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RBI to retain lending rates, accommodative stance, say experts (IANS Poll)

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Reserve Bank Of India
Reserve Bank Of India

Persistently high inflation fanned in part due to supply side disruptions along with seasonal factors will deter the Reserve Bank to administer a dose of lending rate cut during the upcoming monetary policy review.

In a poll conducted by IANS, economist and industry experts cited elevated inflation level as a key determinant for a pause in policy easing.

Notably, the expected move comes at a time when industrial output is at historic low due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A policy easing, if administered, would have theoretically allowed commercial banks to reduce their lending rates thereby helping both consumers and the industry to get cheaper finance.

Subsequently, the increased money flow in the hands of consumers would have helped to boost demand, and for the industry provided a higher flow of capital investment on the back of lower cost.

Nonetheless, retail inflation has been at an elevated level during July-August.

“In view of the retail inflation being higher than RBI’s comfort zone for two consecutive quarters in the past and likelihood of it remaining in excess of 6 per cent in July-September as well, no rate cut is expected in the upcoming policy review,” Sunil Kumar Sinha, Principal Economist, India Ratings & Research told IANS.

“But RBI will continue to maintain its accommodative policy stance to signal that policy rates are not going to go up either.”

Lately, data showed that India’s August retail inflation stood at an elevated level.

The retail or consumer price index stood at 6.69 per cent in August. It had risen to 6.73 per cent in July.

As per the data, retail inflation level has reached the upper limit of the medium-term CPI inflation target of 4 per cent. The target is set within a band of +/- 2 per cent.

“Given the elevated CPI inflation, we expect an extended pause from the MPC,” said Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA.

The RBI’s MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) is expected to release its resolution on the monetary policy after their meet on Sep 29th to Oct 1st, 2020.

“We believe that MPC will continue to hold the interest rates in the near term given the continuing inflationary concerns,” said Suman Chowdhury Chief Analytical Officer at Acuite Ratings and Research.

“However, the accommodative stance is likely to persist in the face of the ongoing economic contraction.”

Besides inflation, other economic indicators, showed decline in production and in essence revival of economic growth due to localised lockdowns, supply chain disruptions and lack of labour supply.

“Our inflation trajectory suggests that technically the next opportune time to cut may not come before end-3QFY21,” said Madhavi Arora, Lead Economist, FX and Rates for Edelweiss Securities.

“However, the modest reduction in July and August CPI inflation will provide some comfort for the RBI. We maintain the depth of ongoing fall in demand is not yet reflected accurately in inflation, and as it starts to percolate in data and as supply normalise progressively, headline CPI inflation will likely moderate towards 4 per cent by end-CY20, admittedly also helped by base effect.”

The August datapoint further showed that India’s consumer food price index had eased a bit to 9.05 per cent against 9.27 per cent reported for July 2020.

On its part, Brickwork Ratings said: “We expect inflation to remain b elow 6 per cent in Q3FY21 as food inflation is likely to lower in the wake of abundant harvests.”

“The pandemic is still evolving, and credit offtake, even at a low rate of interest, looks sticky. With uncertainty regarding the pandemic loom ing large, the RBI may not provide a GDP forecast for FY21 in the upcoming MPC meeting. As in the previous statements, the RBI may continue to talk about economic contraction without quantifying the magnitude.”

Last month, the MPC of the central bank decided to retain its key short-term lending rate to curb the rise in inflation, and stabilise the general economic environment.

Even though it retained the repo rate — or short-term lending rate for commercial banks, at 4 per cent, the MPC agreed to maintain the growth-oriented a ccommodative stance.

Likewise, the reverse repo rate stood unchanged at 3.35 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the ‘Bank Rate’ at 4.25 per cent.

Business

Eicher Motors now offers customised Royal Enfield motorcycles

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Eicher logo
Eicher logo

Chennai, Oct 15 (IANS) Two-wheeler maker Eicher Motors Ltd on Thursday said customers can now choose to personalise and accessorise their Royal Enfield motorcycles at the time of purchase.

In a statement issued here, the company said it has rolled out the first of its kind motorcycle personalisation service – The Royal Enfield Make-It-Yours – MiY.

The Royal Enfield is the two-wheeler division of Eicher Motors rolling out bikes like Bullet, Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 and others.

According to the company, the MiY is enabled via an app based 3-D configurator will allow buyers to access to various possible combinations in personalistion options at the time of booking the motorcycle.

Once the order is placed through the app, the buyers will also know the probable delivery time.

According to Vinod K. Dasari, CEO, Royal Enfield, with MiY, customers will have a “little bit of them” built into the motorcycle, and depending on the level of personalisation, motorcycles will be custom-made as per consumer specifications, within 24 to 48 hours, at the Chennai plant.

“We will be rolling out MiY for all our motorcycles, across all our stores in the country in a phased manner. All new motorcycle models from Royal Enfield, from here on, will come with the MiY feature,” he said.

Initially the MiY will be available for models like Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650.

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Construction picks up in unlock, cement prices rise

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Cement city Nimbhahera emerges as new hotspot in Rajasthan
Cement city Nimbhahera emerges as new hotspot in Rajasthan

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) Fading monsoons, easing of lockdown restrictions and recovery in non-trade demand have revived the construction activities in the country resulting in pan-India 2 per cent month-on-month increase in cement prices in October after four consecutive months correction.

The rising demand and prices for construction materials is a good barometer to gauge revival of economic activities in the country.

The cement price rise in October is also an aberration to historic trends when price normally corrects 2-3 per cent due to seasonality.

“A strong demand recovery in September 2020 (10-12 per cent yoy) and continued demand tailwinds in early October 2020 underpin the price strength. Cost headwinds should hit from end of 3QFY21 and price hikes, if sustained, would offset the impact on margins and drive earnings upgrades,” Kotak Institutional Equities said in a report.

The distribution of rise in cement prices indicates that consumers revival has happened across the country. Prices in North and Central markets increased 5 per cent m-o-m on a sharp uptick in demand led by easing of lockdown restrictions and return of migrant labour to metro cities supporting non-trade demand.

Prices remained stable m-o-m in East and West India while prices in South increased 2 pet cent mom after strong demand recovery in September 2020.

Historically, cement prices correct by 2-3 per cent qoq in 3Q due to seasonality. However, in 3QFY21E prices are up 1 per cent qoq led by higher prices in North and Central markets, the brokerage report said.

While government estimate suggests that demand declined 15 per cent yoy in August 2020 in the country and declined by 29 per cent yoy YTD FY2021. However, channel checks by the brokerage suggests that strong demand in September 2020 (+10-12 per cent yoy) more than offset the weakness in early 2QFY21.

South, where demand was worst-hit in April-August 2020, too witnessed 3-5 per cent yoy demand growth in September 2020 led by Andhra-Telangana.

Initial feedback suggests that demand tailwinds have continued in October 2020. We expect industry volumes to decline by 12.5 per cent yoy in FY2021E. We see grinding and clinker capacity addition at 4 per cent/3 per cent CAGR over FY2020-23E versus demand at 3 per cent CAGR.

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CMS launches AI-automated ATM security software ‘Algo’

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SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)
SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)

Mumbai, Oct 14 (IANS) CMS Info Systems (CMS) has announced the launch of fully automated, Artificial Intelligence-powered ATM security software application ‘Algo’.

CMS Algo is an end-to-end security encrypted a fool-proof solution to prevent ATM frauds at the time of cash replenishment or maintenance, the company said in a statement.

The application is machine-agnostic and can operate on any ATM manufactured by any OEM.

Rajiv Kaul, Executive Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Whole-time Director of CMS Info Systems, said: “This application can run on any ATM across the world and helps in fraud prevention. The solution is cost-effective in the back-end and low cost in the front-end.”

“The biggest saving is the reduction of fraud, no requirement of a call centre, and restricted access to data and premises,” he said.

He noted that the company has deployed Algo on 52,000 ATMs in India.

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CCI okays Tube Investments’ stake buy in CG Power

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Competition Commission of India
Competition Commission of India

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of shares in CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd by Tube Investments of India Ltd.

The proposed combination envisages acquisition of more than 50 per cent of the equity share capital of CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd (CG Power) by Tube Investments of India Ltd (TIIL).

TIIL is a listed entity and is part of Murugappa group. It has three business verticals including engineering, metal formed products and bicycles. It is engaged in the manufacture of a wide range of products for automotive, railway, construction, mining and agriculture industries.

Also a listed entity, CG Power has two major business units — power systems and industrial systems.

The power systems business unit focuses on power transmission, distribution, power solutions, setting up of integrated power systems among others.

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Uber hires Amazon veteran to lead mobility teams in Bengaluru

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Manikandan Thangarathnam
Manikandan Thangarathnam

Uber on Thursday announced it hired Amazon veteran Manikandan Thangarathnam as senior director to lead all rider and platform engineering teams in Bengaluru.

Uber said it is also hiring 85 more engineers in the country. This is in addition to hiring 140 engineers the ride-hailing service announced last month.

“As the world steps into a new normal, adaptability is going to be a key aspect to usher in growth. I look forward to leading the bright minds at Uber and innovating together for the world, one ride at a time,” said Mani.

At Amazon, Mani helped build several core platforms and products.

He led engineering efforts for the Amazon Appstore and was instrumental in bootstrapping the tech major’s Chennai office and building a vast team of engineers.

The Rider mobility team works on the challenge of enabling the next billion trips by building new services including high capacity vehicles (Uber bus), and car rentals, among others.

The company said the Marketplace team is building a highly-available and scalable self-serve gateway to configure, manage, and monitor Application Programming Interfaces (API) of every business domain at Uber.

Uber recently hired another Amazon veteran Jayaram Valliyur as senior director to lead its global finance technology team, spread across multiple geographies.

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OnePlus investing Rs 100 crore to boost retail footprint in India

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OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26
OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26

Smartphone maker OnePlus is committed to invest Rs 100 crore towards deeper market penetration by taking premium offline experience beyond metro cities and expanding its reach through new online and offline retail partnerships, a top company executive said on Thursday.

With over 5,000 offline stores including partnered stores across the country, the smartphone maker is planning to scale up to more than 8,000 stores in the coming quarters, Navnit Nakra, VP and Chief Strategy OnePlus India told IANS.

“At present, we have over 30 OnePlus experience stores across India and will be opening 14 new experience stores in the next six months.

“We’ll launch our biggest experience store globally, the OnePlus Nizam Palace in Hyderabad later this year. We are also working towards covering 100 cities through our service centre network in the next year,” Nakra informed.

The smartphone maker launched its India R&D centre in 2019 and is committed to achieve long-term growth in the country.

Currently, the company has 300 employees in the R&D team and hope to double that number in the coming months.

Nakra said that India continues to be a key market for OnePlus since the brand’s entry in 2014.

“We began our commitment to Make in India initiative in February 2018 and since then, we have been manufacturing our devices in the country. We have also commenced the manufacturing of the OnePlus TVs and OnePlus Nord in India,” Nakra told IANS.

By 2021, all OnePlus TVs will be manufactured locally in India.

“On our smart TV portfolio, we commenced the manufacturing of the Y series in India and by 2021, all OnePlus TVs will also be manufactured locally including the Q and the U series,” Nakra informed.

He said that 100 per cent of OnePlus smartphones are being manufactured in India including OnePlus 8 series, OnePlus Nord and the recently launched OnePlus 8T.

OnePlus has launched its new flagship 5G smartphone the ‘OnePlus 8T’ with 120Hz Fluid AMOLED display and quad-camera set up, in India.

The OnePlus 8T will be available in two colours, aquamarine green and lunar silver at Rs 45,999 (12GB RAM+ 256GB internal storage) and Rs 42,999 (8GB RAM+128GB internal storage).

“OnePlus is consistently exploring opportunities to fuel its growth and meet the needs of more users, by starting to strategically diversify into new product categories and new price points but, at the same time, not compromising on our OnePlus promise,” Nakra told IANS.

OnePlus Nord series is also likely to get new entrants this month, according to multiple reports.

The rumoured OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100 are said to be launching as soon as the end of October, first in the US market.

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