posted consolidated loss of Rs 122.61 crore in the year-ago period, GVK Power and Infrastructure said in a filing to BSE.

The loss “for the year (is) attributable to owners of the company,” the filing said.

The consolidated revenue of the company during the October-December quarter increased to Rs 1,156.15 crore over Rs 1,109.28 crore in the year-ago period, the filing said.

Shares of the company were trading at Rs 4.36 apiece, up 8.19 per cent from the previous close on BSE. PTI

1:00 PM

Shares shed gains as telcos told to clear over 13 billion in govt dues

Indian shares shed early gains to trade lower on Friday as banks that are exposed to telecom operators fell after the country's top court asked the companies to clear their dues to the government by March 17.

The broader NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.10% at 12,161.50 and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was 0.42% lower at 41,405.14, as of 06025 GMT.

India's Supreme Court ordered telecom companies to clear over $13 billion in dues, sticking to its October decision.

Shares of Vodafone Idea, which owes the government about $4 billion, fell as much as 19% following the ruling.

The decision also weighed on the stocks of banking and financial companies that are highly exposed to Vodafone's debt.

Banks may have to take a major haircut if Vodafone Idea, which is already lugging over 1 trillion rupees ($14.01 billion)in debt, goes under, said Rusmik Oza, head of fundamental research at Kotak Securities. Reuters

12:45 PM

Maruti launches BS-VI compliant CNG variant of WagonR, price starts at Rs 5.25 lakh

Maruti Suzuki India on Friday launched S-CNG variant of its BS-VI compliant new WagonR price starting at Rs 5.25 lakh in line with its aim to sell one million green vehicles in the next couple of years.

The WagonR S-CNG variant is the third BS-VI compliant S-CNG offering by the company. It has a fuel tank capacity of 60 litres (water equivalent), and offers a mileage of 32.52 km/kg, the company said.

It comes in two variants - Lxi and Lxi (O) priced at Rs 5.25 lakh and Rs 5.32 lakh (ex-showroom), respectively. PTI

12:30 PM

China power demand drops as coronavirus shutters plants

China's industrial power demand in 2020 may decline by as much as 73 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), according to IHS Markit, as the outbreak of the coronavirus has curtailed factory output and prevented some workers from returning to their jobs.

The cut represents about 1.5% of industrial power consumption in China. But, as the country is the world's biggest electricity consumer, the loss is equal to the power used in the whole of Chile and it illustrates the scope of the disruption caused by the outbreak.

The reduction is the energy equivalent of about 30 million tonnes of thermal coal or about 9 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), IHS said. The coal figure is more than China's average monthly imports last year while the LNG figure is a little more than one month of imports, based on customs data.

Read more

12:00 PM

Facebook's Zuckerberg wants 'new framework' for digital tax

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday backed moves by the OECD group of free-market economies to reform the way online giants are taxed worldwide, even if that means companies like his own paying more to national governments.

“We also want tax reform and I'm glad the OECD is looking at this,” Zuckerberg says in published extracts of a speech he will make in Germany on Saturday.

“We want the OECD process to succeed so that we have a stable and reliable system going forward,” he added.

The digital tax has emerged as a key bone of contention between the US and France in particular, after Paris imposed its own tax on US digital giants such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple last year. AFP

11:50 AM

Virus could mean $5 billion in airline losses: UN agency

The new coronavirus outbreak could mean a $4-5 billion drop in worldwide airline revenue, the International Civil Aviation Organization said on Thursday.

The UN agency reported that 70 airlines have canceled all international flights in and out of China and 50 others have reduced their operations.

Preliminary estimates show this has meant a reduction of nearly 20 million passengers compared to expectations for the first quarter of 2020.

That figure equates to potential lost revenue of up to $5 billion, the agency said.

The virus has killed nearly 1,400 people and infected 64,000, almost all of them in China. AFP

11:35 AM

Supreme Court orders telecom companies to clear govt dues by March 17

File photo of Supreme Court.

File photo of Supreme Court.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma


The Supreme Court:

* takes strong note of non-compliance of its order asking telecom firms to pay adjusted gross revenue of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to DoT.

* directs MDs, directors of telcos, other firms to explain why contempt action be not taken against them for non-compliance of order.

* expresses anguish over order passed by DoT’s desk officer staying effect of its verdict in adjusted gross revenue matter.


Further observations:

If a desk officer has audacity to stay court order, then let’s wind up SC: Justice Arun Mishra

Better not to live in this country, and rather leave the country: SC

We have dismissed review plea in adjusted gross revenue case but still not a single penny deposited: SC

Our conscience has been shaken by the way things are happening in the country: SC


11:25 AM

Vietnam looks to Indian market to ease virus hit to farm exports

Vietnam is seeking to boost its farm produce exports to India to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus on the Southeast Asian country's trade with China, its largest trading partner.

Vietnam has asked India to reduce trade barriers on its exports, such as black pepper and cashew nuts, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Friday.

“Vietnam and India have room to significantly increase bilateral trade,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the two countries target to raise trade to $15 billion from $11.3 billion last year.

The statement comes amid a visit by Vietnam deputy trade minister Cao Quoc Hung to India “to boost bilateral trade and discuss measures to tackle difficulties faced by Vietnam's farm produce exports due to the disease outbreak in China.”

The ministry said Vietnam also wants to boost sales of other products, including fresh fruits and farmed fish, to India. China has been its largest market for these products. Reuters

11:15 AM

China stocks set for first weekly gain in four as virus deaths drop

China stocks advanced on Friday, on course for their first weekly gain in four, as the daily death toll in Hubei - the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak - halved and the number of new cases dropped.

At the midday break, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.5% at 2,921.25 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 index climbed 0.8%. The Shanghai index gained 1.6% so far this week, while the CSI300 index rose 2.4% for the week.

CSI300's financial sector sub-index traded higher by 1.3%, the consumer staples sector rose 0.7%, the real estate index gained 1.6% and the healthcare sub-index edged up 0.6%.

Chinese H-shares listed in Hong Kong rose 0.6%, while the Hang Seng Index was up 0.6% at 27,895.49. Reuters

11:00 AM

Rupee slips 2 paise to 71.33 against US dollar in early trade

The rupee fell marginally by 2 paise to 71.33 against the US dollar in opening trade on Friday, amid strengthening of the American currency in the overseas market.

Forex traders said rupee traded in a narrow range as strengthening of the US dollar weighed on the local unit, while easing crude oil prices, positive opening in domestic equities and foreign fund inflows gave support and restricted the fall.

The rupee opened on a positive note at 71.29 at the interbank forex market, but soon lost ground and fell to 71.33 against the US dollar, down 2 paise over its last close.

The rupee had settled at 71.31 against the US dollar on Thursday. PTI

10:50 AM

IMF, World Bank say Somalia eligible for debt relief

Somalia is now eligible to receive debt forgiveness under a special program to help the poorest nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund announced Thursday in a joint statement.

Facing a debt load that measured $5.3 billion at the end of 2018, the country needs to complete more steps before reducing the debt, but IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva called the decision “historic.”

“It provides a clear recognition of Somalia's sustained commitment to key economic and financial reforms under consecutive staff-monitored programs with the IMF,” she said in a statement.

“Helping Somalia achieve debt relief and unlock access to the needed resources to increase growth and reduce poverty is a key priority for the IMF.”

The executive boards of the two Washington-based crisis lenders approved the East African nation's eligibility under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, which is a key step to winning debt relief. AFP

10:45 AM

Mexico central bank cuts interest rates for 5th time in a row

Mexico's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the fifth straight time on Thursday in a fresh bid to kick-start a stagnating economy.

“Economic activity in Mexico has remained stagnant for several quarters and with widespread weakness in the components of aggregate demand,” said the central bank in a statement.

The bank dropped interest rates by 25 points to seven percent despite inflation rebounding in January to an annual rate of 3.24 percent, its highest in six months.

The central bank said growth will be lower than it previously expected in a report at the end of November, when it predicted GDP would grow between 0.8 and 1.8 percent.

Mexico's economy shrunk by 0.1 percent in 2019, according to preliminary official figures, its first drop in a decade. AFP

10:40 AM

Chris Wood: 'Proposed tax regime complicating system’

While the Union Budget lacks measures to boost the slowing economy, the proposed tax regime has made the system more complicated, said globally-renowned market strategist Chris Wood in the latest edition of his hugely followed Greed & Fear report.

According to him, the Budget has helped neither the mortgage sector nor the automobile segment, where vehicle sales are dipping, and the increase in import tariffs was another negative, which also hinted that the ‘Make in India’ programme has not been successful.

“As for the Budget itself, while the stated intention to remove all deductions in the long run is a positive in terms of a general principle, in this case, the changes have only served to make the tax system more complicated, not less,” stated the newsletter, which is widely circulated among institutional investors. Read more

10:30 AM

Tokyo stocks open lower on virus worries

Tokyo stocks opened lower on Friday amid lingering worries over the economic ramifications of the new coronavirus.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.51 percent or 122.01 points to 23,705.72 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 0.54 percent or 9.23 points at 1,703.85.

“Japanese shares are weighed down by falls in foreign markets, with investors flustered over reports on the new coronavirus as the number of patients in China's Hubei surged (on Thursday), triggering a sense of distrust in the official data,” Okasan Online Securities said in a note.

“However this rise in the tally is due chiefly to a change in the way of counting so it doesn't suggest an expansion of the infectious disease,” it added. AFP

10:20 AM

Rollick ice cream aspires for national presence

Kolkata-based ice-cream brand Rollick will foray into western and northern India next year and it will be the first brand from here doing so in the frozen dessert segment, a senior company official said on Thursday.

The 30-year-old brand Rollick currently has a wide presence in the eastern and northeastern India with 14 states in the Eastern region including Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“We are in 14 states of east and north-east. Next year we will foray in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and then in phases into Andhra Pradesh and Telengana,” Prestige Ice Creams Managing Director Gaurav Khemani said.

He said the company has a strong presence in the tier-II and tier-III cities and will exploit this strategy of going forward in the new markets. PTI

10:10 AM

POLL: Coronavirus seen shaving 0.2 ppt off Japan's 2020 GDP growth

The coronavirus epidemic is expected to shave up to 0.2 percentage points off Japan's economic growth this year as it hits exports, factory output and tourism, a Reuters poll of analysts showed on Friday.

The virus outbreak, which originated in China, has killed more than 1,300 people, and caused huge disruptions in movements of goods and people.

“If global supply chain disruptions and travel restrictions are prolonged, the impact will become bigger. But if things stabilise in about two months, the damage will be limited,” said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities.

“We expect exports and factory output to stagnate in the current quarter, before picking up in April-June,” she said.

Asked how much the virus outbreak could cut Japan's economy this calendar year, 17 of 32 analysts said 0.1-0.2 percentage points and seven said less than 0.1 percentage point, the Feb. 4-13 poll showed. Reuters

10:00 AM

Sensex rises over 200 points; Nifty above 12,200

Market benchmark Sensex jumped over 200 points in opening session on Friday driven by gains in HDFC twins, ICICI Bank and Infosys amid strong foreign fund inflow.

The 30-share BSE index was trading 233.20 points or 0.56 per cent higher at 41,692.99, and the broader NSE advanced 59.85 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 12,234.50.

All Sensex components were trading on a positive note with Asian Paints rising up to 1.33 per cent, followed by HDFC, HCL Tech, UltraTech Cement, Bharti Airtel and L&T.

In the previous session, Sensex settled 106.11 points or 0.26 per cent, lower at 41,459.79, and Nifty dropped 26.55 points or 0.22 per cent to close at 12,174.65.

Meanwhile, on a net basis, foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 1,061.39 crore, while domestic institutional investors sold shares worth Rs 960.48 crore on Thursday, data available with stock exchanges showed. PTI

9:50 AM

US brings new charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei

The Justice Department has added new criminal charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei and several subsidiaries, accusing the company of a brazen scheme to steal trade secrets from competitors in America, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

The new indictment also alleges the company provided surveillance equipment to Iran that enabled the monitoring of protesters during 2009 anti-government demonstrations in Tehran, and that it sought to conceal business that it was doing in North Korea despite economic sanctions there.

The company issued a statement Thursday evening disputing the allegations and calling them without merit.” The new allegations come as the Trump administration raises national security concerns about Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and aggressively lobbies Western allies to bar the company from wireless, high-speed networks. PTI

9:40 AM

Amazon wins order suspending $10 billion Microsoft US military contract

A federal judge has issued an order temporarily blocking the US military from awarding a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract to Microsoft, after Amazon claimed the process was tainted by politics.

A temporary injunction requested by Amazon was issued US judge Patricia Campbell-Smith, barring the Department of Defense from starting work on the contract known as JEDI, according to a summary of the ruling available online.

Details of the ruling were sealed for unspecified reasons.

Amazon has alleged it was shut out of the deal because of President Donald Trump’s vendetta and is seeking testimony from the president and other top officials on the reasons for awarding the USD 10 billion US military cloud computing contract. AFP

9:30 AM

India offers U.S. dairy, chicken access in bid for elusive trade deal with Trump

India has offered to partially open up its poultry and dairy markets in a bid for a limited trade deal during U.S. President Donald Trump's first official visit to the country this month, people familiar with the protracted talks say.

India, the world's largest milk-producing nation, has traditionally restricted dairy imports to protect the livelihoods of 80 million rural households involved in the industry.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to pull all the stops for the U.S. president's Feb. 24-25 visit, aimed at rebuilding bonds between the world's largest democracies. In 2019, Trump suspended India's special trade designation that dated back to 1970s, after Modi put price caps on medical devices, such as cardiac stents and knee implants, and introduced new data localization requirements and e-commerce restrictions.

Trump's trip to India has raised hopes that he would restore some of the country's U.S. trade preferences, in exchange for tariff reductions and other concessions.

India has offered to allow imports of U.S. chicken legs, turkey and produce such as blueberries and cherries, Indian government sources said, and has offered to cut tariffs on chicken legs from 100% to 25%. U.S. negotiators want that tariff cut to 10%.

The Modi government is also offering to allow some access to India's dairy market, but with a 5% tariff and quotas, the sources said.

New Delhi has also offered to lower its 50% tariffs on very large motorcycles made by Harley-Davidson, a tax that was a particular irritant for Trump, who has labeled India the ”tariff king.” The change would be largely symbolic because few such motorcycles are sold in India. Reuters


TECHNICALS: Spot gold may rise to $1,589

Spot gold may rise to $1,589 per ounce, as suggested by a retracement analysis.

The consolidation from the Jan. 8 high of $1,610.90 has been shaped into a triangle, which looks like a bullish continuation pattern, as it developed after an uptrend.

The pattern will be confirmed when gold breaks $1,589, the 14.6% retracement on the uptrend from $1,458.17 to $1,610.90. A bullish target at $1,630 will be established then.

A failure to break the resistance at $1,575 could trigger a drop to $1,553. A further drop will signal the reversal of the uptrend from the Aug. 16, 2018 low of $1,159.96.

This resistance is strengthened by another one at $1,580 on the hourly chart, which is the 14.6% projection level of a presumed wave C from $1,591.46. Reuters

9:10 AM

China reports 5,090 new coronavirus cases in mainland

China saw 5,090 new coronavirus cases in the mainland on Feb. 13, with 121 new deaths, the National Health Commission said on Friday.

Hubei province, which is at the epicentre of the outbreak, earlier reported 4,823 new cases with 116 deaths. Reuters

9:05 AM

Sebi issues guidelines for portfolio managers

Markets watchdog Sebi on Thursday issued guidelines for portfolio managers and said they cannot charge upfront fee from clients.

Sebi (Portfolio Managers) Regulations, 2020, were notified on January 16.

In addition, certain changes to the regulatory framework for portfolio managers have been mandated.

“As provided in Regulation 22 (11) of the PMS Regulations, no upfront fees shall be charged by the portfolio managers, either directly or indirectly, to the clients,” Sebi said in a circular.

According to the regulator, brokerage at actuals should be charged to clients as expense.

“Operating expenses excluding brokerage, over and above the fees charged for Portfolio Management Service, shall not exceed 0.50 per cent per annum of the client’s average daily Assets under Management (AUM),” it added.

For redemption of client portfolio in the first three years of investment, an exit load charge ranging from 1-3 per cent would be charged.

After the three-year period, there would be no exit load.

Charges for all transactions in a financial year through self or associates would be capped at 20 per cent by value per associate per service. PTI

9:00 AM

Urgent need for more ambitious structural, financial sector reform measures in India: IMF

India urgently needs more ambitious structural and financial sector reform measures and a medium-term fiscal consolidation strategy due to the rising debt levels while ensuring a more accommodative fiscal stance in the budget, the IMF has said.

Responding to a question on the budget presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesperson Gerry Rice said the economic environment in India is weaker than what the organisation had forecast earlier.

“While the budget touches on ongoing sectoral efforts, there remains an urgent need for more ambitious structural and financial sector reform measures and a medium-term fiscal consolidation strategy, anchored in tangible revenue and expenditure measures, especially given rising debt levels,” Rice told reporters. Read more

8:50 AM

Oil prices steady but set for weekly gain on supply cut optimism

Oil prices were steady on Friday but are set for their first weekly gain in six weeks on the assumption major producers will implement deeper output cuts to offset slowing demand in China, the world's second-largest crude user.

Brent crude futures fell 9 cents to $56.25 a barrel by 0234 GMT, after gaining 1% the previous session. Brent is 3.3% higher for the week, the first increase since the week of Jan. 10.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down by 1 cent to $51.41 a barrel. The contract rose 0.5% on Thursday and is now 2.2% higher for the week.

Crude prices have plunged about 20% from their 2020-peaks on Jan. 8 as oversupply concerns combined with worries about large fuel demand declines in China as the country's quarantine to fight a coronavirus outbreak has halted economic activity.

However, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allied producers, known as OPEC+, are considering cutting output by up to 2.3 million barrels per day in response to the demand slump.

But other analysts caution the demand impact is only limited to China so far.

“The spread of the coronavirus remains extremely fluid and while market sentiment is held at the mercy of each passing coronavirus headline, our baseline thesis remains that oil demand destruction remains largely a China story and has yet to spill over to impact global demand,” said Helima Croft, head of commodity strategy at Citadel Magnus. Reuters

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