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Demand uptick seen in semi-urban and rural India: Aditya Puri

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HDFC Bank Managing Director Aditya Puri on September 30 said demand is picking up in semi-urban and rural India.

"We are starting to see a change in sentiment; but it won't happen overnight," Puri said in an interview with CNBC-TV18.

Puri said the bank is starting to see disinvestment and expenditure pick up.

"We are confident of growth and putting a lot of effort behind it," Puri said.

Puri also said he expects better growth for the bank every quarter.

"MSME portfolio may see some marginal hit due to shift to external benchmark but overall margins will remain intact," he said.

On the subject of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy, Puri said that he is expecting a 25-40 bps rate cut.

Dollar stands tall as investors seek shelter

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The dollar found broad support on Monday as global political uncertainty and fears over a widening of the Sino-U.S trade war kept investors in safe harbours ahead of a slew of global economic indicators this week.

The greenback was steady against most major currencies. It held firm on the Japanese yen at 108.93 per dollar and sterling at $1.2287, while easing very slightly against the euro to $1.0932.

It gained against riskier, trade-exposed currencies such as the Australian dollar and the Chinese yuan. The biggest loser was the New Zealand dollar, which fell half a percentage point as business confidence hit its weakest in more than 11 years.

"Risk-off sentiment is prevailing in the market," said Anthony Doyle, global cross-asset specialist at fund manager Fidelity International in Sydney, citing U.S. political turmoil and Brexit as looming worries, besides the trade war.

"There's a lot of uncertainty out there," he said.

In Asian hours, traders mostly shrugged off news that the Trump administration was considering de-listing Chinese companies from U.S. stock markets after the reports were hosed down by Treasury officials.

Elsewhere, factory activity surveys in China suggested there were some signs of improvement this month, though analysts believe the gains cannot be sustained and forecast further economic weakness.

In Australia, forecasts for a rate cut on Tuesday firmed with gathering economic gloom. Markets are pricing a better than 75% chance the Reserve Bank of Australia will reduce its cash rate for a third time this year.

German inflation, British economic growth and U.S. manufacturing indicators are all due later on Monday, with U.S. employment figures at the end of the week. Anything short of expectations poses a risk to fragile sentiment.

Against a basket of currencies (DXY) the dollar edged higher to 99.165.

The New Zealand dollar dropped as far as $0.6257, very close to a four-year low, as a survey showed sour business sentiment and made a case for a rate cut.

The Australian dollar also drifted lower to $0.6756 on expectations of monetary easing.

With markets largely baking in another rate cut, further moves in the Aussie will likely be driven by the RBA's tone and outlook, said Chris Weston, head of research at brokerage Pepperstone Group in Melbourne.

Traders are expecting a lull in trade-war headlines as China takes a week-long holiday from Tuesday, which marks the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

China's yuan held steady at 7.1219 per dollar.

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FOREX-Dollar holds firm as FX markets struggle with mixed signals on trade

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The dollar edged lower but held close to its recent highs on Thursday as investors struggled to make sense of U.S. President Donald Trump's mixed signals on a trade deal with China.

Foreign exchange markets were quiet at the European open, with currency pairs little moved but the dollar's resilience this week was a sign of investor nervousness about the global outlook.

"We need new direction," said Neil Mellor, a markets analyst at BNY Mellon, citing a pushback from central banks to markets expecting more monetary stimulus and confusion over whether the United States can strike a deal with China for the current range-bound moves in FX markets.

He said that he favoured the dollar as a safe haven currency in the short-term because of a difficult outlook for the global economy and trade negotiations, especially as central banks signal they "are not prepared to keep on shovelling out liquidity into the market".

"There is a greater downside risk to risk assets," he said.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was last down 0.1% at 98.985 .DXY but was only a whisker away from a two-week high and the two-year peak of 99.37 hit earlier this month.

Trump stoked hopes for a trade deal by telling reporters in New York that the United States and China were having "good conversations" and that an agreement "could happen sooner than you think". the Trump pump, and it works," said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at Gain Capital in Singapore.

"But there's not really any major moves either, it's a slight boost to risk," he said, noting traders were also trying to assess the likely direction of a Trump impeachment probe opened by the Democrats on Wednesday.

That initially helped the Australian dollar claw higher, while the New Zealand dollar NZD=D3 kicked ahead further after New Zealand's central bank governor said it was unlikely he would need to use unconventional monetary policy. by 0730 GMT, the Aussie was up only slightly on the day at $0.6753 AUD=D3 , while the yuan was up 0.1% at 7.1241 per dollar in the offshore market CNH=EBS .

The New Zealand dollar was last up 0.4% at $0.6297.

The euro rose 0.1% to $1.0947 EUR=EBS .

The Japanese yen, perceived as a safe haven currency, rose 0.1% to 107.68 yen per dollar JPY=EBS .

Sterling steadied at $1.2354 GBP=D3 after plunging more than 1% on Wednesday as traders fretted about the deepening confrontation in the British parliament over Brexit.

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HDFC Bank is the most valued brand in India, LIC takes second spot

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HDFC Bank beat the crowds to top the list of 75 most valued brands in India, keeping its position intact from the previous year. At second and third spots, too, the old order held its grip. Public sector insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) retained their second and third ranks in the list of most valued Indian brands.

The big change, however, has been in the overall growth of brand values in the BrandZ 2019 Most Valuable Indian Brands, a report by WPP and Kantar Millward Brown. The total value of the top 75 brands increased to $228.2 billion, growing at a moderate 6 per cent over 2018, far slower than 34 per cent recorded the previous year. The report calculates valuations and ranking by combining companies’ financial data with consumer insight and opinion.

While brands grappled with many challenges this year, a few managed to push valuations up significantly. With a 34 per cent jump in brand valuations, Jio led the band of top risers, a diverse set of brands on the list. Preeti Reddy, CEO South Asia, Insights Division, Kantar, said, “They (Reliance Jio) have built an entire ecosystem around Jio which is feeding into each other and they continue to be disruptive.” Among the other brands that increased their valuations at a significant clip are Infosys, TCS, Maggi, Ola, and others.

HDFC Banksaw its brand value increases five per cent, growing slow but at a steady clip, to keep the top spot. “HDFC has utilised the digital ecosystem well and secondly they were very prudent about their business decisions. 

Banking brands make up the largest share of the BrandZ Top 75, with 23 per cent of the total brand value tied up in that sector. However, in comparison to other countries, where one category dominates the brand ranking (such as France with luxury goods,

US with technology, or Indonesia with banking), India’s top brands are much more evenly dispersed.

Consumer tech, retail are the fastest-growing categories with brand values increasing 30 per cent. Among the high performers in this category, Flipkart saw a sharp 14 per cent spike in its valuations while newcomers to the list, Oyo, Swiggy and Zomato also took a big leap forward. Vodafone was the top ranked newcomer to the list of most valued brands that saw eight new entries in 2019. This is much lower than the 30 newcomers that debuted the list in 2018.

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U.S. Dollar Falls After Posting Biggest Gains in Three Months on Trade Hopes

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The U.S. dollar gained on Thursday in Asia on renewed Sino-U.S. trade hopes.

The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies were down 0.2% to 98.502 by 12:20 AM ET (04:20 GMT).

Sino-U.S. trade hopes reignited after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested an agreement with China might come sooner than anyone thinks, although he didn't offer many specifics.

Just on Tuesday, Trump accused China of unfair trade practices in a speech to the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York.

"It's a pretty decent move really," said Nick Twidale, co-founder of Sydney-based trade finance provider Xchainge, in a Reuters report.

"Markets shrug these things off very, very quickly and we move on to the next stuff. As it moves on, it's going to be interesting, but we have to go back to the fundamentals and fundamentals are going to push the dollar higher over time."

The U.S. dollar recorded its sharpest daily gain in three months following the news, before giving up some of its gains today in Asian trade.

The GBP/USD pair gained 0.2% to 1.2374 today after falling overnight. Prospect of early U.K. elections with just five weeks to go until the Brexit deadline was cited as a headwind for the pound.

On Wednesday, U.K. Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox said a motion for a general election will be brought to parliament “shortly.”

He made the remarks a day after the Supreme Court’s ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s five week suspension of parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful.

The AUD/USD pair inched up 0.2%, while the NZD/USD pair climbed 0.6% on continued upward momentum after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday but said there is scope if it sees the need for it to boost economic growth.

The USD/JPY pair inched down 0.1%.

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Yogi Adityanath is right. Route to UP’s $1 trillion GDP goal passes through hinterland

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A district map of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, makes for a compelling visual—that of a bull about to charge. Lalitpur in south-central and Sonbhadra in southeast that protrude into the neighbouring states appear strikingly similar to the hooves of a bull getting ready for a big leap.

But when it comes to the financial might, it is Gautam Budh Nagar, a tiny district in the western periphery, which is most bullish among the state’s 75 districts.

This doesn’t come as a surprise. Gautam Buddha Nagar has Noida and Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh’s showpiece townships just off the national capital, peppered with high-street malls, glitzy corporate towers, and acres and acres of residential complexes. The Taj Expressway, connecting Delhi with Agra, runs right through the district.

Shravasti, in the east, on the other hand, recorded a DGDP of Rs 3,506 crore, 26 times lower than that of Gautam Budh Nagar. Little wonder then that Shravasti is among 117 “Aspirational Districts” that the NITI Aayog has identified for a focussed policy intervention.

For Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who wants Uttar Pradesh to be a $1-trillion economy with GDP targets identified for each district, it is the laggard districts that will need all the attention and hand-holding.

At Rs 21,906.86 crore, the DGDP of Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, is way behind Gautam Budh Nagar. Amethi, a pocket borough of Congress’s first family’s until this year’s Lok Sabha election when the then party president Rahul Gandhi lost the constituency to Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, ranks a lowly 65, with a DGDP of Rs 8,19,474 crore.

Prayagraj, earlier known as Allahabad, and Ayodhya have a lot of catching up to do in terms of economic activity measured by DGDP. Even having state capital hasn’t helped the Lucknow district, which has a DGDP of Rs 44,246.01 crore, not even half of that of Gautam Budh Nagar.

UP districtwise GDP_R

For Uttar Pradesh as well as India to make a decisive leap forward, these backward districts have to figure prominently when policymakers sit down in Lucknow to draw development plans.

According to Indicus Analytics, an economic research and data analytics firm which first came out with district-level GDP figures more than 10 years ago, such data provides granular insights into the Indian economy.

Last year, the Uttar Pradesh government launched the `One District, One Product’ (ODOP) scheme as part of a broader strategy of concentrated agro and industrial development focus on each district, offering an array of fiscal incentives, and credit, marketing and policy support.

While the large corporations housed in Noida are aggressively global, the road to Uttar Pradesh’s $ 1 trillion GDP goal lie in boosting incomes of small enterprises, local artisans and craftsmen, which is what the ODOP scheme seeks to achieve.

According to PHDCCI, an industry chamber, “micro and small units involved in ODOP need institutional intervention for strengthening marketing capabilities. The need of the hour is providing hand holding to micro and small units through formation of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)”.

Adityanath’s focus on development at grassroots also fits into what some analysts say is the need o focus on identifying India’s next growth hotspots, away from metropolises.

According to global consulting major McKinsey & Company, there are commercial opportunities for companies to tap beyond the current growth centres, which require a smaller and a discrete approach.

“To get the most from this granular approach, companies need to develop customised strategies for each geographic sliver. To do so, they must map priority geographic segments to product categories and extensions,” McKinsey said in its 2014 report “India’s economic geography in 2025: states, clusters and cities”.

Adityanath’s emphasis on district-level GDP also gels with the “Aspirational Districts” programme of NITI Aayog, the Union government’s think tank, which seeks to improve the socio-economic status of 117 districts from across 28 states.

Eight of these—Balrampur, Shravasti, Bhairach, Siddharth Nagar, Chandauli, Sonbhadra, Fatehpur and Chitrakoot—are in Uttar Pradesh. In terms of DGDP, most of these districts occupy the bottom rung.

Among these “aspirational districts” Shravasti with a DGDP of Rs 3,506 crore is ranked 75th, behind Chitrakoot (74) with a DGDP of Rs 3,674 crore and Balrampur (70) with a DGDP of Rs 6,844 crore.  Chandauli (66) with a DGDP of Rs 7,443 crore, Siddharth Nagar (63) with a DGDP of Rs 8,535 crore, Bahraich (41) with a DGDP of Rs 11,797 crore, Sonbhadra (37) with DGDP of Rs 12,530 crore and Fatehpur is at rank 31 with a DGDP of 14,048.71 crore are the other “aspirational districts” in the UP, according to NITI Aayog.

Central and eastern regions emerge the worst in the state’s district DGDP sweep stakes. The ambition of the turning Uttar Pradesh into a $1 trillion economy—a five-fold jump from the current nearly $200 billion—will depend on these and other laggards leapfrogging into the upper-middle ranks, even as Noida and Greater Noida remain the jewels in the crown.

IRCTC IPO may hit market on Sept 30, to fetch govt around Rs 600cr

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Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Indian Railways that handles its ticketing and catering operations, may launch its initial public offering (IPO) on September 30.

The company is expected to release the price band for its IPO on September 25, the report said . This stake sale is likely to bring down the government's share in the state-run entity by around 12.5 percent from almost 100 percent at present.

The stake sale is expected to help the government raise between Rs 500 crore and Rs 600 crore, The Financial Express. The government hopes to offload around two crore shares in the public sector undertaking (PSU) via this IPO. The report added that IDBI Capital, SBI Capital Markets and Yes Securities will be merchant bankers to this issue.

The development comes at a time when the country's stock market has rebounded following the Finance Minister's lowering of corporate tax and other fiscal steps taken recently. The Sensex has gained nearly 3,000 points since the corporate tax rate cut announcement on September 20.

In July, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had set a disinvestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore for FY20, up from Piyush Goyal's interim Budget target of Rs 90,000 crore. The IRCTC IPO is part of the same disinvestment programme.

In April, another railway entity Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL) was listed. The government had raised about Rs 480 crore via the 12.2 percent stake sale in RVNL.

RBI turns down Sebi plan for credit rating agencies' access to defaults

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has expressed disagreement over the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (Sebi) proposed framework enabling credit rating agencies(CRAs) to legally access borrower database, helping them in timely recognition of default.

A panel of financial regulators, including the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India as well as the RBIand Sebi, met last month and discussed a proposal to give CRAs limited access to the RBI’s Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC).

The CRILC is a borrower-level data set focusing on systemically important credit exposures. Banks report to the CRILC credit information on all their borrowers having aggregate fund-based and non-fund-based exposure of Rs 50 million and above.

Sources said the central bank had cited sensitivity and confidentially issues for allowing third-party access to large credit data information. The RBIhad also assured that it would ask lenders to improve the information sharing under the current mechanism of Credit Information Company (CIC).

Currently, the rating agenciescan access the CIC that is an independent, third-party institution collecting financial data regarding loans, credit cards, and more about individuals and shares it with its members. Banks and non-banking financial institutions usually take data from the CIC.


Sebiargued rating agenciescannot decide ratings based on the CIC, as it is not rapid, clean and accurate. It also said the CIC did not provide the updated data about the history of borrowers, repayment dues and so on.

The market regulator said there was a substantial difference in the default data disclosed by rating agencies and the one available with the CRILC. Even the central bank has raised this concern over divergence in default rates identified by the CRAs and the CRILC.

“Banks are mandated to provide all updates about borrowers to the RBI’s repository. But, the lenders have been reluctant on sharing the same with CRAs due to their confidentiality clause with the said borrower,” said the source cited above.

To address this, Sebirecently amended its regulations on rating agencies by adding a clause in the agreement between an issuer and a rater to provide an “explicit consent” from the issuer to obtain information related to loans, repayment, delay, etc. from banks or other lending institutions.

Sources said banks are miffed with this amendment as giving individual borrower data is a tedious job which would increase their workload. The RBI, too, is not willing to allow banks to give individual credit account information.

Amid surging cases of debt defaults including in IL&FS, the role of rating agencies have come under the regulatory glare. The market regulator has been making constant changes in the CRA rules for better monitoring and improving performance.

CRAs have been complaining they are dependent on the information provided by the borrowers as banks never disclose borrowing and lending information.

In 2017, Sebihad proposed it make it mandatory for listed companies to make disclosure of their loan defaults to the stock exchanges if they fail to make repayment of dues and interest within 24 hours. However, the proposal was then turned down by the government, as the central bank was of view that banks would need another Rs 26,000 crore capital if the measure was implemented.

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Forex - Dollar Holds Steady on Trade Hopes, But Growth Fears Weigh

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The U.S. dollar remained broadly supported on Tuesday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed U.S.-China trade talks will resume next month, but concerns about slowing global growth continued to weigh on market sentiment.

Against a basket of currencies the dollar edged up to 98.28 by 2:37 AM ET (6:37GMT).

"The U.S. dollar is rising by default rather than anything U.S.-specific," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, adding that volumes were low as traders mostly kept to the sidelines waiting for news.

"Trade is never far from the markets' radar, but I think currency markets are increasingly expecting (U.S-China tensions) to be protracted, I think optimism has dissipated."

Mnuchin said Monday that trade discussions were scheduled in two weeks and that he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

The dollar was little changed against the yen at 107.53, while the euro was trading at 1.0992, not far from a 28-month low of 1.0926 touched earlier this month.

The single currency fell 0.2% on Monday after data showing that a German manufacturing recession deepened unexpectedly in September and growth in the service sector lost momentum, adding to worries over the outlook for the wider Eurozone.

The British pound was hovering near one-week lows at 1.2435 ahead of a U.K. Supreme Court ruling on whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he suspended parliament just weeks before Brexit.

The outcome of the case could have implications for Johnson’s plans to pull the U.K. out of the European Union on Oct. 31.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were steady ahead of a speech by Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Phil Lowe, with the market expecting a dovish tone after weak jobs data last week underlined expectations for a rate cut.

Both currencies sat near three-week lows, with the Aussie at 0.6774 and the kiwi at 0.6295.

"We think Lowe will provide a strong signal that the RBA is ready to cut rates again, endorsing our view for a 25bp cut in October," said Tapas Strickland, a director of economics and markets at National Australia Bank in Sydney.

Bypoll to Satara Lok Sabha seat on October 21: Election Commission

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The Election Commission of India (EC) on September 24 announced that bypoll to the Satara Lok Sabha seat will be held on October 21.

Voting will happen along with the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election.

The decision to hold the bypoll was taken after the Bombay High Court decided on an election petition on Satara Lok Sabha elections. The order reached the Commission on September 23.

The bypoll was necessitated after Member of Parliament (MP) from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Udayanraje Bhosale, recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after resigning from Lok Sabha.

Counting of votes will happen on October 24 when the Assembly election votes are counted.

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