1. Political and Commercial Capitals Prepare for Near-Total Lockdown
India’s political and commercial capitals prepared for an imminent near-total lockdown beginning Friday as the number of infections from the coronavirus pandemic raced past the 200 mark and the global death toll crossed 10,000.
The Maharashtra government ordered a shutdown in Mumbai and other cities, as the number of Covid-19 infections continued to rise sharply in the state. “We have decided to shut down all non-essential services in Mumbai Metropolitan region as well as Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur till the end of this month...Grocery, milk shops, and banks will be functioning," said chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
In Delhi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said; “We had contained it so far. There has been no community spread, but we need to keep it like that. We need to take necessary precaution."
2. SEBI Unveils Measures to Tackle Market Volatility, Curbs Short Selling
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Friday, 20 March, announced measures to control volatility in stocks. Curbs on short selling, a steep increase in margins, a 10-fold increase in penalties, and reducing the outstanding positions available for derivatives trading are some key changes the regulator announced.
SEBI has said the short positions in the derivatives market cannot exceed the value of the holdings of the underlying stocks or the collaterals provided by them.
An additional position limit of Rs 500 crore will be available for the futures and options (F&O) segment.
Market players said the mo(ve was to discourage traders from aggressively building short positions.
(Source: Business Standard)
3. Markets Soar 6% on Hopes of Stimulus
After a tumultuous ride, Indian stock markets gained nearly 6 percent on Friday, the biggest single-day rise in six months, as investors hoped for a government package to boost the economy amid the Covid-19 crisis. Global equities also lent support. The BSE Sensex ended the day at 29,915.96, up 1627.73 points, or 5.75 percent, while the Nifty was at 8,745.45, up 482 points, or 5.83 percent.
“Indian markets bounced back on the back of positive global cues. Central banks across the world have announced various fiscal and monetary measures to cushion the impact of coronavirus. The news flow on the spread of coronavirus continues to be mixed with an exponential jump in new cases in the US though there is improving trend in China. Thus, the volatility could persist in the near term,” said Gaurav Dua, head, capital market strategy and investments, Sharekhan by BNP Paribas.
4. RBI Chalks out Contingency Plan for Smooth Functioning of Services
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has put in place a contingency plan to ensure that key information technology (IT) services for the delivery of digital banking, treasury services and cheque clearance are not disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
RBI has, for the first time, shared its Business Continuity Plan (BCP), an integral risk mitigation measure for critical operations such as ensuring zero disruptions in the national payments systems.
It includes measures to prepare for anticipated disruptions, ensure smooth flow of operations and staffing, identify key resources, and form crisis management groups, while keeping all staff insulated from exposure to the virus.
5. COVID-19: Jio Offers More Data, BSNL Offers Free Broadband
Reliance Jio has upgraded its 4G data vouchers, which offer double the data and more offnet minutes to its consumers, in anticipation of rise in data consumption at a time when people are increasingly working from home. Four vouchers of Rs 11, Rs 21, Rs 51 and Rs 101 denominations will now offer 800MB, 2GB, 6GB and 12 GB data, respectively, which is double of what was being offered earlier.
These vouchers also bundle voice calls to non-Jio numbers and offer 75, 200, 500 and 1000 minutes, respectively, of outgoing talktime to any non-Jio network across the country.
“Through these voucher upgrades Jio is extending help to the users and ensuring that Indians have access to uninterrupted, abundant and affordable data to meet their current connectivity needs,” the company said.
(Source: Financial Express)
6. India Inc Rules out Cut in Jobs and Salaries Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Several conglomerates promised on Friday, 20 March, they would not cut salaries of their staff and were not considering layoffs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which threatens to push the global economy into recession, leaving millions out of work.
“I will cut my salary to zero before a single employee is laid off,” Rajiv Bajaj, managing director and chief executive officer of Bajaj Auto, said in a TV interview. The Aditya Birla group, the Vedanta group, and the Essar group also promised not to cut any jobs or salaries of their staff.
Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran said the group companies would ensure full payment to temporary workers and daily wage earners working in its offices and sites in India for March and April.
(Source: Business Standard)
7. No Major Impact on Asset Quality Amid COVID-19 Crisis: HDFC Bank
The HDFC Bank management told analysts on Thursday, 19 March, that it does not expect a significant impact on its asset quality as a result of lock-downs amid Covid-19 outbreak. While credit card spends at the bank held steady in the first two months of 2020, they dropped in March, the private sector lender said, adding it is tightening underwriting standards.
The lender’s American depository receipts (ADRs) slumped 12 percent on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wednesday, prompting the management to speak to analysts.
The share price of HDFC Bank has fallen 31 percent between 1 January and 20 March; most banking stocks have taken a beating, especially over the last week, with loan portfolios expected to deteriorate following the Coronavirus crisis.
(Source: FInancial Express)
8. Yes Bank Crisis: Court Sends Rana Kapoor to Judicial Custody Till 2 April
The session’s court in Mumbai on Friday, 20 March, sent Rana Kapoor, former managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of YES Bank, to judicial custody till 2 April. This came after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) submitted before the court that it does not need Kapoor’s custody any further.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also moved a production warrant to take Kapoor into custody. The CBI had filed a case against Kapoor for allegedly obtaining illegal gratification by acquiring a property in New Delhi from Gautam Thapar’s Avantha group. In exchange, YES Bank waived the industrial house’s dues and advanced new loans.
(Source: Business Standard)
9. Final Touches to Draft E-Commerce Policy
India could make public next week the draft e-commerce policy proposing a dedicated regulator for the sector. The draft, focussing on special measures for rural e-commerce, job creation and infrastructure, could be made public next week after a group of secretaries reviews it on Monday.
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is giving finishing touches to the policy aimed to protect citizens but not disrupt business, people in the know of the development, said. “A few changes are being made and then the draft would be opened up for industry feedback. The policy is likely to be finalised by May,” said one person, adding that there is a need for a regulator for the sector.
The department is examining the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill and aspects of non-personal data before it comes out with a policy on e-commerce.
(Source: The Economic Times)
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