New Delhi: Rising oil prices are the biggest risk to the Indian equity story from a five-year horizon, says Christopher Wood, managing director and equity strategist at CLSA in his weekly note to investors, GREED & fear. He expects oil prices to hit $100 per barrel if the United States (US) ends all Iran sanction waivers after May 2 and suggests the best way to hedge this risk is to own oil stocks. However, as a base-case, Wood expects US President Donald Trump to soften his stand.
“It is also the case that it makes no sense to pick a row with China on buying Iranian oil, and there will be a row if the waivers are not renewed, at the same time as the Donald is hoping to secure a trade deal, and a ‘win’ with Beijing. It is also the case that Saudi Arabia will be less willing to pump extra oil, in response to Trump bullying, than was the case six months ago,” Wood wrote.
The waivers were issued to eight countries for an initial period of 180 days when Washington imposed sanctions against Iran’s oil and shipping sectors starting November 5 last year, were widely expected to be renewed. The possibility of non-renewal has pushed Brent crude oil prices higher by 38 per cent thus far in 2019 to hit the $75 per barrel mark.
The sharp rise in oil prices has also impacted the rupee, which hit a six-week low of 70.25 on Friday against the US dollar (USD).
“The rupee is not one of GREED & fear’s favourite emerging market (EM) currencies, even if the Indian stock market is. The rupee is certainly not yet cheap on a real effective exchange rate basis, while renewed monetary easing under the new Reserve Bank of India (RBI) leadership means the currency is less protected by high real rates than used to be the case,” Wood says.
Elections & economy
Between Narendra Modi – led government’s two biggest policy measures – demonetisation / note ban and the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) – Wood says the former has been a bigger of the two evils that damaged India’s ‘very large but almost impossible to measure informal economy’.
Though demonetisation / note ban was well intentioned with the aim of encouraging financialisation of the economy and eliminate “black money” and the subsequent accelerated flow into financial assets provided a further catalyst for the non-bank finance company (NBFC) lending boom, Wood believes there is little doubt that there has been collateral damage for the informal sector, which was further exacerbated by GST implementation.
And most hard hit, according to him, have been the small traders, who are traditional Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters. People, Wood feels, are reluctant to admit in public that they are anti-Modi, just as many in the US presidential election did not admit in public that they would vote for Donald Trump.
His base case on the current general election in India remains that Modi will win, albeit with a reduced majority, helped by the following wind provided by the assertive stance he took on the Pakistan issue.
“This explains why Modi has been campaigning hard in recent days in his home state of Gujarat. It also explains why Modi’s campaign has not been based on the economy. Rather it has been based on a more nationalistic stance, or what his own opponents would call a divisive sectarian stance, helped by the recent confrontation with Pakistan. Thus, Modi threatened Pakistan with the ‘mother of nuclear bombs’ last week. This, to GREED & fear, is smart politics even if it might also be viewed as cynical,” Wood wrote.
CBDT refutes social media rumours on ITR filing, says no change in IT return forms
New Delhi: The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has refuted rumours in social media regarding difficulties in filing return of income by taxpayers, stating that no change has been made in income-tax return (ITR) forms.
“No changes have been made in any of the Income-tax Return (ITR) forms including ITR-2 and ITR-3 since the notification made on April 1 2019, i.e. on the 1st day of the Assessment Year 2019-20,” CBDT said.
“It is reiterated that there are no changes in the notified ITR forms; only the utility has been updated to facilitate the taxpayers. Therefore, the assertion that numerous changes have been made in ITR-2 and ITR-3 on July 11, 2019, does not give a correct picture,” it added.
There were reports in social media that the taxpayers were facing difficulties in filing return of income in ITR-2 & ITR-3 due to large scale changes in the ITR form on July 11.
CBDT stated that the software utility for e-filing of all the ITR forms were released long back. The utility for e-filing ITR-2 and ITR-3 was released on May 2 and on May 10 respectively.
However, the software utility update is a dynamic process and is continuously taken up as per the feedback received from the users/filers to ease their experience in electronic filing of returns, it added.
CBDT further clarified that the updating of utility does not hamper filing of return as the taxpayers are allowed to file using the utility which is available at that point of time.
“For example, more than 85 lakh taxpayers have filed returns in ITR-1 till date by using the said utility, which has also undergone update later. Therefore, the impression that the taxpayers are not able to file return due to changes in ITR form is also not correct as more than 1.38 crore taxpayers have already filed their returns by using the utility released till date. Even though the utility is being updated regularly to provide ease to taxpayers, the returns filed by using the previous version of utility will continue to be valid,” it said.
Lagarde resigns as IMF chief, starting race for her successor
Washington: International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde submitted her resignation from the global crisis lender, citing more clarity about her nomination to lead the European Central Bank as European legislators approved a new top bureaucrat.
Lagarde said in a statement her resignation was effective Sept 12, firing the starting gun for the IMF’s search for her successor, which is likely to be another European.
“With greater clarity now on the process for my nomination as ECB President and the time it will take, I have made this decision in the best interest of the Fund,” Lagarde said in a statement.
She said her resignation would expedite the selection for the next head of the IMF.
IMF succession is expected to be a major topic of discussion among G7 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting on Wednesday and Thursday in Chantilly, France, near Paris amid concerns that slowing global growth and trade conflicts will pressure vulnerable economies.
Lagarde’s resignation, first reported by Reuters, came two weeks after her nomination on July 2 for the ECB’s top job. She did not immediately quit the IMF because of uncertainty over whether the new European Parliament would support her and other new EU leadership positions, sources told Reuters.
Her nomination was part of a package of top officials agreed by EU governments that included German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission president, who drew Green party opposition.
Later on Tuesday, von der Leyen was approved by the European Parliament in a 383-327 vote.
The European parliament will hold a nonbinding vote on Lagarde’s appointment, which is expected to be finalized by EU leaders at a regular summit on Oct 17-18.
Centre to launch portal to help Jet Airways staff find jobs, in touch with SpiceJet and IndiGo
Mumbai: The government may not have extended support to now-defunct Jet Airways, but it has promised to facilitate employment to job-less airline staff.
The Civil Aviation Ministry is in touch with other private airlines such as SpiceJet and IndiGo to assist Jet staff get meaningful employment.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that a website would be launched listing staff of Jet Airways and help find employment in other private entities.
“We are also producing a website which is ready. I wish I had the capacity of telling you that the website is up. Every employee would be listed there and the prospects for their re-employment or employment will be facilitated by the government,” Puri said while replying to Members in the Rajya Sabha on the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The Minister, however, said that government cannot assume responsibility for a business failure conducted by a private party.
Referring to Jet Airways, Puri said he was sensitive to (business) failure and willing to see what can be done within the governmental system to cushion that failure.
“But to suggest that a private sector entity goes belly up and the government has to take the responsibility I don`t think that is correct,” the Minister said.
Run out of cash, Jet Airways had suspended its entire operations on April 17. Subsequently, the government re-allocated its slots and foreign traffic rights to rival carriers. Lenders to the airline led by State Bank of India (SBI) have initiated bankruptcy proceedings against it after all attempts to rope in a buyer failed.
Before the airline suspended its operation, it had nearly 20,000 staff on its rolls. Several hundreds of them are learnt to have joined other carriers.
Replying to Members on the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019, he also countered a comment that airfares had gone up.
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