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Increased London flights as India, UK update agreement

India and the United Kingdom have reached an agreement to allow carriers from both countries to operate an additional 14 flights per week from London Heathrow to Delhi and Mumbai airports. The memorandum of understanding, signed on May 1, aims to boost air travel between the two nations, with the UK Department for Transport highlighting the potential for increased business, trade, and tourism. The move benefits UK carriers that had reached their previous flight entitlement limit, while Indian carriers like Air India and Vistara will also benefit from the increased capacity. Industry experts see this as a positive development, addressing long-standing demand-supply constraints and potentially stabilizing airfares on the popular route. The revised agreement is expected to further strengthen the strong relationship between India and the UK, with airlines now having the flexibility to decide when and how many additional flights to add. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 7 pm IST

April sees increase in thermal coal imports

India's thermal coal imports have surged by almost 11 per cent month-on-month and 10 per cent year-on-year to 16.23 million tonnes in April 2024, marking the fourth consecutive month of increase and hitting a five-month high. This rise is attributed to thermal power plants stocking up on the essential commodity in anticipation of rising summer temperatures and extended heat waves. The demand for thermal coal remains strong as scorching weather conditions drive up consumption, with imports reaching a five-month peak in April. Despite a rise in domestic coal production, coal stockpiles have decreased, indicating high consumption levels. The India Meteorological Department has predicted severe heat wave conditions in various regions, further boosting the demand for cooling and pushing up imports in May. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 8 pm IST

India's Travel Industry Thrives with Pilgrimage Tourism Boom

In a remarkable shift in travel trends, pilgrimage tourism is experiencing a surge in popularity, with a sharp 102 per cent increase in searches for destinations like Ayodhya, Ujjain, Badrinath, and Amarnath in May 2024. This growth is attributed to factors such as improved infrastructure, government initiatives, and a changing demographic landscape. The rise in demand has led to a 7-10 per cent increase in domestic airfares, but travellers remain enthusiastic about their spiritual journeys. Premium hotels in pilgrimage destinations are anticipating record-breaking occupancy rates, with Average Room Rates expected to climb significantly by FY2025. The evolving demographics of pilgrimage travel now include younger generations, leading to innovative tour offerings that combine religious experiences with local adventures. Family travel within the spiritual tourism segment is also on the rise, indicating a desire for shared experiences that strengthen family bonds. Projections suggest that spiritual tourism will generate ₹59 billion by 2028, highlighting its significant contribution to India's economic growth and job creation. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 8 pm IST

SEBI changes market cap calculation for LODR compliance

Market regulator SEBI has made changes to the computation of market capitalisation for listed companies under its Listing Obligations and Disclosure Regulations (LODR) regulations. Instead of using a single day's market cap, SEBI will now consider an average market capitalisation over a defined period to determine the applicability of provisions based on market capitalisation. This move will impact ten provisions in the LODR regulations, including the appointment of an independent woman director, quorum for board meetings, and dividend distribution policy. The new method will use market capitalisation figures from July 1 to December 31 to rank listed entities, with a three-month grace period before compliance requirements take effect. The change aims to provide a more accurate reflection of a company's market size and ranking compared to its peers, based on market dynamics. This decision follows recommendations from a SEBI-appointed expert committee to improve ease of doing business. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 8 pm IST

Commerce Ministry discusses creating SOPs for negotiating FTAs

India's Commerce Ministry has engaged in discussions with various departments and trade experts to establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) for negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs). A two-day 'Chintan Shivir' was organized to address FTA strategy and SOPs for trade negotiations, with suggestions including comprehensive consultations with public and private sector players. The importance of timely sharing FTA details with line ministries was emphasized to prepare views on agreements. India is actively negotiating trade pacts with the UK, EU, Peru, Australia, and the Eurasian Economic Union. In 2023-24, India's goods and services exports reached a record high of $778.2 billion, showcasing a slight increase from the previous year. Notably, India has signed trade agreements with Mauritius, the UAE, Australia, and the European Free Trade Association since 2021. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 7 pm IST

FPIs drive Indian equities sell-off in May

Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) have offloaded nearly $6 billion in Indian equities since April 19, with net outflows reaching ₹28,242 crore by May 17, amid election outcome jitters. Despite the India VIX doubling to 20.6, analysts remain unconcerned, citing a lower fear gauge compared to previous election cycles. Domestic institutions have countered the FPI selling spree in May 2024 with increased buying, driven by strong SIP inflows. V K Vijayakumar of Geojit Financial Services attributes the FPI selling to the outperformance of Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, prompting a shift of funds from expensive markets like India to cheaper markets. The uncertainty surrounding the election outcome has contributed to heightened volatility in the Indian market, with expectations of a dramatic change in FPI equity flows post-election results. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 6 pm IST

PNGRB's structured approach for shift to gas-based economy

A committee has been formed by the Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) in India to develop a strategy for the growth of the natural gas sector and ensure that infrastructure is not under-utilized. The committee, led by Former Chairperson of PNGRB, D K Sarraf, aims to increase the share of natural gas in the country's energy basket from 6% to 15% by 2030. With a focus on Vision 2040, the committee will assess the demand and supply of natural gas infrastructure in India, including pricing, transportation, and connectivity to demand centers. The report is expected within three months and will address various aspects of the gas value chain, domestic vs. imported gas availability, and the need for structured infrastructure development to meet increasing demand. This initiative comes as the government pushes for the sector's expansion and invites bids for gas network projects, emphasizing the importance of aligning supply with demand to prevent underutilization of infrastructure. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 4 pm IST

GDP growth expected to reach 7% in FY24

The Reserve Bank of India, in its monetary policy review in April, projected a GDP growth rate of 7 per cent for the fiscal year 2023-24. India Ratings and Research expects the GDP growth rate for the March quarter to be 6.7 per cent, with an overall projection of 6.9-7 per cent for the fiscal year. The GDP numbers for the fourth quarter and the provisional estimates for the fiscal year are set to be released by the Government on May 31. The country's economy showed growth rates of 8.2 per cent, 8.1 per cent, and 8.4 per cent in the first three quarters of 2023-24. The principal economist at India Ratings and Research, Sunil Kumar Sinha, highlighted the wedge between GVA and GDP growth rates, attributing the higher tax collection as a significant factor. Despite uncertainties in the global economy, the Finance Ministry remains optimistic about India's economic performance, citing resilient growth and steady external sector performance. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 3 pm IST

Government recovers ₹852 crore through exporter amnesty scheme

In April, India's merchandise exports saw a 1% increase to $34.99 billion, although the trade deficit widened to $19.1 billion, the highest in four months. The government has recovered about ₹852 crore under an amnesty scheme for exporters to settle defaults in export obligations. Small exporters have requested an extension of the scheme until September. The new foreign trade policy allows for a one-time settlement of defaults in export obligations. Imports also rose by 10.25% to $54.09 billion, driven by a surge in gold imports. Total exports in goods and services for 2023-24 reached $778.21 billion, with merchandise exports at $437.1 billion and services exports at $341.1 billion. The figures are expected to increase further as data compilation continues. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 2 pm IST

Sanjiv Puri becomes CII President

Sanjiv Puri, Chairman and Managing Director of ITC Limited, has been elected as the new President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for the term 2024-25. Rajiv Memani, Chairman of EY India, has been appointed as the President Designate, while R Mukundan, Managing Director & CEO of Tata Chemicals Limited, has taken on the role of Vice President. Puri, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and Wharton School of Business, has a strong background in agriculture and sustainability initiatives. Memani, a trusted advisor to various organizations, will bring his expertise in mergers and acquisitions to his new role. The CII, under the leadership of these new office bearers, is expected to focus on driving innovation and inclusive growth in the Indian industry. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 12 pm IST