Business News Live: India Jobless Rate Rises in August as Covid Hits Hiring Activity

Top news of the day from the world of business, finance and economy

Google to appeal 500 mn euro French fine in copyright row

Google on Wednesday said it is appealing a decision by France’s competition watchdog to hand it a 500-million-euro ($590 million) fine in a row with news outlets over the use of their content under EU copyright rules, AFP reported.

"We disagree with some of the legal elements, and consider the amount of the fine to be disproportionate compared to the efforts we have put in place to reach a deal and respect the new law," Sebastien Missoffe, head of Google France, said in a statement.

India Jobless Rate Rises in August as Covid Hits Hiring Activity

India’s jobless rate rose last month due to a hit to hiring activity from the Covid-19 pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

Unemployment in August rose to 8.32% from a four-month low of 6.95% in July, data from private research firm Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt.(CMIE) showed Wednesday.

About a million jobs were lost last month, according to CMIE data.

GST mop up tops Rs 1 lakh cr for second straight month, at Rs 1.12 lakh cr in Aug

GST revenue remained above Rs 1 lakh crore for the second straight month in August at over Rs 1.12 lakh crore, 30% higher than the collection in the year-ago period, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

"The gross GST revenue collected in the month of August 2021 is Rs 1,12,020 crore of which Central GST is Rs 20,522 crore, State GST is Rs 26,605 crore, Integrated GST is Rs 56,247 crore (including Rs 26,884 crore collected on import of goods) and Cess is Rs 8,646 crore (including Rs 646 crore collected on import of goods)," the finance ministry said in a statement.

Ida’s economic cost could hit $70 billion to $80 billion

Ida’s economic cost could hit $70 billion to $80 billion, estimated AccuWeather, with much of the losses due to the impact on the oil industry and supply chain delays.

It forced the evacuations last week of offshore production platforms run by BP PLC, BHP Group, Chevron Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp that contribute to the 16% of U.S. production from offshore facilities. Gulf Coast refiners’ Exxon Mobil Corp, PBF Energy Inc and Royal Dutch Shell PLC halted oil processing at plants in the storm’s path, cutting about 13% of U.S. refining capacity.

This week, the loss of power and mobile phone service has prevented companies from reaching workers needed to conduct damage assessments, PTI reported.

OPEC+ raises 2022 oil demand growth forecast

The OPEC+ group of oil producers has made an upward revision to its 2022 oil demand forecast ahead of a meeting on Wednesday as the group faces pressure from the United States to raise output to support the global economy.

The group’s experts have raised its 2022 oil demand growth forecast to 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from the previous forecast of 3.28 million bpd, Reuters reported.

Hyundai sales up 12 pc in August at 59,068 units

Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) on Wednesday reported a 12.3% increase in total sales at 59,068 units in August.

Domestic sales were up 2.3% to 46,866 units as against 45,809 units in August 2020, the company said. Exports increased to 12,202 units last month as compared with 6,800 units in August last year, PTI reported.

Sensex and Nifty opened higher today after touching new records on Tuesday. The government released the GDP data for the April-June quarter that showed the Indian economy expanded by 20.1%, helped by a low-base year of the previous year. India Inc said the GDP data is a sign of economic recovery while experts believe the economy will require continued fiscal and monetary support.

However, India’s manufacturing sector activities moderated in August as the pandemic and rising input costs weighed on business orders and production. Asian countries also saw a similar trend as a resurgence in coronavirus cases disrupted supply chains across the region and raised concerns that faltering manufacturing will add to the economic woes caused by slumping consumption.

Amazon launches agronomy services for farmers

Amazon Retail launched agronomy services for farmers to provide timely advice and enable them to make accurate decisions on actions required for their crops, PTI reported.

The tech giant said it will also introduce machine learning technology for better produce and build a robust supply chain infrastructure.

"This is a holistic programme that enables farmers to use scientific crop planning based on soil and weather conditions, and provides inputs on crop and disease management," Sameer Khetarpal, Amazon India Director (Grocery, Food and Health) said.

Tencent ends all exclusive music deals

Tencent Holdings on Tuesday said it has ended all exclusive music copyright agreements after Chinese regulators barred it from such deals last month, Reuters reported.

The company had notified all parties involved in such agreements of the move and, added it would continue to cooperate and engage with the parties in a non-exclusive way.

El Salvador backs $150 million fund for bitcoin

Ahead of its planned adoption of the cryptocurrency as legal tender next week, El Salvador approved a law to create a $150 million fund to facilitate conversions from bitcoin to U.S. dollars, Reuters reported.

El Salvador will be the first in the world to use the cryptocurrency as legal tender when it officially adopts bitcoin on Sept. 7.

At least 200 ATMs and 50 consulting centers from the government digital wallet app "Chivo" are being installed in different parts of the country where users can deposit and withdraw money without paying commissions.

Apple Watch production delayed

Production of Apple’s latest smart watch has been delayed due to its complicated design, the Nikkei reported citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the report, the manufacturers began production last week, but faced difficulties in reaching satisfactory production and decided to temporarily suspend the production. Manufacturers will sort out the issues and certify the designs before going into mass production.

The company was scheduled to launch the smartwatch along with the latest iPhones in the coming weeks, but the challenges might affect its shipment plans, the report said.

India’s manufacturing sector activities moderate in Aug

India’s manufacturing sector activities moderated in August, as the pandemic and rising input costs weighed on business orders and production, PTI reported citing a monthly survey.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) stood at 52.3 in August, down from 55.3 in July.

The August PMI data indicated to an improvement in overall operating conditions for the second straight month as a print above 50 means expansion while a score below 50 denotes contraction.

Asia factories hit by supply chain disruptions

A resurgence in coronavirus cases disrupted supply chains across Asia, raising concerns that faltering manufacturing will add to the economic woes caused by slumping consumption, Reuters reported.

Manufacturing activity in August expanded at a slower rate in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as chip shortages and factory shutdowns disrupted production. China’s factory activity slipped into contraction in August for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years.

"The latest COVID-19 resurgence has posed a severe challenge to the economic normalisation that began in the second quarter of last year,"  Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group told Reuters.

Xiaomi completes business registration of EV unit

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has completed the official business registration of its electric vehicle unit, Reuters reported.

The new unit called Xiaomi EV Inc has been opened with registered capital of 10 billion yuan ($1.55 billion) with Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun as its legal representative. The company said it has employed 300 staff to its EV unit and continues to recruit talent.

However, Xiaomi has not revealed many details of its strategy for the automotive sector or vehicle types it intends to launch.

China’s factory activity contracts

China’s factory activity contracted in August for the first time since April last year as COVID-19 containment measures, supply bottlenecks and high raw material prices weighed on output, Reuters reported.

Two different official surveys released on Tuesday showed China’s factory activity grew at a slower pace, while the services sector slumped into contraction.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.2 last month, from 50.3 in July, breaching the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction.

Experts say economic recovery to need fiscal, monetary policy support

Experts believe that economic recovery will continue to need both fiscal and monetary policy support, and the government will have to be quick in correcting the protectionist stance and fast-tracking trade agreements, PTI reported.

Brickwork Ratings Chief Economic Advisor M Govinda Rao said the first quarter GDP growth is quite close to the growth estimate put out by the RBI. India Ratings and Research said services is still struggling as it grew only 11.4% in the June quarter.

EY India Chief Policy Advisor D K Srivastava said agricultural and electricity, gas, water supply sectors did relatively well as compared to even their first quarter 2019-20 levels. ICRA’s Chief Economist Aditi Nayar said the low base of last year’s stringent nationwide lockdown concealed the impact of the second wave of COVID-19.

India Inc says Pandemic-hit economy has bounced back

After the GDP numbers released on Tuesday, Industry chamber CII said it is good to see the bounce-back of the GDP growth despite the adverse impact of the second wave of the pandemic on the economic activity, PTI reported.

PHDCCI said meaningful and proactive reforms undertaken by the government has resulted in the sharp recovery now.

Assocham said the Indian economy is reshaping fast into a catch-up mode with the GDP growth of 20.1% in April-June 2021-22.

India’s economy expands by 20.1% in Q1 on low base

India’s economy expanded by 20.1% in the April-June quarter of this fiscal, helped by a low base of the year-ago period, according to data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Tuesday. However, the economy is yet to return to the pre-COVID level. 

The gross domestic product (GDP) had contracted by 24.4% in the corresponding April-June quarter of 2020-21.

In value terms, the GDP stood at ₹32,38,020 crore in April-June 2021-22, as compared with ₹35,66,708 crore in the corresponding period of the 2019-20 financial year.

"GDP at Constant (2011-12) Prices in Q1 of 2021-22 is estimated at Rs 32.38 lakh crore, as against Rs 26.95 lakh crore in Q1 of 2020-21, showing a growth of 20.1 percent as compared to contraction of 24.4 percent in Q1 2020-21," the NSO said in a statement.

Google again delays office return

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday said the company  is extending its voluntary return-to-office policy through January next year.

In an email to employees, Pichai noted that while conditions are improving in some locations, there is uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of the world.

"Beyond January 10, we will enable countries and locations to make determinations on when to end voluntary work-from-home based on local conditions," Pichai said. Google had earlier delayed its return-to-office policy from September to October.

Sensex, Nifty open higher

Indian benchmark equity indices opened higher after scaling to new record high the previous day.

At 9:15, Sensex opened 0.37% higher at 57,763.53 and Nifty opened up 0.31% at 17,185.60 amid mixed global cues. IT, FMCG, bank and auto indices led the gains.

Oil steady before OPEC+ decision

Oil prices were stable ahead of an OPEC+ meeting, at which major producers will decide whether to stick to a plan to add 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month through December, Reuters reported.

The decision will come at a time when COVID-19 cases are soaring in Asia and U.S. refiners are assessing flood damage in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 0.1%, to $68.57 a barrel and  Brent crude futures were up 5 cents at $71.70 a barrel.

Asian shares down

Asian shares lost their recent gains as slowing global growth in multiple countries weighed on traders’ minds, Reuters reported.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.4%. On Tuesday, Chinese blue chips were down 0.44% while Hong Kong fell 0.5% on China’s slowing growth concerns.

Australian shares fell 0.58% while Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.89% after data showed Japanese companies’ capital spending rose in second quarter.

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