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If softening of inflation continues further, then it would eventually lead Fed to taper its aggression: Sneha Poddar

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Sneha Poddar, AVP Research, Broking & Distribution, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said if the softening of inflation continues further, then it would eventually lead to the US Federal Reserve to taper its aggression. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is more likely to follow the US Fed and thus would not taper its tone till its is adopted by the latter.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q. Do you think after US CPI inflation print which came below estimates will allow Fed to go slow on rate hike, and RBI will follow the same?

A: The US CPI inflation data for the month of July came in at 8.5 per cent, down from 9.1 per cent in June and slightly below expectation of 8.7 per cent. However the Fed officials have responded to softening inflation data by saying it doesn’t change their stance towards higher interest rates, as the inflation still remains above the unacceptable levels. Since this is just first sign of inflation peaking out, and is too early to rule out subsequent high inflation data, uncertainty will loom over when the US Fed would slow down on its aggressive rate hikes. If the softening of inflation continues further, then it would eventually lead Fed to taper its aggression. The RBI is more likely to follow US Fed and thus would not taper its tone till its is adopted by US Fed.

Q. 5.40 per cent repo rate is already above pre-pandemic level, but still the RBI maintains “withdrawal of accomodation” stance. Do you think the neutral level of the repo rate is at or above 6 per cent?

A: The RBI has cumulatively hiked the policy repo rate by 140bp to 5.4 per cent in FY23 till date. It reiterated its continued focus on “withdrawal of accommodation” to contain inflation while supporting growth. However, it kept its inflation/growth forecasts unchanged at 6.7 per cent/7.2 per cent YoY, respectively, for FY23. This seems very confusing as how can the rate hikes help contain inflation without hurting growth? Further, the MPC did not sound dovish at all. There was neither a change in stance nor a relief in the RBI Governor’s statement disclaiming a possible pause in rate hikes. Thus we believe that the terminal rate in this hike cycle might be at 5.75-6.0 per cent

Q. In the current market conditions, which sectors are likely to perform well from an investor returns point-of-view?

A: We believe BFSI can do well in rising interest rate scenario. On the other hand with good monsoon, upcoming festive season and softening of commodity prices, the demand both urban and rural are expected to revive and pick up and thus we are positive on Consumer, Auto and Retail. With the opening up of economy and the structural shift being witnessed in favour of the industry post Covid, QSR remains in a sweet spot. While uncertainty around quantum of interest rate hikes is likely to impact the performance of real estate stocks in the near term, longer-term thesis on revival of housing cycle remains intact. There is imminent opportunity in the domestic Hospitality industry and the expected upcycle bodes well for the sector. We are selectively looking at IT sector as valuations have become attractive for accumulation from long term perspective.

Q. Where you see levels on benchmark indices going forward considering the FI inflows in the domestic equities?

A: Strong momentum in the market has helped Nifty rally by more than 2500 points from June lows, and thus, has wiped out the entire decline for the calendar year till date and turned positive. Strong macro data, FII turning positive, steady earnings and healthy progress in monsoon have been some of the key factors supporting the market. FIIs (including primary market) turned positive for the month of July after nine months of continuous outflows and has been continuous buyer throughout the month of August so far. With the softening of commodity prices, even inflation seems to be peaking out and festive season is about to begin which should support demand and thus corporate earnings. Thus the overall trend in the market seems to be positive, however bouts of volatility can’t be ruled out as uncertainty over rate hike quantum and China-Taiwan tussle continues. Further, with this recent rally, Nifty now trades at ~20x FY23E, above its 10-year average, thus offering limited upside in the near term. Going forward, it could be a tug of war between domestic and global factors which could determine the market direction.

Business

Growth of bank deposits slowed down in FY2022

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The growth of bank deposits across the market have slowed down to 10 per cent year-on-year (YoY) as per the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) data, said Kotak Securities Ltd in a report.

According to the report, there is a perceptible slowdown in the bank deposit growth in metropolitan, semi-urban and rural India with household savings being relatively weak.

Further the bank branch expansion has slowed down mainly by the public sector banks.

The report said private banks continue to gain market share but their dominance is much more in urban markets as compared to rural and semi-urban markets.

The current account, savings account (CASA) deposits has slowed although the ratio has moved up higher to approximately 45 per cent led by higher savings ratio in recent years.

The private banks have increased their market share in current account and in the corporate segment while public banks have been losing share steadily in the household and government sectors, Kotak Securities said.

As per the report, the duration of term deposits continues to fall, especially post Covid and the share of non-individuals is quite high at 45 per cent of the overall term deposits.

Given the nature of deposits where non-individuals have a higher share in term deposits, the duration of these deposits has declined but it raises concern as it is likely to be sensitive as interest rate reverses, Kotak Securities said.

The growth of CASA deposits is at a much faster pace than term deposits partly driven by slower demand for deposits as loan growth has been slow or probably due to excess savings during the Covid period.

“As loan growth recovers, we are likely to see a greater push towards mobilising deposits, which implies that the competition would shift from CASA deposits to term,” Kotak Securities said.

The trend to save through CASA deposits is much higher post demonetization and has accelerated during Covid as well. Trends are showing a sign of reversal as the growth rate has started to slow across regions and banks.

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Business

5G-ready car sales cross 500K first time ever globally

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The connected car penetration surpassed that of non-connected cars for the first time ever globally, capturing almost 50.5 per cent share in the second quarter (Q2) this year.

5G-ready car sales surpassed half a million, though 4G accounted for 90 per cent of connected car sales.

According to Counterpoint Research, the US overtook China to lead the global connected car market and the top five automakers were Volkswagen, Toyota, GM, Stellantis and Hyundai.

The US, China and Europe accounted for nearly 80 per cent of connected car sales in the quarter.

“The US market trailed China in terms of connected car sales in the first quarter of this year. However, with the resurgence of Covid-19 and plant shutdowns in China from March onwards, the US overtook China,” said senior analyst Soumen Mandal.

According to the report, automakers are focusing on using powerful on-board computers for next-generation connected mobility.

“4G cars still dominate the global connected car market, capturing 90 per cent of shipments in Q2 2022, whereas 5G cars accounted for around 7 per cent. Although 5G’s share will continue to increase, 4G will see increased sales on a yearly basis until 2027,” said Research Vice-President Peter Richardson.

Non-connected cars have been steadily declining as automakers prefer to upgrade their portfolio with factory-fitted embedded connectivity even in base model variants.

Luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes and Audi were the first to introduce connected cars with inbuilt Wi-Fi, even before the initial push towards connected vehicles came from government mandates like eCall.

According to the report, there are several factors hindering the proliferation of 5G for cars, such as high prices of 5G NAD/TCU, and patchy network coverage even where 5G has been launched which, in turn, means limited availability of 5G capable cars.

Furthermore, there is only nascent adoption of ADAS/AD levels. Currently, there are few Level 3 capable models and all use 4G.

“We expect that mass adoption of 5G connectivity will only occur after 2025, when most of these issues will have been resolved,a said Richardson.

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Rupee slips down against dollar on oil price increase

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Rising international oil prices saw the Indian rupee depreciating to Rs 81.94 against the US dollar.

The rupee opened at Rs 81.52 on Thursday at the interbank forex market and then went down to Rs 81.94.

Experts said demand for dollars from oil importers resulted in a fall in rupee.

The oil prices are expected to climb up as the producing nations have announced their plans to cut production.

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