After 9 years, Fed finally hikes interest rates
9 years, the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates indicating that the US economy is in better shape recovering from the damage of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. The US central bank's policy-setting committee raised the range of its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a per centage point to between 0.25 per cent and 0.50 per cent.
Following is the Fed statement:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in October suggests that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace. Household spending and business fixed investment have been increasing at solid rates in recent months, and the housing sector has improved further; however, net exports have been soft. A range of recent labor market indicators, including ongoing job gains and declining unemployment, shows further improvement and confirms that underutilization of labor resources has diminished appreciably since early this year. Inflation has continued to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective, partly reflecting declines in energy prices and in prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; some survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have edged down.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee currently expects that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will continue to expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen. Overall, taking into account domestic and international developments, the Committee sees the risks to the outlook for both economic activity and the labor market as balanced. Inflation is expected to rise to 2 percent over the medium term as the transitory effects of declines in energy and import prices dissipate and the labor market strengthens further. The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely...Read More
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GST delay will hurt India’s GDP by 1.5%-2%
Industry and foreign investors seems to be losing their patience now. The unnecessary delay in Goods and Services Tax (GST) due to opposition’s rhetoric is hurting Indian economy more than the political party in power. The sad part is that the opposition parties do not understand this simple fact. An early implementation of the GST would have helped India move on to a high growth path. Also, the impact of the GST will not be felt overnight. If GST is rolled out by April 2016 (which seems tough now), then its impact will be visible only in 2018. Hence quicker the rollout, better it is. There is no doubt about the success of GST. World over, it is the standard way of taxation. It unifies a complex tax system and since it is simpler to implement, it creates a broader tax base and efficient taxation too. But GST alone will not help India. GST needs to be supported by other factors too that help increase GST benefits by acting as catalysts. Though factors like new Companies Act, electricity situation have improved, India’s economy is still waiting to see better days when it comes to showstoppers like getting construction permits, enforcing contracts, etc. If these factors are also taken care off and GST is rolled out in next year, then it will help give India the credibility it awaits and also help improve its business rankings. GST is expected to increase government revenue too as with just one authority managing taxes, collections would go up and slippages will be lesser. It will also help poor states as tax will be charged on consumption basis and not manufacturing. This will bring much-needed revenues for poor states that did not earn much from taxing manufacturing sectors...Read More
Further Contraction! WPI inflation slips - 1.99% in November
Confirming the rising trend in food Inflation, the annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, in a highest level seen since January stood at -1.99% for the month of November, 2015 as compared to -3.81% for the previous month and -0.17% during the corresponding month of the previous year. Meanwhile, inflation for September was revised to - 4.59% from the provisional estimate of -4.54%. Build up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 0.85% compared to a build up rate of 0.50% in the corresponding period of the previous year. Primary Articles Index, which occupies 20.12% weightage of the overall WPI index, rose by 1.6% to 256.5 (provisional) from 252.4 (provisional). The evil factor, Food inflation, which occupies 14.33% weightage of Primary Article index, shot up to 5.20% in November as against 2.44% in October. Inflation in pulses and onion stood at 58.17% and 52.69% respectively, while Inflation in case of vegetables was 14.08% during November. However, fuel & power index, which occupies 14.91% weight rose by 0.9 percent to 177.9 (provisional) from 176.4 (provisional) for the previous month due to higher price of high speed diesel (3%) and kerosene and furnace oil (1% each), While, manuactured Products, with 64.97% of the overall weight declined by 0.2% to 153.0 (provisional) from 153.3 (provisional) for the previous month. Lower base effect played a part behind the decline of index, but the inflation still continued to paint a gloomy picture of the current state of affairs of the economy, with inflation based on the consumer price index (CPI) accelerating to a four-month high of 5% in October. Notably, the wholesale inflation for 13th consecutive month remained in negative territory, but deflationary trend eased in month of November. Thus, release of current inflation data re-instills the expectation of RBI not obliging the street with rate cut until Budget, 2015...Read More
Food trouble: CPI and WPI picked up on food in November
SC bans registration of diesel vehicles over 2000cc capacity
The Supreme Court on expected lines has banned registration of diesel passenger vehicles of engine capacity of 2000cc or above in Delhi till 31 March 2016. Small diesel cars have been spared from the ambit of this order, which will come as a relief to many. All taxis in Delhi will have to use CNG with immediate effect. Trucks, which are not bound for Delhi have been prevented by the court from entering the city from National highways 1 and 8. Moreover, the court stated that no truck registered prior to 2005 can ply on Delhi roads. Vehicles carrying goods for Delhi will have to pay green cess in terms of an environment compensation charge (ECC) of Rs.2,600 for big trucks and Rs.1,400 for light commercial vehicles. The Supreme Court had on Tuesday indicated that it will ban the sale of passenger vehicles (including MUVs and SUVs) with diesel engine capacity of over 2000 cc in the national capital for 3-4 months to contain pollution. The worst-hit automakers will be the likes of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Toyota Kirloskar Motor, besides top German luxury car brands - Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Of the ~2.6 million total passenger vehicle sold in the country, Delhi’s share is at 7%, with about 30% being diesel vehicles. It may be recalled that last week, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) announced its decision to ban all diesel vehicles in the capital till 6th January. NGT also directed the central and state governments not to buy any diesel vehicles for their use. As a result, car dealers in Delhi will be saddled with diesel vehicle inventories. The value of these stocks could run into crores of rupees, according to industry estimates.
Sundar Pichai in India! Google’s three-step approach to promoting Internet here
Speaking at today’s "Google for India" event in Delhi, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a team of Google product leads outlined the latest steps in the company’s strategy for bringing more Indians online and giving them a great experience when they get there. The announcements ranged from a January launch date for free WiFi in Railtel stations to new training programs for two million new Android developers over the next three years that make it easier for Indian developers to build solutions to local problems. Pichai laid out Google’s three-step approach to promoting the Internet in India, and his team, many of them visiting from the U.S, talked to the concrete steps Google has taken to help solve the current challenges. "Mobile has proven to be a great equalizer, giving access to computing to a billion more people and counting. But there are fundamental questions around how to ensure a truly inclusive, open Internet for everyone," said Pichai. "We are here to talk about our journey — about where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we are going to help everyone get as much from the Internet as you and I have." First, Google aims to give people in India and other developing countries better access to the full Internet through better connectivity and high-quality software. Google is working with Indian Railways and Railtel to launch RailWire Wifi, providing free WiFi in train stations. Mumbai Central will be the first to go online in January 2016, with 100 more on the way. Marian Croak, Vice-President of Access Strategy & Emerging Markets, said, "Railways are the backbone of Indian transportation and run through the heart of almost every city, town, and village uniting the country. These lines connect India, and working as partners, Google and RailTel will connect India along digital lines as well."...Read More
Cabinet nod to real estate bill bring a whiff of fresh air
The Union cabinet on Thursday cleared the much-awaited real estate bill with a slew of amendments, trying to bring in more transparency into India's opaque real estate industry and infuse more credibility in the system, so as build consumer confidence in the sector. The bill, which was cleared with as many as 20 major amendments, seeks to protect home buyers' interest also aims to boost investments in the ailing sector. The changes in the bill were made based on the recommendations of a select committee of the Rajya Sabha set up to examined the bill. The much-awaited legislation has been pending in the Upper House of Parliament for clearance. While the bill contains some very tough clauses that require builders to deposit at least 70 per cent of the sale proceeds, including land cost, in an escrow account to meet construction cost, and pay interest to home buyers for any default or delay at the same rate they charge them, yet the industry as well as investors have cheered the landmark legislation, as they feel it will create demand in the industry buy creating more confidence and comfort among property buyers. The law seeks to make even small developers accountable, bringing even smaller projects built on at least 500 sq metre of area, or with eight flats, under the purview of the regulatory authority proposed in the bill. This is against the minimum size of 1,000 sq metre suggested earlier. Even the escrow account limit has been raised in the amendment from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. The new law will also make builders liable for structural defects in a building for five years, instead of two years earlier. The new law will be applicable to both commercial and residential projects...Read More
Did Fund Managers make the right move by selling auto stocks in November?
In the month of November, the Nifty Auto index gained 5% even as it lost 3% for the year. The move by fund managers to offload auto stocks seem to have worked well considering that the Nifty Auto index lost over 6% in December till date.
Maruti, which hit a life-time high in November gained 2% for the month. The stock has been on a roll gaining close to 40% for the year. In December, the stock has been flat considering investors have been awaiting the outcome of the shareholder voting over the controversial Gujarat plant proposal that concludes today.
Tata Motors saw its share rising by 9% in November even as it has dropped 25% during the year. For the month of December, the stock has already shed 13%. Sellers on the Tata Motors counter include Reliance MF, Birla SL, Franklin Templeton and SBI MF. ICICI MF sold Tata Motors DVR during the month. Among the leading funds which sold Maruti in November include HDFC MF, ICICI MF, Reliance MF, Birla SL and SBI MF.
Incidentally, Maruti and Ashok Leyland were included in MSCI India Index in November, and usually these stocks catch the fancy of institutional and retail investors.
Birla SL added Hero Motocorp in November and the stock, which gained 6% in November is down 6% in December so far. For the year, it has lost close to 20%.
Among auto ancillaries, Ceat and Bharat Forge were sold by UTI MF. Motherson Sumi was another auto ancillary which was sold by SBI MF. Among the top fresh inclusions in portfolio none of the auto names made it to the list. In fact, HDFC MF completely exited Ashok Leyland while ICICI MF fully offloaded CEAT from its fund.
Fund managers will feel relieved for now that the auto and auto ancillary stocks have posted negative returns for the month of December. The Nifty Auto index which accelerated 5% in November is already on reverse gear losing 6% in December as of date. With auto sector having a rough ride, investors will have to wait for new launches and price increases in the New Year to bring cheer to these counters. The fund managers perhaps have been lucky so far...Read More
Falling Crude Oil prices support switch from fixed to ad-valorem levy of cess
India is lucky to witness a big fall in its import bills due to falling crude oil prices. But this fall has created dual problems for oil exploration companies. As it is the net realization per barrel is low due to price fall. In addition to that, explorers also need to pay a fixed cess of Rs 4500 per ton of crude oil to the government. This cess was fixed and has remained constant since 2012, when prices had breached $100. But with prices now close to breaching decade-lows of $35, this fixed cess forms almost 33% of the total landed cost of the fuel. Oil Ministry is pushing Finance Ministry to cut cess on crude oil and make it ad-valorem in view of the slump in oil prices. Ministry is pushing to have a formula-driven cess that does not exceed 8% of the realization price of crude oil. Interestingly, this cess is not recoverable from downstream refineries and thus, forms part of cost of production. This in turn severely hampers the finances of oil exploration companies. Experts also feel that even though fixed cess is providing good revenues to the government, it is severely impacting small discoveries and making many projects financially unviable. This is dis-incentivizing upstream companies from making further investments in the sector, which could help reduce dependence on oil imports. Countries world over are making changes to cess calculation formulae in line with fall in crude oil prices. This is being done to promote investments and increase production. For a large importer of crude oil like India, this is all the more important to push companies to invest more to produce more oil domestically...Read More
Diesel Divide! M&M to focus on petrol variants: Pawan Goenka
Reacting to the Supreme Court's proposal to ban diesel vehicles of more than 2000 cc engine capacity in Delhi, Pawan Goenka, Executive Director of Mahindra & Mahindra said that the decision could be a "blessing in disguise" for the auto industry as it can lead to new innovations for curbing pollution levels in the country. While terming the pollution issue as a "serious one" which demands immediate measures to be undertaken, he emphasized that all problems should not be attributed to diesel vehicles and the media should not make it an "emotive issue" as it will lead to wrong conclusions. Expressing faith in the Supreme Court, Goenka said that the company will abide by all the decisions but also hoped that the industry will get a fair chance to express their views. SC will be hearing the case on diesel vehicles on January 5th. He also stressed on the fact that the IIT Kanpur report on pollution levels in Delhi, which was comissioned by the Government of Delhi, should be released soon so that the industry may get a chance to read, understand and make recommendations on it. Talking about the plans to combat the SC's proposal, Goenka reiterated that the company will be producing petrol variants of their flagship Scorpio and XUV 500. However, it will be available in the medium to long term, and not in the course of next few months. They are also in the process of creating a petrol line for their other product portfolios, and will study customers' response for them. Creating engines lesser than 2000 cc is also in the pipeline, Goenka stated. NCR accounts for 2% of the total sales of Mahindra (passenger and commercial), so as per Goenka, the revenues of the company will not be significantly affected by the decision. However, they are trying to build a strategy to counter the decision with introducing petrol versions for most their vehicles...Read More
Bring it on! Strong retail flow to IPOs good sign for markets
The latest initial public offerings, Alkem Labs and Dr Lal Path Labs, -- potentially the last two IPOs of the year -- have marked a watershed moment for the primary market as they witnessed overwhelming response from retail investors, who had so far been staying away from the market in spite of the IPO mart showing a lot of buoyancy and institutional investors going gung-ho on the various issues that hit the market during the year. Remember, the year also saw several big-ticket and high-profile issuances, including the one of InterGlobe Aviation and VRL Logistics, among others, which in spite of clocking over-subscription, didn't see very good response from retail investors. For instance, the retail quota of Prabhat Diary (0.34 times) and Pennar Engineered Building Systems (0.41 times) remained unsubscribed even after the specified subscription period. The issue of InterGlobe Aviation, the promoter of low-cost carrier IndiGo, got fully subscribed on the second day of book building itself, thanks mainly to subscription frenzy by qualified institutional bidders (QIBs), but the response from retail investors was tepid. The retail quota of IPOs of Sadbhav Infrastructure Project, Shree Pushkar Chemicals and Navkar Corporation were, however, subscribed fully. Till November, some 18 companies mopped up Rs 11,000 crore through IPOs in the primary market, which kind of came alive after four long years. Last year, only six IPOs hit the market and raised a meager Rs 1,261 crore. The year before, the number was still less at just three, mobilising a total of Rs 1,284 crore...Read More
Indian Millennials and Home Ownership: Back to the Basics
Millennials are by far the most redefining generation to have appeared over the past five decades. Several traits drive their lifestyle choices, not least among them being a much higher acceptance of diverse lifestyles than previous generations. However, millennials have also displayed a decisive return to conservative behaviour and choices. In a clear departure from the adventurousness and even rebelliousness of their preceding generations, millennials show a marked tendency towards traditional values. Especially in India, millennials see a good education as very important in achieving their life goals, and will diligently pursue a degree in their chosen academic fields. They consider loving and respecting their parents as a very desirable trait, will conscientiously avoid putting their health at risk with vices, seek to have stable marriages and will bring their children up with the right kinds of values. Because stability is such an important factor for millennials, owning a home earlier rather than later is a given for them. The previous generations often gave less weightage to this very important ingredient of financial and emotional security, choosing to live in rented homes and using their funds to play the market. This approach was based on the assumption that property is just another investment instrument, and that it does not give the exciting returns that the stock market can yield. It ignored the fact that a self-owned home sets the family free from a lifetime of bondage to landlords, and that its value lies not only in appreciation but also in the fact that it negates the negative monthly outflow of rental money for good. For this reason, Indian millennials have placed home ownership very high on their list of priorities...Read More
Tips on buying a 'Starter' home
Shopping time! Packaged food set to rise to USD 50 billion by 2017
The size of packaged food in India is set to witness a quantum jump to USD 50 billion by 2017 from the present level of USD 32 billion growing by a CAGR of 35 per cent on the back of increasing popularity and demand for ready to eat food, snacks as such food is convenient and gaining consumer confidence, according to an ASSOCHAM survey. Average rate of annual spending on packaged food by Indian households has increased by 32.5 per cent during the years 2010 to 2015 while the growth is expected to touch around 35 per cent in the coming years, it said. The survey highlighted that 76 per cent of parents, mostly both working, with children under five year in the big cities are serving these easy-to-prepare meals at least 10-12 times per month in some form or the other. Mr D.S. Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM said, the consumption of packaged food is much higher in the urban areas, especially metros, where life is fast-paced, attracting lot more companies to launch new types of products and variants. The paper also points out that there is a large divide between urban, semi-urban and rural consumers. The urban demand accounts for 80 per cent of all packaged food. About 76 per cent of the nuclear family feels that they have less less time to spend in the kitchen. It is in this background that home delivery business model for cooked food has grown multi-fold. Nearly 79 per cent of unmarried people prefer the convenience food. The main categories of packaged food are bakery products, canned/dried processed food, frozen processed food, ready-to-eat meals, dairy products, diet snacks, processed meat and health products and drinks, points the survey. Food manufacturers have also started concentrating on manufacturing new innovative food products and ready to eat processed food so that it can keep up with the speed of ever changing taste of the consumers...Read More
Year 2015 ends! What got us here? What will drive us forward?
Rarely does an end-of-year analysis throw up such clear messages. Economic recovery remains patchy with only 50% share of GDP improving. We find 35ppt of the improvement was largely led by the oil bounty and the remaining 15ppt by government action. The fiscal stance could well have been a drag on growth given disappointments on asset sales, had it not been for improvements in the quality of spending, i.e. higher capex. The states, in line with our expectations, have turned out to be responsible fiscal citizens following the freedom granted by the 14th finance commission. As the impact of oil and further improvements in expenditure quality fade over next year, new drivers will have to step in. Higher consumption and progress in monetary transmission could fill the gap for a bit, but for a more solid performance, we'll need to get quickly to the prime source: meaningful reforms.
The science of tracking current growth ...
There continue to be concerns regarding the new GDP series and deflators (see India: Unexcitingly good: 3Q GDP improves as expected, 30 November). To get a better handle on recovery and growth, we look at a host of activity indicators...Read More
Falling global gas prices bonanza for India
Falling global gas prices have brought achche din (good days) for India’s beleaguered power-from-gas sector, ridden with unused power plants and struggling banks that have loaned billions to these projects. Almost 18 months after it shut down due to a lack of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra started generating electricity again for the Indian Railways on November 26, 2015. The Railway Ministry, in this release, said it has started buying 300 mega watt (MW) of electricity from the project, which will later increase to 500 MW. This electricity will be Rs 4/unit cheaper than the rate the Railways pays to power utilities and will result in an annual saving of Rs 1,000 crore, according to the ministry. Ratnagiri Gas and Power, which owns the 1,980 MW Dabhol power plant and the associated natural gas import terminal, owes Rs 8,500 crore to banks–money which now has a chance of being repaid. The revival of the Dabhol project has been made possible by the sharp fall in international gas prices, IndiaSpend reported previously.
Low fuel price cheers
The drop in price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by almost 60% over the last 18 months is evident elsewhere across India. Private-sector power companies, such as Torrent Power, GMR, GVK and Lanco, own 9,773 MW of gas-fuelled power plants. All of these plants have either been idle or operating at low capacity for the past several years. Cheap domestically produced gas was not available, while imported gas at international prices was too expensive to use. This is now changing. During October 2015, these plants generated 2.5 times (or 150% more) the electricity they produced in October 2014. Between April and October, the total electricity generation of these power plants increased 76%...Read More
What are the greatest challenges for companies?
Short of a crisis, the issues on an audit committee’s radar don’t change dramatically from year to year but sometimes small shifts tell a big story. When KPMG International conducted the 2015 Global Audit Survey, it was little surprise to see four key concerns carried over from last year: economic and political uncertainty, regulation and the impact of public policy initiatives, operational risk, and cybersecurity. "While the audit committees are confident when it comes to financial reporting oversight and audit quality; new regulations, rising business complexities, increasing risk volatility and growing investor scrutiny are stretching audit committee agendas," said Mritunjay Kapur, Head of Risk Consulting, KPMG in India. Of the 1500 Audit committee members that participated in this global survey, three out of four said the time required to carry out their responsibilities has increased significantly (24 per cent) or moderately (51 per cent). Half of the respondents said the audit committee might not have the time or expertise to oversee risk management...Read More
YouTube Rewind: What India watched in 2015
As we gear up to ring in the New Year, let’s pause for a moment and rewind to remember the popular videos of YouTube that enthralled and entertained each one of us throughout the year. The year 2015 was all-and-all about comedy. YouTube Rewind in India highlights how Indians have a growing appetite for lighthearted videos, and comedy is what they tune into on YouTube. This is evident as 5 out of top 10 most viewed videos on YouTube were comedy. Grabbing the first spot is the amusing comic music video by AIB: Every Bollywood Party Song feat. Irrfan which redefined comedy and gave the video a very refreshing twist. AIBs : Honest Indian Weddings (Part 1), PK movie Spoof , TVF's Barely Speaking with Arnub | Arvind Kejriwal are amongst the other top trending comedy videos which were placed in the list of top 10. Interestingly Indians also turn to YouTube to watch episodes of popular TV shows such as Chhota Bheem - aur - Krishna Jodi No. #1, Crime Patrol - Sting Operation 3 , Sujoy Ghosh's Epic Thriller 'Ahalya', Kapil Sharma rocks in Star Guild Award with his anchoring, and Splitsvilla. These ranked in the list of top 10 non music YouTube videos. YouTube remains a one stop destination for Bollywood as well as International music videos. Taking the lead in the list of top 10 music video on YouTube is Dheere Se Meri Zindagi Video Song, followed by Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan'. Besides, International music videos like Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do and Wiz Khalifa - See You Again also grabbed attention of netizens in India...Read More
Are stress tests needed for Indian banks?
The NPA problem of Indian banking system is not hidden from anyone. But the real problem lies in the unrecognized bad loans hidden in books of these banks. Though banks have been quick to call these loans as restructured loans, special category loans, etc., the fact is that it’s only a matter of time before these loans come under the category of NPA. The recently announced strategic debt-restructuring (SDR) scheme has also failed to serve its intended purpose. Infact, banks are being accused of using the scheme to hide bad loans and buy time to postpone bringing in additional capital. All this is causing a lot of confusion about the quality of books of Indian banks. This uncertainty has resulted in shares of public sector banks underperforming the broader markets. Investors are worried about the real size of bad assets. In absence of reliable data, investors fear the worst and sell stocks that further push down stock prices. The need of hour is that RBI comes out with a mechanism that addresses the dual problems of real NPA quantification and bringing in much needed transparency at individual bank levels. One suggested mechanism could be to conduct stress tests like those conducted in US. These tests help ascertain potential losses and capacities of each bank to absorb these losses. It also gives correct information about the need for additional capital. Stress testing of individual banks helps in resetting expectations to real levels and post that, bring back investor’s confidence in the banking system...Read More
Why the economy might recover soon?
Many believe that when new government took over, it underestimated the problems of Indian economy and hence, is still facing trouble putting it back on the path of high growth. Though it is true to an extent, it is also true that bringing changes to an economy of size of India is not easy and it takes time. One cannot expect the country to switch over to high-growth path overnight. But having said that, there are clear indicators that things are turning around. One key metric used to track the economy is corporate profits as a percentage of GDP. This indicator had peaked in 2007-2008 and has been falling since then. It is expected to touch a multi-year low of 3.9% in March 2016, which is well below the long-term Indian average of 5%. Though no one can predict that it has bottomed out, the pace of fall seems to have slowed down a lot. In last few years, profits of listed Indian companies have remained stagnant. GDP on other hand has been increasing. This has led to a fall in ratio of corporate earnings expressed as percentage of GDP. In addition to this, an unprecedented fall in commodity prices like crude oil, steel, etc. has taken a heavy toll on the earnings of many firms. But commodity prices are expected to move up in 2016-17. This could help push up profits of many large Indian firms. Experts also feel that going forward, lower interest rates and economic recovery could make earnings look better...Read More
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