BQuick On Feb. 25: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  
Attendees use mobile phones as they pass a Samsung Networks sign outside the Samsung Electronics Co. pavilion on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain (Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On Feb. 25: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  

This is a roundup of the day’s top stories in brief.

1. Delhi Violence: Death Toll Rises To 11

Thick smoke billowed in the air and mobs roamed unchecked through the streets, pelting stones, vandalising shops and threatening locals, as fresh violence broke out in northeast Delhi on Tuesday taking the death toll since yesterday to 11.

  • As tension smouldered in the city’s northeast, rioters damaged two fire tenders in Gokulpuri and crowds raising incendiary slogans set on fire a bike in the epicentre of the trouble Maujpur.
  • Violence broke out again in Chandbagh area as rioters set afire to shops and pelted stones. They also set a bakery and several fruit carts on fire.
  • Streets in many parts of the area were littered with stones, bricks and burnt tyres, mute testimony to the spiralling violence and bloodshed that took on a communal taint on Monday and injured at least 150 people.
  • With violence continuing unabated, Union Home Minister Amit Shah convened a meeting with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik and others to address the situation.
  • The meeting resolved that workers of political parties should work towards ensuring peace.

With Donald Trump in the city, Delhi Police ramped up security with an armed battalion being deployed to the violence-hit areas.

2. Indo-U.S. Trade Deal: Trump's New Timeline

U.S. President Donald Trump touted “tremendous progress” on a trade deal with India as he sought to strengthen ties with a country key to American efforts to blunt China’s influence in Asia.

  • There was an expectation that a mini-deal would be unveiled before the U.S. president’s visit, but Trump has since said he’s in no hurry to finalise it.
  • The trade deal, if it happens, could happen at the end of the year, Trump said.
  • Any deal has to be reciprocal, Trump said, adding that the U.S. has to be treated fairly and India understands that.

Trump also spoke to business leaders including N Chandrasekaran, Lakshmi Mittal and Mukesh Ambani. Follow his second day in India here.

Also read: Trump Hails Stronger India Ties With an Eye to Countering China

3. Much-Awaited SBI Cards IPO To Raise Rs 9,000 Crore

SBI Cards and Payments Services Ltd. has set the price band for its initial public offering that is aimed at raking in more than Rs 9,000 crore.

  • The joint venture between State Bank of India and Carlyle Group set the price at Rs 750-755 apiece for the issue, which will remain open from March 2-5, according to an exchange filing.
  • A discount of Rs 75 a share will be offered to eligible employees, it said.
  • The IPO, which values SBI Cards at Rs 70,000 crore at the upper end of the price band, will comprise a fresh issue worth Rs 500 crore and an offer-for-sale of 13.05 crore equity shares.
  • SBI will sell a 4 percent stake in the card business and Carlyle Group will pare 10 percent.

Here’s how India's largest credit card issuer stacks up against the competition.

Also read: SBI Cards IPO: Is The Frenzy Justified?

4. Sensex Dips, U.S. Stocks Rise

Indian stocks fell, adding to the benchmark’s steepest decline in three weeks, as investors assessed the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.2 percent to close at 40,281.20.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 fell 0.27 percent to end at 11,797.90.
  • The market breadth was tilted in favour of sellers.
  • Six out of 11 sectoral gauges compiled by NSE ended lower.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

U.S. equities rose and European shares remained lower as investors weighed the latest coronavirus developments following a selloff that wiped out most global equity gains for this year.

  • The S&P 500 pushed higher after registering on Monday its biggest loss in two years, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded from only its third 1,000 point decline on record.
  • Ten-year Treasury yields lingered near record-low levels, while European bonds were mixed.
  • Crude oil pushed lower again after Monday’s slide of nearly 4 percent.

Get your daily fix of global markets here.

Also read: Funds Pitch Patience to Investor Bets on Indian Midcaps

5. FMCG Firms Forced To Let Go Of This Growth Strategy

As Indians cut back on consumption in a slowing economy, a strategy that consumer goods makers banked on to keep growing isn’t working anymore.

  • From snacks and biscuits to shampoos and hair oils, companies offered premium products in smaller, affordable packs to convert customers to costlier alternatives in the hope of initially boosting volumes, and eventually improving margins by creating a habit.
  • But customers are not only buying less during the consumption slowdown, they are also going back to cheaper alternatives.
  • “There is a deceleration of growth in the last two to three quarters, and signs that consumers are opting for popular brands or low-priced variants of their favourite brands to save on costs,” Sharang Pant, leader for retail management practice and retail vertical for Nielsen South Asia, told BloombergQuint.

Stagnant wages during a prolonged slowdown have forced Indians to buy less of everything.

6. Vodafone Idea, Airtel Lose Customers

Vodafone Idea Ltd.'s active subscriber base declined the most since September while Bharti Airtel Ltd. snapped its two-month gaining streak in December.

  • Vodafone Idea lost 36,44,453 users in December, according to the telecom regulator’s data.
  • Bharti Airtel lost 11,050 users in December
  • Reliance Jio added 82,308 users in December.
  • BSNL was the biggest gainer adding 4,27,089 customers during the month.

Total number of active wireless subscribers stood at 98.25 crore.

7. RBI Announces Two More LTROs

The Reserve Bank of India will conduct two long-term repo operations of Rs 25 crore each on March 2 and March 9, respectively, the central bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

  • The tenor of these repo operations would be three years.
  • RBI conducted two similar LTROs on Feb. 17 and Feb. 24.

8. ‘Cash Is King, Digital Is Divine’

Cash is king, digital is divine. That’s how the Reserve Bank of India concluded its latest assessment of the country’s attempts to push digitisation in an economy dominated by cash. The quest to reduce this reliance has prompted decisions ranging from demonetisation to tinkering with fee structures.

  • All these attempts, the RBI acknowledges, have only nibbled away at India’s love for cash.
  • But for each data point that may hint at a reduced reliance on cash, there is another which says that Indians still trust cash the most.
  • Still, the RBI is hopeful that digital payments will continue to gather pace as infrastructure builds out and financial literacy improves.

Digital payment adoption is growing at a rapid pace, albeit on a smaller base.

9. Coronavirus Cases Spike Outside China

Iran reported a total of 15 deaths from the outbreak, the most fatalities outside China, and a top health official tested positive. Italy reported a surge in infections and Spanish police isolated 1,000 people at an island resort.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump said Beijing was “getting it under control more and more,” and Xi Jinping said China was confident of limiting the impact.
  • Earlier on Tuesday, South Korea reported 84 new infections for a total tally of 977, making it the country with most cases outside of China.
  • China plans to release results from clinical trials of a Gilead Sciences Inc. drug in April and the country included a medication developed by a subsidiary of Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd. in guidelines to treat the virus.

Get your latest virus update from around the globe here.

Meanwhile, IOL Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd., the world’s biggest producer of ibuprofen, is set for its best month in more than two years as the prolonged shutdown of China’s Hubei province boosts prices of the non-prescription painkiller.

  • The Ludhiana, India-based firm supplies about a third of the world’s requirement of the drug, with 10% coming from China’s Hubei Biocause Pharmaceutical Co. Prices of ibuprofen have risen by $3 per kilogram in the last few weeks to about $18 and may hit $20 if supplies from Hubei remain unavailable, said Vijay Kumar Garg, joint managing director at IOL.
  • “There will be a supply gap and we expect to benefit,” Garg said in a telephone interview.

This could push up IOL's revenue by about 25 percent.

10. Hotstar Blocks John Oliver’s Criticism Of Modi

An episode of John Oliver’s show that criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been blocked in India by Hotstar, the local platform run by Walt Disney Co.

  • The comedian was previewing President Donald Trump’s visit to India on his Emmy-winning ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,’ which typically airs at 6 a.m. each Tuesday in the Asian nation.
  • When subscribers logged in Feb. 25, they could only find older episodes.
  • A Hotstar representative didn’t reply to an email and calls seeking comment. A representative for India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry said the government wasn’t involved in the matter.

The incident shows how multinational businesses have to deal carefully in nations run by leaders perceived as authoritarian.

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