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IMF lowers global growth forecast to 3.3% for 2019, warns of economic slowdown

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Washington DC: The International Monetary Fund warned that global economic growth was slowing more than expected and that a sharp downturn could require world leaders to coordinate stimulus measures.
The global lender cut its global economic growth forecasts for 2019 and said key risks included a US-China trade war and a potentially disorderly British exit from the European Union.
The IMF said it still expects that a sharp slowdown in Europe and some emerging market economies will give way to a general re-acceleration in the second half of 2019.
But chances of further cuts to the outlook are high, the Fund said in its World Economic Outlook report. Already some major economies, including China and Germany, might need to take short-term actions, the IMF said.
“This is a delicate moment for the global economy,” IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said in a news conference.
Gopinath said a sharp downturn might require synchronized fiscal stimulus “across economies” as well as loose monetary policy.
The IMF and World Bank are holding their spring meetings in Washington this week. In its third downgrade since October, the IMF said the global economy will likely grow 3.3 percent this year, the slowest expansion since 2016. The forecast cut 0.2 percentage point from the IMFs outlook in January. The projected growth rate for next year was unchanged at 3.6 percent. More than two-thirds of the expected slowdown in 2019 owes to trouble in rich nations. "In this context, avoiding policy missteps that could harm economic activity should be the main priority," the IMF said its report. One potential misstep lies in Britains indecision over how to leave the EU. Despite looming deadlines, London has not decided how it will try to shield its economy during the exit process. The IMFs new forecast assumes an orderly "Brexit," but the Fund said a chaotic process could shave more than 0.2 percentage points from global growth in 2019. The IMF said the Bank of England should be "cautious" on its interest rate policy, an apparent tip to wait before hiking borrowing costs. The EUs economic growth is already slowing substantially, and the slowdown accounted for much of the reduction in the global growth forecast.
Germanys outlook suffered from weaker demand for its exports, softer consumer spending and new emissions standards that have depressed car sales. Germany may have to quickly turn to fiscal stimulus measures, the IMF said, also calling on the European Central Bank to keep stimulating the regional economy. The IMF also cut Japans growth outlook following a string of natural disasters.
The US economy, while seen outperforming other rich nations, also got a downgrade on signs that a fiscal stimulus fueled by tax cuts was producing less activity than previously expected.
US Treasury yields slid on concerns about the global economic outlook while the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Index were down more than half a per cent amid worries that a U.S. threat to slap tariffs on hundreds of European goods would be a further economic drag.
The IMF said it supported the US Federal Reserves decision to pause its rate-hiking cycle, which the global lender said would support the US and world economies this year by easing financial conditions. The IMF raised its forecast for U.S. growth in 2020 by a tenth of a percentage point to 1.9 percent. The global lender said it was slightly boosting its outlook for Chinese growth this year - to 6.3 percent - in part because an expected escalation in the U.S.-China trade war did not materialize. Still, Americas ongoing tensions with China and other major trading partners remain a risk for the global economy.
US tariffs on Chinese imports are hitting Chinese growth and also weighing on Latin America and other areas dependent on Chinese demand for commodities.
In a World Economic Outlook chapter released last week, the IMF said an escalation of the US-China trade war would drive manufacturing away from both countries and cause job losses, but would do little to change their total trade balances.
If 25 percent tariffs were imposed on all trade between the worlds two largest economies, US GDP would fall by up to 0.6 percent and Chinas would fall by up to 1.5 percent, the IMF said.
The IMF also cut its 2019 growth forecasts for Canada and Latin America as well as for the Middle East and North African countries.
China was trying to rebalance its massive economy away from investment and exports when U.S. President Donald Trump ordered higher tariffs on Chinese imports beginning in 2018. China responded with retaliatory tariffs on US goods.
In an ominous sign, the IMF said Beijing might need to unleash fiscal stimulus “to avoid a sharp near-term growth slowdown that could derail the overarching reform agenda.”
But Gopinath, the IMF chief economist, said the Chinese economy was already showing some signs of recovered growth, which she described as “green shoots.”


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RBI to remain watchful on growth, financial stability: Das

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Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will remain vigilant and strive to revive growth in Asia’s third-largest economy, as well as pushing to maintain macroeconomic, financial and price stability, its governor said in a speech.

India lost momentum in the final quarter of 2018, reducing its annual rate of economic growth to 6.6 percent, the slowest pace in five quarters and much less than expected.

But RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the country’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth was expected to reach 7.2 per cent in the fiscal year to March 2020, which he described as the strongest among the world’s large economies.

 

India’s annual retail inflation rate rose in March to 2.86 per cent, from 2.57 per cent in the previous month, but remained below the central bank’s target for an eighth straight month, increasing the chances for a key interest rate cut in June.

“Inflation has remained below target, averaging 3.6 per cent for the period under the inflation targeting framework so far,” Das said in the speech, uploaded on the RBI website early on Saturday. He said he was referring to the period from October 2016 to February 2019.

The RBI has lowered its retail inflation forecast to 3.8 percent by January-March 2020, but warned it could be higher if food and fuel prices climb abruptly, or if fiscal deficits overshot targets.

India’s current account deficit is expected to be around 2.5 per cent of GDP in 2018-19 and the gross fiscal deficit has kept to budgetary targets, he added.

Das underscored the risks facing emerging market economies such as a India as global growth and trade weaken.

“There is considerable uncertainty as to whether this weakness is temporary or the beginning of a recession in advanced economies,” Das said, adding that central banks around the world were not tightening monetary policy, with some even promoting easier lending conditions.

The RBI cut its policy interest rate by 25 basis points earlier this month, in a widely expected move to boost the economy at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term in a national election.

Emerging market economies also remain exposed to financial market volatility, Das said, and financial conditions could heighten existing stress on the balance sheets of lending institutions in some countries.

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At 0.1%, India’s industrial growth falls to 20-month low in February

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New Delhi: A contraction in manufacturing output, especially in the sensitive capital and consumer goods segment, pulled down industrial growth to a 20-month low of just 0.1 per cent in February.

The bottom crawling growth rate follows a 1.43 per cent growth in the previous month of January. The index of industrial production (IIP) has witnessed low growth since November, 2018, and is expected to remain muted owing to weak exports, rural distress, credit constraints and uncertainty over the election outcome, according to economists.

In the April-February period of the current financial year, industrial output grew at 4 per cent, as against 4.3 per cent in the same period of the previous financial year.

 

The manufacturing segment, which constitutes the bulk of the index of industrial production (IIP) at 77.6 per cent, contracted by 0.3 per cent in February against an equally small rise of 0.93 per cent in January. Before, this, the December 2018 manufacturing number of 2.95 per cent. The numbers show continued volatility in the IIP, despite change in the index last year.

Most of all, the capital goods segment, which connotes investments, saw output growth turning to negative with an 8.8 per cent contraction, as compared to a 3.42 per cent contraction in the previous month.

Driven by machinery and heavy transport, capital goods production had been on a solid upward swing till October.

“The capital goods sector, which had shown an average growth of 8.9 per cent during April-October period in FY19 and raised hopes of an incipient investment recovery in the economy is once again appearing to be losing steam. With the exception of December 2018, capital goods are recording negative growth in each month since November,” Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist at India Ratings and Research, said.

In January, the growth rate for consumer durables also fell to 1.2 per cent, from the 2.3 per cent growth in January. “A 1.2 per cent consumer goods production is also reflective of inventories that have built up in Q3, when capacity utilisation also improved. But, with demand tapering off, production has slowed down,” Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at CARE Ratings, said.

On the other hand, consumer non-durables commanded a growth rate of 4.3 per cent in February, up from 3.3 per cent in January. All other user-based segments either showed a negative growth or low-single digit growth.

Overall IIP growth for the entire year would be about 4.5 per cent, which is half per cent lower than what we had projected earlier, Sabnavis added.Of 23 sub-sectors within manufacturing, 13 recorded a year-on-year contraction, compared to 11 in January. Slowdown in major sectors such as metals and refined petroleum brought down overall growth. On the other hand, apart from furniture and food manufacturing, which saw healthy growth in the financial year, computer hardware production managed to see a healthy growth.

This is after the government pushed manufacturing in the sector on a sustained basis over the past nine months, through a series of benefits and the phased manufacturing programme aimed to reduce imports of electronics goods.

The two other sectors in the IIP — electricity and mining — also saw muted growth in February, data released on Friday showed.

Electricity generation rose 1.2 per cent in the latest month, slightly more than the 0.93 per cent rise in January. On the other hand, mining output grew by 2 per cent in February, against a 3.92 per cent rise in January.

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TCS net profit up 17.7% to Rs 8,126 crore in Q4, crosses $20-bn revenue

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Mumbai: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Friday reported robust numbers both for the fourth quarter of 2018-19 and the full financial year, with the country’s largest IT services company crossing the $20-billion revenue mark for the first time. Growth in net profit as well as revenue exceeded Street expectations, though margin contracted a bit in the fourth quarter.

For the quarter ended March 31, TCS reported Rs 8,126 crore in net profit, a jump of 17.7 per cent over the corresponding quarter last year. Revenue, at Rs 38,010 crore, saw an increase of 18.5 per cent on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis. When compared with the trailing quarter, net profit was almost flat, while revenue grew 1.8 per cent.

A survey by Bloomberg based on consensus analysts’ estimates had pegged TCS’ revenue and net profit at Rs 37,829.1 crore and Rs 7,970.7 crore, respectively. “This is a year when TCS has fired from all cylinders, and we are exiting the year on a much stronger note than how we entered it,” CEO and MD Rajesh Gopinathan said during a post-earnings interaction with media. “This is the strongest revenue growth that we have had in the last 15 quarters. Our order book is bigger than (what it was in) the previous three quarters. The deal pipeline is also robust,” Gopinathan added.

 

For FY19, TCS reported Rs 31,472 crore in net profit, an increase of 21.9 per cent over the previous fiscal year, while revenue at Rs 1.46 trillion was 19 per cent higher than FY18’s.

For the first time, TCS crossed $20 billion in its dollar revenue, posting $20.91 billion in top line in FY19, a growth of 9.6 per cent over the previous year, while it widened the revenue gap with the closest Indian competitor, Infosys, by $9.1 billion. In constant currency terms, it maintained double-digit revenue growth and grew 11.4 per cent.

Operating profit margins for Q4 as well as the full year, however, were marginally lower than the expectations and came below the guided range of 26-29 per cent. In the quarter under review, margins at 25.1 per cent saw a 50 basis point decline over the previous quarter, while margins for the full year stood at 25.6 per cent, up 79 bps.

The firm added six clients, each contributing revenues in excess of $100 million during FY19, while the employee headcount addition stood robust. The year ended with 4,24,285 employees, almost 30,000 higher than last year. Attrition at 11.3 per cent was one of the lowest in industry.

TCS continued to witness strong growth in its digital business, which accounted for 31 per cent of the overall revenue. Banking, financial services & insurance, which lagged other verticals, rebounded to double-digit growth with an increase of 11.6 per cent in the March quarter, although for the full year, it was 7.7 per cent.

chart In terms of geographies, North America business grew 9.9 per cent y-o-y (constant currency terms) in Q4, while for the full year, growth was 8.3 per cent. The UK, where TCS has the highest exposure compared with other Indian peers, saw maximum growth with revenues from the country rising 21.3 per cent y-o-y for the quarter and 22 per cent for the full year.

“Deals have come from many different markets and verticals. These give us the confidence that we’ll continue the momentum. Last year, we had very large segments that were dragging with growth of less than 2-3 per cent. We now have a benefit of a few large deals, so almost all segments are growing on a par with the company average,” Gopinathan said.

“TCS has delivered a decent set of numbers for Q4FY19, which beat estimates on the revenue and net profit fronts. Reported EBIT margins missed our estimates, though adjusted for Rs 220 crore contribution to electoral trust in Q4, margin was higher than estimates,” said Sanjeev Hota, AVP Research at Sharekhan.

The company reported deal TCV (total contract value) of $6.2 billion compared to $5.9 billion in the last quarter.

TCS said that like the previous year, it would start rolling out salary hikes in the range of 2-6 per cent based on geographies the employees are located, and some other metrics. In Q4 of last year, the company had doled out 120 per cent variable payouts, which will be 100 per cent this year.

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