BQuick On March 16: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes
An auto-rickshaw travels along a road in Hyderabad, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On March 16: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

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

1. Coronavirus: India Bans Passengers From Europe, U.K. While Global Cases Surpass China's

India has banned airlines from boarding passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the U.K. from March 18, according to a circular of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

  • Airlines will be asked to enforce this at the port of initial departure. There will also be a 14-day compulsory quarantine for people flying in from UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.
  • Total positives in India climbed to 114 with new cases detected in J&K, Ladakh, Kerala and Odisha.
  • Mumbai and Delhi have converted private hotels as paid quarantine facilities.
  • Delhi has also barred public gatherings of over 50 people except weddings and closed gyms, spas and night clubs till March 31.
  • Globally, infections outside China surpassed those on the mainland, with Europe reporting more new cases each day than China did at its peak.
  • Worldwide cases topped 1.67 lakh with over 6,400 deaths.

Follow the developments around the coronavirus outbreak here.

Third Trading Halt In A Week In The U.S.

U.S. stocks plunged as investors fled risk assets amid the mounting economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak.

  • The S&P 500 fell 11 percent as of 9:51 a.m. in New York, wiping out all of the gains during 2019’s rally and bringing into play the 13 percent circuit breaker that would pause trading for 15 minutes.
  • The index plunged 8 percent at the open and trading halted for 15 minutes.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s loss from its record reached 30 percent.
  • Treasury yields plunged all across the curve, with that of benchmark 10-year notes retreating more than 33 basis points at one point before trimming the decline.
  • Oil slumped to the lowest since 2016.

Get your daily fix of global markets here.

2. Sensex Hits 3-Year Low, Sheds 10,000 Points In 15 Sessions

Indian markets ended with major cuts, mirroring weak cues from across Asia and Europe.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex fell 7.96 percent or 2,713.4 points to end at 31,390.
  • This was the lowest closing since Sept. 29, 2017.
  • All of the 30 constituents ended with losses, with 24 of them ending at a 52-week low.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 7.6 percent or 757.8 points to close at 9,197; level last seen in April 2017.
  • Barring Yes Bank, all other 49 constituents of the index ended with cuts.
  • All sectoral indices ended with losses.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

BQuick On March 16: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

As equities witness a selloff across the globe, now is not the time to lose your cool and join the panic selling, according to Madhusudhan Kela of MK Ventures. Instead, he looks at it as a buying opportunity. "It is like a buffet. You have to eat as much as you can digest and you have to choose what you like."

3. RBI Stays Away From Emergency Rate Cut...For Now

The Reserve Bank of India on Monday announced measures to ensure adequate liquidity in foreign exchange and money markets, even as it stayed away from an emergency interest rate cut.

The RBI will undertake targeted measures to counter the market risks emerging from the spread the coronavirus, Governor Shaktikanta Das said.

The RBI announced that it will:

  • Conduct another round of six month sell-buy U.S. dollar swap operations on March 23.
  • Will carry out long-term repo operations worth up to Rs 1 lakh crore at the benchmark policy repo rate.

Das, however, didn’t rule out a rate cut saying that it was important that the policy space is used appropriately and is suitably timed.

Bond market saw yields swing wildly. Yields fell sharply intraday in expectation of a rate cut only to move back up by close of trade, as the RBI's measures fell short of markets’ expectations.

  • The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond closed down 11 basis points at 6.21 percent, though it came off the day’s low of 6.12 percent.

Read why the measures left traders wanting more.

BQuick On March 16: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

Meanwhile, India’s central bank got $4.67 billion worth of bids for its first foreign-currency swap auction since the global ‘taper tantrum’ of 2013, which aimed to inject $2 billion.

  • The Reserve Bank of India got 78 bids of which it accepted 19, it said in a statement Monday. The cutoff was set at a premium of Rs 1.56.
  • The central bank last week announced the swap auction to address a shortage of dollars that pushed the rupee to a record low.

The U.S. Fed and other developed economies have all pledged to keep dollars flowing after a rush to the greenback.

Also read: RBI Issues Advisory To Banks In The Wake Of Covid-19

4. SBI Cards Slumps In Untimely Market Debut

SBI Cards and Payments Services Ltd., a unit of India’s largest lender, made its stock market debut at a discount to its issue price.

  • The scrip opened 12.5 percent lower on the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. at Rs 661 apiece compared to its issue price of Rs 755 and eventually closed down 9.75 percent at Rs 681.40 apiece.
  • The credit card company’s Rs 10,350-crore initial public offering, the largest float in more than two years, was subscribed over 26 times after a four-day share sale.

Still, the company said it was not disappointed by the listing performance.

India’s second-largest card issuer expects business to take a hit as several states ordered the closure of malls and multiplexes and restricted travel to contain the spreading of coronavirus in the country.

  • “Departmental store spends is a strong category for us, followed by travel and entertainment, which will see a slowdown, thereby affecting business. It’s also important to monitor whether the slowdown sustains,” Hardayal Prasad, SBI Cards’ managing director and chief executive officer, told BloombergQuint in an interview.
  • “We could see a minor blip in terms of overall spends,” Prasad said.

Watch the full interview with Prasad on SBI Cards’ listing performance.

5. Government Moves To Soften Telcos' AGR Blow

The government has filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking permission to allow telecom operators pay statutory dues worth thousands of crores over 20 years.

  • The telecom ministry proposed the staggered payment of dues in view of the current economic condition of the industry and impact it will have, including on consumers and job losses, if one of the operators decides to file for bankruptcy, according to an affidavit filed in the apex court.
  • According to the plea, the interest on the unpaid amount, penalty and the interest on that penalty will only be calculated up to the date of the Supreme Court’s October ruling.

The government’s move would aid cash flows, particularly for Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel.

6. Yes Bank Probe: Enforcement Directorate Summons Anil Ambani

Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its money-laundering probe against Yes Bank Ltd.'s former promoter Rana Kapoor and others, officials said today.

  • Ambani was asked to depose at the Enforcement Directorate office in Mumbai as his group companies are among the big entities whose loans went bad after borrowing from the crisis-hit bank.
  • The ED has accused Kapoor, his family members and others of laundering "proceeds of crime" worth Rs 4,300 crore by receiving alleged kickbacks in lieu of extending big loans that later turned sour.

Officials said Ambani has sought exemption from appearance on some personal grounds.

Also read: Yes Bank Rescue: Echoes Of The 1998 LTCM Bailout

7. What’s Worrying Two-Wheeler Dealers In India

As the deadline for transition to stricter emissions standards nears, two-wheeler dealers are sitting on the biggest inventory of vehicles complying with older norms that would be as good as scrap after April 1.

  • Some regional transport offices across India have hinted that they won’t register vehicles complying with the older Bharat Stage-IV emissions standards from March 20, Vinkesh Gulati, vice president of Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations, told BloombergQuint over the phone.
  • Poor footfalls at dealerships have only compounded fears, he said.
  • According to the automobile dealers’ body, two-wheeler sellers face challenges, with inventories of up to 25-30 days, while the situation is under control for those selling passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

Here’s what auto dealers that BloombergQuint spoke to said about the extra inventory.

Also read: Why Analysts See ITC Living Up To Their Optimism, Finally

8. Market Rout Hampers IPO Plans

Burger King India Ltd., owned by private equity fund Everstone Capital, is putting its planned initial public offering on hold after the country’s equities market tumbled on fears of a global economic slowdown and the spread of novel coronavirus, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • The company decided to postpone launching the share sale after discussions with its advisers, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.
  • Burger King isn't the only one. Antony Waste Handling Cell Ltd. on Monday announced the withdrawal of its Rs 206-crore IPO after tepid investor demand.

Burger King wanted to start its Rs 400 crore IPO before March. But that plan’s on hold.

9. The Coffee Day Mystery Deepens...

An investigation into Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd., initiated by its board after the death of founder V.G. Siddhartha, is likely to conclude that at least Rs 2,000 crore ($270 million) is missing from its accounts, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • The months-long probe following the suicide of Siddhartha in July examined the financial transactions of India’s largest coffee chain and its dealings with dozens of private companies owned by the entrepreneur.
  • The draft report, running more than a hundred pages, points to billions of rupees that have gone missing, said the people, asking not to be identified because the details aren’t public.

It also highlights hundreds of transactions between the founder’s listed and personal businesses that were not conducted at arm’s length.

10. Congress Government In Madhya Pradesh On The Brink

Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon on Monday asked Chief Minister Kamal Nath to face a floor test on Tuesday.

  • Tandon's fresh directive came two days after he first asked Nath to face a floor test on Monday, after commencement of budget session of the Assembly.
  • That directive went in vain as the House was adjourned till March 26 after the state government said legislature sessions in several other states were adjourned due to the coronavirus scare.
  • Kamal Nath was told to prove his majority after the resignation of 22 MLAs from the party.

The governor said that the reasons given by Kamal Nath for not holding a floor test are baseless.

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