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Indian equities open higher in early session

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Key Indian stock market indices opened higher on Thursday following global cues, as the suspense over the expected rate hike by the US Federal Reserve was finally broken the day before, with a slight nudge up for the fist time since 2006.

The sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange which had closed on Wednesday at 25,494.37 points, with a gain of 173.93 points or 0.69 percent, opened higher the next day at 25,596.63 points. Minutes after the opening bell, it was ruling at 25,579.77 points, with a gain of 85.40 points or 0.33 percent.

At the National Stock Exchange, against the previous close at 7,750.90 points, which was a gain of exactly 50 points, or 0.65 percent, the index was ruling at 7,778.75 points — higher by 27.85 points, or 0.36 percent.

This was the third consecutive day of gains for the two indices.

“The US markets rallied for the third consecutive session after the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rates and emphasised a gradual path for future rate hikes. The move was highly anticipated and was read as a vote of confidence in the economy,” Angel Broking said in an analysis before the markets opened.

“European shares closed higher holding onto the gains, before the US Federal Reserve’s expected decision to hike interest rates which signals strength of its economy. Indian shares continued their gaining streak for the third day. Positive cues from the Asian markets helped the domestic indices to close in the green.”

Even though there is a fear of a flight away from the global markets, notably those in emerging economies, to the US after the rate hike, Asia-Pacific indices were ruling higher on Thursday. Australia’s S&P ASX 200, Japan’s Nikkei, South Korea’s Kospi, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Shanghai Composite Index were all up.

Wefornews Bureau

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Bill Gates is America’s biggest farmland owner

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates owns the largest chunk of private farmland in the US across 18 states, a new report has revealed.

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San Francisco: Bill and Melinda Gates amassed 242,000 acres of land in the US, with the largest holdings in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres), according to The Land report.

Bill Gates also owns a stake in more than 24,800 acres of transitional land outside of Phoenix.

Research indicated that the lands across the US is held by Cascade Investment LLC, Gates’ private investment vehicle.

“Gates also backs online used-car seller Vroom through Cascade as well as the Canadian National Railway Company,” Geek Wire reported.

According to the Tri-City Herald, a 14,500-acre swath of choice Eastern Washington farmland in the Horse Heaven Hills in Benton County has just traded hands for almost $171 million – part of Gates’ holdings.

It is unclear why Gates has invested so heavily in farmland, but it could be connected to climate change.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a new nonprofit group a year ago, focused on helping small-scale farmers in developing countries with the tools and innovations they’ll need to deal with the effects of climate change.

Bill Gates is currently at the third spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $132 billion.

But even with his big new agricultural holdings, Gates still doesn’t rank in the Top 100 private landowners overall in the US, considering owners of land of all types.

The list is topped by Liberty Media’s John Malone, with 2.2 million acres of ranches and forests. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos makes that list at No. 25 with 420,000 acres.

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HDFC Bank’s Q3 standalone net profit rises 18%

The rise in net interest income was driven by advance growth of 15.6 per cent and a core net interest margin for the quarter of 4.2 per cent.

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Mumbai, Jan 16 : Lending major HDFC Bank on Saturday reported an 18.1 per cent increase in standalone net profit for the quarter ended December 31 of FY21 on a year-on-year basis.

The bank’s net profit for the third quarter of FY21 rose to Rs 8,758.3 crore on a YoY basis.

“After providing Rs 3,013.6 crore for taxation, the bank earned a net profit of Rs 8,758.3 crore, an increase of 18.1 per cent over the quarter ended December 31, 2019,” the bank said in a statement.

The bank’s net revenues (net interest income plus other income) grew to Rs 23,760.8 crore during the period under review from Rs 20,842.2 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2019.

Besides, net interest income (interest earned less interest expended) for the quarter ended December 31, 2020 grew by 15.1 per cent to Rs 16,317.6 crore from Rs 14,172.9 crore during the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

The rise in net interest income was driven by advance growth of 15.6 per cent and a core net interest margin for the quarter of 4.2 per cent.

“The bank’s persistent focus on deposits helped in the maintenance of a healthy liquidity coverage ratio at 146 per cent, well above the regulatory requirement.”

Furthermore, the bank made provision and contingencies worth Rs 3,414.1 crore as against Rs 3,043.6 crore during the quarter ended December 31, 2019.

“Total provisions for the current quarter include contingent provisions of nearly Rs 2,400 crore for proforma NPA as described in the asset quality section.”

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RBI remains ‘steadfast’ to take necessary steps to support economy: Guv

The RBI Governor’s statement gains significance as the Indian stock market has surged amid the pandemic and scaled new highs in the past one month, raising concerns of stretched valuations.

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Shaktikanta Das

New Delhi, Jan 16 : Reserve Bank Governor Shaktikanta Das on Saturday said that the central bank remains committed to take any further necessary measures to support the economy.

Delivering the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture on Saturday, Das said that RBI’s principal objective during the pandemic was to support economic activity and the policies have helped in easing the severity of the economic impact of the pandemic.

“I would like to unambiguously reiterate that the Reserve Bank remains steadfast to take any further measures, as may be necessary, while at the same time remaining fully committed to maintaining financial stability,” he said.

RBI’s approach to the Covid situation included measures such as loan moratoriums, easing of working capital financing and deferment of interest restructuring among others.

Speaking of the recent bull run in the financial markets, the RBI Governor said that domestic financial markets must remain prepared for sudden decline going ahead in case risk aversion takes hold among investors globally.

“While abundant capital inflows have been largely driven by accommodative global liquidity conditions and India’s optimistic medium-term growth outlook, domestic financial markets must remain prepared for sudden stops and reversals, should the global risk aversion factors take hold,” he said.

The RBI Governor’s statement gains significance as the Indian stock market has surged amid the pandemic and scaled new highs in the past one month, raising concerns of stretched valuations.

This is the second time in a week that Das has raised concerns regarding the bullish trend in stock market.

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