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News digest: Lok Sabha polls, Infy results, IIP growth, H1B visa, and more

BS Web Team/ 12 Jan 19 | 03:16 AM

Finance Ministry plans to place its representatives across all Sebi panels

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is planning to place its representatives across  all committees empanelled by capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), it is learnt. The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) has directed the market regulator to provide a list of all the committees constituted so far, according to sources. Read more here

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Lok Sabha polls: Modi govt will bring back economic offenders, says Shah

Terming the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as a battle of ideologies, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Friday beseeched party workers with “folded hands" to help Narendra Modi win a second term as prime minister and pave the way for constructing a “new India" by 2022. Read more here

Trump promises policy changes to allow H1B visa workers US citizenship

US President Donald Trump on Friday assured H1B visa holders, a majority of whom are Indian IT professionals, that his administration will soon bring changes that will give them certainty to stay in America and a “potential path to citizenship".

Trump on Friday tweeted that his administration is planning an overhaul of US policies on H1B visa and will encourage talented and highly-skilled people to pursue career options in the US. Read more here

Infosys posts 30% drop in Q3 net profit, but raises revenue guidance

Infosys on Friday said it was expecting to close 2018-19 (FY19) on a much stronger note than it had estimated, reflecting the growing optimism of the current management.

The Bengaluru-based company has given the guidance that it will close the fiscal year with a revenue growth rate of 8.5-9 per cent, taking it closer to double-digit growth, which its larger rival TCS has projected for FY19.  Read more here

India's Industrial growth falls to 17-month low of 0.5% in November

A contraction in manufacturing output, especially capital and consumer goods, pulled down industrial growth to a 17-month low of 0.5 per cent in November.

This comes just a month after growth had scaled an 11-month high of 8.4 per cent in October. Read more here

Future Group bets big on food delivery business, to invest Rs 1,000 crore

The country's largest retailer, Future Group, will step into the competitive food delivery space by launching cloud kitchens. In a conversation with Business Standard, Future Group Chief Executive Officer Kishore Biyani said the plan was to be present during every meal, including breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.  Read more here

COMPANIES

Lessors may take back planes from cash-strapped Jet Airways: Report

Crisis talks between India's cash-strapped Jet Airways Ltd and aircraft lessors have failed to ease a row over late payments, prompting some lessors to explore taking back aircraft, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

In what one of the people described as an ill-tempered showdown between the airline and some of the world's leading leasing firms, Jet's main lender State Bank of India sought to provide reassurance that India's biggest full-service carrier is doing all it can to pay its staff, suppliers and creditors. Read more here

TCS focuses on India as cost of managing foreign projects increases

With rising subcontracting costs in on-site locations — especially in the US —weighing on its margins, TCS is looking to execute as much work possible from India, to raise the off-shore efficiency to as high as 90 per cent.

Traditionally, the IT outsourcing services industry uses its off-shore base for service delivery to the extent of 70 per cent, while the remaining is executed out of on-shore locations in client geographies. Read more here

Confident of meeting guidance for this year: Infosys CEO & MD Salil Parekh

Even as its net profit and margins were hit on account of a one-time impairment provision and higher tax outgo, the Infosys management on Friday exuded confidence of closing the financial year on a much stronger note.

CEO and MD Salil Parekh, in an interview to Debasis Mohapatra and Yuvraj Malik, said the near-term visibility into the deal flow is quite robust, though the firm has a long way to go.  Read more here

Fortis moves SC against stay on stake sale, claims 'great prejudice'

Fortis Healthcare on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking a modification of the December 14 order in which the top court had ordered a stay on the stake sale of the hospital chain to IHH Healthcare Berhad, Malaysia. The company told the apex court it had not been made a party to the petition moved by Daiichi Sankyo Co.

Sources said Fortis Healthcare claimed the stay was causing it “great prejudice" as it was a listed company engaged in the field of healthcare and was responsible for running many hospitals in Delhi and several other parts of the country. Read more here

ECONOMY AND POLICY 

Draft industrial policy sets aside job creation target, focuses on MSMEs

The draft industrial policy has refrained from its plan to create fixed targets for job growth in specific sectors and is, instead, focusing on ‘wide growth’ for the next two decades.

The industrial policy, the draft of which may be taken up by the Cabinet for a nod next week, focuses on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with an aim to attract $100 billion annual foreign direct investment (FDI), sources say. Read more here

ADB backs govt's basic income plan, but cautions against loan waivers

Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday backed the government’s plan to implement a universal basic income (UBI) but said it needs to be assessed how such a scheme could be rolled out efficiently.

Raising doubts over farm loan waivers, it said instead of such write-offs, schemes like Telengana’s Rythu Bandhu and Odisha’s KALIA should be analysed to give support to distressed farmers.  Read more here

Isro to set up Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru for manned missions

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is setting up a ‘Human Space Flight Centre’ in Bengaluru, which will support its quest of making country’s maiden manned space mission a success.

“This centre will help in carrying out the job related to all the human space programmes," said Isro chairman K Sivan.  Read more here

Forex reserves rise by $2.7 bn to $396 bn, highest weekly gain in a year

India's foreign exchange (forex) reserves rose by nearly $2.7 billion as on January 4, 2019, according to data released by the Reserve Bank of India on Friday. This is the highest weekly gain since February 2018.

The total forex reserves was $396 billion against $393 billion reported for the week ended January 4. Foreign currency assets rose by $2.2 billion to $370 billion during the week under review.  Read more here

MARKETS

Mismatch seen in Indian, global stock market volatility indices

Indices measuring stock market volatility and policy uncertainty in India seem disconnected with their global counterparts.

A combination of positive macroeconomic factors — such as falling crude oil prices and relative insulation from the trade war — has resulted in a widening gap, according to experts. Read more here

Robust revenue growth, increase in guidance make Infosys a bullish bet

India’s largest software services companies Infosys and TCS had similar third quarter results — strong revenue growth but weak profitability.

However, what could lead investors to fancy Infosys as compared to its larger peer are robust revenue growth and increase in FY19 top line guidance to 8.5-9 per cent from 6-8 per cent earlier.  Read more here

After WealthTrust buyout, digital platform space may see more consolidation

The buyout of Mumbai-based mutual fund (MF) digital platform Wealth Trust, which recently got a lease of life after Orowealth acquired it, indicates more consolidation in the direct platform space.

According to experts, the direct platform space can see more consolidation as existing players try to deal with pricing pressure posed by new entrants like Paytm. Read more here

Ashok Chawla quits as NSE chief after govt allows CBI to prosecute him

Former bureaucrat Ashok Chawla Friday resigned as chairman of the National Stock Exchange with immediate effect, the bourse said, hours after the CBI said the Centre has granted sanction to prosecute him in the Aircel-Maxis case.

The exchange while making the announcement Friday night did not provide specific details. Read more here

OPINION

Still a Fudget: Why the Union Budget remains someone's version of the facts

KP Geethakrishnan, finance secretary in the early 1990s, is credited with having called the Budget a Fudget—a reference to how the fiscal deficit was no different from many companies’ profit announcements: Someone’s version of the facts. Following the subsequent Budget presentation and before the cameras rolled at the follow-through TV show, your columnist asked the then chief consultant in the finance ministry, Ashok Desai, how much of a fudge the latest Budget numbers were. His typically crisp reply: “We have reduced the fudging by 50 per cent." Today, of course, Fudget is an app for managing your personal finances.  Read more here

Shekhar Gupta: Rahul Gandhi needs votes, not just retweets

Once upon a nearly forgotten time, leaders in democracies talked to all citizens. When they were elected to office, they looked after the interests of all, including the very sizeable number who did not vote for them, because public office was public trust. Now they only talk to what is called their “base". The rest don’t matter. Read more here

Lunch with BS: Omidyar's Roopa Kudva on staff involvement in corporate CSR

After a career grappling the tempestuousness of the Indian stock markets and leading India’s best-known credit agency for seven years, Roopa Kudva, the first woman to have headed Crisil, found herself at the crossroads at 50.

Her Crisil assignment — the organisation played a key role in bringing transparency into the Indian markets — was one she often describes as the “best job in the world" and one she stumbled into through serendipity. Read more here

Big can be beautiful too

The year has begun well. Our little farm has produced vegetables that, like Jack’s beanstalk, growed and growed, till they were pulled out by an alarmed maali, who claims to have seen nothing like it in his life. The radish crop is humungous-sized, and the largest among them tipped over two feet in length, half that in circumference, and couldn’t be weighed on the kitchen scale that is used for more delicate measurements. Ten days after it was farmed, we’re still serving portions of it to guests with their drinks, and having it in salads for lunch and dinner — so please excuse our pungent breaths, ladies and gentlemen, but we’re talking record here. Read more here

The government-RBI game

In game theory, a zero-sum game is one where what is won is exactly equal to what is lost. If you examine the current debate on the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) — or for that matter any debate on governments and central banks anywhere in the world — you will find that this is how it is discussed. What one side gains is exactly equal to what the other side loses. Read more here

The AGP's real dilemma

Let us be clear. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) which recently walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), snapped its ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and got its ministers to step down from the state government, knows it is peripheral to the stability of the Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam. Read more here

BEYOND BUSINESS

How homegrown wineries are innovating to cater a more evolved Indian palate

After certain local wines won international laurels, Indian restaurants have started recommending them. Read more here

Kala Ghoda brings art, culture out of closed spaces and into neighbourhood

Mumbai's Kala Ghoda Arts Festival turns 20 this year. Read more here

Why polycystic ovarian syndrome remains a painful mystery after 100 years

Nearly a century after it was first diagnosed, polycystic ovarian syndrome continues to be a painful mystery. Questions abound, but some answers are available today. Read more here

A shoddy attempt: 'The Accidental Prime Minister' lacks both depth, focus

A breezy but shallow account, focussed mainly on the first term of the Congress-led alliance, tries to cover a lot of ground in 110 minutes.  Read more here

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Sensex

Company Price Gain (%)
Sun Pharma.Inds.430.753.04
Yes Bank197.302.71
Tata Steel463.801.53
Hind. Unilever1,765.700.90
Vedanta192.850.73

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