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Bitcoin hits nearly three-year peak, homes in on record

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The largest cryptocurrency BTC=BTSP in terms of market capitalization climbed to $17,868, its highest level since Dec. 20, 2017, and was last up 6.1% at $17,760. It hit just shy of $20,000 in mid-December, 2017, during a buying frenzy driven by retail investors.

Bitcoin has climbed roughly 150% this year and rallied about 360% from its March lows.

“Driven by a mix of market structure and strong fundamentals, bitcoin could now be within days of reaching its all-time high,” Nicholas Pelecanos, head of trading at NEM, said.

“Underlying this bullish price action is the inflation hedge narrative that has captured Wall Street since the immense money printing campaigns undertaken by the Fed earlier this year,” he added.

Citi’s technical analyst Tom Fitzpatrick said in a note that bitcoin could climb as high $318,000, based on his charts.

Other major cryptocurrencies including ethereum ETH=BTSP and XRP XRP=BTSP, which often move in tandem with bitcoin, rose 4.2% to $479.91 and climbed 4.5% to 30 U.S. cents, respectively.

Bitcoin’s 2020 rally has drawn momentum from strong appetite for riskier assets following unprecedented government and central bank stimulus measures to combat impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its reputation for being inflation-proof.

Investors, such as family offices, which manage money on behalf of wealthy individuals, have sought out the cryptocurrency as a hedge against any future inflation that might stem from central bank stimulus, analysts said.

Bitcoin’s supply is capped at 21 million. Proponents say its scarcity provides an innate value and shields it from central bank or government policies that stoke inflation.

An expectation mainstream companies will embrace bitcoin and its use as a means of payment will become more widespread also drove buying, analysts said.

Bitcoin has risen by nearly half since PayPal PYPL.O said last month it would open its network to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV early this month, Rick Rieder, BlackRock Inc’s chief investment officer of global fixed income, said crypto assets were a useful addition to a balanced portfolio.

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Azim Premji and Dr Devi Shetty chosen for PCB awards

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

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Azim Premji Wipro

Bengaluru, Jan 19: The chairman of Wipro Limited Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.

Premji has been chosen for ‘Press Club Person of the Year’, while Dr Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the ‘Press Club Special Award.’

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will facilitate the awardees at a function scheduled for the third week of February, it said.

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Healthcare sector revenues likely to grow by 20% in FY22: ICRA

he risks to the recovery could be in the form of additional regulatory measures, protracted restrictions on international travel and jump in Covid-19 cases”.

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healthcare sector

New Delhi, Jan 19: Even as the healthcare sector witnessed squeezing of revenues due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its long-term outlook remains stable on the back of swift rebound in occupancy as well as structural factors, ICRA said on Monday.

The rating agency expects the occupancy of companies in the sector to bounce back substantially to 60 per cent in FY22, from the estimated occupancy of 52 per cent in FY21, and the revenue growth to be at 20 per cent in FY22, against an estimated contraction of 19 per cent in FY21, aided by a lower base as well.

There has been significant sequential improvement in occupancy every month after the sharp fall in April and the pent-up demand is also likely to support the performance, as elective procedures cannot be delayed indefinitely by domestic as well as international patients, the report noted.

Due to the high operating leverage, the EBITDA margin is likely to rise to 13 per cent in FY22, against an estimated EBITDA margin of 9 per cent in FY21. The capital expansion was already slowing down, even pre-Covid, and is likely to remain modest in FY22 as the players have adequate capacity to grow over the medium term and the near-term focus is on better utilisation of the existing facilities rather than expansion of the network.

Consequently, the capex as well as startup costs of new hospitals are likely to be much lower going forward, which will also aid profitability. The net debt is expected to stay largely range-bound, but the debt protection metrics is likely to improve significantly due to a sharp rise in accruals, ICRA said.

According to Kapil Banga, Assistant Vice President, ICRA: “The credit risk profile of entities in the sector had been on improving the trajectory over the last two years and notwithstanding the near-term disruption due to the pandemic, as well as given the essential nature of the services, ICRA believes the sector will resume on its growth trajectory in FY22. The risks to the recovery could be in the form of additional regulatory measures, protracted restrictions on international travel and jump in Covid-19 cases”.

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Excise duty collection surges 48% in FY21 on high fuel levies

The total excise duty in the last financial year was over Rs 2.39 lakh crore.

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Modi Poster on Petrol Pump

New Delhi, Jan 17 : As the government has kept excise duty on petrol and diesel elevated amid the pandemic with a view to increase revenue, the total excise duty collection during April-November FY21 has surged nearly 48 per cent as compared to the year ago period.

The excise duty collection during the first eight months of the current financial year was over Rs 1.96 lakh crore, compared to over Rs 1.32 lakh crore collected during April-November FY20, official data showed.

The collection in November 2020 was highest so far in the financial year 2020-21 at Rs 35,703 crore. In November 2019, excise duty collection stood at Rs 18,948 crore.

The total excise duty in the last financial year was over Rs 2.39 lakh crore.

As fuel prices are at record high despite low crude oil prices, demand has been raised from several quarters to reduce the excise duty on petrol and diesel to provide relief to the common man.

In the national capital, petrol is sold at a record high level of Rs 84.70 a litre while diesel is priced at Rs 74.88 per litre.

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