RBI advances second tranche of purchase of Government securities under OMOs. Rupee falls beyond 76 per USD for the first time. OTT platforms asked to lower streaming resolution. Maruti Suzuki, Toyota, Honda, Jeep India, Mahindra and Hyundai suspend production. SBI, ICICI Bank, and HDFC Bank revise banking hours, suspend non-essential services.
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Stepping on Gas
The RBI had recently announced its intent to purchase Government securities under Open Market Operations (OMOs) for an aggregate amount of ?30,000cr ($4,010m) in the month of March 2020 to maintain financial stability in the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak.
As per the initial press release, the auction will be conducted on March 24th and March 30th.
However, on a review of current liquidity and financial conditions, the Central Bank has decided to advance the second tranche of purchase for ?15,000cr ($2,005m), originally scheduled to be conducted on March 30th 2020 to March 26th 2020. [RBI Press Release]
As a pre-emptive measure to tide over any frictional liquidity requirements on account of dislocations due to COVID-19, the RBI has decided to conduct fine-tuning variable rate repo auctions in two tranches of ?50,000cr ($6,683m) each on March 23rd and March 24th. [RBI Press Release]
The Rupee today fell sharply against the US Dollar, weakening past the 76 per Dollar mark for the first time ever. The Rupee fell to a record low of 76.16 per US dollar, against the previous close of 75.19. [Livemint]
Keep Low and Stay Home
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to the telecom department and over-the-top (OTT) companies such as Netflix, Hotstar, Voot and Amazon Prime Video to lower the streaming resolution in order to reduce the burden on the networks in the wake of surge in demand owing to more and more people working from home and staying indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak. [HT]
Preparing for the Worst
As per sources, specialised online retail verticals such as Lenskart, Myntra, Nykaa, Pepperfry, FirstCry and Zivame have witnessed fall in sales by as much as 20% over the last two weeks as "people defer discretionary spending" on the back of the coronavirus outbreak. [ET Tech]
In the backdrop of the increasing number of coronavirus cases, the Central Government and various State Governments have imposed lockdowns to break the chain of the spread. Complying with this, various carmakers, including Hyundai, Toyota, Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki, have decided to halt production at their facilities until further notice. [ZigWheels]
Sorry, Your Cab Has Been Cancelled
Ride hailing services Uber and Ola have also suspended their operations till March 31st amidst the lockdown.
The news comes shortly after they had temporarily suspended their shared rides. [Business Today]
There’s been a deluge of coronavirus-related news stories of late...and all of them seem sombre or downright depressing. However, you may have missed the positive stories that came up recently. Here are a few of them:
In view of the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic in India, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced that spending of CSR funds for COVID-19 is eligible CSR activity. [@nsitharamanoffc]
Wash Your Hands
Hindustan Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, ITC, Godrej Consumer Products and Dabur will slash or have already cut prices of hand sanitisers by up to 70%. This development comes after the Government capped the rate of the essential commodity, although most of the leading FMCG companies said this would mean selling at a loss. [ET FMCG]
Meanwhile, Anand Mahindra has pledged that Mahindra Group will begin work to explore how its factories could make ventillators.
“We need to create scores of temporary hospitals and we have a scarcity of ventilators. To help in the response of this unprecedented threat, we at the Mahindra Group will immediately begin work on how our manufacturing facilities can make ventilators," he said in a series of tweets. [Livemint]
Made in India
The Cabinet has approved a ?48,000cr ($6.4bn) plan to boost the electronics manufacturing industry in India, which has become the world's second-biggest mobile phone manufacturer. The Government will reportedly provide companies a production-linked incentive of 4-6% on incremental sales of goods made locally for five years. [Gadgets 360]
We're All in This Together
Owing to the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the country, and lockdown instructions from Governments, several banks have revised their banking timings and have suspended non-essential services such as passbook updates and over the counter cheque collections.
They will, however, continue to provide four essential services including cash deposits and withdrawals, clearing of cheques, and government transactions.
Private lenders such as IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank will now remain open for just four hours of the day. [Financial Express]
Desparate Times, Desparate Measures
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group is planing to raise as much as ¥4,5trn ($41bn) to buy back shares and reduce debt in an attempt to restore investor confidence at a time when the bloodbath in the stock market has caused its shares and companies in its portfolio to plummet.
SoftBank has said that it would be selling up to ¥4.5trn ($41bn) in assets to buy back ¥2trn ($18bn) of its shares and reduce debt. The share buyback will be in addition to the up to ¥500bn ($4.5bn) buyback announced earlier this month [Reuters]
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