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Loan interest costs set to fall as RBI cuts rate to 6.25%

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Reserve Bank of India RBI

New Delhi, Feb 7: In a surprise move that could bring down home and auto loans, the RBI on Thursday went the whole hog by not only lowering its key lending rate for commercial banks by 25 basis points (bps) to 6.25 per cent, but also turned accommodative changing its monetary policy stance from “calibrated tightening” to “neutral”.

The move, designed to ease the liquidity crunch, comes as a boost for the economy in an election year.

The Reserve Bank of India’s decision, in its final policy review of the fiscal, was guided by its “assessment of the evolving macroeconomic situation” wherein headline inflation was projected to soften further and the economy’s growth impulses had moderated.

The central bank’s reverse repo rate was also adjusted to 6 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.5 per cent.

“Headline inflation is projected to remain soft in the near term reflecting the current low level of inflation and the benign food inflation outlook.

“Beyond the near term, some uncertainties warrant careful monitoring,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, who presided over his first monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting said while making the policy review announcement.

“The MPC noted that the output gap has opened up modestly as actual output has inched lower than potential.

“Investment activity is recovering…but the need is to strengthen private investment activity and buttress private consumption,” he said following the meeting that started on Tuesday.

It is vital for the RBI to “act in a timely manner” to support growth, given that inflation continues to remain benign, and in view of the fact that investment demand has decelerated, Das added.

The RBI also revised downwards its consumer price index (CPI), or retail inflation, projection to 2.8 per cent for the ongoing quarter, to 3.2-3.4 per cent in the first half of the next fiscal and 3.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2019-20, “with risks broadly balanced around the central trajectory”.

The central bank projected GDP growth to be in the range of 7.2-7.4
per cent in the first half of the next fiscal beginning April, and at 7.5 per cent in the third quarter “with risks evenly balanced”.

The RBI’s rate cut buoyed the Indian equity market, with the BSE Sensex touching an intra-day high of 37,172.18, rising nearly 200 points from the previous close of 36,975.23, while the NSE Nifty50 gained 52.85 points rising to 11,115.30.

Intrest-sensetive auto and realty stocks gained around 1 per cent while the key banking stocks gained 0.50 per cent as a policy rate cut would lead to lower interest rates for loan seekers.

Noting the slowdown in industrial activity in November and deceleration in core industries’ growth in December, the RBI also noted foreign portfolio investment inflows turned negative in January.

The central bank’s statement noted that while the decision to change the monetary policy stance was unanimous, two members of the MPC — non-RBI member Chetan Ghate and the RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya — voted to keep the policy rate unchanged.

Thursday’s monetary policy was preceded by the government’s Interim Budget presented on February 1 showering largesse across large sectors such as agriculture, housing and the informal one, and containing proposals of tax cuts that would benefit the middle class.

IANS

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Sensex, Nifty open higher

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Sensex equity Nifty

Mumbai, Feb 15: The Sensex gained close to 140 points after opening higher on Friday while the Nifty logged slight gains to trade above the 10,750 mark.

Utilities, oil and gas and power stocks gained on the BSE while key sectors like finance and banking traded lower.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,985.68 from its previous close at 35,876.22 on Thursday.

At 9.16 a.m., the Sensex traded at 36,014.08 higher by 137.86 points or 0.38 per cent.

The Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened lower at 10,930.90 after closing at 10,943.60 on Thursday.

The Nifty traded at 10,752.15 during the morning trade session, up 6.10 points and 0.06 per cent.

On Thursday, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net sellers and the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were net buyers.

FIIs sold stocks worth Rs 250.23 crore while the DIIs bought stocks to the tune of Rs 1,225.24 crore.

IANS

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Rahul says GST killed Gujarat’s economic base

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Rahul Gandhi

Lal Dungri (South Gujarat), Feb 14 (IANS) Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday established a connect with the crowds here in Gujarat, scoffing at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development claims in his home state and alleging that GST had killed the state’s small and medium scale businessmen who were its true pillars.

“Sardar ney humko rasta dikhaya tha, Mahatma Gandhi ney rasta dikhaya tha, ab Gujarat ke log firse dikhayenge kaise logon ko ek karte hain, sahi vikas kya hain (Sardar showed us the way, Gandhi showed us the way, now people of Gujarat will once again show how to unite the country, what is real development),” he declared to loud applause.

As the crowds listened in rapt attention, Gandhi made an sentimental appeal: “Gujarat has given immense love and respect to me, I will never forget this. There is nothing bigger for me. I love to come here as many as times as possible. I love the people of Gujarat, I love the food here.”

As the crowds cheered and whistled, he said: “Whenever Gujarat calls me, I will be there. Wherever I am, I promise, whenever you call me I will come.”

Taunting Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme, the Congress chief added, addressing the crowd: “You are our masters. The farmers, the tribals, the downtrodden are our masters. Not Anil Ambani, not Nirav Modi, not Vijay Mallya.”

There was loud applause when he referred to Jay Shah, son of BJP President Amit Shah.

“He converted Rs 700 crore black money into white through a cooperative bank (Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank of which Amit Shah is a director). But Narendra Modi will not speak about this,” he asserted.

Just as Gandhi exhorted the crowds to shout after him “chowkidar chor hai” he said: “Delhi mein kehte hain chor hai, Gujarati mein bolte hain Chor Chhey.” The people broke into huge laughter and some shouted back “mahachor chhey” and “paako chor chhey”.

Gandhi said “Modi’s Gabbar Singh Tax (Goods and Services Tax)” had sounded the death knell of the small and medium scale businessmen who were the true pillars of Gujarat’s economic prowess. And GST came as an insult to injury to the common men after demonetization, he added.

“The UPA government in 2019 will bring real GST, where it will be a truly simple tax and truly one tax, not the present version.”

Gandhi said the Congress brought National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Food Security Act and a progressive and people-oriented land acquisition law. “And now we are coming with a concept of guaranteed income.

“Under this, money will be directly transferred in your bank account… We have been planning for this for over three to four months.”

Referring to the Bharatmala project, Gandhi said it was “bharat-maara not Bharatmala” through which lands of farmers and poor were being snatched.

He challenged the BJP government to implement the Land Acquisition Act which the UPA government had brought in 2013. “We implemented it in Chhattisgarh immediately after our party came to power. Our government got the Tatas to return thousands of acres of unused land according to the law,” Gandhi added.

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Market down for sixth-straight session; Sensex falls 157 pts

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SENSEX NIFTY MARKET

Mumbai, Feb 14: Sharp jump in Brent crude oil price along with subdued quarterly earning results and a weak rupee pulled the key equity indices lower for a sixth straight session on Thursday.

Lately, outflows of foreign funds, caution on the fiscal slippage front have dampened investors’ sentiments.

The S&P BSE Sensex lost 157.89 points or 0.44 per cent to settle at 35,876.22 after it opened slightly higher from its previous close of 36,034.11, while the Nifty closed 47.60 points lower at 10,746.05.

However, S&P BSE Mid-cap gained 0.52 per cent while the Small-caps also surged 0.17 per cent after under performing for the past week.

“Market extended losses despite positive global market as investors continued to give more focus on domestic cues while assessing global developments. Moderation in WPI to 2.76 per cent in January provides an insight about the slowdown in the economy and earnings growth,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

Nair added that Mid and Small cap rebounded “after many days of correction, however investors are yet to find stability in the market in expectation of election outcome”.

According to Essel Mutual Fund’s CIO Viral Berawala, “WPI inflation came in at 2.76 per cent from 3.80 per cent on month-on-month basis due to decline in core inflation, leading to gains in banking stocks”.

“This selling combined with some profit booking in consumer sector led to markets trading weak,” Berawala said.

Yes Bank logged its sharpest intra-day gain after surging over 30 per cent following Reserve Bank of India’s clean chit on any divergence in bad loan reporting.

Scrips of the private lender closed 30.73 per cent higher at Rs 221 from its previous close of 169.05. It surged up to 32 per cent, touching an intra-day high of 223.70.

It was followed by Tata Motors (DVR), Tata Motors, Sun Pharma and IndusInd Bank inching up in the range of 1 to 4.5 per cent.

Bharti Airtel, Infosys, Asian Paints, Reliance Industries and Coal India declined 1 to 3 per cent.

IANS

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