BQuick On Sept. 5: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes
Men sit reading newspapers in Kerala. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

BQuick On Sept. 5: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

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

1. Ambani Unleashes JioFiber

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. announced tariff plans for its JioFiber broadband service starting at Rs 699 a month, three years after Asia’s richest man disrupted the nation’s telecom sector with free calls and data.

  • Jio has launched its fiber-to-home service across 1,600 cities in India.
  • Monthly rentals start from Rs 699 for 100 GB data at 100 Mbps speed and go up to Rs 8,499 for 5,000 GB data at 1 Gbps speed.
  • The annual subscription plan also offers a bunch of freebies including a smart home network device, 4K set-top-box, a television set on higher priced plans and subscription to OTT applications.
  • While Jio has slightly undercut Bharti Airtel's lowest priced plan, it may not be enough for users to switch since Airtel provides access to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
BQuick On Sept. 5: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

Confused about switching broadband service providers? Find out which one is offering you bang for your buck here.

2. Chidambaram Sent To Tihar Jail

A Delhi court on Thursday sent former finance minister P Chidambaram to Tihar jail in the INX Media corruption case.

  • Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar ordered Chidambaram to 14-days judicial custody till Sept. 19.
  • The apex court, which held that this is "not a fit case" to grant relief to Chidambaram, said economic offences stand as a different class as they affect "economic fabric of the society" and "extraordinary power" of granting anticipatory bail has to be exercised sparingly in such cases.
  • The court allowed him to carry his medicines to jail.

Chidambaram’s 15-day CBI custody, ordered over five spells, ended today.

I don’t see any merit in the judicial custody (of P Chidambaram), particularly for the events which have happened 11 years ago. They (CBI) are still nowhere close even of filing a charge sheet. I hope that I will have my father back home very quickly.
Karti Chidambaram, MP and son of P Chidambaram (to ANI)

3. Nifty Ends Flat, U.S. Stocks Extend Rally

Indian equity benchmarks ended mixed as investors weighed a possible weaker outcome of September quarter earnings.

  • The S&P SBE Sensex closed 0.22 percent lower at 36,644.42
  • The NSE Nifty 50 ended little changed at 10,847.90. (+0.03%)
  • The broader markets represented by the NSE Nifty 500 Index closed 0.15 percent higher.
  • The markets are expected to be volatile and in a very tight range in the near term, Joindre Capital Services’ Head of Research Avinash Gorakshakar said.
  • Six out of 11 sectoral gauges compiled by NSE ended lower.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

Also read: Bajaj Finance Has Picked Banks for $1 Billion Share Sale

BQuick On Sept. 5: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

On Wall Street, stocks rallied for a second day after the U.S. and China locked in another round of trade talks, while Treasuries extended losses as a gauge of hiring in the private sector showed the biggest rise in four months. The dollar declined.

  • The S&P 500 Index increased 1.4 percent as of 10:08 a.m. New York time.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.6 percent.
  • The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index declined 0.8 percent.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.9 percent to $56.73 a barrel.

Get your fix of global markets action here.

Also read: China, U.S. to Hold Trade Talks in October as Mistrust Remains

4. Utterly, Butterly... Unaffected

India’s largest maker of dairy products said it’s untouched by the consumption slowdown that’s affected everyone from the makers of cars to consumer goods.

  • “Nobody has reduced consumption,” said RS Sodhi, managing director of Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., the maker of Amul-branded products, from milk to ice-creams.
  • The company’s revenue grew 26 percent in the first five months of this year, Sodhi told BloombergQuint in an interview, adding consumption is growing.

Watch the full interview with Amul’s managing director here.

5. Auto Industry About To “Collapse”

India’s automotive industry is at crossroads, SIAM President Rajan Wadhera said at the convention today, adding that investment is need for the hour. “There needs to be investment as the industry is moving towards cleaner fuel and at the same time we need affordable vehicles,” he said at the annual Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers convention.

But the Tata Motors’ CEO and MD struck a more dramatic note when he said “the Indian automotive growth story is about to collapse”.

  • Maruti Suzuki’s Shashank Srivastava listed increasing cost of financing and vehicles coupled with changing norms etc, as the major reasons for the downturn.
  • Mahindra & Mahindra’s Pawan Goenka said that GST rate cuts cannot alone revive demand for commercial vehicles.
  • Minister Nitin Gadkari acknowledged the need to support the country’s auto industry today, saying he has made suggestions to the Finance and Commerce Ministries.

Catch updates from the annual convention of automakers during one of its worst slowdown.

Meanwhile, auto dealers don’t expect the upcoming festive season to come to their rescue as India faces its worst auto slowdown in nearly two decades.

The situation looks grim with auto sales at a 20-month low. And even as the festive season nears, inquiries are not translating to sales.

The continued slowdown in auto sales has also pulled down bank lending to this segment, even as non-bank lenders have retreated.

Read - Auto Slump Hurts Financiers.

6. Birla’s Aleris Plans Face A Hurdle

Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Hindalco Industries Ltd. faces another regulatory hurdle for its $2.6 billion proposed purchase of U.S. aluminum parts maker Aleris Corp., this time from Washington.

  • The Justice Department filed a civil antitrust lawsuit seeking to block the purchase by Hindalco’s U.S. unit Novelis Corp.
  • The case cited the need to preserve competition in the North American market for rolled aluminum sheet for automotive applications.
  • The deal also faced antitrust objections in the European Commission earlier this year.

The transaction if allowed to proceed, would enable Novelis to...

Also read: NMDC’s Sales Fall To The Lowest In At Least Six Years

7. The Risk From RBI Transfers

India’s government is increasingly relying on one-time revenue measures to plug its budget gap, raising questions about how it will finance spending pledges further out.

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is counting on a record $24 billion windfall from the Reserve Bank of India and a budgeted Rs 1.05 lakh crore ($15 billion) income from asset sales to fund the fiscal deficit of 3.3 percent of gross domestic product in the year through March 2020.
  • She’ll need more revenue next year to narrow that gap to 3 percent -- as mandated by law -- without compromising on spending.
  • That may prove difficult since slower economic growth has made it harder for the government to improve tax collections and the boost from the central bank and assets sale program are unlikely to be repeated.

The RBI bonanza appears to be a “one-time” measure and does not necessarily bode well in the medium term.

8. Origins Of Bank Merger

In which bank historian and Ahmedabad University faculty member Amol Agrawal writes about the journey from the 1969 nationalisation of banks to the 2019 mergers, and the history of the 10 banks now being merged.

- In the 50 years since nationalisation, there have been 53 mergers, 16 of which are in just the last 20 months.

- The PNB-OBC-United Bank merger brings together three banks whose origins lie outside present-day India.

- Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank have shared an interwoven history over decades.

- The Union-Corporation-Andhra merger has three banks that were all founded with a Swadeshi spirit.

And... the rationale for this 2019 move could well lie in a blueprint that’s been ignored since 1991. Read his insightful column here.

9. ‘Modi Has Six Months To Fix Economy’

Every indicator, as per the government’s own data, is negative and macros have gone into a tailspin, heading for a crash, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy said, criticising the party for the lack of a “new economic policy” to get to the $5-trillion economy mark.

Unemployment is growing, agriculture is in bad shape. If the economy is not rectified, Modi has about six more months till people start challenging him.
Subramanyan Swamy, Senior Leader, BJP

Watch/Read the full discussion here.

10. Superbugs That Are Deadlier Than Cancer

Doctors in India are sounding the alarm over a threat to cancer patients that’s proving deadlier than tumors: untreatable infections from superbugs impervious to existing medications.

  • Patients undergoing chemotherapy in the country are at the front line of the worldwide spread of bacteria that the most potent antibiotics can’t fight.
  • Bloodstream infections caused by these superbugs have become the leading cause of illness and death in leukemia patients, doctors from India’s top-ranked medical college reported last year.
  • That frightening reality has forced patients to weigh fighting their deadly malignancies with treatments against the probability of dying sooner from an incurable infection.

The multidrug-resistant bacteria are two to three times more likely to be fatal than normal infections. And the challenges don’t just end there.

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