BQuick On June 18: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  
Cars and trucks travel down a highway at dusk in Pretoria, South Africa (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On June 18: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  

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

1. Ambani + Biyani?

Reliance Industries Ltd. is closing in on a deal that would see it acquire stakes in some units of Future Group, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would bolster the e-commerce ambitions of the conglomerate and its billionaire Chairman Mukesh Ambani.

  • An agreement between Ambani’s Reliance and Future, which already has a partnership with Amazon.com Inc., could be announced as early as next month, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public.
  • Though unit Future Retail Ltd. has attracted suitors, including Amazon, Reliance’s offer to buy into the group’s holding company is likely to sway the outcome in its favor, the people said.

A successful deal may draw the battle lines between Amazon and Ambani.

2. Saudi Sovereign Fund Joins Jio Bandwagon

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund will invest in the telecommunications and digital services business controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, bringing total new investment in Jio Platforms Ltd. to $15.2 billion since April.

  • The Public Investment Fund will hold a 2.32% stake in Jio Platforms Ltd. after investing Rs 11,367 crore, the Mumbai-based company said in a statement Thursday.
  • The deal, the 11th into Jio in about two months, adds to the list of high-profile backers betting the company will disrupt India’s massive consumer market with its technology.

The investments boost Ambani’s momentum in shifting his sprawling conglomerate.

Also read: RIL Rights Issue Investors Sitting On Profit Of 30% And More

3. China Is Foolish To Make An Enemy Of India

On the roof of the world, young soldiers from two nuclear-armed powers are killing each other with stones, rods and their fists. Details are murky. But one thing is certain: The few inches or feet China may gain in each such incident isn’t worth the ground it’s losing in the larger Sino-Indian relationship, writes Mihir Sharma.

  • China’s calculus is complicated. India needs to be reminded of its place, but not so harshly that it seeks out the embrace of the United States.
  • That’s proving an impossible balance to strike. From India’s point of view, China has been nothing but trouble.
  • This has resulted in an unspoken but unmistakable swing toward the U.S., particularly in terms of defense cooperation.

While India may pose little threat to China today, one day it will.

What’s worse than two populous, nuclear-armed countries killing each other’s soldiers? Two populous, nuclear-armed countries letting their longer-term relationship wither, writes David Fickling.

  • If trade and investment suffer as a result, the deteriorating relationship could lead to problems decades down the line.
  • There’s no overarching reason for China and India to be rivals.
  • China should recognize how much it will benefit from India’s development, just as richer countries gained from its own increasing wealth.

Amid the sugar-rush of nationalism, there’s little sign right now that cooler heads will prevail.

Also read: Border Conflict Does Little to Damp Chinese Phone Sales in India

4. Fitch Turns Negative On India

Fitch Ratings revised India’s long-term outlook to negative from stable, citing risks due to continued acceleration in the number of new Covid-19 cases as the country eases lockdown curbs.

  • The coronavirus pandemic has significantly weakened India’s growth outlook for this year with economic activity expected to contract 5% in the current fiscal, before rebounding by 9.5% by 2021-22, the global credit rating agency said in a release, as it affirmed the country’s rating at ‘BBB-’.
  • “It remains to be seen whether India can return to sustained growth rates of 6-7% as we previously estimated, depending on the lasting impact of the pandemic, particularly in the financial sector,” it said.

India’s growth outlook may be negatively affected with banks and non-bank lenders facing new asset-quality challenges.

5. Nifty Hits Double Century; U.S. Stocks Fluctuate

Indian equity markets shrugged off mixed cues from the rest of the Asian markets to end near the highest point of the day.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex ended 2.1% higher at 34,208.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 reclaimed the mark of 10,000 to end 2.13% higher at 10,091.
  • Banks were the outperformers in today's trading session with the Nifty Bank and Nifty PSU Bank ending with gains of 3.7% and 2.6% respectively.
  • The Nifty Metals index was the other major sectoral gainer, ending 3% higher.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

A one-year-old quantitative fund has beaten most of its peers and the overall Indian stock market with a rules-based system designed to avoid poor performers.

  • “This is a fund that is positioned for not losing first,” said Kalpen Parekh, president of DSP Investment Managers Pvt.
  • Here’s what the fund’s selection methodology is.
BQuick On June 18: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes  

U.S. stocks fluctuated as investors weighed the latest employment data and reports about fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus in China and America.

  • The S&P 500 pared losses after opening lower in the wake of a report that weekly U.S. jobless claims stayed above one million.
  • The pound held onto losses after the Bank of England expanded its quantitative easing programme.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude increased 0.1% to $37.99 a barrel.

Get your daily fix of global markets here.

6. RBI Panel Recommends Population-Based ATM Charges

A Reserve Bank of India panel, set up in June last year, recommended a population-based approach for fixing ATM interchange fees and customer charges.

  • The report, however, was not made public and there is no indication if the regulator intends to accept the suggestions.
  • BloombergQuint reviewed a copy of the report sourced through a Right To Information request by Cashless Consumer, a consumer collective focused on digital payments.
  • Pointing to low ATM penetration in India, the committee, which included industry participants, suggested a change in the approach to ATM charges.
  • While the cost of operating ATMs has gone up in recent years, the interchange fees and the cap on customer ATM usage charges has not been reviewed since 2012 and 2008, respectively, the report said.

Find out the key recommendations of the panel.

7. India’s Rs 50,000-Crore Plan For Migrants Who Went Back

The Modi government said it will spend Rs 50,000 crore ($6.6 billion) on creating temporary jobs in villages for millions of migrant workers who left cities after a nationwide lockdown was put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.

  • The 125-day jobs programme will be launched in villages across 116 districts in the six states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar, which is scheduled to go for polls in coming months.
  • More than 25,000 returnee migrant workers across the six states have been chosen to be part of the plan, according to the statement.

Details of the job guarantee program will be announced on June 20, according to the government statement.

8. Covid-19: Another Spike In India

The Covid-19 infection rate in India shows no signs of abating as the world’s fourth-worst affected nation reported the biggest single-day spike in cases on Thursday.

  • India added nearly 13,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 3,66,946 in Asia’s third-largest economy, according to Health Ministry’s update on June 18.
  • Indian authorities reported 12,881 new cases, 334 deaths and 7,390 recoveries in the last 24 hours.
  • Total recoveries stand at 1,94,325, while deaths are at 12,237.
  • India plans to conduct six lakh rapid antigen Covid-19 tests in Delhi at 169 new facilities being set up in the capital where 50,000 kits have already been supplied.

Track news and developments around the Covid-19 outbreak in India here.

Globally, cases topped 8.3 million, leaving more than 449,000 deaths.

  • The peak of Beijing’s new coronavirus outbreak has already passed and further infections should be “sporadic,” the country’s chief epidemiologist said.
  • Israel will pause any further reopening of the economy after an increase in cases, while Japan is set to lift domestic travel curbs.

Follow the global spread of the virus here.

9. Aakar Patel Makes Dissent Look Easy

Priya Ramani launches her new column ‘Rational Anthem’. This week, on dissent and protest, with Aakar Patel.

  • India has changed since the time Patel first started writing about Modi.
  • “If you protest you're seen as the enemy, that’s what makes our democracy unusual,” says Patel.
  • “Dissent is like cooking or carpentry. It’s something you need to do to learn.”

Read more.

10. U.S. Quits Digital Tax Deal Talks

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin withdrew the U.S. from international talks over a digital tax deal after failing to reach an agreement with countries looking to place levies on the revenue of American tech companies, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.

  • The decision suspends the Trump administration’s previous approach to find a global deal and could increase the likelihood that technology giants Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. could face a wave of foreign taxes.
We have a situation where a variety of countries have decided that the easiest way to raise revenue is to tax somebody else’s companies and they happen to be ours. The United States will not let that happen.
Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative 

Lighthizer didn’t rule out a possible settlement that avoids an escalation that could involve U.S. tariffs.

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