A worker sweeps a road along King’s Way boulevard as the Presidential Residence stands in the background in New Delhi, India (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On June 21: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

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

1. Big Warning Sign For The Global Economy

The universe of negative-yielding bonds grew about $1.2 trillion this week after dovish messages from central banks in Europe and the U.S., pushing the total past $13 trillion for the first time.

  • Joining the club of government debt with 10-year yields below zero this week were Austria, Sweden and France.
  • Japanese and German rates plumbed fresh all-time lows amid a global bond rally that even got Wall Street pondering life with Treasuries yields under 1 percent.
  • Some 40 percent of global bonds are now yielding less than 1 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
BQuick On June 21: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

The message from the markets is that there are problems, and central banks need to respond.

2. Walmart Failed To Check Corruption In India

Walmart Inc. on Friday agreed to pay $287 million in penalties to settle a case involving allegations of graft to fast-track openings of its stores in India, China, Mexico and Brazil, capping a seven-year-old investigation across the world.

  • The settlement, Bloomberg reported, was made to the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • A report by the U.S. market regulator said Walmart didn’t conduct inquiries despite audit reviews into the Indian subsidiary and joint venture identifying weaknesses in anti-corruption-related internal accounting controls that required remediation.
  • The report also said the Arkansas-headquartered company continued to rely on the “India partner” for permitting, licensing and real estate matters for retail stores in India.

The SEC report doesn’t mention who the “India partner” is, but Walmart and Bharti Group had joined hands for a retail venture in 2007.

3. Aurobindo Pharma Gets A U.S. FDA Warning

Shares of Aurobindo Pharma Ltd. on Thursday fell to their lowest in nearly a year after the drugmaker received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over manufacturing practices at its Srikakulam plant in Andhra Pradesh—a move that may delay future approvals for exporting to its largest market.

  • The U.S. FDA warning letter—issued when it finds that a manufacturer has violated a regulated activity—was based on an inspection of the Unit 11 of the drugmaker’s active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing facility, Aurobindo Pharma said in an exchange filing.
  • The Srikakulam unit was inspected between February 4 and February 9 and received three observations, according to the Form 483 updated on the website of the U.S. FDA.
  • The company, however, said the existing business from this facility will not be impacted, and it’s fully committed toward resolving this issue at the earliest.

Here’s why the company thinks this won’t have an impact on its other plants.

4. Sensex Slips Again; Oil, Gold Shoot Up

Indian equity benchmarks extended declines for the third straight week, clocking their worst week in over a month.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex closed 0.65 percent lower this week to end at 39,194.49.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 closed at 11,724.10, down 0.84 percent.
  • The broader market index represented by the NSE Nifty 500 Index closed 0.91 percent lower this week.
  • Today, the 31-stock index closed 407 points or 1.03 percent lower and the 50-share gauge closed 0.91 percent lower.
  • The 500-share index ended 0.67 percent lower.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

Meanwhile, oil in London is headed for its biggest weekly gain since February as escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran fanned fears of conflict that would disrupt energy supplies from the Middle East.

Gold, on the other hand, continued its meteoric rise breaking past $1,400 an ounce for the first time in six years.

BQuick On June 21: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

This week’s equity rally stalled as U.S. and European stocks edged lower following declines throughout much of Asia. Oil gained as escalating tensions with Iran fanned fears of conflict that would disrupt energy supplies from the Middle East.

  • After closing at a record on Thursday, the S&P 500 fell for the first time in five days, with trading volume and volatility set to be higher than usual as futures and options expire.
  • The dollar steadied after slumping in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s dovish signals earlier in the week.

Get your fix of global markets action here.

5. Railways Is Losing Its Battle With Roads

The Indian Railways is ferrying more goods and people than ever. Yet, its growth has slowed.

  • Revenue from freight rose 6.9 percent and from passengers grew 6.5 percent in the five years between 2014 and 2019, according to data available with the Railway Board that was reviewed by BloombergQuint. That compares with an increase of 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in the previous five years.
  • Surendra Singh Khurana, former chairman of the Railway Board—the apex body of the Railways Ministry—blamed it on cross-subsidisation or higher freight rates to keep passenger fares low.
  • Shipping via rail is cheaper by up to Rs 2/tonne compared to road transport, according to a NITI Aayog’s September report.

But that isn’t enough incentive for people to switch to rail.

6. How Bengaluru Countered The Realty Slump Better

Bengaluru is known for its unsatiated appetite for offices and commercial properties on demand from startups and software services providers. That has helped India’s equivalent of Silicon Valley counter the residential real estate slowdown better than other metropolises.

  • Sales of apartments in the southern city jumped the most in the last two years, after the National Capital Region, among the top seven metros, according to data shared by property consultants.
  • More importantly, the absorption rate of unsold apartments is the highest in Bengaluru since the slump began.
  • Burgeoning startups over the last few years have inevitably raised the disposable incomes which has not only led to an unprecedented growth in the commercial segment, but also the residential market, Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock, said.

Even premium properties are in demand in the IT capital, Bengaluru’s homes sales data shows.

7. First GST Council Meet Under Sitharaman

The Goods and Service Tax Council on Friday extended the tenure of the anti-profiteering authority by two years and approved imposing a penalty of up to 10 percent on entities not passing on benefits of GST rate cuts to consumers.

  • The tenure of National Anti-Profiteering Authority has been extended by two years till Nov. 30, 2021, Revenue Secretary AB Pandey told reporters after the 35th meeting of the Council.
  • The tenure of National Anti-Profiteering Authority hfas been extended by two years till Nov. 30, 2021, Revenue Secretary AB Pandey told reporters after the 35th meeting of the Council.
  • The Council also approved an electronic invoicing system and e-ticketing in multiplexes.

The Council has also extended the date for filing annual GST returns by two months. Read more.

8. Trump Ordered Iran Strikes. Then Scrapped It.

President Donald Trump said he called off retaliatory strikes on three Iranian sites following the downing of a U.S. Navy drone because the action would not have been “proportionate".

  • “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General,” Trump tweeted Friday.
  • “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,” he wrote.
  • The planned U.S. attack, ordered after Iranian forces shot down a U.S. Navy drone over the Strait of Hormuz, would have involved airstrikes and was close to being carried out when it was stopped.

Airstrikes would have raised the specter of a far broader conflict in the volatile region.

9. It’s All In A Cloud

Found the meal you ordered online delightful? Chances are it didn’t come from a regular restaurant but a tiny kitchen that has no space for people to sit and eat.

  • Delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy spawned such low-cost, cloud kitchens with no dine-in space, aimed at providing piping hot dal to freezing ice creams at the doorstep.
  • So successful has been the model that now even upscale restaurants plan to expand through the delivery-only format as renting large spaces becomes costlier in prime locations.
  • Speciality Restaurants Ltd., the operator of outlets like Asia Kitchen, Mainland China, Oh! Calcutta and Sigree, has chosen this route.

Are cloud kitchens the way forward for the food industry?

10. How Yoga Is Helping The Visually-Impaired

About 20 years ago, Nisha Thakker wasn’t sure if visually-impaired people would be able to practise yoga.

  • But one evening when the electricity in the yoga therapist’s apartment went out in the middle of a session, she realised she was able to achieve better integration of her body and mind in the dark.
  • That prompted her to teach yoga to visually-impaired students at Kamala Mehta School for the Blind in Mumbai.
  • Nisha has since tutored over 300 visually-impaired students.

On International Yoga Day, BloombergQuint gets you the story of how yoga techniques are helping visually-impaired people.

Bloomberg Quint

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