Towers under construction are silhouetted at sunset in the Lower Parel area of Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

BQuick On Oct. 31: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes 

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

1. Did The Finance Ministry Do Enough To Calm Nerves?

Amidst the public glare on differences between the government and the Reserve Bank of India, the Finance Ministry on Wednesday issued a statement saying that the autonomy of the central bank is essential “within the framework of the RBI Act.”

  • The statement, which followed reports that the government may initiate consultations under a never-used provision that allows it to direct the central bank in “public interest”, did little to address the differences that have emerged on key policy matters.
  • All the government said in its statement was that both the central bank and the government must be guided by “public interest.”
  • The statement went on to add that extensive consultations take place between the government and the RBI from time to time.
  • The subject matter of these consultations is not made public and only final decisions are communicated, said the Finance Ministry.

The statement helped calm the currency markets to some extent.

Also read: Public Airing Of Differences Between RBI, Government Must Stop: Rakesh Mohan

2. RBI Calls Next Board Meet On Nov. 19

The Reserve Bank of India has called for the next meeting of the central board on Nov. 19, three people familiar with the matter told BloombergQuint on condition of anonymity.

  • The suggestion of the next date of the board meet went out on Wednesday, people cited above confirmed.
  • This, even as government officials maintained that the issues between the RBI and the government must be seen in ‘larger public interest.’
  • The RBI’s board meeting call came within hours of that statement being put out and could be seen as a sign of easing tensions between the two sides, although there is no formal indicator of a consensus emerging on any of the contentious issues.
  • A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the current issues are ‘about substance and not protocol’.
  • This official added that some of the important issues have not even come out in public.

3. India Is Now #77

India jumped 23 places on the World Bank’s Doing Business Index as the country made it easier to start a business, deal with construction permits and facilitated quicker cross-border trade.

  • It’s now ranked at 77, the highest in South Asia, up from 100 last year, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report.
  • “India, with six reforms, is among the top-ten improvers for the second consecutive year,” the report said.
  • India’s ranking in dealing with construction permits—one of the 10 parameters the World Bank looks at—jumped to 52 from 181 last year.
  • The other improvements come through the GST, which wasn’t included in last year’s ranking, and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
BQuick On Oct. 31: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes 

4. China Roadblocks Trigger JLR Turnaround Plan

Tata Motors Ltd.’s loss for the July-September period was worse than analyst estimates as its luxury unit Jaguar Land Rover struggled in China. But the company now has a turnaround plan for its luxury unit.

  • The luxury unit, which contributes almost 90 percent to Tata Motors' revenue, has been suffering due to uncertainty around Brexit and China demand.
  • As these uncertainties mount, JLR has cut down its planned spending by £500 million. It will now spend £4.03 billion over the current and next financial year, according to the statement.
  • Management now expects JLR to break even by the end of the financial year, in terms of pre-tax profit, as performance improves in the third and fourth quarter.
In JLR, market conditions, particularly in China, have deteriorated further. To weather this volatile external scenario, we have launched a comprehensive turnaround plan to significantly improve our free cash flows and profitability. The leadership team at JLR is in mission mode to achieve the deliverables under this plan.
N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons

5. L&T’s Profit Rises For Eleventh Straight Quarter

Larsen & Toubro Ltd.’s quarterly profit rose for the eleventh straight quarter and beat the highest analyst estimate.

  • Net profit rose 22 percent on a yearly basis to Rs 2,230 crore in the July-September period, India’s largest construction and engineering company said in an exchange filing. That compares with the Rs 1,649-crore consensus estimate of analysts tracked by Bloomberg.
  • Revenue rose 21 percent to Rs 32,081 crore, against Rs 29,247-crore forecast.
  • The company’s order intake rose 46 percent to Rs 41,921 crore.
  • The global orders made up 20 percent of the total inflow of Rs 8,268 crore.
  • The company retained its forecast of 12-15 percent increase in revenue and 10-12 percent increase in order inflows in the current financial year.

6. Indian Markets Rebound; U.S. Markets Rally

The Indian equity benchmarks posted their worst two-month decline since February 2016, despite a last day rally in October, amid a widening rift between the government and the central bank.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex Index rose 551 points or 1.63 percent to 34,442.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index climbed 1.85 percent or 188 points to 10,387.
  • For most part of the day, the benchmarks were rangebound. However sentiment improved after the government said it respects and nurtures central bank's autonomy.
  • In the last two months Nifty has declined 11.4 percent, its worst two-month performance since February 2016, when the index fell 12.4 percent.

Follow the day’s trading action.

U.S. stocks rallied on the final day of one of the worst months of the bull market, as earnings from Facebook jolted tech shares higher. The dollar added to a 16-month high and Treasury yields jumped.

  • The S&P 500 Index headed for the first back-to-back gains of October, paring its steepest monthly drop since 2011 to 7 percent.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index increased 0.3 percent to the highest in more than 17 months.
  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries increased three basis points to 3.15 percent, the highest in more than a week.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude advanced 0.1 percent to $66.27 a barrel.

Get your fix of global markets update here.

7. Analysts Love These 5 Stocks

The better time to invest in markets is during times of heightened volatility, India’s largest asset manager S Naren said in an interview to BloombergQuint.

  • From being the best in Asia to wiping out yearly gains in a month or so—it’s been a roller-coaster ride for Indian equities. Despite the volatility, analysts have remained bullish on a handful of stocks.
  • Out of the 185 Indian stocks tracked by at least 10 analysts, only five have a 100 percent ‘Buy’ rating, according to Bloomberg data.
  • These stocks are Mahindra & Mahindra, ICICI Prudential, Ashoka Buildcon, SBI Life Insurance and Ahluwalia Contracts.

8. IL&FS Group Submits Revival Roadmap To NCLT

A revival plan presented by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. was accepted by the National Company Law Tribunal today, paving the way for resolution of the debt-laden conglomerate’s problems.

  • During the hearing—which was presided over by NCLT officials VP Singh and Ravikumar Duraisamy—the revival plan was laid out along with insights and steps taken by the conglomerate’s new board.
  • The representative from Ministry of Corporate Affairs told the court that defaults within the IL&FS group and its 347 subsidiaries as of Oct. 8 was Rs 4,776 crore, including defaulted principal amounts and interest payments.
  • The new board at the IL&FS group, chaired by Uday Kotak, laid out “a universe of options” for deleveraging of the firm’s existing debt.

9. The Solution To India’s Cash Crunch Is Far From Home

Those who are awash in cash lack capital. Those who have adequate capital are thirsty for liquidity. That, in a nutshell, is the story of India’s financial crunch. The surest way to ease it will require tapping Indians living overseas, writes Andy Mukherjee.

  • In the past, New Delhi has resorted to such special hard-currency deposit programmes to tide over balance-of-payment difficulties. A notable instance was in 1998, after India invited U.S. sanctions by testing a nuclear weapon.
  • Hooking nonresidents would be expensive now because dollar interest rates have risen significantly since the taper tantrum of 2013, the last time India nudged its banks to target the diaspora.
  • The only way to justify such fund-raising would be if the program did more than just rescue the rupee: Easing a tight liquidity situation could be a worthwhile motivation.

10. Supreme Court Wants Rafale Deal’s Pricing Details

India’s Supreme Court has sought pricing details from the government over a controversial $8.7 billion deal for Rafale aircraft from France.

  • The case, which could have political consequences for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was heard by a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
  • Gogoi directed the government to submit the documents with details, including the selection of the Indian partner, in 10 days and to make the information public.
  • Content considered to be confidential can be submitted in sealed envelope, the court said in its order.