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Standard and Poor lowers India’s growth prospects to 5.2% in 2020



Graph. (File Photo: IANS)

Global credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) on Wednesday lowered the forecasts for India to 5.2 per cent from the earlier 5.7 per cent.

In a statement S&P Global Ratings said: “We lower our forecasts for China, India, and Japan for 2020 to 2.9 per cent, 5.2 per cent and -1.2 per cent (from 4.8 per cent, 5.7 per cent, and -0.4 per cent previously).”

According to S&P, the timing of a recovery depends, most of all, on progress in containing Coronavirus spread.

“Even if major progress is made during the second quarter, after a sustained period of stressed cash flow many firms will be in no position to resume investing quickly. Households that have either lost their jobs or have worked fewer hours will spend less. Banks will be busy managing the deterioration in asset quality. There will be pent-up demand but the longer the crisis drags on, the weaker it will be,” S&P said.

Citing its report titled “Asia-Pacific Recession Guaranteed” S&P said the economic growth in 2020 in the region will more than halve to less than three per cent as the global economy enters a recession.

“An enormous first-quarter shock in China, shutdowns across the U.S. and Europe, and local virus transmission guarantees a deep recession across Asia-Pacific,” Shaun Roache, the chief Asia-Pacific economist at S&P Global Ratings was quoted as saying in the statement.

According to S&P, by recession, it means at least two quarters of well below-trend growth sufficient to trigger rising unemployment.

“Our estimate of permanent income losses is likely to at least double to more than $400 billion,” said Roache. “For credit markets, a key question is how these losses are distributed across sovereigns, firms, banks, and households.”

According to the statement, China is gradually recovering from an enormous economic blow early in 2020. February data confirm a huge shock to activity in the first quarter. Investment accounts for about 45 per cent of China’s economy — and fixed asset investment in January and February combined plunged by almost 25 per cent compared with a year ago. Over the same period, industrial production and retail sales fell by 14 per cent and 21 per cent.

“These are unprecedented numbers,” said Roache. “This not only confirms a hard hit to China’s growth but indicates that the authorities are not smoothing the data.”

External shocks from the fallout of global viral spread add a new dimension. People flows from the US and Europe will be decimated for at least two quarters, heaping more pressure on the tourism industry.

The global policy response, including the Federal Reserve’s policy-rate cut to zero and the Bank of Japan’s scaled-up asset purchases, will help cushion but not quickly reverse these shocks. Local measures aiming to support vulnerable sectors and workers may help but their effect will wane the longer the crisis lasts.

The amplifier of the real economic shocks, which has taken an outsized role, is tightening financial conditions. This could tip an economic recession into financial stress, said S&P.

“If lingering uncertainty results in a strong preference for US dollars, policymakers in Asia’s emerging markets may be forced into a damaging round of pro-cyclical policy tightening,” Roche said.

“The countries most vulnerable to capital outflows remain India, Indonesia, and the Philippines,” he said.

“The scars that may be left on balance sheets and in labour markets threaten a more drawn out U-shape recovery in Asia-Pacific,” said Roache.


Jio surpassed BSNL to become the country’s largest fixed broadband provider




JioFiber added 0.19 million subscribers to become the number 1 operator in the fixed broadband segment in just about two years from commercial launch, with 4.34mn FBB subs.

JioFiber’s market share improved 85bp month on month to 16.9 per cent (launched commercially in Sep-19), Nomura said in a report.

Bharti added 0.1mn subs to reach 4.08mn FBB subs (up 68% since May-20), with market share up 60bp m-m to 15.9 per cent.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) market share further declined by 185 bp to 16.4 per cent share (vs 44 per cent pre-JioFiber launch in September’19), the report said.

Without significant fund-raising, Vodafone Idea’s network investments and 5G rollout would likely remain constrained, at least in the near term. Hence, we expect market share gains to continue for Bharti and R-Jio, the report said.

TRAI data for November shows a slight improvement in industry numbers, with Jio gaining market share at the expense of VIL, UBS said in a report.

After a large decline in September (driven by the 19mn subscriber loss reported by Jio) and flattish numbers in October, the industry witnessed a slight improvement in November, with overall subscriber base expanding by 1.2mn. Bharti gained 1.3mn subs (-0.5mn in Oct), Jio added 2mn subs (+1.8mn in Oct), while VIL continued to lose market share: it lost 1.9mn subs (versus loss of 1mn and 1.1mn in Oct and Sept respectively).

Jio remains the market leader, with a subscriber market share (SMS) of 36.7 per cent (+10bps). Bharti and VIL ended Nov with SMS of 30.4 per cent (flat MoM) and 22.9 per cent (down 20bps) respectively. It is important to note that the tariff hikes were largely applicable from end-November / December, and therefore, December is likely to see some churn, UBS said.

In fixed broadband, Jio surpassed BSNL to become the country’s largest FBB provider. Jio now has 4.3mn FBB subs (+0.2mn in Nov), followed by BSNL with 4.2mn subs (-0.5mn in Nov) and Airtel with 4.1mn subs (+0.1mn in Nov).

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FoodTech platform Pluckk raises $ 5 mn seed capital from Exponentia Ventures




 Fresh produce food-tech venture, PLUCKK (A brand owned by Fruveggiie Tech Pvt limited) has raised $ 5 million seed capital in a funding round, from Exponentia Ventures, a fund focussed on emerging business ideas in both B2C and B2B space.

Founded in 2021, by Pratik Gupta, Pluckk aims to build India’s first digital commerce business to serve the growing demand of lifestyle-oriented fresh produce. The company’s proposition is centered on global food trends ranging from vegan, carb alternatives, gut health, immunity to plant-forward eating to prevent diabetes and mental health.

This round of funding will be utilised towards building the right team, technology, farm to fork infrastructure, customer acquisition and expansion into key metro cities. A part of this fund will also be utilised to acquire Indus Fresh — an existing player in the fresh FnV category serving both B2C and B2B customers like Flipkart, Amazon, Swiggy, Dunzo and Zepto.

Pratik Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder, PLUCKK, said “The biggest consumer revolution we are witnessing today is that consumers not only want to enjoy eating but are also increasingly very careful on what they eat. Pluckk aims to be the brand of choice by providing the widest curated range of such lifestyle-oriented fresh produce. At the core Pluckk will work with farmers through its bespoke win-win program that focuses on farm practices to ensure residue free and traceable produce.”

With this fresh funding, the products and services of PLUCKK will now also be made available to a wider set of consumers in key metro cities such as Bangalore & Mumbai (further expansion plans to Gurugram, Pune, Hyderabad) on its direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform as well as through leading ecommerce platforms under its brand name.

On the firm’s third investment, Alok Gupta, Partner, Exponentia Ventures, said, “Our commitment continues to invest in ideas that connect with the emerging ecosystem. In Pluckk, we find an agile business team with execution focus and leveraging a deep customer insight which can scale to millions of customers.”

The Indian online grocery market size is currently valued at USD 4 billion growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37% and is expected to grow 10X touching USD40 bn in the next 7 years. Of the total grocery market, fruits and vegetables account for 15-20 per cent of the market size, Pluckk aims to gain a higher single-digit share of this market in the next 3-5 years.

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Equities extend losses; Sensex down 380 points in early trade




 The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) and broader 50-scrip Nifty on the National Stock Exchange extended their losses from the previous session and traded in the red on Wednesday.

At 10.30 a.m., Sensex traded at 60,368 points, down 0.6 per cent from the previous close of 60,75 points. It opened at 60,845 points.

Nifty traded at 18,013 points, down 0.6 per cent from the previous close of 18,113 points. It opened at 18,129 points.

Asian Paints, Ultratech Cement, Adani Ports, Tata Consumers, and Shree Cement were some of the top losers, NSE data showed.

Top gainers during the early trade were ONGC, Coal India, UPL, Tata Steel, and Bajaj Auto.

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