Today's top business news: Stocks surge, RBI Governor says economic recovery to be gradual, Centre's total tax collection falls 22.5% till September 15, and more

 thehindu.com  09/16/2020 10:36:37  8

The benchmark stock indices have opened the day on a flat note with some minor gains.

Government data suggest that the country's trade deficit has eased despite a sharp fall in exports.

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

US dollar hits new 2020 low against the Chinese yuan

Sensex surges 258 points; Nifty reclaims 11,600

The benchmark indices that opened the day flat managed to trend up in the afternoon.

PTI reports: "Domestic equity benchmark Sensex jumped 258 points on Wednesday following gains in HDFC Bank, Infosys and M&M amid sustained foreign fund inflows.

The 30-share BSE index ended 258.50 points or 0.66 per cent higher at 39,302.85. The NSE Nifty rose 82.75 points or 0.72 per cent to 11,604.55.

M&M was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, climbing over 4 per cent, followed by Bajaj Auto, Sun Pharma, HDFC Bank, Infosys, L&T and UltraTech Cement.

On the other hand, IndusInd Bank, NTPC, SBI, Axis Bank, Bharti Airtel and ONGC were among the laggards.

According to traders, stock-specific action and sustained foreign fund inflows drove domestic equities higher, despite mixed cues from global markets ahead of the US Federal Reserves policy outcome.

Foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 1,170.89 crore on a net basis on Tuesday, exchange data showed.

Further, Reserve Bank Governor Shaktikanta Das assurance to the industry that the central bank will take all necessary measures to ensure liquidity in the system and promote economic growth too lifted market sentiment, traders said.

Meanwhile, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul ended in the red, while Tokyo settled with gains.

Stock exchanges in Europe were trading on a positive note in early deals.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 2 per cent higher at USD 41.34 per barrel.

In the forex market, the rupee strengthened by 12 paise to finish at 73.52 against the US dollar."

India's coal-fired power output picks up as industrial use rises

More signs of greenshoots as the economy is unlocked.

Reuters reports: "India's coal-fired electricity generation rose 9.4% in the first half of September, provisional government data showed, as demand from industrial western states rose for the first time since coronavirus lockdowns were enforced.

The country's overall electricity generation rose 1.6% during the first 15 days of September, a Reuters analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid operator POSOCO showed, driven by higher consumption by states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Coal-fired electricity generation accounted for 70% of India's power output in 2019, according to India's Central Electricity Authority. The share of the fuel in power generation fell to as low as 60% during the coronavirus lockdowns, as use of renewable energy for electricity generation rose.

However, the share of coal in India's overall electricity generation rose to nearly 66% during the first 15 days of September, the highest since March 2020 levels of 71.2%, data from POSOCO showed.

Coal India Ltd, the world's largest coal miner, had reported its first increase in production in five months during the month of August, driven by higher demand from power producers.

Electricity use by Gujarat rose 6.2%, whereas consumption in Maharashtra rose 4.3%, the data showed. The two states, among the most industrial in the country, together account for about a fifth of annual power consumption.

Power consumption by industries and offices account for half of India's electricity demand. Most states have removed nearly all restrictions and opened up factories, even as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the country.

While solar-powered electricity generation continued to rise, surging over a third compared with the previous year, hydro and wind power output fell, the data showed.

Hydro power output fell over 10%, while wind-based electricity generation fell by over half, the data showed. Gas-fired generation rose about 8%."

Rupee settles 12 paise higher at 73.52 against US dollar

The rupee strengthened by 12 paise and settled at 73.52 (provisional) against the US dollar on Wednesday supported by positive domestic equities and weak American currency.

At the interbank forex market, the local unit witnessed high volatility against the US dollar. It opened at 73.70, gained the lost ground and finally closed on a positive note at 73.52 against the US dollar, registering a gain of 12 paise over its previous closing price 73.64.

During the session, the domestic unit touched an intra-day high of 73.48 and a low of 73.78 against the greenback.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenbacks strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.12% to 92.94.

Explainer | Why are the Agriculture Bills being opposed

Three Bills on agriculture reforms  The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020  were introduced in the Parliament on September 14 to replace the ordinances issued during the lockdown.

Opposition members in the Lok Sabha plan to move a resolution against the Trade and Commerce ordinance and the Price Assurance ordinance on September 16, following which Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will move that both the Bills replacing those ordinances be passed.

Total tax collection falls 22.5% till Sep 15: Source

An update on the bleak fiscal situation.

PTI reports: "Total tax collection of the Centre, including advance tax collection for the second quarter, fell 22.5 per cent to Rs 2,53,532.3 crore till September 15 of the current fiscal as compared to the year-ago period, according to an income tax department source.

The source shared some details about the provisional data.

During the same period ended September 15, 2019, total tax collection stood at Rs 3,27,320.2 crore, the income tax department source from Mumbai zone told PTI over phone on Wednesday.

However, the source refused to share the advance tax numbers separately for the current quarter.

The numbers are provisional as banks will be able to update the final data by the end of the day, the source said.

During the first quarter ended June, gross tax collections fell 31 per cent driven down by a massive 76 per cent plunge in advance tax mop-up, as the country was in a full lockdown due to the pandemic."

ShareChat acquires video production company HPF Films

Indian social media platform ShareChat on Wednesday said it has acquired HPF Films, a video production company specialised in digital content.

The acquisition will help ShareChat and its short video platform Moj to strengthen their efforts towards building a better content ecosystem, establishing a stronger creator fraternity, and augmenting their advertising solutions for brands, a company statement said.

However, the company did not disclose the financial details of the transaction.

Started in 2018, HPF Films has ideated and produced over 3,500 titles across different formats including web-series, digital ads, short films, and documentaries for more than 20 brands like Meesho, OKCredit, ixigo, and Ola among others.

Homegrown Kaagaz Scanner app eyes 15-20 mn users

The ban of Chinese apps is playing to the favor of certain India-born apps.

PTI reports: "Tech startup Ordenado Labs has seen strong growth in usage of its indigenously developed app, Kaagaz Scanner in the weeks following the ban on Chinese apps, and is confident of its user base touching about 15-20 million users over the next few months.

The company launched the document scanning app on June 14, just days before the Indian government banned 59 mobile apps with Chinese links - including Kaagazs rival, CamScanner - on June 29, terming these apps prejudicial to sovereignty of the country.

(The ban of) CamScanner has left a huge void for about 100 million users in India. We are of course targeting that number. It will be very difficult to achieve that number in one year but on a conservative side, we look to achieve at least 15-20 per cent of that market soon, Ordenado Labs co-founder Gaurav Shrishrimal told PTI.

Ordenado Labs - a startup founded in July 2019 by Snehanshu Gandhi, Gaurav Shrishrimal and Tamanjit Singh Bindra - is building a suite of artificial intelligence-powered utility tools to help users manage their day-to-day tasks seamlessly.

Kaagaz Scanner is the second product that has been developed by the company and it plans to bring more products in coming months.

Kaagaz Scanner, which has already crossed 1.2 million downloads on the Google Play Store, is an offline app that allows users to scan documents. The iOS version will be made available by the end of the year.

Given that the data is stored on the users phone itself, it is safe to use. Additionally, users can also lock on the app to secure it further against any unauthorised access, Shrishrimal said, highlighting the privacy focus of the app.

Asked about monetisation plans, Shrishrimal said the company is currently focussed on building a world-class scanning and storage app.

We will be introducing a premium version in the future which will be around features like extra data storage capacity, AI features such as auto document categorisation and many more features. We feel that a simple cloud storage is a basic requirement that every user should have for free but we plan to offer a smart storage to our users that would be a game changer, he added.

Shrishrimal said building awareness among Indian users, including various institutions to use an Indian scanning app is very important right now.

Having received a special mention in #AatmaNirbharBharat App Challenge and recognitions from Education Ministry and MeitY, we will definitely plan to work with such institutions to build this awareness. We are increasing the quality of the product at a fast pace to enhance product experience which is very important, he said.

The company had raised angel funding from First Cheque and was a part of the Axilor Ventures Accelerator programme in Winter 2019-20. It is looking at raising funds in the next 3-4 months as it expands its team and reaches more users."

Utilising capacity fully is the priority: Toyota Kirloskar

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) on Tuesday said its first priority was to ensure full utilisation of production capacity it had already created in the country.

The company has an installed capacity of 3.1 lakh units spread across two plants in Bidadi, near Bengaluru. Our first step is to ensure full capacity utilisation of what we have created and this will take time, TKM said in a statement.

In an interview with Bloomberg earlier, TKM vice chairman Shekar Viswanathan said that the government kept taxes on cars and motorbikes so high that firms found it hard to build scale.

Economic recovery is not fully entrenched; recovery to be gradual, says RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das

Highlights from the RBI Governor's address to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry:

* Economic recovery is not fully entrenched; recovery to be gradual

* Persistently large liquidity infusion by RBI has ensured large borrowing by the government at low rate and in non-disruptive manner

* Education contributes to economic development and New Education Policy is historic and also much needed new age reform

* Tourism could be engine of growth and there is a lot of pent-up demand which needs to capitalised

* Interests of depositors and financial stability were kept in mind while framing the loan restructuring scheme

* Fragility of NBFCs is a concern and they are still not at par with banks in terms of regulation

FDI of $1 billion flowed from China to over 1,600 firms

More than 1,600 Indian companies have received foreign direct investments (FDI) worth $1 billion from China during the April 2016 to March 2020 period, according to government data.

The data was provided in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday to a question on whether it was a fact that large-scale investments had been made by Chinese agencies in Indian companies, especially start-ups.

Over 1,600 companies received $1.02 billion in FDI equity inflows from China for the April 2016 to March 2020 period, the data show.

These companies were in 46 sectors. Out of them, the automobile industry, printing of books, electronics, services and electrical equipment received more than $100 million in FDI each during the period.

Investors believe this stock-market rally has legs

Most investors polled in BofA Global Research's latest fund manager survey believe this stock-market rally has legs. A net 47% of those surveyed believe corporate earnings will rise 10% or more over the next 12 months, the highest since February 2011. pic.twitter.com/1wVPHOnFGi

— Lisa Abramowicz (@lisaabramowicz1) September 15, 2020

Rupee sees high volatility against USD ahead of US Fed policy decision

High volatility marked the opening for the rupee this morning.

PTI reports: "The rupee witnessed high volatility against the US dollar in opening trade on Wednesday ahead of the US Federal Reserves policy decision.

The local unit opened at 73.70 at the interbank forex market, registering a decline of 7 paise over its last close, but soon pared the losses and was trading at 73.64, unchanged from its previous closing.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenbacks strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.01 per cent to 93.06.

The focus will be on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) tonight. Market participants would expect further clarifications from the US Fed on how average inflation targeting framework would be implemented, said Abhishek Goenka Founder and CEO, IFA Global.

Goenka further said that the threshold for the US dollar to weaken from current levels is high as a lot of dovishness has already been factored in. One possible trigger could be the Fed predicating keeping rates at close to zero on inflation expectations reaching a certain level.

On the domestic equity market front, the 30-share BSE benchmark Sensex was trading 119.52 points higher at 39,163.87 and the broader NSE Nifty rose 31.35 points to 11,553.15.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 1,170.89 crore on a net basis on Tuesday, according to provisional exchange data.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 1.48 per cent to USD 41.13 per barrel."

Exports fall 12.7%, trade deficit eases to $6.77 bn

Contracting for the sixth straight month, Indias exports slipped 12.7% to $22.7 billion in August, on account of decline in the shipments of petroleum, leather, engineering goods and gems and jewellery items, according to government data released on Tuesday.

The countrys merchandise imports too declined 26% to $29.47 billion in August, leading to a trade deficit of $6.77 billion, compared with a $13.86 billion deficit a year earlier.

Oil imports declined 41.6% to $6.42 billion in the month under review. Gold imports jumped to $3.7 billion in August as against $1.36 billion in August 2019.

Sensex, Nifty start on cautious note amid tepid global cues

Yet another flat opening to the stock bourses this morning.

PTI reports: "Domestic equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty opened on a cautious note on Wednesday tracking mixed cues from global markets ahead of the US Federal Reserves policy outcome.

The 30-share BSE index was trading 53.41 points or 0.14 per cent higher at 39,097.76; while the NSE Nifty rose 14.40 points or 0.12 per cent to 11,536.20.

M&M was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 3 per cent, followed by Bajaj Auto, Maruti, L&T, Tata Steel, UltraTech Cement and Nestle India.

On the other hand, HCL Tech, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Bajaj Finance and SBI were among the laggards.

In the previous session, Sensex ended 287.72 points or 0.74 per cent higher at 39,044.35, while Nifty rose 81.75 points or 0.71 per cent to 11,521.80.

Meanwhile, exchange data showed that foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 1,170.89 crore on a net basis on Tuesday.

Domestic equities opened on a cautious note tracking mixed cues from global markets ahead of the US Federal Reserves policy outcome, traders said.

The American central bank began its latest meeting on interest-rate policy on Tuesday, and it will announce its decision later in the day.

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

Stock exchanges on Wall Street ended higher in overnight trade.

Meanwhile, global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.51 per cent higher at USD 41.14 per barrel."

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