A passenger reads a newspaper as he rides on a train during the morning rush hour in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

BQuick On Oct. 4: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes 

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

1. Cheaper Fuel!

Consumers got some relief from record-high prices of auto fuels as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and more than 10 states lowered levies to make petrol and diesel cheaper as India heads into a crucial election season.

  • The government lowered the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 1.50 per litre, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a press conference today.
  • It also asked oil marketers to cut retail prices by Re 1.
  • Jaitley urged the states to match that with an equivalent cut in the value-added tax on fuel. States ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party or where it shares power obliged.
  • Jaitley downplayed fiscal implications around the fuel price cut. “The impact will be about Rs 21,000 crore for the full fiscal. Since this is for half year, the impact will be Rs 10,500 crore which is only 0.05 percent of the fiscal deficit.”
  • Shares of oil marketing companies slumped after the announcement, wiping out nearly Rs 30,000 crore in market capitalisation.
BQuick On Oct. 4: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes 

Jaitley said the government was not going back on fuel price deregulation.

Also read: Fuel Price Cut: Inflation Relief But Fiscal Uncertainty Seen Rising

2. Chanda Kocchar Steps Down

Nine years after Chanda Kochhar took over as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank Ltd. -- then the country’s largest private bank by assets -- she has stepped down.

  • Sandeep Bakshi, who is the chief operating officer of the bank, has been appointed as CEO for a period of five years, the bank said on Thursday.
  • Kochhar’s resignation comes even before a probe into alleged impropriety in granting of loans by the bank to the Videocon group is completed.
  • That probe will continue, said the bank while adding that “certain benefits” would be dependent on the outcome of the investigations.

3. Sensex Slumps 800 Points; U.S. Stocks Fall

Indian equity benchmarks fell to their lowest level in over three months after Brent crude rose to its highest level in four years and rupee fell to a record low of 73.82 per dollar raising concerns over widening current account deficit.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex Index fell 2.24 percent or 806 points to 35,169.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped 2.4 percent or 259 points to 10,599.
  • ICICI Bank Ltd. rose the most in two months after its MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar stepped down.
  • Oil marketing companies slumped after the government asked them to cut petrol and diesel prices by Re 1 per litre.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

U.S. stocks fell as rate-sensitive shares tumbled after Treasury yields surged to multiyear highs.

  • The S&P 500 Index fell to a three-week low. Technology heavy Nasdaq indexes also retreated.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose less than 0.1 percent after hitting the highest in seven weeks with its sixth straight advance.
  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose one basis point to 3.19 percent, the highest in more than seven years.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.7 percent to $75.88 a barrel, the largest fall in more than a week.

Get your fix of global markets update here.

4. Storm Ahead Or A Buying Opportunity?

Indian stocks have given up most of their gains for the year, but there may be more pain ahead.

  • That’s the view of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, whose 32,000 year-end target for the S&P BSE Sensex Index implies another 11 percent plunge from Wednesday’s close.
  • That would put the gauge 2.5 percent away from a bear market -- a 20 percent slide from its Aug. 28 record.
  • Yet, India’s third-largest asset manager expects volatility in markets to remain until the next general elections. Which means it's a good time to buy.
  • "We are seeing good value emerging in the market," said Mahesh Patil, co-chief investment officer of Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund.
I think this is a good opportunity because this kind of correction provides opportunities to get good companies at a reasonable valuation or even attractive valuation.
Mahesh Patil, Co-CIO, Birla Sun Life MF

5. No Respite For Rupee

The Indian rupee hit a record low of 73.73 against the U.S. dollar soon after it opened for trade, before recovering to close at 73.34.

  • This, despite the fact that the Reserve Bank of India liberalised overseas borrowing norms for oil companies on Wednesday, as part of its efforts to ease the pressure on the currency.
  • The rupee is down close to 13 percent for the year, exceeding the quantum of losses seen in 2013 when the taper tantrum hit emerging market economies perceived to be weak.
  • Bond prices fell pushing the benchmark 10-year yield to its highest in three weeks at 8.20 percent.

Here’s more on India’s currency turmoil.

Also read: The Easy Money Era Is Over in India 

6. Essar Steel: Two-Week Window

The Supreme Court said ArcelorMittal and Numetal have to clear any outstanding dues in two weeks to become eligible to bid for Essar Steel Ltd.

  • The bids can be resubmitted once the dues are cleared, the two-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Rohinton Nariman said in its order today.
  • The lenders of Essar Steel will choose the best bid in eight weeks after that, and the litigation time will be excluded from India’s 270-day insolvency process deadline.
  • On Sept. 7, a National Company Law Appellate Tribunal order had found ArcelorMittal ineligible to participate in the bidding process for Essar unless it cleared the Rs 7,000-crore loan defaults by Uttam Galva Ltd. and KSS Petron Ltd.

Here’s why this may be vindication of the committee of creditors’ stance.

7. Navigating The IL&FS Maze

The newly constituted board of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. met today for the first time to discuss the future road map of the infrastructure financier.

BQuick On Oct. 4: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes 
  • The board appointed Uday Kotak as the non-executive chairman and Vineet Nayyar as the vice chairman and managing director.
  • Kotak said that the IL&FS group's "maze of 348 entities" is more complex than what was earlier thought of. And that underscores the challenge to resolve it.
  • The board assured stakeholders that a fair and objective assessment of facts keeping in mind everyone's interests.

Here are the key takeaways from the board's briefing.

Also read: The Untold Tale Behind Modi's Shock Takeover of a Risky Lender

8. Wockhardt’s Waluj Hope

Wockhardt Ltd. said it’s in final stages to resolve the U.S. drug regulator’s import alert for one of the three plants that can’t export drugs to the American market because of lack of good manufacturing standards.

  • The company is in the last lap of remedial efforts for Waluj, Maharashtra facility, Murtaza Khorakiwala, managing director at Wockhardt, told BloombergQuint in an interview.
  • The company will be able to invite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a re-inspection in a couple of months.
  • The plant was barred from exporting drugs to U.S. in 2013. The same year, the regulator issued an import alert to its another facility in Chikalthana, Maharashtra, and followed that up with similar action against Wockhardt’s third facility in Ankleshwar, Gujarat in 2016.

Wockhardt’s sales have fallen drastically.

9. The MPC...Its Mandate And Beyond

As the six-member panel begins its third and final year, it faces an economic environment far more complex than it did in the last two years. There is no reason to believe that the committee is not up to the task of managing these complexities. However, its hands may be tied by a relatively straight-jacketed ‘flexible inflation targeting’ framework, writes Ira Dugal.

  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel reiterated the commitment to the central bank's inflation mandate in June. “Our monetary policy is determined by the nominal anchor that has been given to us through a legislative process and which is the consumer price index,” Patel said when asked whether the RBI would use interest rates as a defense against a weakening currency.
  • If you take that statement at face value, the MPC would take stock of current inflation and inflationary expectations. It would analyse the inflation impact of a weakening currency. It would build in any domestic price implications of higher import tariffs announced to deal with the widening current account deficit.

But should the MPC choose to stick to the letter and the spirit of its mandate or go a step further?

10. Putin Lands

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in India for a two-day visit during which the two countries are likely to sign a deal to procure S-400 air defence systems and deliberate on key regional and global issues, including U.S. sanctions on import of Iranian crude oil.

  • Modi and Putin are also expected to explore ways to further deepen cooperation between the two countries in a number of sectors including trade, investment, connectivity, energy, space and tourism.
  • The focus during the visit will be on the S-400 air defence missile systems agreement with a top Kremlin aide saying Tuesday that Russian President Putin will oversee the signing of the "$5 billion deal".
  • The purchase will violate sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) instituted by the U.S. Congress on arms purchases from Russia, but American lawmakers have allowed the possibility of a presidential waiver.

Here’s what else you can expect from the bilateral meeting.