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Indian markets well placed to absorb Fed rate hike

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Shaktikanta Das

New Delhi/Washington, March 16: The Indian economy is strong enough to absorb the impact of the US Federal Reserve interest rate hike, the government said on Thursday.

“Indian markets well placed to absorb US Fed rate hike. Gradual approach in future increases augurs well for emerging markets,” India’s Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said in a tweet, a day after the Fed hiked lending rates for the third time since the 2008 global financial crisis, with the American job market strengthening and the control of inflation rising toward its target.

The Fed, on Wednesday, raised its key interest rate by 25 basis points (bps), making its third rate hike since the financial crisis and the second time in three months.

In December 2016, the Fed increased its benchmark rate by 25 bps in the first rate hike in 2016 and just the second in a decade. The first was in December 2015.

In view of realised and expected labour market conditions and inflation, the central bank decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 0.75-1.0 per cent,” the Fed’s policy-making committee said in a statement released after its two-day meeting in Washington.

The committee did not indicate any plans to accelerate the pace of monetary tightening. Further rate increases would only be “gradual”, the statement said.

Indian equity markets reacted positively and the key indices opened higher on Thursday. The Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which had closed at 29,398.11 points on Wednesday, opened higher at 29,482.83 points.

Minutes into trading, it was quoting at 29,568.03 points, up by 169.12 points, or 0.53 per cent.

At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the broader 51-scrip Nifty, which had closed at 9,084.80 points, was quoting at 9,138.85 points, up by 54.05 points or 0.59 per cent.

US Labour Department data on Friday showed that total non-farm payroll employment in the country increased by 235,000 in February. The unemployment rate was little changed at 4.7 per cent.

Earlier in March, US Federal Reserve chairperson Janet Yellen had signalled that an interest rate hike in March’s monetary policy will likely be appropriate, if the economy progresses in line with official expectations.

With the job market strengthening and inflation rising toward our target, the median assessment of FOMC participants as of last December (2016) was that a cumulative 3/4 percentage point increase in the target range for the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate over the course of this year,” Yellen said in a speech at the Executives’ Club of Chicago.

She also warned that waiting too long to raise interest rates could force the American central bank to act quickly in response to economic risks, which in turn could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession.

According to analysts, a Fed rate hike of 25 bps could set off capital outflows from emerging market economies like India with large external funding needs and macro-economic imbalances, thereby increasing their vulnerability.

While the impact of the rate increase on the US economy will be negligible, emerging market economies with large external funding needs and macro-economic imbalances could be vulnerable to capital outflows,” Moody’s Investors Service has said in a report.

“The most direct impact will be felt in those economies that have high external financing needs relative to their foreign exchange earnings and reserves,” the report said.

The American agency said the spillover effect of the rate hike may manifest itself in different ways.

For instance, in some cases a pronounced currency depreciation could lead to higher inflation, which, along with the threat of sustained capital outflows, could force central banks to raise interest rates,” it said.

The Fed’s tightening could have negative spillovers for those with large external funding needs, high leverage, macroeconomic imbalances, or uncertainties around politics and policies,” it added.

The Federal Reserve slashed rates to zero in 2008 in the wake the financial crisis and kept it at that level throughout the period of major economic slowdown that followed.

India is currently seen as being better equipped than other emerging markets to ride the impact of higher US interest rates because of its stronger economic growth and impressive foreign exchange reserves of more than $300 billion.

IANS

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Vodafone retrospective tax decision was erroneous: Jaitley

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Vodafone Tax Case

The decision taken by the previous UPA government to tax British telecom multinational Vodafone Group retrospectively was an “erroneous” one, the likes of which the ruling NDA would be loath to repeat, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

He was responding to a question from the audience here on the issue at the ET Global Business Summit here.

“I always felt Vodafone tax decision was an erroneous decision. This government decided it will not be taking any retrospective decision,” Jaitley said.

It was precisely for this reason that the Long Term Capital Gains Tax reintroduced in the Budget earlier this month had been exempted for investments made up to January 31, 2018, he added.

The Budget 2018-19 has proposed to tax long-term capital gains on equities exceeding Rs 1 lakh at 10 per cent, which is expected to bring in revenue of Rs 20,000 crore.

However, capital gains made on shares until January 31, 2018, will be “grandfathered”, Jaitley said while presenting the budget, adding “we have protected all investments coming in before February 1”.

Vodafone is facing tax claims and interest totalling more than Rs 22,000 crore in India, which includes Rs 14,200 crore for acquiring Hutchison’s stake in 2007.

The UPA government had said that the Hutchison-Vodafone deal was liable for tax deduction at source (TDS) under the Income Tax (IT) Act. While the Supreme Court subsequently quashed the demand in January 2012, the government amended the IT Act retrospectively, putting the liability back on Vodafone Group.

The company last year said an international arbitration tribunal would begin trial on Vodafone’s challenge to India’s retrospective legislation to seek Rs 22,100 crore in taxes.

In this connection, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) has said thatb predictability and clarity regarding retrospective taxation would help British companies to invest more in India.

“I think that if there was more clarity, certainty, predictability around retrospective taxation and (resolving) the Vodafone issue that would help the UK companies make their investment decisions in India,” UKIBC Managing Director Richard McCallum told IANS over a telephonic interaction on Friday.

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Equities recoup on value buying after 3 weeks of losses

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sensex

Mumbai, Feb 24: After three weeks of consecutive losses, the key Indian equity indices bounced back from their lows to close this week with humble gains on value buying by investors.

Market observers said futures and options (F&O) expiry infused volatility in the domestic markets, amid global cues and a slew of domestic developments like the $1.8 billion fraud reported by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and a weakening rupee due to the continuous outflow of foreign funds.

However, losses were trimmed as bargain-hunting by investors on the last trading day of the week lifted the benchmark indices.

On a weekly basis, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) edged higher by 131.39 points or 0.39 per cent to close at 34,142.15 points.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed trade at 10,491.05 points — up 38.75 points or 0.37 per cent from its previous week’s close.

“The week gone by saw the Nifty bouncing back from a low of 10,302 to finally end with a modest gain. This week’s gains came after three weeks of losses,” Deepak Jasani, Head, Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

According to D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of SMC Investments and Advisors, markets across the globe fluctuated wildly — highlighting the market’s fragility — as investors continued to assess the quickening pace of economic growth and the prospects of the US Federal Reserve’s tightening efforts.

“Back home, the sentiment of market participants have been dented by factors such as surging US bond yields, a multi-crore fraud in India’s second-largest public sector lender PNB and the return of long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax on equities, which put a break on the record-setting market rally,” he added.

During the eight trading sessions following the detection of a $1.8 billion fraud in one of the branches of the PNB, the bank’s shares on the BSE have plunged almost 30 per cent to Rs 113.40 per share.

Gitanjali Gems, the other listed entity involved in the fraud case, also witnessed an eight-day fall in its shares, nosediving 60.54 per cent to Rs 24.80 per share.

“The consolidation in the domestic market continued due to the NPA (non-performing assets) issue in public-sector banks, trade deficit, conflict between NSE and SGX, rise in bond yield and depreciation in rupee due to selling by FIIs (foreign institutional investors),” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

On the currency front, the rupee weakened by 51-52 paise to close at 64.73 against the US dollar from last week’s close of 64.21-22.

Provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that FIIs sold-off scrips worth Rs 5,781.98 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) purchased scrips worth Rs 5,972.69 crore during the week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors off-loaded equities worth Rs 3,054.94 crore, or $468.06 million, during February 20-23.

Sectorwise, Jasani said: “The top sectoral gainers were IT, metal and Bank Nifty indices. The top losers were auto, realty and pharma indices.”

The top weekly Sensex gainers were: Tata Consultancy Services (up 4.76 per cent at Rs 3,076.90); Yes Bank (up 3.75 per cent at Rs 323.60); Infosys (up 2.74 per cent at Rs 1,155.65); Kotak Bank (up 2.67 per cent at Rs 1,079.85); and Coal India (up 2.49 per cent at Rs 310.55).

The losers were: Bajaj Auto (down 3.70 per cent at Rs 2,988); Asian Paints (down 3.65 per cent at Rs 1,101.90); Mahindra and Mahindra (down 3.29 per cent at Rs 719.30); Tata Motors (down 2.73 per cent at Rs 360.45); and Tata Motors (DVR) (down 2.32 per cent at Rs 203.85).

IANS

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In the Indian system politicians are accountable but regulators are not: FM Jaitely on Banking frauds

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arun Jaitely
Finance Minister Arun Jaitely at Global Business Summit (Photo-ANI)

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday told that cases of periodical willful default are much more dangerous than business failure and bank frauds.

Speaking at Global Business Summit the leader pointed out that these kinds of incidents not only harm the economic atmosphere like the ease of doing business but also scars the economy.

The finance minister Jaitley also said, “If a fraud is taking place in multiple branches of banking system & no one raised the red flag, doesn’t that become worrisome for a country. Similarly, top management who were indifferent, multiple layers of auditing system which chose to look another way, it creates a worrisome situation.”

The leader also referred that Regulators plays important roles and decide the rules of the game and they have to have a third eye which perpetually is open.

“Unfortunately, in the Indian system we politicians are accountable but regulators are not,” he added.

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