In this edition, we talk about India’s ambitious plan to connect all its solar and wind power projects, the central bank’s monetary policy and the macroeconomic indicators that are working in India’s favour. We also talk about Paytm’s share buyback and BharatPe suing founder Ashneer Grover and his wife.
Welcome to Kuvera’s weekly digest on the most critical developments related to business, finance and markets.
tl;dr Hear the article in brief instead?
Modhera is a small nondescript village in Gujarat’s Mehsana district. Until recently its sole claim to fame was that it was home to a Sun Temple of the Chalukya Era, which lasted from 940 CE to 1240 CE.
In October, the village gained national prominence when the government declared Modhera India’s first solar-powered village. This week, India took a big step further in its clean energy quest.
The government has unveiled an ambitious Rs 2.44 trillion ($30 billion) plan to build transmission lines to connect renewable energy generation as India looks to triple its clean power capacity by 2030.
Investing in green power makes economic sense. So, the government wants to connect all solar projects in the sun-soaked states of Gujarat and Rajasthan and wind farms in Tamil Nadu to the national electricity grid. The power ministry says the new project will help boost India’s inter-regional transmission capacity from 112GW to 150GW by 2030. This, as the country looks to become a net-zero emitter by 2070.
Here’s hoping the sun god keeps smiling on us!
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India seems to have smelt the coffee beans and is now going slow on interest rate hikes. The central bank this week raised the benchmark lending rate by 35 basis points to 6.25%. In the previous three meetings of the bi-monthly Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), the central bank had raised interest rates by 50 basis points.
The RBI has now hiked interest rates by a cumulative 225 basis points in 2022. While the central bank has clearly down-shifted gears, some analysts even believe it will likely take a U-turn and cut rates in the next MPC meeting due in early February. Industry lobby groups, too, want the RBI to take a pause.
But for now, if you are paying back a home loan or a car loan, you will have to cough up more money each month as your EMI is set to rise. So, brace for impact.
The RBI has good reason to want to take a pause on interest rates. For one, economic growth is slowing. The RBI cut its growth projection for this fiscal year to 6.8% from 7.0%. Interestingly, just days earlier the World Bank lifted its estimate of India’s GDP growth to 6.9% from 6.5%.
“India’s economy has been remarkably resilient to the deteriorating external environment, and strong macroeconomic fundamentals have placed it in good stead compared to other emerging market economies,” said Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank’s Country Director in India.
In addition, inflation, which the central bank had been firefighting, may finally be cooling off. India’s consumer price inflation likely cooled to a nine-month low of 6.4% in November, mainly owing to a moderation in food prices, a Reuters poll showed. Inflation has stayed above the upper end of the RBI’s 2-6% tolerance band all year, triggering the rate hikes that we just told you about.
Crude oil prices, too, seem to be heading south and have sunk to their lowest levels this year to under $75 to the barrel. Crude prices had jumped after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
India has also reportedly been assured that it will keep receiving cheaper Russian crude. This, even as the Group of Seven (G7) price cap on Russian crude oil comes into force as of December 5.
This means India will pay less for its energy needs, nearly 80% of which it imports. That, in turn, means the country will be able to keep its current account deficit in check.
Overall, the news, for now at least, is good. Will it last? We don’t know, but all we can say is, be cautious and keep investing wisely.
Block and debit
Talking of investing, the RBI is set to make it easier. The central bank said it will enhance the capabilities of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) by introducing a ‘single-block-and-multiple debits’ functionality. This will allow customers to set a payment mandate against a merchant.
Essentially, customers will be able to block funds for specific purposes in their bank accounts and the funds can be debited, whenever needed. This feature can have multiple use cases, such as e-commerce transactions, investing in the secondary market and buying government bonds.
The RBI is said to be considering limits of Rs 5 lakh for secondary market purchases, Rs 2 lakh for e-commerce transactions with verified merchants, and Rs 1 lakh for merchants in unverified categories.
It isn’t just on the macroeconomic front that we bring good news this week. The week gone by would have brought you some cheer if you own some shares of that beleaguered fintech company called Paytm.
The counter, which has had a disastrous run since its listing last year, rose nearly 7% after its parent One97 Communications Ltd announced that its board of directors will consider a share buyback.
To be fair, the company, which was once India’s predominant payment app, has seen a revival in its fortunes of late. While announcing its results for July-September, One97 Communications said its revenue rose to Rs 1,914 crore ($233.81 million) from Rs 1,086 crore a year earlier.
But will the euphoria last and will this be enough to lift the stock up any further? Frankly, we are just as clueless as you are!
While Paytm struggles to lift its stock price, its competitor BharatPe is looking to set its house in order. This week the company sued its founder Ashneer Grover and his wife, Madhuri Jain, on charges of cheating and embezzlement of funds. BharatPe has sought damages to the tune of Rs 88.67 crore from the couple.
While Grover was managing director at the fintech unicorn, his wife was the head of controls at BharatPe and was fired earlier this year after a forensic audit revealed several irregularities.
According to a news report, the suit, running into 2,800 pages, alleges that Grover, Madhuri Jain and other family members created fake bills, enlisted fictitious vendors to provide services to the company, and overcharged the company for recruitment.
Meanwhile, Grover has said he will not be appearing for the second season of Shark Tank India, where he was perhaps the most talked about ‘shark’ known for his straightforward but abrasive attitude.
Aw, that’s a bummer, innit? Where will all the memes come from?
The benchmark indices ended the week slightly in the red, with the Sensex down by just over half a percentage point and the Nifty down nearly a percent.
Among the Nifty stocks that gained most during the week were three banks—Yes Bank, Axis Bank and IndusInd Bank. The rest of the list was made up of infrastructure, FMCG and energy companies including Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Unilever, Indian Oil, Asian Paints, ONGC, Coal India and Hindalco.
The IT pack was hammered this week, as fears of a recession gained ground. HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra, Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys all ended in the red. Others that made their investors poorer this week included auto companies Tata Motors, Hero MotoCorp, Maruti Suzuki, Eicher Motors, Bajaj Auto and Mahindra and Mahindra. Apart from these, Sun Pharma, Reliance Industries, Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv, Bharti Airtel, and Power Grid Corp, too, did poorly.
- India Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rises to three-month high of 56.4 in November
- Ecommerce company Snapdeal to withdraw Rs 1,250-crore IPO
- Top winemaker Sula Vineyards set to float Rs 960-crore IPO next week
Landmark Cars to launch IPO on December 13, sets price band at Rs 481-506
- Abans Holdings IPO to start Dec. 12, sets price band at Rs 256-270
- Sun Pharma’s plant at Halol, Gujarat listed under USFDA import alert
- Lodha Group firm Macrotech’s promoters plan to raise Rs 3,500 crore via QIP
- Hindustan Unilever buys into two digital-first wellness startups for Rs 334 crore
- Walmart-owned PhonePe seeks to raise $1 billion from private investors
- BSNL to launch 5G services in next 5-7 months across 1.35 lakh towers
The Week Ahead
- In India, Sula Vineyards, Landmark Cars and Abans Holdings will float their IPOs.
- In the US, the Federal Reserve will hold its final rate-setting meeting of 2022 on December 13-14.
- And in Qatar, the FIFA World Cup has reached the quarter-final stage with semi-finals slated for next week.
Until next week, happy investing!
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