Business updates | April 21, 2021

Darkening horizon: With authorities considering more curbs, market volatility has increased, say analysts.   | Photo Credit: PAUL NORONHA

The Nifty and the Sensex are closed today on account of Ram Navami.

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

11:00 AM

Government withdraws customs duty on imports of Remdesivir

The government has withdrawn the 10% customs duty levied on imports of Remdesivir injections, active pharma ingredients used in its manufacture, and also granted a conditional customs duty exemption for the critical inactive ingredient Beta Cyclodextrin used to make Remdesivir injections that attracted 7.5% duty, till October 31, 2021.

A notification to this effect was issued by the Finance Ministry on Tuesday. The government banned the export of the injection and its active ingredients on April 11, following a spike in demand for the drug amidst the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

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10:30 AM

U.S. currency watchlist an intrusion: official

Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan on Tuesday questioned the rationale behind the U.S. government’s decision to put India in the watchlist for currency manipulators, and said the list constituted an intrusion into the policy space needed by central banks around the world to meet their mandates.

The U.S. Treasury Department had recently retained India in a watchlist for currency manipulators submitted to the U.S. Congress, citing higher dollar purchases (close to 5% of the gross domestic product) by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Another trigger for the inclusion in the currency watchlist is a trade surplus of $20 billion or more. India’s trade surplus with the U.S. grew by about $5 billion to $23 billion in 2020-21 from around $18 billion in the previous fiscal year as imports fell more sharply than exports in the COVID-affected year.

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10:00 AM

Oil falls for second day as India's COVID-19 surge to dent fuel demand

Dent in demand for oil as lockdowns loom.

Reuters reports: "Oil prices fell for a second day on Wednesday on concerns that soaring COVID-19 cases in India will drive down fuel demand in the world's third biggest oil importer.

Brent crude futures for June fell 52 cents, or 0.8%, to $66.05 a barrel at 0157 GMT, after dropping 48 cents on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for June fell 56 cents, or 0.9%, to $62.11 a barrel. The May contract expired on Tuesday down 1.5% at $62.44.

"You've seen refiners there (in India) scale back runs because demand has fallen with the spread of lockdowns. That's clearly weighing on the market and sentiment," said Lachlan Shaw, head of commodity research at National Australia Bank .

India, also the world's third-largest oil user, on Tuesday reported its worst daily death toll from COVID-19 and is facing an oxygen supply crisis to treat patients. Large parts of the country are now under lockdown due to a huge second wave of the pandemic.

Further weighing on the market, data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group showed U.S. crude oil and distillate stocks rose in the week ended April 16, according to two market sources, compared with analysts' forecasts for declines in crude and distillate inventories.

Crude stocks rose by 436,000 barrels, API reported, according to the sources. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 3 million bbl drawdown in crude stocks.

Distillate stocks, which include diesel, heating oil and jet fuel, rose by 655,000 barrels, compared with analysts' forecasts for a 1 million barrel decline.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its inventory data for last week later on Wednesday.

Analysts said despite the pandemic hotspots in places like India and growing concerns in Japan, the world's fourth-biggest oil user, signs are still positive for a fuel demand recovery in the United States, UK and Europe.

"Driving is soaring in the UK as the vaccine rollout accelerates. Such is also the case in the US, where drivers consume over 10% of the world's oil," ANZ analysts said in a note."

9:30 AM

Citibank tells Indian retail customers it's ‘business as usual’

Citigroup’s franchise in the country, which includes Citibank India and its consumer banking business and credit cards division, continues to operate as usual, a company official said.

The official, who was providing a clarification on the impact to customer operations as a result of Citigroup’s recent announcement that it planned to exit the retail banking business in 13 markets including India, referred to a recent statement by Citibank India. The official also added that customers of the consumer bank would be able to avail of their usual services till a buyer or buyers were found for the business, after due approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

“There is no immediate change to our operations and no immediate impact to our colleagues as a result of this announcement,” Citibank India CEO Ashu Khullar said in the statement. “In the interim, we will continue to serve our clients with the same care, empathy and dedication that we do today,” he asserted.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 7:29:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/businesslive-21-april-2021/article34372803.ece

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