BQuick On March 11: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes
Visitors walk on the “Vessel” sculpture, by Thomas Heatherwick, at Hudson Yards on opening day in New York, U.S. (Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On March 11: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

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

1. Coronavirus Cases Climb In India With First Two Positives In Mumbai

Two people from Mumbai tested positive for coronavirus, taking the number of such cases in Maharashtra to seven, PTI reported citing unnamed Public Health Department of Maharashtra officials.

  • The two, who are the first coronavirus positive cases from Mumbai, had come in close contact with two Pune residents who had returned from Dubai recently and tested positive for coronavirus, the officials said.
  • A statement by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme of the Public Health Department, Maharashtra said an "aggressive contact tracing activity" is in progress on a war footing after two Dubai returnees from Pune were found positive for coronavirus two days ago.
  • The total number of positive coronavirus cases in India reached 60, Sanjeeva Kumar, the special secretary in the central health ministry told reporters earlier in the day.
  • Two positive cases, one from Delhi and one from Rajasthan were reported on Wednesday, he added.
  • Kerala has till now reported nine cases which includes the three patients who were discharged last month following recovery.
  • According to the protocol currently followed, a suspected case is tested at least twice before it is confirmed as 'positive'.
  • India has prohibited entry of any international cruise ship, crew or passenger with a travel history to coronavirus-hit countries post Feb. 1, 2020 to its major ports till March 31.

Follow developments around the coronavirus outbreak in India here.

Globally, economies moved to act and limit the fallout of the outbreak.

  • Almost 120,000 cases have been reported after a surge in Italy, where the government will spend $28.3 billion to help combat the outbreak.
  • New York reported 20 more cases. The state will ask businesses to consider staggering shifts and allowing employees to telework.
  • Confirmed cases topped 120,000 globally, with 4,373 dead.
  • Germany’s Merkel said 60-70 percent of the population was potentially at risk.

Here are key developments from around the globe.

2. U.K. Unveils $39-Billion Stimulus; ECB Warns Of 2008-Like Crisis

U.K. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak pledged a 30 billion pound ($39 billion) stimulus package as he seeks to prepare the British economy to fight the potentially devastating impact of coronavirus.

  • The announcement came shortly the Bank of England cut interest rates in an emergency move and announced measures to help keep credit flowing through the economy, saying the coronavirus outbreak will damage economic activity.
  • The move to cut the benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 0.25 percent comes a week after the Federal Reserve slashed its main rate.

Here’s why investors may like the BOE’s policy move.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said Europe risks a major economic shock echoing the global financial crisis unless leaders act urgently on the coronavirus outbreak, and signaled that her institution will take steps as soon as Thursday.

  • Lagarde told European Union leaders on a conference call late on Tuesday that without coordinated action Europe “will see a scenario that will remind many of us of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis,” according to a person familiar with her comments.
  • With the right response, the shock will likely prove temporary, she added.

Lagarde said her officials are looking at all their tools for Thursday’s policy decision.

3. Dow Slumps, Sensex Ends Flat

Selling in U.S. stocks resumed and European equities reversed rallies with investors pining for a policy response from the Trump administration as the coronavirus threatens economic growth.

  • The latest sell-off on the stock market comes with no sign of the stimulus package promised by President Donald Trump amid a European Central Bank warning of an economic shock similar to the financial crisis unless leaders act urgently.
  • The S&P 500 dropped 2.8 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 zapped a 2.3 percent advance as travel and leisure shares dropped and Adidas AG slumped on a virus-related profit warning.
  • Crude oil’s rebound from its biggest crash in a generation faltered after Saudi Arabia said it would boost production.
  • The pound fluctuated and gilts declined after the BOE reduced its main interest rate by 50 basis points.

Get your daily fix of global markets here.

Indian equity benchmarks ended marginally higher after a topsy-turvy session, thus, recovering slightly from the worst single-day rout in nearly five years.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty 50 ended little changed at 35,697.40 and 10,458.40 respectively.
  • Earlier today, the 30-stock index swung from a fall of as much as 1.05 percent and rose as much as 1.08 percent, while the 50-share gauge swung from a fall of as much as 1.12 percent and rose as much as 0.9 percent.
  • Six out of 11 sectoral gauges compiled by the NSE ended lower.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

4. Too Early To Call The Bottom

The precipitous fall in global equity markets may not be over yet as the highly infectious Covid-19 spreads outside China, according to Bank Julius Baer and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

  • “My assessment is that we probably have more downside. While the virus has been contained in China and it looks like it is coming under control in some of the other countries that were early to get hit like South Korea, it’s clearly going to ramp up in Europe and the U.S.,” Mark Matthews, head of research for Asia at Julius Baer, told BloombergQuint.
  • Nobody really knows where the bottom is for equity markets, said James Glassman, managing director, and head economist at JPMorgan Chase. “We saw the problem deteriorating in China,” he said.

Watch the full interview where they explain why policy measures to tackle the outbreak impact may add a lot of debt burden.

5. Equity Mutual Fund Inflows Defy Turmoil, Gold ETFs See Investor Rush

Inflows into equity mutual funds jumped to the highest in 11 months in February even as the benchmark indices tumbled amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

  • Net inflows into equity and equity-linked schemes rose 37 percent over the previous month to Rs 10,795.81 crore, according to data released by the Association of Mutual Funds in India.
  • That’s also the third straight month of inflows into the equity mutual funds.
  • The investments came even as the Nifty 50 plunged the most in 17 months in February, down 6.36 percent, as the coronavirus pose a new threat to the fragile recovery in India’s economy.

Small caps witnessed the highest inflows since AMFI started offering granular data.

Inflows into gold exchange-traded funds jumped to the highest in more than 11 years in February, as investors opted for haven assets amid a selloff in the equity market triggered by the novel coronavirus outbreak and a decline in crude oil prices.

  • Indians piled Rs 1,483 crore into gold ETFs in February, the most since October 2008, according to data released by the Association of Mutual Funds in India.
  • That’s also the fourth straight month of inflows into such assets—the longest gaining streak since the global financial crisis.

Investments into gold ETFs came at a time India’s equity indices tumbled the most in 17 months

6. One Good News, One Bad News For SBI Customers

India’s largest lender State Bank of India has waived off the requirement for maintaining a minimum balance in savings accounts. However, the lender has also rationalised interest rate on all savings to a flat 3 percent, a move that affects 44.51 crore customers.

  • SBI cut interest rates on savings to flat 3 percent for all buckets.
  • Earlier, it gave 3.25 percent for deposits up to Rs 1 lakh and 3 percent for above that.
  • The bank used to levy a penalty of Rs 5 to Rs 15 plus taxes on non-maintenance of average minimum balance. This has now been removed.

The bank further has also waived SMS charges.

7. Rana Kapoor's Custody Extended

A special court on Wednesday extended till March 16 the Enforcement Directorate custody of Yes Bank Ltd. founder Rana Kapoor, arrested on money laundering charges.

  • During the hearing, the ED told the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court that Kapoor had sanctioned loans worth Rs 30,000 crore to different entities during his tenure.
  • Kapoor, 62, former managing director and chief executive officer of the private bank, was arrested by the ED on Sunday under provisions of the PMLA as he was allegedly not cooperating in the probe.

He was earlier remanded in the ED custody till March 11.

8. No Takers For Jet Airways

Jet Airways Ltd. has failed to find any takers after three rounds of bidding conducted by State Bank of India-led committee of creditors.

  • Two investors who had shown an early interest in the airline have withdrawn from the process, while one has been seeking preferred treatment from the creditors, which they cannot provide, two people with direct knowledge of the developments told BloombergQuint on the condition of anonymity.
  • Prudent Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. and Russia’s Treasury RA Creator have decided that they will not be going ahead with the bidding process, the people quoted earlier said.

The committee of creditors will now meet and finalise the closure of the bidding process on Thursday and then the airline could potentially file for liquidation.

9. Why New Companies May Not Like The GST Credit Curb

The government’s efforts to curb goods and services tax evasion may make life difficult for newly incorporated firms.

  • The GST Council approved restrictions on availing input tax credit—what businesses get for paying taxes on inputs—by new firms, a government official told BloombergQuint.
  • That may include completely restricting availing of credit or capping the claims, the person said on the condition of anonymity.
  • An officers’ panel recommended restricting input tax credit on supplies made by new “risky” taxpayers to Rs 20 lakh a month for the first six months of incorporation, the official said.

The government is increasingly looking to check GST evasion as poor tax compliance adds to its revenue collection woes.

10. Jyotiraditya Scindia Switches Over To The BJP

A day after resigning from the Congress, Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the Bharatiya Janata Party that counts his grandmother as one of its founding members.

  • Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda, Scindia said they have given him the platform to serve the people.
  • He said he was “pained” and “distressed” for not being able to serve people while working in the Congress, adding that the grand-old party is living in denial.
  • Hours after joining, the BJP announced that Scindia will be their nominee for the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh.

Scindia said the dream that he saw with his former party colleagues for MP was shattered in the last 18 months.

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