Today's Top Business Developments: NTT to invest $1.5 bn in data centres in India; Sensex sheds 200 pts; Tata Motors enters premium hatchback segment and more  01/22/2020 11:06:07  8

Japanese tech major NTT on Wednesday said a significant part of its USD 7 billion global commitment for data centres business would be spent in India over the next four years.

The company also feels that there will be margin compression issues for the data centres business in India as capacity supply goes up along with an increase in competition, NTTs country chief executive for global data centres and cloud infrastructure, Sharad Sanghi, told PTI.

In the last few months, a string of corporates, including the Adani Group, Hiranandanis and Reliance Industries have announced investments in data centres, on the back of regulatory moves like data sovereignity which makes it incumbent upon financial institutions to house their data locally.

India is the fastest growing region for NTT and a substantial amount of the USD 7 billion commitment will be invested here, Sanghi said. PTI

India falls to 51st position in EIUs Democracy Index

India slipped 10 places to 51st position in the 2019 Democracy Indexs global ranking, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, which cited erosion of civil liberties in the country as the primary cause for the downtrend.

Indias overall score fell from 7.23 in 2018 to 6.90 in the Index that provides a snapshot of the current state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories.

On India, the report said, the country dropped ten places in the Democracy Indexs global ranking to 51st. The primary cause of the democratic regression was an erosion of civil liberties in the country.

The index is based on five categories -- electoral process and pluralism; the functioning of government; political participation; political culture; and civil liberties. PTI

Sensex sheds 208 pts; ONGC tanks 5 pc

Market benchmark Sensex surrendered early gains to end 208 points lower on Wednesday as energy, power, auto and financial stocks came under selling pressure.

After plunging 473 points from the days high in a choppy session, the 30-share BSE index settled 208.43 points, or 0.50 per cent, lower at 41,115.38. It hit an intra-day high of 41,532.29 and a low of 41,059.04.

Likewise, the broader NSE Nifty closed 62.95 points, or 0.52 per cent, down at 12,106.90.

ONGC was the top loser in the Sensex pack, tumbling 5.13 per cent, followed by NTPC, Maruti, Kotak Bank, HDFC, Asian Paints, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.

On the other hand, Nestle India, TCS, Infosys, HCL Tech, SBI and Bharti Airtel ended with gains of up to 1.86 per cent.

According to experts, major stocks are in the process of correcting to their support levels ahead of the Union Budget. PTI

GAIL to invest over Rs 45,000 cr to create infra for gas-based economy

GAIL India Ltd, the countrys largest gas utility, plans to invest over Rs 45,000 crore over the next five years to expand the National Gas Pipeline Grid and city gas distribution network to help push for greater use of environment-friendly fuel, its chairman Ashutosh Karnatak said.

The gas pipelines are planned to take the fuel to the east and northeast regions as well as to consumers in the south as part of the government push to raise the share of natural gas in Indias energy basket to 15 per cent by 2030 from the current 6.2 per cent, he said.

GAILs push for the creation of infrastructure is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modis vision of creating a gas-based economy that is less reliant on polluting fuels for meeting its energy needs. PTI

Stock markets to be open on Budget day: BSE

Stock markets will be open for normal trading on February 1, Saturday, when the Union Budget will be presented, according to a circular.

The stock markets are generally closed on Saturdays and Sundays, except for special circumstances.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is to present the Budget on February 1.

In a circular, BSE said the stock markets would open for trading on February 1, Saturday, on account of Union Budget for the financial year 2020-21.

Trading would be conducted during normal hours from 9 am to 3.30 pm. PTI

Tata Motors enters premium hatchback segment, rolls out Altroz

Tata Motors on Wednesday entered into the premium hatchback segment with the rollout of Altroz at a starting price of Rs 5.29 lakh (ex-showroom India).

Unveiled in December last year, the Altroz, which is the industrys first BSVI diesel-ready car is also the first vehicle model based on the brands Alfa platform and the second vehicle showing the Impact 2.0 design language.

Besides Altroz, Tata Motors also launched the BSVI versions of Nexon, Tiago and Tigor. PTI

US criticises CPEC, says no transparency in projects undertaken by China

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells has renewed the criticism of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), emphasising that there is no transparency in the projects and it will increase cash-strapped Pakistans debt burden.

Speaking at an event here on Tuesday during her four-day visit to Pakistan, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia also said that companies blacklisted by the World Bank have got contracts under the CPEC.

The CPEC is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking Chinas resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistans strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea. PTI

All must support WTO for global trade: Prabhu

Former trade minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday said the WTO must be allowed to function freely and more efficiently for global trade to flourish, though some changes are evident in the multilateral institution going forward.

Speaking here at a session on The Great Indo Pacific Race, Prabhu also said oceans will play a very important role going forward, including for trade and security.

We must allow free flow of trade and commerce in the Indo Pacific region. This region has huge growth potential provided there is cooperation and collaboration and improved connectivity, he said.

Prabhu, who is also the Prime Minister Narendra Modis G20 Sherpa, said trade can create jobs and more business opportunities.

On World Trade Organization (WTO), he said, over a long period of time we have learnt and realised that multilateral bodies must be allowed to function freely and efficiently as they can promote economic integration. PTI

India initiates probe into alleged dumping of newsprint from 5 countries

India has started a probe into alleged dumping of newsprint, used in printing of newspapers, from five countries, including Australia and Canada, following a complaint by an industry association.

Indian Newsprint Manufacturers Association has filed an application before Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) on behalf of domestic industry for an anti-dumping investigation on imports of Newsprint, in rolls or sheets, excluding glazed newsprint originating in or exported from Australia, Canada, European Union, Hong Kong, and Russia.

DGTR is an investigation arm of the commerce ministry, which probes dumping of goods, significant increase in imports and subsidised imports from Indias trade partners.

Global trade rules -- framed by Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) -- allow these initiatives to guard domestic industry from these anti-trade practices.

In a notification, the directorate has stated that on the basis of the prima facie evidence submitted by the association about dumping of the product from these countries, the authority, hereby, initiates an investigation.

In the probe, DGTR will determine the existence, degree and effect of alleged dumping on domestic manufacturers. PTI

Housing sales down 9%, new supply falls 10% in Oct-Dec: Report

Housing sales fell 9 per cent during October-December across nine cities to 60,453 units due to economic slowdown and liquidity crisis, according to a report.

Housing brokerage firm PropTiger recently reported 30 per cent fall in sales in nine cities during October-December quarter. However, during 2019 calendar year, realty consultants Knight Frank India and Anarock mentioned that sales rose by one per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.

The absorption witnessed a dip of 9 per cent as compared to the same period last year and new launches have dropped by 10 per cent on a year-on-year basis. The downtrend observed was mainly due to economic slowdown and liquidity crisis in the market, PropEquity said in its Q4 report.

The nine cities tracked by PropEquity are Mumbai, Thane, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Noida, Gurugram, Pune and Hyderabad.

Residential real estate continues to be an end user driven market as ready to move-in or nearing completion properties are being preferred. Consumers are now looking for developers with excellent track records in terms of quality and execution, it added.

According to the data, housing sales in Pune declined 9 per cent during October-December period to 15,453 units as compared with the year-ago period. PTI

ArcelorMittal-Nippon Steel participating in auctions in Odisha: CEO Dilip Oommen

To securitise its iron ore requirements, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel (AMNS) is participating in the ongoing auctions of iron ore mines in Odisha, a top official of the company said.

ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AMNS India) is a 60:40 joint venture between L N Mittal-owned ArcelorMittal and Japan-based Nippon Steel Corporation.

We are participating in ongoing auctions of mines in Odisha, AMNS CEO Dilip Oommen told PTI on the sidelines of an industry event here.

When asked about the number of mines his company was bidding for in Odisha, he without sharing any figure replied it is more of iron ore, less of coal.

He also replied in affirmative when asked about whether the company would be interested in more iron ore and coal mines which would be put on the block in future for auction.

Speaking on the importance of the opportunity, Oommen said any steel company has to securitise its sources of raw materials and AMNS is no different. So it is also participating in the auction process to securitise its iron requirements.

AMNS India buys iron ore fines in Kirandul in Chhattisgarh, where its beneficiation is carried out and transported to Vizag through slurry pipeline where it is converted into pellets and further transported to Hazira plant in Gujarat. PTI

Saudi Arabia raises $5 billion as bond investors brush off Gulf jitters

Saudi Arabia has raised $5 billion in bonds after receiving around $20 billion in orders, a sign that an escalation in geopolitical tensions in the Gulf has not deterred investors looking for high returns amid low global rates.

The kingdom has issued bonds with maturities of seven, 12 and 35 years, a document by one of the banks leading the deal showed, as part of plans to raise $32 billion worth of debt this year as it seeks new financing channels in an era of lower oil prices.

The bond sale is the first by a Gulf government this year and follows a rise in geopolitical tensions in the region after Iran and the United States, Saudi Arabia's ally, traded military strikes earlier this month.

Riyadh raised $1.25 billion in seven-year bonds offering 85 basis points over U.S. Treasuries, $1 billion in 12-year notes with a spread of 110 basis points over the benchmark, and $2.75 billion in 35-year bonds, the kingdoms longest international bonds ever, with a 3.84% yield.

Saudi Arabia's dollar bonds, among the most liquid in the region, have been relatively resilient after an attack on the facilities of state-owned oil giant Aramco last year and a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani this month. Reuters

HDFC AMC shares rise over 2% on strong Q3 results

Shares of HDFC Asset Management Company on Wednesday rose over 2 per cent after the company posted 45 per cent jump in profit after tax for the December quarter.

The stock gained 2.59 per cent to trade at Rs 3,261.30 on the BSE.

On the NSE, the scrip traded higher by similar margins at Rs 3,262.

HDFC Asset Management Company on Tuesday reported a 45 per cent jump in profit after tax (PAT) to Rs 352.5 crore for the three months ended December 31, 2019.

In comparison, the company, had a posted a PAT of Rs 243.3 crore in the year-ago period, HDFC AMC said in a regulatory filing.

The companys total income rose 11 per cent to Rs 592 crore in the October-December quarter of the current fiscal from Rs 532.7 crore in the same period last financial year. PTI

Zee Entertainment shares fall over 4% on weak Q3 results

Shares of Zee Entertainment Enterprises on Wednesday shed over 4 per cent after the company reported a 38 per cent decline in net profit to Rs 348.60 crore for December 2019 quarter.

The stock slumped 4.05 per cent to trade at Rs 272.45 on the BSE.

On the NSE, the scrip lost 4.25 per cent to Rs 272.

Media and entertainment firm Zee Entertainment on Tuesday reported a 38 per cent fall in its consolidated net profit for October-December quarter at Rs 348.60 crore, mainly on account of decline in advertising revenue.

The company had posted a net profit of Rs 562.76 crore in the same period a year ago, Zee Entertainment said in a BSE filing. PTI

Many of China's provinces cut 2020 GDP growth targets despite easing trade tension

About two-thirds of China's provinces, regions and municipalities have cut their 2020 growth targets from last year, despite easing trade tensions with the United States.

The lower regional targets reinforce expectations of a further slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, after gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at its slowest pace in nearly three decades in 2019, weighed down by weak domestic and global demand.

Of China's provincial-level regions, 22 including Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Henan, Hainan, and Fujian, set lower growth targets this year compared to last, a similar number to last year.

Beijing, Shanghai, and the southern export hub of Guangdong all dropped their targets from 6-6.5% growth to around 6% in 2020, in line with the expected change to the national target.

This year is seen as crucial for the ruling Communist Party to fulfil its goal of doubling GDP and incomes in the decade to 2020.

At least 11 provincial-level regions missed their 2019 GDP targets, according to preliminary statistics released by local governments.

Targets for 2020 ranged from around 5% growth - for the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and the northern city of Tianjin - to around 9% growth for the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Policy sources have told Reuters that Beijing plans to set a lower national growth target of around 6% this year from last year's 6-6.5%, relying on increased infrastructure spending to ward off a sharper slowdown. Reuters

Rupee gains 3 paise against US Dollar in early trade

The rupee appreciated by 3 paise to 71.18 against the US dollar in early trade on Wednesday as easing crude oil prices and gains in domestic equity market lift investor sentiments.

However, a strong US dollar against major global currencies capped gains of the domestic unit, dealers said.

At the interbank foreign exchange market, the rupee opened strong at 71.17 and further gained slightly to hit a high of 71.16 against the greenback.

The domestic unit had settled at 71.21 against the American currency on Tuesday.

Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, declined 0.37 per cent to USD 64.35 per barrel.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenbacks strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.13 per cent to 97.65.

Foreign institutional investors sold equities worth Rs 50.08 crore on a net basis on Tuesday, provisional exchange data showed.

The 10-year Indian government bond yield was at 6.64 per cent. PTI

Sensex jumps over 200 points; Nifty reclaims 12,200

Market benchmark Sensex jumped over 200 points on Wednesday tracking gains in index heavyweights HDFC twins, Infosys and Reliance Industries as global stocks recovered from the previous days losses.

The 30-share BSE index was trading 204.30 points or 0.49 per cent higher at 41,528.11.

Similarly, the broader NSE was trading 46.70 points, or 0.38 per cent, up at 12,216.55.

Infosys was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising up to 1.46 per cent, followed by Bharti Airtel, SBI, Sun Pharma, TCS, Bajaj Finance, HCL Tech, RIL and HDFC duo.

On the other hand, ONGC, NTPC, PowerGrid, Asian Paints and Hero MotoCorp fell up to 2.61 per cent.

According to traders, domestic investors turned positive following recovery in other Asian markets after a day of massive selloff after the outbreak of a new deadly virus in China.

Bourses in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul were trading on a positive note in their early sessions, while Shanghai was still in the red.

Brent crude oil futures slipped 0.36 per cent to USD 64.36 per barrel.

Meanwhile, the rupee appreciated marginally to 71.18 against the US dollar in morning session.

In the previous session, Sensex settled 205.10 points, or 0.49 per cent, lower at 41,323.81; while the Nifty settled 54.70 points, or 0.45 per cent, lower at 12,169.85.

Meanwhile, on a net basis, foreign institutional investors sold equities worth Rs 50.08 crore, while domestic institutional investors offloaded shares worth Rs 307.81 crore on Tuesday, data available with stock exchanges showed. PTI

Oil declines as market surplus forecast counters Libya worries

Oil prices eased on Wednesday, extending declines as the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a market surplus in the first half, helping ease concerns about disruptions that have slashed Libya's crude output.

Brent crude was down 24 cents, or 0.4%, at $64.35 a barrel at 0309 GMT, after dropping 0.3% on Tuesday. U.S. oil fell 29 cents, or 0.5%, to $58.09 a barrel, having declined 0.3% the day before.

The head of the IEA, Fatih Birol, said on Tuesday he expects the market to be in surplus by a million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of this year.

I see an abundance of energy supply in terms of oil and gas, Birol told the Reuters Global Markets Forum, while he was attending World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

It's the reason that recent incidents we have seen - with the Iranian general killed, Libya unrest - didn't boost international oil prices, Birol said, referring to the U.S. killing of an Iranian commander and retaliation by Tehran that sent prices briefly soaring earlier this month. Reuters

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