BQuick On Jan. 1: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes
Paris celebrates the New Year. (Source: AP/PTI)

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

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

1. GST Collection Stays Above Rs 1 Lakh Crore In November

The government’s goods and services tax collection for November stayed above the Rs 1-lakh-crore mark for the second straight month as consumption rose during the festive season.

  • GST collections for November, collected in December, remained flat at Rs 1.03 lakh crore over the previous month, according to a statement by the finance ministry.
  • GST collections for September stood at Rs 95,380 crore.
  • That’s a year-on-year growth of 8.9 percent and 5.1 percent above the monthly average of Rs 98,114 crore for FY19.
  • The government has set a target of Rs 1.1 lakh crore GST collections every month.

Get the break-up of tax collected under various heads here.

2. Get More TV Channels At Lower Prices

India’s cable TV users could soon access more channels at a lower subscription price—a move that’s likely to affect broadcasters and distribution platforms.

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, in its latest tariff order, has increased the number of free-to-air channels, reduced pricing for pay channels and capped the number of bouquets of pay channels offered by broadcasters.
  • The telecom regulator has reduced the ceiling price of pay channels for inclusion in bouquets from Rs 19 to Rs 12.
  • This means while broadcasters are still free to price the channel, if they seek to include them in a bouquet, their à la carte price will be capped at Rs 12 plus taxes.

TRAI has also increased the number of free-to-air standard definition channels.

3. Maruti Bucks The Auto Sales Trend

India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki (India) Ltd. was able to skirt the auto slowdown with total sales rising 3.9 percent in December. However, other automakers that reported sales figures on Wednesday were not so lucky.

  • Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.'s wholesales continued to decline in December, falling by 1 percent to 39,230 units.
  • M&M's car sales rose 4 percent while sale of commercial vehicles fell 5 percent.
  • Second-largest carmaker Hyundai Motor India Ltd. reported a 9.9 percent decline in total sales to 50,135 units.
  • Tata Motors Ltd.’s sales dropped 12 percent to 44,254 units.

Follow the monthly auto sales here.

4. Sensex, Nifty Edge Higher On New Year’s Day

Indian equity benchmarks kicked off 2020 on a muted note as gains in HDFC twins were offset by the losses in Reliance Industries Ltd.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.13 percent or 52 points to end at 41,306.02.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 rose 0.12 percent or 14 points to close at 12,182.50.
  • The broader markets represented by the NSE Nifty 500 Index rose 0.16 percent.
  • Six out of 11 sectoral gauges compiled by NSE ended lower, led by the NSE Nifty Media Index’s 0.52 percent fall.
  • On the flip side, the NSE Nifty IT Index was the top sectoral gainer, up 0.45 percent.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

5. Oil Refiners Have A Lot To Look Forward To

As the shipping industry switches to cleaner fuel from Jan. 1., the demand for diesel is expected to rise, benefiting Indian refiners.

  • The International Maritime Organization’s new standards mandate shipping vessels to use fuel oil—a residue of petrol, diesel and jet fuel—with a sulfur content of less than 0.5 percent compared to the existing 3.5 percent as it aims to curb pollution.
  • The cleaner alternatives are marine gasoil or diesel.

Find out how refiners like Reliance Industries, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. will benefit.

Also read: Why Analysts Repose Faith In Tata Power, The Worst Performer Among Peers In 2019

6. A Year To Forget, A Year To Look Forward To

The way Indian markets have performed in 2019, it would be a year to forget for a clutch of investors, whether institutional or individual. But such years usually set the base for the year to come, writes Niraj Shah.

  • Last year brought back uncertainties—domestic and global—and took away the smoothly sloping mean reversion curve. By doing that, the year took away what investors love most, predictability.
  • One key challenge in 2020 is that the hopes of further tax relaxations and rationalisations are high, while the government has very limited fiscal space to oblige.
  • Domestic investors could have an even bigger problem in 2020.

Niraj Shah looks at what to expect in 2020.

7. Decade Of High-Cost Government, Low-Growth Economy

The abiding image of the second decade of the millennium will be that of the Indian economy yo-yoing between hope and despair, writes Shankkar Aiyar.

  • The ‘India Story’ is stranded between competing crises and conflicting compulsions, between promised potential and populist profligacy.
  • 10 years ago, the average tax incidence was Rs 8,200/year. By 2019, that number had trebled. Yet, it’s not still not enough to keep pace with expenditure.
  • India’s spending on health and education has risen significantly. Yet over 100 children die every day before the age of five and barely a fourth of class-V kids can do simple division.

So where's the money going?

8. Two Suitors Drop Out Of The Race For Altico

Apollo Global Management LLC and Varde Partners LP are no longer considering bidding for Altico Capital India Ltd., people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News, narrowing the number of suitors for the troubled shadow lender.

  • The firms pulled out because they were unwilling to meet creditor demands to inject as much as Rs 2,000 crore ($280 million) of fresh equity into Altico, two people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.
  • A spokesman for Apollo confirmed its withdrawal while Varde declined to comment.
  • That leaves Cerberus Capital Management LP, SSG Capital Management, and Kotak Investment Advisors Ltd. in the race for the real-estate focused lender, three people said.
  • Representatives for Cerberus, SSG and Kotak declined to comment.

Apollo was only willing to inject part of the money creditors sought, while Varde wanted to wait for a turnaround in Altico before investing.

9. Another Shot At Landing On The Moon

India will try to land on the moon this year, after a previous attempt failed just minutes before a scheduled touchdown on the lunar surface, in a bid to restore its credentials as an ambitious space power.

  • The Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon will consist a lander and a rover, and will use inputs from an orbiter from the previous mission, K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said in Bengaluru.
  • It has also made progress on India’s first manned space mission by identifying four astronauts, he added.
  • India had aimed to become the first to the southern pole, the same spot NASA is targeting in 2024 with its Artemis mission.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sharpened India’s focus on space since coming to power in 2014, with a pipeline of ambitious programmes, including planned missions to study the sun and Venus.

But it still has lessons to learn from its previous failed mission where scientists lost contact with the moon lander.

10. When Carlos Ghosn Pulled Off A Houdini

How did Carlos Ghosn do it?

The former head of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, who was awaiting the first of two trials in Tokyo, somehow evaded almost round-the-clock manned and video surveillance and heavy restrictions on his freedom of movement to flee to Lebanon. From there, Ghosn released an email Tuesday decrying the “injustice and political persecution” of the Japanese judicial system.

  • Soon after he resurfaced, the internet lit up with unconfirmed reports and theories of how Ghosn, now an international fugitive, pulled off an escape befitting a Hollywood thriller -- one that will be very hard for Japanese authorities to live down.
  • In one speculative account, which cited no sources, Lebanese television station MTV reported that Ghosn smuggled himself out of Japan in a large musical instrument box after a Christmas band visited his residence in Tokyo.
  • Ghosn’s getaway followed weeks of planning, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
  • A team of accomplices assembled last weekend to carry out his exfiltration, and his wife, Carole, played a major role in the operation, the newspaper said.

There are still more questions than answers about Ghosn’s great escape.

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