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Gold had a blockbuster Dhanteras this year

old sales have bettered pre-Covid levels this Dhanteras on Tuesday at 50 tonnes, almost 20 tonnes more than the 2019 Dhanteras on the back of widespread vaccination, fewer infections, and lower price of the yellow metal.

Dhanteras had remained muted last year when local restrictions, fear of pandemic and non-availability of vaccine made most people away from stores while gold consumption on 2019 Dhanteras was about 30 tonnes, according to trade body India Bullion & Jewellers Association (IBJA) whose gold rates are used by the Reserve Bank of India to fix the price of sovereign gold bonds.

“But this year, Covid cases have declined and most of the people have got at least one dose of vaccine,” Surendra Mehta, national secretary of IBJA, told ET. “There are no local restrictions now. Moreover, gold prices have softened, which created a positive sentiment about gold among people.”

The price of gold on Dhanteras day was around ₹47,904 per 10 grams while it was hovering around ₹51,500 last year.

Digital gold players also witnessed a strong demand with people booking gold of ticket size of ₹3,000-4,000 to celebrate Dhanteras, the first day of Diwali festival, when buying gold and other metals is considered auspicious.

Gold was on bull run after the pandemic outbreak last year.

State Bank of India’s record profit led by retail loan growth, higher provisions

State Bank of India

(SBI) recorded its highest quarterly net profit of Rs. 7,627 crores in quarter ended September 2021 up 67% from Rs 4574 crore in the previous year led by growth in retail loans and a marked improvement in asset quality which reduced provisions.

Total advances grew by 6%, driven by personal loans which grew 15% and a 11% growth in home loans more than covering for a 4% fall in the corporate loan book. Home loans now constitute 24% of the bank’s domestic advances.

Chairman Dinesh Khara expressed confidence that the bank will keep up the growth momentum in line with the economic growth which will also pull up the so far shrinking corporate loan book. India’s largest lender is hoping to grow its loan book by 10% this fiscal end March 2022.

“Capacity utlisation is still low at about 60%. Our undisbursed term loan facilities are at about 27% while 50% of working capital are unutilised. We have got a pipeline of Rs 1.15 lakh crore and we except that the unused term loans of Rs 2.25 lakh crore will also be utilised because there is a very clear visibility of demand. Capacity augmentation is happening and I hope by the end of the current and next quarter there will be a significant improvement in capacity utilisation which will help corporate credit come back,” Khara said.

A sharp fall in provisions also helped the bank enhance its net profit. Provisions halved to Rs 2699 crore down 51% from Rs 5619 crore a year ago due to improvement in loan collections a fall in slippages and a write back from the provisions made for Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL).

Slippages fell sharply to just Rs 4176 crore in September 2021 from Rs 15,666 crore in the quarter ended June 2021 as collection efficiency in retail loans improved to 95% after improvement in mobility post the devastating effects of the second wave of the pandemic.

Net NPA ratio fell to 1.52% down from 1.59% a year ago while the slippage ratio fell sharply to 0.66% down from 2.47% in June 2021 resulting in a 51 basis points decline in credit costs year on year. One basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Khara did not give a clear guidance on asset quality but indicated that stress is on the decline.

“There are no major concerns on asset quality. Our unerwriting standards have improved and collection machinery has also imrpoved,” he said adding that the bank has made a 100% provision for its exposure to the bankrupt Srei Group.

The stronf retail loan performance and improvement in asset quality also allowed the bank to fully provide Rs 7,418 crores for a change in family pension rules in one quarter despite the regulator granting dispensation to amortise it in five years.

PI Industries shares drop 0.95% as Sensex falls

Shares of

PI Industries

Ltd. traded 0.95 per cent down at Rs 2755.0 at 12:39PM (IST) on Wednesday, even as BSE benchmark Sensex dropped 85.78 points to 59943.28.

The stock had closed at Rs 2781.55 in the previous session. The stock quoted a 52-week high price of Rs 3533.3 and 52-week low of Rs 1982.45, respectively. As per BSE data, total traded volume on the counter till 12:39PM (IST) stood at 8378 shares with a turnover of Rs 2.32 crore.

At the current price, shares of the company traded at 53.66 times its trailing 12-month earnings per share of Rs 51.41 per share and 6.41 times its price-to-book value, BSE data showed.

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Stock score of PI Industries Ltd moved down by 1 in a month on a 10-point scale.

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A higher P/E ratio shows investors are willing to pay a higher share price today because of growth expectations in the future.

Price-to-book value indicates the inherent value of a company and reflects the price investors are ready to pay even for no growth in the business. The stock’s Beta value, which measures its volatility in relation to the broader market, stood at 0.56.

Shareholding Details

Promoters held 46.74 per cent stake in the company as of 30-Sep-2021, while FIIs owned 19.71 per cent and DIIs 13.06 per cent.

On the technical charts, the relative strength index (RSI) of the stock stood at 29.03. The RSI oscillates between zero and 100. Traditionally, it is considered overbought condition when the RSI value is above 70 and oversold condition when it is below 30. Chartists say, RSI should not be seen in isolation, as it may not be sufficient to take a trading call, just the way fundamental analysts cannot give a’buy’ or’sell’ recommendation using a single valuation ratio.

Supreme Court: Preference rule not for reservation

The Supreme Court has clarified that the rule of preference followed in appointments was not a rule of reservation and only implies that all things being equal between two candidates selected on merit, the candidate with the higher qualification will be preferred.

“A mere rule of preference meant to give weightage to additional qualification cannot be enforced as a rule of reservation or rule of complete precedence,” a top court bench said in a recent ruling.

“Preference in the context of all such competitive schemes of selection would only mean that other things being qualitatively and quantitatively equal, those with the additional qualification have to be preferred,” it said. The bench comprised Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh.

( Originally published on Nov 03, 2021 )

China hits back after Biden criticises Xi’s COP26 no-show

China hit back Wednesday against criticism by US President Joe Biden, who had accused Beijing of not showing leadership after President Xi Jinping skipped the make-or-break COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow.

Xi — who leads the planet’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change — has not travelled outside of China since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and has not joined world leaders for COP26.

Biden on Tuesday had launched blistering criticism of the Chinese and Russian leaders for not attending the summit.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded Wednesday.

“What we need in order to deal with climate change is concrete action rather than empty words,” he added. “China’s actions in response to climate change are real.”

He also made a jibe at Washington by adding that the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had harmed global climate governance and the implementation of the accord.

Biden has apologised for Trump’s decision.

COP26 has been billed as vital for the continued viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement under which nations promised to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2C, and to work for a safer 1.5C cap.

At the summit on Tuesday, nearly one hundred nations joined a US and European Union initiative to cut emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — by at least 30 percent this decade, with China among notable absentees.

Experts say the initiative could have a powerful short-term impact on global heating.

“It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership?” Biden told journalists before flying out of Glasgow.

“It’s been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China not showing up. The rest of the world looked at China and said: ‘What value are they providing?'”

House panel to examine India’s pledge and progress on renewable energy

The parliamentary standing committee on energy will examine in detail issues relating to India’s international commitment of achieving over 450 GW renewable energy by 2030. The move is significant as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced India’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2070 at COP26 recently and increasing capacity of non-fossil fuel to 500 GW.

The parliamentary standing committee scrutiny is noteworthy as India now faces the challenge of adding 400 GW of renewable energy in eight years – an average of 50 GW addition per year. So far, India has added 8 GW per annum on an average.

The 28-member committee has 11 MPs from Opposition parties and 17 from NDA.

The committee will examine the government’s roadmap for achieving 450 GW renewable energy target – which was India’s commitment till earlier this week. Apart from this, it will evaluate prospects of thermal power plants in the light of the renewable energy target. Other related issues to be examined include evaluation of wind energy, National Solar Mission, enhancing domestic manufacturing capacity in renewable energy sector and integration of renewable energy into the national grid.

The committee led by Janata Dal United MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh had earlier examined the first part of India’s climate pledge of achievement of 175 GW renewable energy target by 2022. The pledge had included installing 100 GW of solar energy, 60 GW of wind energy, 10 GW of biomass power and 5 GW of small hydro power.

The panel had examined the action plan for achievement of 175 GW and submitted a report in March 2021 which had taken a grim view of India’s progress towards achieving the target by 2022. The committee had noted that in over a decade since the launch of National Solar Mission only 39 GW of solar energy capacity had been installed and 36 GW of solar energy projects were under implementation.

The rooftop solar programme was launched in February 2019 and was aimed at achieving 40,000 MW by 2022. The committee noted that in 2019-20 only 472 MW of capacity was achieved against target of 3,000 MW and had observed that target of 40 GW of solar energy capacity by 2022 “is highly unlikely to be achieved”.

Supply chain crisis risks taking the global economy down with it

Last year the global economy came juddering to a halt. This year it got moving again, only to become stuck in one of history’s biggest traffic jams.

New indicators developed by Bloomberg Economics underscore the extremity of the problem, the world’s failure to find a quick fix, and how in some regions the Big Crunch of 2021 is still getting worse.


The research quantifies what’s apparent to the naked eye across much of the planet — in supermarkets with empty shelves, ports where ships are backed up far offshore, or car plants where output is held back by a lack of microchips. Looming over all of these: rising price tags on almost everything.

Central banks, already retreating from their view that inflation is “transitory,” may be forced to counter rising prices with earlier-than-expected interest-rate hikes. That poses new threats to an already stumbling recovery, and could take the air out of bubbly equity and property prices.

Behind the logjams lies a mix of overloaded transportation networks, shortages of labor at key chokepoints, and demand in the U.S. that’s been bolstered by pandemic stimulus and focused more on goods than services.


It’s not just a problem of moving stuff around. The world is still struggling to make enough stuff too.

Producers have been caught off-guard by this year’s rebound after they slashed orders of materials last year, when consumers stopped spending.


In Vietnam, plants that make Nike shoes had to scale back output because migrant workers had decamped to their home provinces out of fear of Covid-19. China, the world’s manufacturing powerhouse, is confronting new virus outbreaks and responding with targeted lockdowns. Its factory prices are rising at a 10% annual rate, the fastest since the 1990s.

Pulling all these pieces together, the Bloomberg Economics supply indexes show shortages just off a 20-year high in the U.S. Gauges for the U.K. and euro area are at a similarly elevated level.

The measures are based on a range of data, from factory gate prices to the ratio of inventory-to-sales for retailers, and the backlog of orders for service-sector firms. Readings of zero indicate normal conditions, negative ones mean goods are abundant, and positive points to constraints. The gauges show an abrupt shift from excess supply before the Covid crisis to today’s significant shortages.


For global manufacturers like Toyota — which slashed September production by more than a third from 2020 levels as shortages stalled its famed just-in-time production process — as well as the firms that move their products around the globe, and the shoppers waiting for deliveries, the big question now is: when will the disruptions end?

Even giants like Amazon and Apple — used to bending supply chains to their will — don’t see the situation improving fast. Amazon said its entire fourth-quarter profit could be wiped out by a surge in the cost of labor and fulfillment. Apple said it lost $6 billion in sales because of inability to meet demand, and could lose more next quarter.

Shipping conditions should start to ease after the Chinese New Year in early February, “although disruptions could last at least till the middle of next year,” said Shanella Rajanayagam, a trade economist at HSBC. Even then, with pent-up demand and inventory restocking keeping the pressure on, Rajanayagam says it could still take some time for supply chains to fully disentangle.

What comes next is uncharted territory partly because of the sheer number of bottlenecks along the route from assembly lines to shopping baskets. As one supplier waits for another to deliver, the delays are feeding on each other.

Logistics systems usually ride the ups and downs of the global economy in a predictable pattern: Rising demand boosts trade, pushing shipping rates up and heralding good times for cargo carriers, until they over-build capacity and a bust follows.

But the pandemic has thrown that cycle out of whack. Even amid signs of slowing growth, the pipeline of international commerce has never been so clogged.


The more than 70 ships anchored off Los Angeles, for example, are loaded with enough 20-foot containers full of goods to stretch from Southern California to Chicago if laid end to end.

And even when those vessels get to dock, their payloads will only slam into the thousands already stuck in the ports waiting for a ride inland. That will require more truckers and trailers in the short run.

A longer-term fix means getting Covid-19 under control, building new infrastructure such as more efficient ports, and improving technology for digital transactions and faster communication.


Elsewhere in the world, shipping bottlenecks have often followed severe weather and virus outbreaks, like the recent Covid-19 flareup in Singapore. An analysis of port congestion showed the backlog Monday in that city-state center of finance and logistics was elevated, with 53 container ships at anchor, the highest count since Bloomberg started tracking the data in April.

That’s a problem for the U.S., where the clothes and home electronics that fill up shoppers’ carts rely on foreign inputs and assembly. And with vaccination rates in many Asian countries still low, it’s a problem that won’t disappear anytime soon.


“For the supply chain to recover, it is going to require a certain amount of luck” — avoiding weather disasters or new Covid hotspots — “plus time and investment to add more logistics capacity,” said Simon Heaney, senior manager for container research at Drewry in London.

For a global economy exiting the deepest recession in recent history, supply shortages caused in part by strong demand are a good problem to have. Clearly worse would be the opposite one: abundant supply because economies remained depressed, with millions more unemployed.

But this least-bad option is still creating plenty of problems of its own.


Inflation is already running high enough to be outside the comfort zone for monetary policy makers. In the U.S., it’s at 5.4% now and could stay lodged in the 4% to 5% range next year if supply constraints don’t ease, according to Bloomberg Economics models.

That doesn’t mean the world is in for a re-run of 1970s-style stagflation. It took a decade of overheating and policy missteps to drive U.S. inflation above 10% back then. The Fed and its peers are unlikely to make the same mistakes again. And unemployment is far below its 1970s peaks, and falling.

Still, the current environment — call it stagflation-lite — is a challenging one for central bankers.

Keeping rates at their current lows would allow the recovery to continue, but risk prices spiraling higher if households and businesses come to expect more of the same. Tightening would quell inflation not by addressing inadequate supply, but rather by stifling demand. It could turn into the monetary policy equivalent of the surgeon who declares: “Operation successful, patient dead.”

Traders are currently pricing in two Fed rate hikes in 2022, two more than the median member of the Federal Open Market Committee. A Bloomberg Economics model of the Fed’s reaction function — its policy response to changes in the economy — suggests that if inflation runs strong and unemployment falls, even two hikes next year might not be enough.


Of course, predictions of rapid monetary tightening have been consistently wrong in the past, and they could be again. Demand for goods might cool as pandemic stimulus fades or fears of tighter financial conditions erode confidence. A rotation of spending from goods back to services, already under way in the U.S., will lessen the imbalance between constrained supply and booming demand. A sustained slowdown in China might hit commodity prices.

And supply chains could unsnarl quicker than expected, too. The Bloomberg gauge of shortages in the U.S. has edged down in the latest readings — while staying at historically elevated levels. It’s just that there’s no precedent that sheds much light on when, or how, conditions will normalize.

“The current situation is unique and quite different from the more isolated disruptions the world has experienced,” said John Butler, president of the World Shipping Council, which represents the biggest ocean freight carriers. “The way in which the current congestion ultimately unwinds will also be different.”

Biden says he will make Fed nomination announcements ‘fairly quickly’

GLASGOW: President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the White House will be making an announcement about his nominations to lead the U.S. Federal Reserve “fairly quickly.”

Biden told reporters that he has been thinking about personnel decisions, including whether to re-nominate Fed Chair Jerome Powell, and that he expected there would be “plenty of time” for his central bank nominees to be cleared by the Senate before current terms expire.

About 37,000 people displaced in Myanmar’s northwest, many have fled into India: UN spokesperson

About 37,000 people, including women and children, are now displaced in Myanmar’s northwest and many have fled their homes in anticipation of the current fighting, including into India, a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

The UN team in Myanmar “remains deeply concerned over the recent escalation in fighting in the northwest between the Myanmar Military and the local Popular Defence Forces in Chin State, as well as Magway and Sagaing regions,” Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Florencia Soto Nino said at the daily press briefing Monday.

She said this has led to more people being displaced and the property being destroyed, nine months after the military seized control over the Government of Myanmar on February 1. There have also been worrying reports in recent days of the shelling and burning of more than 160 houses of civilians in the town of Thantlang in western Chin.

“Our humanitarian colleagues say that some 37,000 people, including women and children, are now displaced in the country’s northwest. Many have fled their homes in anticipation of the current fighting, including into India,” Nino said adding that this is in addition to more than 7,000 people who remain displaced from the previous fighting since December 2019.

The UN team repeats its calls for parties to the conflict to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and humanitarians, and reiterates that aid workers and their properties should never be a target, she said.

Novel antibody reduces severity of COVID-19 infection: Study

Scientists have identified and tested an antibody that limits the severity of infections from a variety of coronaviruses, including those that cause COVID-19 as well as the SARS illness. The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Tuesday, isolated the antibody by analysing blood from a patient who had been infected with the SARS-CoV-1 virus, which caused the SARS outbreak, and from a current COVID-19 patient.

“This antibody has the potential to be a therapeutic for the current epidemic,” said study co-senior author Barton Haynes, director of Duke University Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), US.

“It could also be available for future outbreaks, if or when other coronaviruses jump from their natural animal hosts to humans,” Haynes said.

The researchers identified over 1,700 antibodies, which the immune system produces to bind at specific sites on specific viruses to block the pathogen from infecting cells.

When viruses mutate, many binding cites are altered or eliminated, leaving antibodies ineffectual, they said.

However, the researchers noted that there are often sites on the virus that remain unchanged despite mutations.

They focused on antibodies that target these sites because of their potential to be highly effective across different lineages of a virus.

Of the 1,700 antibodies from the two inpiduals, the researchers found 50 antibodies that had the ability to bind to both the SARS-CoV-1 virus as well as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Further analysis found that one of those cross-binding antibodies was able to bind to a multitude of animal coronaviruses in addition to the two human-infecting pathogens.

“This antibody binds to the coronavirus at a location that is conserved across numerous mutations and variations,” Haynes said.

“As a result, it can neutralise a wide range of coronaviruses,” he explained.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), US, tested the antibody in mice to determine whether it could effectively block or minimise the infections.

They found that when given before the animals were infected, the antibody protected mice against developing SARS, COVID-19 and its variants such as Delta.

The researchers also found that the antibody provide protection from many animal coronaviruses that have the potential to cause human pandemics.

“The findings provide a template for the rational design of universal vaccine strategies that are variant-proof and provide broad protection from known and emerging coronaviruses,” said study co-senior author Ralph S Baric, a professor at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

When given after infections, the antibody reduced severe lung symptoms compared to animals that were not treated with the antibody, according to the researchers.

“The therapeutic activity even after mice were infected suggests that this could be a treatment deployed in the current pandemic, but also stockpiled to prevent the spread of a future epidemic with a SARS-related virus,” said David Martinez, a post-doctoral researcher at UNC’s Gillings School.

“This antibody could be harnessed to prevent maybe SARS-CoV-3 or SARS-CoV-4,” Martinez added.