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GDP growth rate to slowdown to 4.7% in Q2

Ratings agency ICRA expects India's growth rate to further slowdown to 4.7 per cent in second quarter ended September 30, 2019, amid subdued domestic demand and weak investment activity.

As a result, the agency forecasted that there would be a further deterioration in the growth rate of India's GDP and the gross value added (GVA) at basic prices in year-on-year terms to 4.7 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively, in Q2 FY20, from 5 per cent and 4.9 per cent, respectively, in Q1 FY20. This was attributed to weak momentum in industry, which dipped to 0.8 per cent from 2.7 per cent in the last quarter.  

The agency, however, expects agriculture and service sector to remain steady this quarter, in line with the performance in Q1 FY20. While the agriculture sector grew at 2 per cent in June quarter this fiscal, service industry reported a robust growth of 6.9 per cent in Q1FY20.

Analysts at State Bank of India and Nomura Holdings have also lowered their growth forecasts for September quarter to between 4.2 per cent to 4.7 per cent. The government is expected to publish the GDP data for second quarter on November 29.

Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA Ltd said: "With subdued domestic demand, investment activity, and non-oil merchandise exports weighing upon volume expansion, manufacturing growth is expected to decelerate further from the marginal 0.6 per cent in Q1 FY20."

"To some extent, lower raw material costs would bolster earnings, and may prevent manufacturing GVA from slipping into a YoY contraction in Q2 FY20," she added.

ICRA said that heavy rainfall in August-September 2019 along with a delayed withdrawal of the monsoon, constrained activities in the mining and construction sectors contributed to a lower demand for electricity from the agricultural and household sectors. In addition to the latter, muted industrial activity reduced the demand for electricity generation.

The rating firm expects yearly GVA growth of mining and quarrying, construction, and electricity, gas, water supply and other utilities to weaken in Q2 FY20 (to around -3 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively), relative to Q1 FY20 (2.7 per cent, 5.7 per cent and 8.6 per cent, respectively).

"Various lead indicators of trade reveal a broad-based deterioration in Q2 FY20, which would weigh upon service sector growth in that quarter. However, a sharp pickup in spending by the Government of India (GoI) in Q2 FY20 after the presentation of the Union Budget, and the improved profitability metrics revealed by the earnings of some Banks would support service sector growth," added Nayar.

The pace of growth of commercial paper, corporate bonds and bank credit to large industries and services eased considerably to 6.7 per cent at September-end 2019 from 9.6 per cent at June-end 2019. However, the profitability metrics of the banking sector improved to an extent in Q2 FY20, led by lower provisioning and higher treasury gains, which should bolster the growth of financial, real estate and professional services. Moreover, the pace of expansion of the government's non-interest revenue expenditure increased to a considerable 25.1 per cent in Q2 FY20 from 8.7 per cent in Q1 FY20, which would support the performance of public administration, defence and other services, ICRA said.

"Based on the mixed trend in the output of kharif crops revealed by the first advance estimates of crop production, we expect the growth of agriculture, forestry and fishing to be pegged at 2 per cent for Q2 FY20, in line with the initial estimate for Q1 FY20. However, with the flooding in various parts of the country in August-September 2019, and the delayed withdrawal of the monsoon, excess moisture could lead to crop yields being lower than the initial estimates, in our view," Nayar said.

Government's Plan To Pull In 324 Companies Including Tesla, Glaxo etc.

The government is planning to offer 324 companies including Tesla Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc incentives to set up factories in India in a bid to capitalize from the trade war between China and the US., according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

The government proposes to provide the manufacturers land to set up a factory along with power, water and road access, according to draft of the document prepared by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and Invest India. Other companies that officials will reach out to include Eli Lilly & Co., South Korea's Hanwha Chemical Corp., and Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

While the trade war has benefited countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia, rigid land acquisition rules and labor laws have prompted investors to largely ignore India when looking for alternatives to China. The latest proposal may reduce red tape, and set the nation, which expanded at the slowest pace in six years last quarter, on a path to double its gross domestic product to $5 trillion by 2025 -- a goal set Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Under the plan, the government will create a land bank for ready-to-move-in industrial clusters, offer investment and location-based incentives and rationalize anti-dumping duties. The proposal includes incentives for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, fuel efficiency and carbon taxation. For the electronics and telecom sector, flexible employment, manufacturing-related incentives linked to investments and value addition have been sought.

The country has made progress, rising 37 spots since 2017 in the World Bank's ranking for ease of doing business, but it still comes in at 63rd, trailing not only China, but also Rwanda and Kosovo. At present, investors keen on setting up a factory need to acquire land on their own which, in some cases, involves a time consuming process of negotiating with small plot owners to part with their holding.

The Prime Minister's Office is considering the proposal and a decision is expected soon. An email sent to the spokeswoman at the commerce and industry ministry wasn't immediately answered.

Asia's third-largest economy expanded 5% in the June quarter, with slew of data pointing to weaker economic activity.

Getting investment inflows and boosting exports is therefore high on economic agenda of the government. It has already slashed corporate tax rate, making it competitive with rest of Asia, and has relaxed foreign investment rules to attract fund inflows in the country.

Reliance Industries overtakes BP Plc to become world's 6th largest oil company

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has overtaken BP Plc to become the sixth-largest energy company in the world. The conglomerate is now valued at $138 billion. It overtook the British energy giant's $132 billion at the close of trading on Tuesday.

Reliance Industries' shares have increased at thrice the pace of India's benchmark index following an announcement by Ambani to cut the company's net debt to zero in 18 months. He said stake sale in the oil-to-chemicals business to Saudi Aramco would be one of the measures to this end.

The surge in shares pushed Mukesh Ambani's net worth to $56 billion, making him the richest person in Asia, ahead of Alibaba Group's Jack Ma, as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The rally has also boosted Reliance Industries on its path to a market value of Rs 10 lakh crore.

Reliance Industries, that first overtook BP Plc briefly last month, is now closing in on PetroChina Co, Asia largest oil firm by value, as mentioned in a report by Bloomberg. The sixth largest oil company in the world is ranked behind Exxon Mobil that's on top of the list with a market value of $290 billion. However, Saudi Aramco's plans of initial public offering with a valuation target of between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion, could topple Exxon as the largest oil company.

While the bulk of its revenue comes from the energy business, Reliance Industries also made wide strides in the telecom and digital service industries with Reliance Jio. Reliance Industries is also expanding its retail business to take on Amazon and Walmart.   

State-Run Banks Report Frauds Of More Of Rs. 95,760 Crore In Six Months

State-run banks reported fraud worth Rs. 95,760 crore in the first six months of the fiscal year 2019-20 ending in March, finance minister told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The number of fraud cases touched 5,743 during April-September period.

"Government has taken comprehensive measures to curb the incidence of fraud in banks," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, told Rajya Sabha.

The measures included the freezing of 338,000 bank accounts of inoperative companies in the last two financial years and an enactment of a law with a provision to confiscate the property of economic offenders.

INX Media money laundering case: Chidambaram moves SC challenging HC order dismissing bail plea

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court's order dismissing his bail petition in the INX Media money laundering case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, who was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind earlier in the day, was told by senior advocate Kapil Sibal that Chidambaram was in jail for around 90 days and his bail plea be heard either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

"We will see," the bench told Sibal.

The Delhi High Court had on Friday dismissed Chidambaram's bail plea in the case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), saying prima facie allegations against him are serious in nature and he played an "active and key role" in the offence.

Chidambaram was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case and was granted bail by the Supreme Court on October 22.

The case was registered by the CBI on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED had lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2017.

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