BQuick On July 17: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes
Lights illuminate the Golden Bridge and city skyline in Vladivostok, Russia. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg  

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

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

1. The Shelves Are Emptying Again

Demand for India’s consumer goods makers recovered to near pre-Covid levels in June as sales of products such as deodorants, hair colours, skin care and other personal items picked up after the nation eased isolation curbs, according to Nielsen India.

  • “Categories like toothpaste, shampoos, hair oils that had witnessed rationalisation in the lockdown period bounced back in June," Nielsen India said in its report. "A similar trend was witnessed for home care products like washing powder and detergent cakes.”
  • Consumers preferred to stay at home, trying new recipes that drove the demand for packaged atta (wheat flour) and retail packs of edible oils during the month, the market researcher said.
  • Sales of hygiene products and immunity boosters such as liquid toilet soaps, chyawanprash and honey, too, remained elevated in June.

The demand for branded consumer goods was robust in rural India.

2. No Stay On Vodafone Idea’s Premium Plan...For Now

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has stayed the telecom regulator’s direction to put on hold Vodafone Idea Ltd.’s latest premium offering.

  • The tribunal, however, said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India can investigate Vodafone Idea’s RedX postpaid plan—which offers unlimited data and “priority 4G network” to subscribers—but a suspension isn’t warranted at this stage.
  • “It’s found that the direction for suspension of the RedX Plan which, understandably, would apply only to the existing revised plan, lacks even prima facie reasons,” the TDSAT order by Chairman Shiva Kirti Singh said.
  • “The only justification that suspension would facilitate detailed examination by TRAI is found to be devoid of any merits,” the order said.

The case will be heard next on Aug. 18.

3. Nifty’s Late Recovery

A last-hour surge led to Indian equity markets posting a fifth straight weekly advance, the longest weekly winning streak since April 2019.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex ended 1.5% higher at 37,020 while the NSE Nifty 50 index ended 1.75% higher at 10,927.
  • Benchmark indices gained in four out of the five trading sessions this week.
  • Among the sectoral indices, banking and auto stocks ended near the highest point of the day, with gains of 1.7% each.
  • The PSU Bank index was the top-performing index in today's session, ending with gains of 1.8%. The I.T. index was the only sectoral index to have ended with losses of 0.6%.
  • Broader markets performed in-line with benchmarks. The midcap and smallcap indices ended with gains of 1.4% each.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

5. How Britannia And HCL Tech Fared In Q1

Britannia Industries Ltd.’s profit more than doubled and its margin expanded as the fast-moving consumer goods maker cut costs in a quarter that saw the pandemic stall business activity.

  • Net profit rose to Rs 545 crore compared to Rs 251 crore.
  • Revenue rose 26.7% year-on-year to Rs 3,420 crore.
  • Ebitda jumped 81.4% to Rs 716.6 crore.
  • Margin expanded to 21% from 14.6%.

See how Britannia took on the Covid-19 challenge.

HCL Technologies Ltd.'s profit fell in the first full quarter affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Still, it resumed the practice of providing annual guidance.

  • Net profit declined 7.3% sequentially to Rs 2,925 crore.
  • Revenue fell 4% to Rs 17,841 crore
  • Operating profit fell 5.7% to Rs 3,660 crore.

Read more to find out what HCL Tech has forecast for the rest of the year.

6. Roshni Nadar: First Woman To Head An Indian IT Firm

India’s richest woman Roshni Nadar Malhotra has taken charge of HCL Technologies Ltd. from her father and Chairperson Shiv Nadar. In the process, she also became the first woman to lead a listed IT company in India.

  • Nadar joined the board of HCL Technologies in 2013 and was vice-chairperson before her latest appointment.
  • She will continue as chief executive officer of HCL Corporation, the holding company for all the group entities.

Find out how she rose through the ranks and became one of the most recognised women of India Inc.

7. Where Ambani Is Parking His Billions

Reliance Industries Ltd., the conglomerate owned by Asia’s richest man, is plowing billions into Indian debt funds after receiving cash from stake sales and a rights issue, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

  • The monies have been deployed into ultra-short and money-market funds, and others focused on debt with an average of three-to-five year maturities, according to fund managers who asked not to be identified in discussing investment details.
  • The conglomerate, with interests spanning petrochemicals, retail and telecom, may have deployed as much as Rs 35,000 crore ($4.7 billion) across the nation’s debt houses, according to estimates by two of the money managers.

The fund flow is adding to the rally in short-duration bonds, with banks and investors also jumping into such debt.

8. Curious Case Of High Bounce Rate On Auto Debit Transactions

Auto-debit transactions between different banks, which are used for recurring payments like loans, investments and bill payments, have seen a surge in the ‘bounce rate’, shows data from the National Payment Corporation of India.

  • The ‘bounce rate’ reflects the proportion of auto debits attempted but declined.
  • This higher bounce rate, according to bankers and industry experts BloombergQuint spoke to, suggests weakness in consumer finances which is leading to failed payments.
  • But it may also reflect the haphazard manner in which lenders are operationalising the six-month moratorium permitted by the Reserve Bank of India.

Here’s what the data tells us.

9. Covid-19: Over 1 Million Cases In India

The number of Covid-19 cases in India crossed one million (10 lakh) on Friday as new hotspots emerge and infections continue to rise in the country with the third highest case load in the world.

  • India added 34,956 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total count to 1,003,832, according to the Health Ministry’s update at 9 a.m. on July 17.
  • This includes 635,757 recoveries and 25,602 people who have lost their lives because of the novel coronavirus.
  • Over the last 24 hours, 22,942 patients recovered and 687 died.
  • The second-most populous nation with 1.3 billion people is only behind the U.S. and Brazil in the number of confirmed infections, with no sign of the virus curve flattening.

A matter of concern is the new hotspots are emerging all over the country.

Globally, total cases have topped 13.7 million with over 5,88,000 deaths.

  • Manila, capital of the Philippines, may return to a lockdown as coronavirus cases rise.
  • Jakarta in Indonesia keeps social-distancing measures that were set to expire amid a surge in cases.
  • Brazil surpassed 2 million cases as the virus spreads in the country’s poorer, remote areas.

Follow the global spread of the virus here.

10. Singh Brothers: Jail Or Bail?

Housed in Asia’s largest prison are two businessmen brothers who once owned one of India’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Central Jail, Tihar, mostly referred to as Tihar jail, describes itself as a model prison—advanced security systems, cable television, indoor-outdoor games, even a baking school. The prison complex has nine central jails and 11,000 inmates, says its website that looks as if it hasn’t been updated in years.

  • Time has stood still for the Singh brothers too—Malvinder Singh is lodged in jail number 8, whereas younger brother Shivinder Singh is in jail number 7. They’ve been there for some 270 days and counting.
  • Both brothers have ongoing appeals—in Shivinder’s bail plea, the Delhi High Court reserved its order on July 16. The court reserved its order on Malvinder’s plea for relief on Friday.
  • The brothers were taken into police custody till Oct. 17 and, thereafter, sent to judicial custody in Tihar Jail.

Read more about the unholy mess that Malvinder and Shivinder Singh made of their business empire.

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