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‘If rupee continues to be under pressure, RBI may look at alternate measures’



Rahul Singh, Senior Fund Manager � Fixed Income, LIC Mutual Fund Asset Management Ltd, said that if the rupee continues to be under pressure, the RBI may look at alternate measures. The recent fall in 10-year US yield and dollar index may also have provided some respite for the time being.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. How much repo rate hike do you expect in the upcoming monetary policy and what will be the stance?

A: We expect 35-50 bps repo rate hike in the upcoming policy. The MPC stance however may not be changed from the last policy.

Q. What will be the inflation and growth outlook by the RBI?

A: The RBI may continue to maintain that they see inflation around 6 per cent mark by Q4 FY23. Inflation has softened considerably from the levels we have seen in the 1st quarter. Further global commodity prices have corrected to a great extent which is good news considering India is a big importer, Plus, monsoon till now has been good. All this may give comfort to the RBI maintaining its Inflation level of 6 per cent by end of this fiscal year. The RBI may also be positive on their growth numbers and would at least maintain (if not revise upwards) the numbers projected in the last policy. GST numbers, credit growth and PMI numbers have been encouraging.

Q. Will the RBI continue to support rupee on the near term?

A: The RBI has always maintained that they would not want too much volatility in INR and may continue to maintain the same stance, though there might be direct intervention, our reading says they may not be too comfortable in letting reserves slip. It has come down from 650 billion to 572 billion as per latest data. If Rupee continues to be under pressure, the RBI may look at alternate measures. The recent fall in 10-year US yield and dollar index may also have provided some respite for the time being.

Q. Where you see bond yields if the RBI hikes rate in the August policy?

A: Rate hike is a certainty which the market may have factored in. The movement will play on what RBI says on their inflation forecast and how much of the impact they see on rupee movement. If the statement is like last policy with no major deviations in the projected numbers from last policy, we may see 10-year G-Sec yield falling further to 7.20 levels.

Q. Now FII’s net investment turned positive after nearly 9 months and indices are rising, do you think this trend will sustain?

A: While it is difficult to predict the future FII flows, it is fair to assume that FIIs may not wish to remain away from India for a long time. Rising domestic demand, attractive valuations and favourable macroeconomic factors may catch FIIs interest.

Q. What are your views on US Fed hinting that they are looking to slow the pace of rate hikes in the upcoming meetings?

A: If FED is convinced that Inflation is cooling down going forward, then this statement certainly makes sense. It could have originated looking at certain statistics which shows softness in crude and other commodities prices, weakening Chinese economy, Q2 GDP numbers and the talks regarding recession going ahead. However, the question remains that if PCE price index is 6.8 per cent and core PCE is 4.8 per cent, then is inflation softening going ahead?. The weak GDP numbers majorly owe to lower US government spending and higher inventories rather than indicating falling demand. Similar dovish statements were made earlier as well when there were rumours of 75 bps rate hike, however we saw two back-to-back 75 bps hike. My understanding is that as long as Inflation shows a declining trend, FED needs to be aggressive in controlling that otherwise it may unnecessarily elongate the entire hike cycle impacting the growth cycle going ahead.


Premium segment at highest spot, 5G phones at 32% market share in India




 Premium segment (Rs 30,000 and above) contributed 11 per cent to India’s smartphone shipments and 35 per cent to overall market revenue in 2022, the highest ever.

Samsung led the market in 2022 in terms of shipment value share with a 22 per cent share, followed by Apple, in the country, according to Counterpoint Research.

However, in terms of shipment volume, Xiaomi led the market in 2022 with a 20 per cent share, closely followed by Samsung.

Xiaomi slipped to third position in Q4 2022 with Samsung and vivo capturing first and second spots respectively.

5G smartphones captured a 32 per cent share in 2022. Samsung became the top-selling 5G brand in 2022 with a 21 per cent share.

Apple continued to lead the premium smartphone segment, with the iPhone 13 emerging as the top-selling model. Apple also led the market in Q4 2022 in terms of shipment value.

“Consumer demand started declining from the second quarter when the global economy was crippled by multiple macroeconomic issues like all-time high inflation, rising unemployment and geopolitical conflicts, affecting India’s economy as well,” said senior research analyst Prachir Singh.

Inventory build-up across channels after the second quarter led to lower-than-expected shipments throughout the second half of the year.

“We believe that the inventory and demand situation will continue to affect the market in the first half of 2023 before improving in the latter half driven by the festive season and upgrades to 5G devices,” Singh added.

India’s smartphone shipments declined 9 per cent YoY to reach over 152 million units in 2022, according to the report.

The decline, which is the second ever in India’s smartphone market, can be attributed to the decline in entry-level and budget segments which faced supply constraints at the beginning of the year and then witnessed lower demand throughout the year.

“While entry-tier and budget segments were most affected, the premium segment remained immune and showed double-digit growth. OEMs’ increased focus, consumers upgrading for premium features and, most importantly, availability of various financing schemes,” said research analyst Shilpi Jain.

Overall, India smartphone market revenue remained flat despite a 9 per cent YoY decline in shipments.

OnePlus grew 50 per cent YoY in 2022 driven by the OnePlus Nord CE 2 series.

It focused on diversifying and expanding its product portfolio across different price points and increasing its offline presence to drive sales, the report mentioned.

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WhatsApp working on new software that uses Apple Mac Catalyst




 Meta-owned WhatsApp is working on a new Mac app that uses the Apple Mac Catalyst development environment to make better use of system resources.

According to AppleInsider, WhatsApp currently provides a web-based Electron app for Mac users in addition to its web app via browsers.

Electron and Catalyst are software development frameworks that help developers create desktop apps.

The new app has been in a closed beta for a few months, but now anyone can download the file on macOS Big Sur or later on the WhatsApp website, according to the report.

Following installation, it will display a QR code that users can scan with their iPhone to link their accounts using the WhatsApp iOS app.

The Mac app’s three-panel interface provides access to archived chats, starred messages, phone calls, and settings.

The Catalyst app includes features not available in the Electron version, such as file drag-and-drop and a spell-checker, the report mentioned.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has reportedly rolled out some new shortcuts for group admins to quickly and easily perform actions for a certain group participant, on iOS.

The new shortcuts simplify interactions with group members as now the platform supports large groups of up to 1,024 participants, reports WABetainfo.

The new update will help group admins quickly manage and communicate with such a large number of participants in private.

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Mumbai: No jumbo block on Western Railway on Sunday




There will be no jumbo block on Sunday, January 29 over Western Railway’s (WR) Mumbai suburban section, the WR announced today.

Major block to dismantle Gokhale bridge

Earlier last week, the Western Railway had enforced a major 4.5 hour block on the down slow lines from 12.15am to 4.45am on the intervening nights of Jan 19-20 and Jan 20-21 to carry out dismantling work of the Gokhale road overbridge at Andheri.

As a result, a number of local train services were affected.

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