Today's top business news: Mobile operators push for floor price, stocks fall for fifth consecutive day, Microsoft to miss sales forecast, and more

File photo used fore representational purpose.

File photo used fore representational purpose.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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

3:30 PM

Stocks fall for fifth consecutive day

The Nifty and the Sensex shed 0.5% at the close of trading today, as the fall in global stocks continued to weigh on Indian bourses.

The benchmark indices were down as much as 1.2% during the low of the day before staging a significant late recovery.

3:15 PM

Indians on average consume over 11GB data per month: Report

Cheap data plans, affordable handsets, increasing popularity of video services and 4G networks have helped average data consumption per user in India to grow to over 11 GB a month, telecom gear maker Nokia said on Thursday.

Nokia - in its annual Mobile Broadband India Traffic Index (MBiT) report - said the overall data traffic in India increased by 47 per cent in 2019, driven by continued 4G consumption.

4G data constitute 96 per cent of the total data traffic consumed across the country, while 3G data traffic registered its highest ever decline of 30 per cent, it added.

“The average monthly data usage per user surpassed 11 gigabyte (GB) in December growing 16 per cent annually due to increase in upgradation of 4G network, low data prices, affordable smartphones, and the ever-increasing popularity of videos,” Nokia India Chief Marketing Officer Amit Marwah told reporters here. PTI

3:00 PM

Over 70% prospective buyers looking for properties worth up to Rs 50 lakh: Report

More than 70 per cent of prospective buyers are looking for properties costing up to Rs 50 lakh, according to a report by realty portal Magicbricks.

“Government’s push for affordable housing is yielding results as more and more home buyers are now preferring to buy properties up to Rs 50 lakh,” the online property classified said in a statement.

According to its consumer poll, around 70 per cent of property buyers are looking for properties within Rs 50 lakh budget.

“The most preferred budget segment was Rs 15-20 lakh as 28 per cent respondents voted for it, while 25 per cent preferred the Rs 30-50 lakh budget. The budget segment of Rs 20-30 lakh and Rs 50 lakh-Rs 1 crore was preferred by 23 per cent each of the respondents,” the statement said. PTI

2:30 PM

Sensex trims losses after 465 points fall

The Indian equity markets trimmed losses on Thursday afternoon, post an over 460 points—slump on the BSE Sensex in the initial hours of trade.

The negative sentiments continued both in the global and domestic markets amid growing concerns of the novel coronavirus infection spreading outside China.

Sensex had opened at the day’s high of 39,947.80 and around 10.30 a.m., it had touched a low 39,423.27 points.

At 1.25 p.m., the Sensex was trading at 39,673.43, lower by 215.53 points or 0.54 per cent from the previous close of 39,888.96 points

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 11,620.45, lower by 58.05 points or 0.50 per cent from its previous close. IANS

2:15 PM

HMSI launches BS-VI compliant Unicorn bike model, price starts at ₹93,593

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMIS) on Thursday launched BS-VI compliant version of its Unicorn bike model with price starting at ₹93,593 (ex-showroom, Delhi).

The Unicorn BS-VI is powered by a 160cc engine providing greater performance and superior efficiency, HMSI said in a statement.

“Unicorn was the first motorcycle introduced by Honda in India. Since its launch, it has always been the benchmark when it comes to engine refinement and smooth performance,” HMSI President, CEO & Managing Director Minoru Kato said.

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2:00 PM

UPI was most preferred payment mode in volume terms in 2019

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) remained the most preferred mode of payment in terms of volume followed by debit cards, Immediate Payment Services (IMPS) and credit cards, said a new report on Thursday.

UPI recorded a transaction volume of 10.8 billion in 2019, a year—over—year increase of 188 per cent, said the report from payments company Worldline India (WI).

“UPI is perhaps the fastest product to hit 1 billion transactions—a—month in 2019 since its inception in August 2016,” said the “India Digital Payments Report 2019”.

The findings of the report suggest that in India, digital payment products are being primarily utilised for person—to—person (P2P) transactions than person—to—merchants (P2M) transactions.

In terms of value, UPI facilitated transactions worth Rs 18.36 trillion, up 214 per cent from 2018. IANS

1:45 PM

COAI rings alarm bells, asks govt. to ease terms for AGR dues’ payment

The Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has sent out a distress signal to the government seeking easier terms for payment of statutory dues by telcos, including extension of loans at lower rates to cover AGR liabilities, as also fast implementation of floor prices, to rescue the troubled sector.

With the telecom industry plunging into a deep, unprecedented crisis, the association has raised an alarm over banks’ unwillingness to take any risk with regard to the sector, and asserted the “need to give a clear message to banks that government is there to support the sector”.

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1:30 PM

NCLAT sets asides insolvency proceedings against Flipkart

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has set aside the order of the NCLT to initiate insolvency proceedings against e-commerce major Flipkart.

A three-member bench of the NCLAT released Flipkart from the corporate insolvency resolution process and directed the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) appointed by NCLT to handover the records and assets of the company back to its promoter immediately.

Earlier, on October 24, 2019, the Bengaluru Bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had admitted the insolvency plea filed by Cloudwalker Streaming Technologies, an operational creditor of Flipkart.

“We set aside the impugned order dated October 24, 2019 passed by the adjudicating authority (NCLT) and the application filed under Section 9 by the operational creditor Cloudwalker Streaming Technologies Pvt Ltd, company petition is rejected,” said NCLAT. PTI

1:15 PM

Vogo Automotive raises $19.5 million in Series C funding

Vogo Automotive, an on-demand personal mobility company, announced on February 26, 2020 the closing of its Series C at a fundraiser where it raised $19 million (around ₹136 crore).

The round was led by LGT Lightstone Aspada which also saw participation from existing investors Matrix Partners India, Kalaari Capital and Stellaris Venture Partners.

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1:00 PM

COAI writes to DoT for floor price on tariffs from April

Mobile operators association, COAI, has suggested steps to facilitate reduction of financial stress on the industry in wake of the AGR payments where it has sought floor price for telecom tariffs be introduced from April this year.

TRAI has now initiated a consultation process on floor pricing. “Our proposal is that a floor price needs to be made effective immediately (say from 1st April, 2020),” COAI Director general Rajan Mathews said in a letter to DoT Secretary Anshu Prakash.

For AGR related payments COAI seeks reimbursement of credit due to telcos from the government through adjustments can help companies meet AGR payment.

“Government needs to allow set—off of GST credits lying with the government. Further, after the GST set—off, the payment of balance amount of interest, penalty, and interest on penalty be allowed in a staggered manner. It is requested that a moratorium of 3 years be provided, as we expect that it will take at least that much time to recover the health of the sector, followed by a payment tenure of 15 years at a simple interest of 6 per cent,” the letter said.

The amounts payable under the Supreme Court judgement, after mutual discussion maybe frozen to avoid recurring claim of interest, penalty and interest on penalty. IANS

12:45 PM

Microsoft to miss sales forecast due to coronavirus outbreak

After Apple, Microsoft has revised its revenue guidelines for its January-March quarter owing to Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, saying the supply-chain has been slowed down which will impact its Windows and Surface businesses.

In a statement, the company said although it sees strong Windows demand in line with its expectations, “the supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated at the time of our Q2 earnings call.”

“As a result, for the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, we do not expect to meet our More Personal Computing segment guidance as Windows OEM and Surface are more negatively impacted than previously anticipated. All other components of our Q3 guidance remain unchanged, the company said late Wednesday.

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12:30 PM

China's surging small-cap stocks stir bubble fears as Beijing ramps up support

A surge in small-cap Chinese stocks, fueled by government stimulus measures to support the virus-hit economy, is triggering fears of a repeat of the boom that preceded the 2015 market crash.

China has injected massive funds into the banking system, cut interest rates and encouraged lenders to extend cheap loans to limit the financial fallout from the coronavirus epidemic, which has hit businesses hard, from retailers to manufacturers.

Shenzhen's tech-heavy start-up board ChiNext has jumped 13.1% this month through Wednesday, far outpacing the 1.7% gain in China's blue-chip CSI 300 index.

A broader index of tech shares including start-ups and more established names such as ZTE has gained 14%.

“This is already a bubble. It's a game of the greater fool,” said Shen Shikai, an investor who has been managing money pooled from his friends for over a decade.

“The economy has stalled for two months, and companies' first-quarter earnings will be ugly. Why on earth are stocks trading at such a level?”

ChiNext is trading at 59 times last year's earnings, up from roughly 30 a year ago and 47 at end-2019. Reuters

12:15 PM

Apple to open 1st India flagship store in 2021: Tim Cook

Bullish on its growth in India, Apple is set to open its first branded retail store in the country in 2021, CEO Tim Cook has told shareholders.

Speaking to investors at the annual shareholder meeting at Apple Park in Cupertino, California on Wednesday, Cook confirmed the company will open its first offline retail outlet in the world’s second biggest smartphone market next year, reports Apple Insider.

“I don’t want somebody else to run the brand for us,” he was quoted as saying.

“We wouldn’t be a very good partner in retail. We like to do things our way,” the Apple CEO mentioned.

Apple currently has third-party reseller outlets to sell its devices in the country.

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12:00 PM

Infosys grants stock incentives worth Rs 3.25 crore to CEO Parekh

Software major Infosys has granted stock incentive units worth Rs 3.25 crore to CEO Salil Parekh under the under its 2015 Incentive Compensation Plan.

The company has offered incentive to the CEO in the form of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) which will have a three—year equal vesting schedule.

The Chief Operating Officer U.B. Pravin Rao has been granted 58,650 RSUs, the company said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

Further, as per the plan five key management personnels (KMP) will receive 3,53,270 RSUs, with one KMP getting RSUs valued Rs 1.75 crore with a vesting period of four years. IANS

11:45 AM

Coronavirus, U.S.-EU trade war, Gulf tension biggest threats to global economy: EIU

The growth outlook for 2020 appears bleak, The Economist Intelligence Unit said on Wednesday and cited coronavirus, the U.S.-EU trade war, and the U.S.-Iran conflict as the biggest threats to the global economy.

According to a whitepaper released by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), global growth is forecast to be 2.9% in 2020, close to decade lows.

The EIU expects economic growth in the developed world to slow in 2020, driven by a moderation in the U.S. growth.

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11:30 AM

Telecom tariff hikes drive SIM consolidation: Report

Telecom tariff hikes from December last year has led to consolidation in the market leading to gross subscriber fall, said a report from Motilal Oswal.

After declining by 2.1 million in November 2019, the number of declines in active subscribers increased again by 3.5 m in December 19. The trend comes on the back of IUC charges imposed by RJio in October 19 and a major unanimous price hike (25—30 per cent) in December 19. Gross subscriber base declined by 3.2 m (—0.3 per cent MoM) to 1,151 m, as against addition of 3—4 m in the recent past.

Bharti’s gross subscriber base stood flat and RJio added mere 0.1 m subscribers. VIL’s gross subscribers declined by 3.6 m, possibly due to customers discarding non-functional SIM cards post tariff hikes. IANS

11:15 AM

Rupee rises 5 paise to 71.60 against U.S. dollar in early trade

The Indian rupee appreciated by 5 paise to 71.60 against the U.S. dollar in early trade on Thursday amid easing crude oil prices and weakening of the greenback in the overseas market.

Forex traders said easing crude oil prices and weakening of the American currency vis-a-vis other currencies overseas supported the rupee, while weak opening in domestic equities and sustained foreign fund outflows weighed on the local unit.

At the interbank foreign exchange the rupee opened at 71.65 then gained further ground and touched a high of 71.60, registering a rise of 5 paise over its previous close.

On Wednesday, rupee had settled for the day at 71.65 against the dollar.

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11:00 AM

No instruction to banks on withdrawing Rs 2000 notes: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that no instructions have been given to banks on stopping issuing notes of Rs 2000 denomination.

“As far as I know, no such instruction has been given to the banks (on stopping issue of Rs 2000 notes),” she said at a meeting with heads of PSU banks.

The Minister’s comments come after reports of ATM recalibration to phase out of Rs 2,000 notes and that the largest currency denomination will remain legal tender, but would be gradually phased out of public circulation. IANS

10:45 AM

‘Auto firms must manage supply chains better’

Automobile industry has to manage supply chains better in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak in China, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) vice-chairman Vikram Kirloskar, who is also CII president, said on Wednesday.

“We have to learn how to manage our supply chains, and plan for risk to supply chains,” he said in a brief interaction at the national launch of Toyota’s Vellfire luxury, self-charging hybrid MPV here.

On the impact on component supplies from China for the Indian auto industry, he said “some impact will be there, [but] I understand factories in China have already started [again],” he said.

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10:30 AM

V shaped recovery for global markets delusional: Nouriel Roubini

Painting a grim picture for global stock markets already reeling from the twin onslaughts of economic sluggishness and the coronavirus, American economist Nouriel Roubini said the prospect of a ‘V shaped recovery, where all of the virus—hit is absorbed within the first quarter, is a “delusional” idea and investors are better off with cash and bonds rather than plunging into equity.

“People, when they talk about V shaped, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Roubini said during a television interview on Wednesday.

Roubini is the Professor of Economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business and was Senior Economist for International Affairs in the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration. IANS

10:15 AM

Sensex drops over 200 points; Nifty near 11,600

Market benchmark Sensex dropped over 200 points in opening session on Thursday as incessant foreign fund outflow and coronavirus overhang weighed on global investor sentiment.

The 30-share index dropped 202.44 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 39,686.52, while the NSE Nifty fell 62.75 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 11,615.75.

Top losers in the Sensex pack included HCL Tech, HDFC Bank, TCS, M&M, IndusInd Bank, Sun Pharma, ICICI Bank and Reliance Industries.

On the other hand, Titan, NTPC, Nestle India and Kotak Bank were trading with gains.

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10:00 AM

Investors can purchase MFs on bourses

Investors can now directly purchase or redeem mutual fund (MF) units using the stock exchange platform, a facility that was hitherto only available to distributors or investment advisers.

In a circular issued on Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) extended the facility to all mutual fund investors.

“In order to further increase the reach of this platform, it has been decided to allow investors to directly access infrastructure of the recognised stock exchanges to purchase and redeem mutual fund units directly from mutual fund/asset management companies,” stated the circular.

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9:45 AM

Govt decides to lift ban on onion exports

The government on Wednesday decided to lift the nearly six-month-old ban on export of onions in a bid to protect the interests of farmers as prices are likely to fall sharply due to bumper rabi crop.

Sources said the decision was taken at a meeting of a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Home Minister Amit Shah.

“Since the price of onion has stabilised and there is bumper onion crop, government has decided to lift ban on export of onions. Expected monthly harvest in March is over 40 lakh MT compared to 28.4 lakh MT last year,” Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in a tweet on Wednesday. PTI

9:30 PM

Q3 GDP to grow at 4.5%: SBI

The GDP growth for the October-December quarter is estimated to be 4.5%, according to a State Bank of India (SBI) report.

For the full year, the projection has been revised upwards to 4.7% from 4.6%.

The economy grew by 5% in the first quarter and 4.5% in the second quarter — the lowest in 26 quarters.

“Our composite leading indicator (index of 33 major leading indicators) suggests that GDP growth will remain flat at 4.5% in Q3 of FY20,” the report, authored by Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser, SBI, said. The government is scheduled to release Q3 GDP data by the end of this week.

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9:15 PM

Coronavirus will harm world economy: EU economy chief

The coronavirus epidemic is bound to dent global economic growth, the European Union’s Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday as the outbreak continued to spread to more countries, wiping trillions of dollars off world financial markets.

“The only certainty about Covid—19 is that it will have an economic impact at global level,” Gentiloni said in Brussels, referring to the new coronavirus strain, whose symptoms are similar to those of flu.

Believed to have originated from wildlife in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, Covid—19 has infected 80,000 people in 27 countries. The vast majority of cases have been in China, where the virus has killed nearly 2,700 people. IANS

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:57:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/businesslive-27-feb-2020/article30928679.ece

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