BQuick On April 17: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  
A motorcycle goes past a virus graffiti on the road. (Source: PTI)

BQuick On April 17: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  

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

1. India Sees Highest Recoveries Of Covid-19 Patients In One Day

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in India rose further toward the 14,000-mark.

  • India added 1,076 new cases over the last 24 hours taking the total to 11,835, according to the health ministry’s update on Friday evening.
  • This includes 1,767 patients who have recovered and 452 deaths.
  • Friday saw the highest number of recoveries in a single day in India with over 250 patients discharged.
  • The health ministry also said that the rate at which the number of coronavirus cases in the country was doubling in the last one week was 6.2 days, as against three days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed.
  • While it took the country 70 days to report its first 5,000 cases, the next 8,000 have come in just nine days.
  • Gujarat became the sixth state in India with more than 1,000 cases of Covid-19. The other five are —Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Dharavi on Friday recorded 15 new Covid-19 cases, including one death, increasing the total confirmed infections to 101 in Mumbai’s biggest slum despite the lockdown.

Follow the developments around the novel coronavirus outbreak in India here.

Globally, cases crossed 21 lakh leaving more than 1.46 lakh dead.

  • The Trump administration issued guidelines allowing states and employers in U.S. to abandon most social-distancing practices within a month.
  • Spain had the most new cases in a week and Russia reported another record daily increase in new infections.
  • Cases in Singapore soared as authorities detected more infections among foreign workers while Japan expanded its state of emergency.

Track the latest updates on the global spread of the virus.

2. RBI Unveils Another Set Of Measures To Fight Virus Impact

The Reserve Bank of India on Friday announced a host of further measures to support the economy and the financial system.

  • The measures range from relief for banks in classifying bad loans to liquidity support for non-bank lenders and increased emergency funding for state governments.
  • In order to encourage banks to deploy surplus funds, the reverse repo rate has been cut by 25 basis points to 3.75 percent from 4 percent.
  • The ‘ways and means advances’ limit for states has been increased by 60 percent to prevent a rush of market borrowings from states.
  • Besides, the moratorium period of three months will be excluded from the 90-day period for non-performing asset classification.

RBI’s overarching objective is to keep the financial system sound, liquid and smoothly functioning.

Also read: Covid-19 Response: Making Sense Of RBI’s Second Medicine Dose

3. Back-To-Back Weekly Gains For Nifty; Oil Hovers Around $18

Indian equity markets ended the truncated week on a high, registering their second successive weekly advance. This is the first instance in two months where benchmark indices have had back-to-back weekly gains.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex added 1.4 percent this week to close at 31,588. The 30-stock index had advanced over 12 percent last week.
  • On Friday, Sensex gained 3.2 percent.
  • Gains were led by private banks with Axis Bank Ltd. and ICICI Bank Ltd. ending 13 percent and 9.5 percent higher respectively.
  • Among sectoral indices, the Nifty Bank ended as the top performer with gains of 7 percent.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

Yet to recover from the Covid-19 rout, Indian equity markets are looking “mouth-wateringly interesting” to investors who recognise one theme that will play out over the next three to nine months, according to Marcellus Investment Managers' Saurabh Mukherjea.

Find out which stocks are on Mukherjea’s radar.

Stocks extended a weekly advance as investors speculated the American economy would soon begin to emerge from a lockdown amid a glimmer of hope in the race to find a coronavirus treatment.

  • The S&P 500 pared gains as benchmark 10-year yields slumped below 0.6 percent while Apple Inc. sank on estimates iPhone sales could slump.
  • The equity benchmark was still on track for a second week of gains -- the longest run since mid-February.
  • Gilead Sciences Inc. climbed after a report that a group of patients were “seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms.”
  • Oil traded near $18 a barrel.

Get your daily fix of global markets here.

4. Watch Out For These Midcaps

This earnings season is expected to be muted as companies struggle to take stock of the financial and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic that shut businesses temporarily in an already slowing Indian economy.

  • Only banks and IT sectors are likely to post double to high single-digit earnings growth, while engineering, fast-moving consumer goods makers and pharma companies are expected to see low single-digit growth, according to Axis Capital.
  • According to Kotak Institutional Equities, banks and pharmaceuticals would report healthy earnings, while net income of sectors like automobiles, construction materials, metals and mining and oil would see a high double-digit decline compared to last year.

Here are the mid-cap stocks that may report the highest expansion and contraction in the March quarter.

Also read: Stock Investors Prize Companies With Less Debt in India Lockdown

5. TCS Open To Acquisitions Despite Uncertainty

India’s largest software services provider said it won’t shy away from acquisitions if opportunities emerge during the virtual business freeze caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Any form of vendor consolidation or other things are on the table, Rajesh Gopinathan, managing director and chief executive officer at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., said in an interview to BloombergQuint.
  • “People think of us as conservative but if you go back in history, it was in the middle of the GFC crisis that we made our largest acquisition,” he said, referring to the buyout of Citigroup Global Services in 2008.
We have the strength of our balancesheet to be able to participate in any emerging opportunities.
Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO, TCS

Watch the full interview with Gopinathan where he explains the “very, very weak” demand scenario and what it means for TCS.

6. Supreme Court Dismisses UBS Appeal To Block Sale Of Future Retail Shares

The Supreme Court dismissed a special leave petition filed by UBS AG against a Bombay High Court order that restrained IDBI Trusteeship Services from selling shares of Future Retail Ltd. pledged against debentures issued by a group entity.

  • A two-member bench of Justice Sanjay Kaul and Justice BR Gavai said that the Bombay High Court had granted a stay on the sale of shares and will hear the matter on May 4.
  • Considering this, the interim order cannot be interfered with, the apex court said while dismissing the plea filed by UBS AG.

The issue stems from Future Group’s inability to make payments against debentures issued by one of its units.

7. Statisticians Grapple With Challenges Of India’s Economic Data

India’s 40-day lockdown is likely to throw the economy into turmoil. Unemployment will spike. But by how much? Production will fall. Again, by how much and which categories? What will happen to prices?

  • Over the next few months each incoming economic data point will be parsed to get the answer to these questions.
  • Except, compiling the data itself is proving to be a challenge amid restrictions of movement imposed across the country.
  • Researchers, data collection staff and statisticians are all trying to find ways to collect the right amount of data amid these restrictions and ensuring that it provides as accurate a picture as possible.

For now, field operations to collect data are at a near standstill.

Also read: Banks That Skirted India’s Bad Loans Can’t Escape Lockdown

8. How The Aarogya Setu App Handles Your Data

There have been legitimate concerns about whether it is privacy-friendly as has been claimed, writes software security researcher V Anand.

  • Singapore’s TraceTogether app collects far less than the Aarogya Setu.
  • The Aarogya Setu app uses static device IDs that are vulnerable to sniffing attacks.
  • Neither the source code nor the technical specifications are public.

Is the app already suffering from the software is scope creep?

9. China’s Historic Slump

The coronavirus pushed China’s economy into its first contraction in decades in the first quarter, with the spread of the disease around the world now leaving the nation reliant on fragile local demand to spur a recovery.

  • Gross domestic product shrank 6.8 percent from a year ago, the worst performance since at least 1992 when official releases of quarterly GDP started and missing the median forecast of a 6 percent drop.
  • The economy hasn’t contracted on a full-year basis since the end of the Mao era in the 1970s.
  • Both retailing and factory output showed improvement from the nadir in the first two months, suggesting a stabilisation in economic activity. But

But the data overall indicated an uphill struggle awaits the world’s second largest economy.

Related Coverage

10. Pandemic Requires Comprehensive Debt Standstills

The Covid-19 pandemic is a one-two financial punch for developing economies, write George Soros and Chris Canavan.

  • These are extraordinary circumstances calling for extraordinary measures that must include a comprehensive debt standstill.
  • Developing countries, even those considered middle-income countries, must be allowed to defer all debt-service payments to all international creditors — official and private — for at least one year.
  • Group of 20 leaders, in their April 15 communique, acknowledge the need for debt relief. But they call for it only for the poorest countries and only from official lenders.
  • Private lenders are asked to consider giving poor countries a break on debt payments, but they are under little pressure to oblige.

This does not go far enough, for the following reasons.

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