A fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. (Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg)

BQuick On Jan. 1: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

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

1. Modi On Urjit Patel, Farm Loan Waivers, Ram Mandir And More

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that former Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel wanted to resign much earlier because of personal reasons and there was no question of any political pressure on him.

He himself requested (to resign) on personal reasons. I am revealing for the first time. He was telling me about it for the past six-seven months before his resignation. He gave it even in writing. No question of political pressure. He did a good job as RBI governor.
Prime Minister Modi To ANI
  • Modi also clarified that his administration will decide on bringing an ordinance for Ayodhya’s Ram temple issue only after the judicial process is completed.
  • The prime minister also said that farm loan waivers do not benefit the majority of farmers and termed the schemes announced by Congress-ruled states "political stunts."
  • Speaking on the Goods and Services Tax regime, Modi acknowledged that small businesses continued to face discomfort and said that the government was working on ways to reduce their stress.
  • He added that the government is in favour of bringing construction-related materials in the 5 percent GST slab.

2. GST Collections Dip

The Goods and Service Tax collections fell for the second straight month in November to Rs 94,726 crore, the finance ministry said.

  • GST collection for the month of October stood at Rs 97,637 crore, while September saw collection worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore.
  • So far, the government has collected Rs 8.6 lakh crore as GST in eight months against the full-year budget target of Rs 13.47 lakh crore. The average monthly collection stands at Rs 89,885 crore.
  • Total summary GSTR-3B returns filed for the month as on Dec. 31 breached the 70-lakh mark for the first time to hit record 72.44 lakh.

3. Automakers End 2018 On A Muted Note

Indian automakers ended 2018 in the slow lane due to a slowdown that began during the festive season.

  • Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.’s sales fell for the second straight month to its lowest monthly sales figure in 2018. The country’s largest automakers’ sales dropped 1.3 percent on year-on-year basis to 1.28 lakh units.
  • India’s largest truck maker Tata Motors Ltd. attributed liquidity crisis in the industry, higher interest rates and rising fuel costs for its 8 percent dip in sales last month.
  • Eicher Motors Ltd.'s motorcycle segment—Royal Enfield reported a 13 percent drop on a yearly basis to 58,278 units with sales of models with engine capacity up to 350cc falling 15 percent.

Find out how M&M and other automakers fared.

4. Uday Kotak’s Warning

Non-bank lenders are more fragile than what they were a year ago and have to be closely watched, according to veteran banker Uday Kotak, even as credit crunch triggered by IL&FS defaults has started to ease.

  • Having seen significant pressure from October and November, “the sector is beginning to breathe a little better now”, Kotak, managing director and chief executive of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., said in a letter to the private lender’s employees.
  • Kotak chairs the board at IL&FS after the government took over the infrastructure group amid fears of a contagion in the credit market.
  • The IL&FS default was the first major one in that space, raising concerns over the possibility of a Lehman-like mini crisis in the country, Kotak said.
  • And the liquidity crunch that followed was because of higher interest rates as the significant growth in financial savings after demonetisation started to ease with increase in currency in circulation.

The first victims of the crunch were NBFCs, Kotak said.

5. Nifty’s New Year Cheer

Indian equity benchmarks kicked off 2019 on a strong note led by gains in HDFC twins, ICICI Bank and Infosys.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.52 percent or 186 points to 36,255.
  • NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.44 percent or 48 points to 10,910.
  • For most part of the day, Sensex and Nifty traded with a negative bias but late buying in private sector lenders lifted the benchmarks higher.
  • Fourteen of 19 sector gauges compiled by BSE ended higher led by the S&P BSE Realty Index's 2.2 percent gain.

6. #BQPoll: Sectors And Stocks To Buy In 2019

A majority of market participants expect private banks to return the best gains in 2019, according to BloombergQuint’s poll.

  • Financial services stocks, led by ICICI Bank Ltd. and Axis Bank Ltd., are the most preferred bets, according to the poll of 27 respondents.
  • The market participants advise investors to avoid metals the most.
  • They were, however, divided on software services providers and oil and gas, with an equal number of respondents suggesting the two sectors among top picks and avoids.
BQuick On Jan. 1: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

7. Tata Group Now Relies On TCS More Than Ever

Tata Group’s market capitalisation crossed the record Rs 10 lakh crore in 2018. Yet, of its 28 companies, shares of only eight rose last year—the fewest since 2011.

  • The least broad-based group rally in seven years was expectedly dominated by Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., India’s largest software services provider and the biggest Tata company.
  • The combined market cap of India’s largest conglomerate rose by close to Rs 82,200 crore in the just-concluded year.
  • Excluding TCS, Tata Group’s value dropped Rs 1.12 lakh crore. The reliance on the information technology company is at its highest ever—TCS is twice as valued compared with the combined market capitalisation of the remaining 27.

8. These Five Political Myths Could Wreck Your Stock Portfolio In 2019

Every market pundit and his grandpa is talking more about politics and less about blue chips these days on 24-hour business news channels, writes Raghav Bahl.

  • Their most abused phrase is “beware of unstable coalitions”.
  • I would urge unsuspecting investors to ignore or call out this tomfoolery.

These are the five myths that need to be dispelled.

8. Global Asset Managers’ Red Flags For 2019

The world’s biggest asset managers identify U.S. Federal Reserve’s pace of rate hikes and President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs as the biggest risks for 2019.

  • Geopolitical risks, including U.S.-China trade war, Iranian sanctions and collapse of peace talks with North Korea, took the markets by surprise in 2018.
  • However, asset managers from BlackRock, Oaktree Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners, among others, said the markets have priced them already for 2019.
  • The predictions come as volatility in the U.S. stock market, usually less prone to sudden swings, spiked.

Here’s what world’s biggest asset managers expect in 2019.

10. Globetrotting Indians

The number of Indian travelers to international destinations grew at a faster pace than those flying within the country for the first time in 15 months in November.

  • Passenger growth rate on overseas routes stood at 12.8 percent during the month compared with 11 percent on domestic routes, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint from the website of Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
  • That’s important as passenger growth rate on domestic route for the aviation sector is the lowest since August 2014.
  • The gap between the growth rates has now widened the most in four years.

Here’s why so many Indians took foreign trips in November.