Today's top business news: Stocks drop, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman says passage of agri bills to empower farmers, how traders use Google searches to track the economic recovery, and more

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

The benchmark stock indices have opened the day with modest gains after the losses suffered yesterday.

The Centre's agricultural reform bills, which were passed yesterday in Parliament, are attracting strong response.

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

4:30 PM

How traders use Google searches to track the economic recovery

 

4:00 PM

Sensex drops 134 points; financial stocks drag

The opening gains didn't last long for the stock indices.

PTI reports: "Domestic equity benchmark Sensex ended 134 points lower on Friday, dragged by losses in financial stocks amid mixed global cues.

After swinging 564.69 points during the day, the 30-share BSE index settled 134.03 points or 0.34 per cent lower at 38,845.82.

The NSE Nifty fell 11.15 points or 0.10 per cent to finish at 11,504.95

HDFC Bank was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding over 2 per cent, followed by Kotak Bank, Bajaj Finserv, Maruti, Titan, SBI, HUL, HDFC and Tata Steel.

On the other hand, Bharti Airtel, M&M, NTPC, Tech Mahindra, Sun Pharma and PowerGrid were among the gainers.

According to traders, despite a positive start, domestic stocks ended on a negative note tracking weakness in financial stocks and foreign fund outflows.

Foreign institutional investors sold equities worth Rs 249.82 crore on a net basis on Thursday, exchange data showed.

Meanwhile, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo ended with gains, while most stock exchanges in Europe were trading with a negative bias.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.39 per cent higher at USD 43.47 per barrel.

In the forex market, the rupee strengthened by 21 paise to close at 73.45 against the US dollar."

3:30 PM

Gold rises ₹224; silver gains ₹620

Gold prices rose ₹ 224 to ₹ 52,672 per 10 grams in the national capital on Friday in line with strong international prices of the precious metal, according to HDFC Securities.

The precious metal had closed at ₹ 52,448 per 10 grams in the previous trade.

Silver also went up by ₹ 620 to ₹ 69,841 per kg, from the previous close of ₹ 69,221 per kg.

“Spot gold prices for 24 karat in Delhi rose ₹ 224 in line with strong international prices limiting upside on rupee appreciation,” HDFC Securities Senior Analyst (Commodities) Tapan Patel said.

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3:00 PM

E-com sales to reach $38 billion: Redseer

Based on the expected strong festive sales performance, ecommerce is anticipated to grow and reach $38 billion in sales in CY20, upto 40% year-on-year, said RedSeer, a management consulting firm.

Sales from the first sale of the festival season to see an increase of 50% over the sales recorded in the corresponding period last year, as per a Redseer study 'The Festival of Firsts Online Festive Sales 2020 Forecast'.

"The online festive sale has always been an important indicator of India’s ecommerce growth story with the last year’s festive sale being the biggest so far," the study added.

This year is well-primed to deliver huge sales owing to the new wave of customers and changed dynamics due to Covie-19 pandemic that saw a new set of customers ready to buy online, and the category mix may look different from the previous years, it further said.

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2:30 PM

Rupee settles 21 paise higher at 73.45 against US dollar

A strong day for the rupee today even though stocks have turned weak since morning.

PTI reports: "The rupee strengthened by 21 paise to close at 73.45 against the US dollar on Friday as weak American currency and positive domestic equities buoyed investor sentiment.

At the interbank forex market, the domestic unit opened at 73.47 against the US dollar, and finally settled for the day at 73.45, registering a rise of 21 paise over its previous close.

During the session, the domestic unit witnessed an intra-day high of 73.15 and a low of 73.55 against the greenback.

On Thursday, rupee depreciated by 14 paise to end at 73.66 against the US dollar.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.12 per cent to 92.85.

“In coming sessions, the Indo-China border and Brexit uncertainty will occasionally keep the dollar bulls active,” Emkay Global Financial Services Head of Research- Currency Rahul Gupta said.

Gupta further said “this week the spot respected both the crucial support of 73 and the resistance of 73.75. Even next week, we expect the sideways trend to continue. Unless the support zone of 72.90-73 doesn’t break, the spot will trade higher towards 73.75.”

On the domestic equity market front, the 30-share BSE benchmark Sensex was trading 76.50 points higher at 39,056.35, and the broader NSE Nifty advanced 53.50 points to 11,569.60.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market as they offloaded shares worth Rs 249.82 crore on a net basis on Thursday, according to exchange data.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.51 per cent to USD 43.52 per barrel."

2:00 PM

Govt’s decision on FDI in defence to enhance self-reliance in sector: Goyal

The government’s decision to ease FDI norms in the defence sector will push self-reliance in production and keep national interests and security paramount, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday.

He said that foreign investments in the defence sector would be subject to scrutiny on grounds of national security.

The government has permitted 74% foreign direct investment (FDI) under automatic route in the sector with certain conditions.

“Now, FDI is allowed up to 74% through automatic route and beyond 74% to be permitted through government (approval) route. This will enhance ease of doing business and contribute to growth of investment, income and employment. In line with our collective vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, amendments will enhance self-reliance in defence production, while keeping national interests and security paramount,” he said in a tweet.

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1:30 PM

Gold gains as softer dollar, economic concerns bolster appeal

The volatility seen in stocks is helping the yellow metal.

Reuters reports: "Gold prices rose on Friday en route to a second straight weekly gain on a subdued dollar as weak U.S. jobs data dented hopes of an economic recovery. Spot gold climbed 0.6% to $1,953.70 per ounce by 0710 GMT, up 0.6% so far this week. U.S. gold futures were 0.6% higher at $1,961.30. The dollar index was on track for a weekly fall, making gold more attractive for those holding other currencies.

“Virus concerns are still weighing down on economic recovery and when you look at a lot of economic data, it looks like it's moderating but there is still tremendous damage,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at broker OANDA. “There's still going to be need for more support.”

The U.S. weekly jobless claims report showed nearly 30 million people were on unemployment benefits at the end of August, laying bare the economic toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. Near-zero interest rates globally and demand for a hedge against perceived inflation have helped gold gain nearly 29% so far this year.

Continuing the trend, the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday vowed to keep interest rates near zero for a long time. On Thursday, the Bank of England said it was considering negative interest rates, while the Bank of Japan signalled readiness to ramp up stimulus. With the focus now on the U.S. presidential election in November, FXTM market analyst Han Tan said a protracted delay over its outcome could reignite the safe-haven play and potentially push gold to new record highs.

On the physical front, Swiss exports of gold to the U.S. all but halted in August while shipments to China and India rose, data showed on Thursday. Silver rose 0.2% to $27.16 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.2% to $942.06 and palladium was up 0.4% at $2,347.21."

1:00 PM

It’s official, Apple will launch an online India store on September 23

After months of speculation, Apple has officially confirmed that an online leg of the Apple Store will be launched in India on September 23. This upcoming store will offer the tech giant’s full range of products — iPhones, iPads, Macs, accessories — and support directly to customers across the country for the first time. Prior to this, customers who wished to buy an Apple product online were directed to a page of authorised third-party reseller stores in their area.

The new online store promises to provide customers with the same experience found in Apple Store international locations, delivered by online team members who are ready to offer their expertise. This is called Personal Setup, in that once a customer purchases a product, they receive an invitation to a free 30-minute one-on-one online sesion with an Apple Specialist (bookable between 9 am and 9 pm, 7 days a week); this session can include setting up a new device, custom configurations and exploring features.

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12:30 PM

Oil rises as Goldman predicts deficit, new storm builds in Gulf

Possible tightness in supply is helping oil prices.

Reuters reports: "Oil prices rose for a fourth straight day on Friday as Goldman Sachs estimated the market is in deficit and a new storm started building in the Gulf of Mexico, putting crude on track for a weekly gain of about 10%.

Brent crude was up 27 cents, or 0.6%, at $43.57 a barrel by 0510 GMT, while U.S. oil futures gained 23 cents, or 0.6%, to $41.20 a barrel.

Both contracts dipped at the start of the day but have risen sharply this week after Hurricane Sally cut U.S. production and OPEC and its allies laid out steps to address market weakness.

Goldman Sachs said in a new report that recent storage on oil tankers of crude for future delivery was “driven by transient inventory allocation dynamics” rather than a rise in global stocks that would suggest the market is oversupplied.

“We estimate that the oil market remains in deficit with speculative positioning now at too low levels,” Goldman Sachs analysts said.

The investment bank predicted the market would be in a deficit of 3 million barrels per day (bpd) by the fourth quarter and reiterated its target for Brent to reach $49 by the end of the year and $65 by the third quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, a tropical depression formed in the western part of the Gulf of Mexico and could become a hurricane in the next few days, potentially threatening more U.S. oil facilities.

The Saudi Arabian energy minister also fired a shot at traders warning them not to bet against the oil market and pledging those who gamble on oil prices would be hurt “like hell.”

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, OPEC's most influential minister, made the comments after a virtual meeting of a key panel of OPEC and allies, led by Russia.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, making up the so-called OPEC+ group, are cutting 7.7 million bpd of output to support prices.

OPEC+ said on Thursday the group will take action on members that are not complying with deep output cuts to support the market following a coronavirus-led slump in fuel demand.

In the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. offshore drillers and exporters began a clearup on Thursday after Hurricane Sally weakened to a depression and started rebooting idle rigs following their closure for five days."

 

12:00 PM

US law firm files class action suit against HDFC Bank for misleading claims

A law firm in the US has filed a class action suit against HDFC Bank, claiming damages for the losses incurred by investors because of “materially false and misleading” representations made by India’s largest private sector lender.

The suit by Rosen Legal specifically names the bank’s managing director and chief executive Aditya Puri, his chosen successor Sashidhar Jagdishan and company secretary Santosh Haldnakar, who are the defendants in the suit, as per a copy of the complaint uploaded on the website.

The complaint did not mention the exact quantum of the damages sought, though it maintained that may be thousands of investors would have suffered. HDFC Bank could not be immediately reached for comment.

As per the suit, bank officials “engaged in a plan, scheme, conspiracy and course of conduct, pursuant to which they knowingly or recklessly engaged in acts, transactions, practices and courses of business which operated as a fraud and deceit”, resulting in the losses to investors.

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11:30 AM

Bank of England mulls negative interest rates

 

11:00 AM

Petrol demand returns to pre-COVID-19 levels, diesel demand still down

India’s petrol sales rose for the first time in the first half of September since the country’s lockdown in late March, signalling demand may have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Petrol sales between September 1 and 15 rose 2.% year-on-year and were up 7% over the previous month, according to preliminary industry data.

Diesel sales continue to be in negative territory, with demand falling 6% year-on-year. But the demand was 19.3% higher over August 2020.

This is the first time that petrol sales in the world’s third-largest oil importer have risen since the March 25 nationwide lockdown crippled economic activity and sent demand plummeting.

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10:40 AM

Passage of agri bills to empower farmers: Niti VC

Voices in support of the Centre's farm reform bills.

PTI reports: "Welcoming the passage of two bills related to the farm sector in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said the legislation will empower farmers and have a “colossal impact” on the future of agriculture in the country.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill were passed by voice vote, even as the Congress, DMK and Revolutionary Socialist Party members staged a walkout.

“The Lok Sabha passes Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 & The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 - historic day!,” Kumar said in a series of tweets.

He further said the legislation will not only empower but also create a fair and free ecosystem for farmers and traders alike, thereby fostering a spirit of friendly competition and improving trader transparency.

For the first time, he said, farmers can proudly sell directly from their farms, igniting in them a sense of entrepreneurial freedom without the risk of trader exploitation.

“The Bills passed today will have colossal impact on future of agriculture in our country,” Kumar noted.

Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand said the legislations will transform the destiny of farmers.

“A historical day for Indian agriculture as Lok Sabha passed 2 farming bills. This will lay foundation for changing destiny of farmers towards prosperity and take India on path to become global power in agriculture,” Chand tweeted.

Another bill related to the farm sector, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, was passed on Tuesday.

These three bills will replace ordinances promulgated by the government earlier."

10:20 AM

‘MSMEs used tech to survive lockdown’

Information Technology (IT) infrastructure helped businesses tide over the challenges arising from the lockdown, Tally Solutions said in a report.

According to a study it conducted, about 94% of MSMEs in India had adopted technology to stay afloat in the last few months.

About 67% of respondents in western India adopted full-fledged IT infrastructure in their businesses post-lockdown, compared with just 29% during the lockdown. Similarly, 60% respondents from the south had adopted complete IT infrastructure, the study found.

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10:00 AM

Sensex rises nearly 200 points in early trade; Nifty tops 11,550

A good start to the morning for stocks after yesterday's losses.

PTI reports: "Domestic equity benchmark Sensex jumped nearly 200 points in early trade on Friday tracking gains in index majors TCS, Reliance Industries and Sun Pharma amid positive cues from Asian peers.

The 30-share BSE index was trading 186.37 points or 0.48 per cent higher at 39,166.22; while the NSE Nifty rose 62.70 points or 0.54 per cent to 11,578.80.

Sun Pharma was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 3 per cent, followed by Tech Mahindra, Tata Steel, TCS, Titan, PowerGrid, NTPC, Reliance Industries and Asian Paints.

On the other hand, HUL, Bajaj Auto, Maruti and Nestle India were among the laggards.

In the previous session, Sensex ended 323 points or 0.82 per cent lower at 38,979.85, while Nifty fell 88.45 points or 0.76 per cent to 11,516.10.

Meanwhile, exchange data showed that foreign institutional investors sold equities worth Rs 249.82 crore on a net basis on Thursday.

According to traders, positive start in Asian equities nudged domestic stocks higher.

Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo were trading with gains in mid-day deals.

However, stock exchanges on Wall Street ended on a negative note in overnight trade.

Meanwhile, global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.46 per cent higher at USD 43.50 per barrel."

 

9:30 AM

Vistara offers Wi-Fi on-board 

Vistara has become the first Indian airline to introduce Wi-Fi connectivity on its flights to London.

To begin with, the service will be available only on-board the two Boeing 787-9 aircraft in a fleet of 43 planes. Vistara uses the aircraft to provide connections to London.

Vistara said it would soon introduce the service on the aircraft it uses to connect domestic and short-haul international routes — the Airbus A321neo.

The move follows the decision taken by the Department of Telecommunications in 2018 to allow Wi-Fi in the Indian airspace.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:37:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/businesslive-18-september-2020/article32636261.ece

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