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India Business Briefs for April 2: Usual pre-poll rally not seen in Indian equity markets

Pedestrians walk past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

HERE are news related to Indian economy and business for Tuesday, April 2, 2024:

With India approaching the commencement of its general elections on April 19, widely anticipated to be won by the incumbent government of prime minister Narendra Modi, the Indian equity markets are quite languid, diverging from the typical pre-election rally pattern. Analysts attribute this deviation to several factors, including the notable market surge over the past year, high valuations, and lingering uncertainties surrounding political matters such as corruption and electoral funding. While the Nifty index climbed more than 30 per cent over the past year, the second biggest gain among Asian indexes, it has faltered this month.

India’s domestic air passenger traffic is estimated at 153.4 million in 2023-24, according to aviation consultancy CAPA India, news agency Press Trust of India reported. In October 2023, it had revised the 2023-24 estimate to 155 million from the projection of more than 160 million domestic air passenger traffic in March 2023. For international traffic, the consultancy had pegged the figure at 70 million in October 2023, lower than 72-74 million estimate made in March last year. “Domestic traffic reached an estimated 153.4 mn pax… international traffic reached an estimated 69.7 mn pax,” CAPA said in an update for 2023-24. India is one of the fastest growing civil aviation markets in the world.

Amid Vistara pilots’ continuing protest against pay revision, at least 15 senior first officers have resigned from the airline recently, sources said on Tuesday, news agency Press Trust of India reported. The airline operates a little over 300 flights daily and has a fleet of 70 planes comprising A320-family aircraft and Boeing 787s. Over the past few weeks, the Tata Group-owned airline has been grappling with simmering discontent among pilots, with many first officers of its A320 fleet reporting sick. The sources said at least 15 senior first officers resigned from Vistara and joined a domestic budget carrier. The airline, which is in the process of merging with Air India, has introduced new contracts for its pilots that seek to bring pay parity with those from Air India.

Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has emphasized that in order to rival China’s economic prowess, New Delhi must prioritize its focus on manufacturing — a pivotal sector that was overlooked by previous administrations prior to prime minister Narendra Modi assuming office in 2014. Interacting with industry leaders at a programme in Surat in the western state of Gujarat on Monday (1), the diplomat said tension at the border with China has caused “abnormality” in New Delhi-Beijing relations. “If we have to compete with China, which we should, then its solution is that we should focus on manufacturing here. Our approach towards manufacturing has changed after Modiji came to power,” he said.

The State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest public bank, has refused to disclose its standard operating procedure (SOP) for the sale and redemption of the electoral bonds that were issued to its authorised branches, citing the exemption given under “commercial confidence”, according to a response under the Right to Information (RTI). In an application filed under the Right to Information Act, transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj had sought the details of the SOP issued to the SBI’s authorised branches on the sale and redemption of the electoral bonds.

India’s online food delivery platform Zomato said it has received a service-tax demand and penalty order aggregating over Rs 184 crore, and will file an appeal against it before an appropriate authority. The demand order has been received for non-payment of service tax for the period October 2014 to June 2017 determined on the basis of certain sales made by the foreign subsidiaries and branches of the company to its customers located outside India, the company said in a late night regulatory filing. The company also mentioned that in its response to the show-cause notice it had clarified on the allegations along with supporting documents and judicial precedents, “which appears to not have been appreciated by the authorities while passing the order.”

Indian coal and mines minister Pralhad on Monday said the country has for the first time crossed the milestone of one billion tonnes of coal and lignite production in the financial year 2023-24. India’s total coal and lignite output was at 937 million tonnes (MT) in the preceding 2022-23 fiscal, as per official figures. “Proud to share that under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, we have registered a stellar achievement by crossing 1 billion tonne (BT) coal and lignite production,” the minister said. The continuous efforts to increase domestic coal production has ensured that going forward the country will never have to face coal shortage, the minister said.

(With agencies)

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