Business Today


Business Today brings you important news from the past fortnight, which you may have missed.
Team BT | Print Edition: Dec 7, 2014
US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama


>> Consumer inflation fell to a record low of 5.52 per cent in October due to a sharp drop in food and oil prices. This is the slowest pace of price rise since retail inflation numbers were first published in January 2012. Industrial output in September jumped 2.5 per cent compared to 0.4 per cent in August. In September, retail inflation was at 6.46 per cent. Some analysts see few chances of a rate cut by RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan in the monetary policy review on December 2.

>> India and the US have finally scripted a compromise formula on food subsidies. This paves the way to remove a major irritant in the World Trade Organization (WTO) deal on easing of customs rules. India and the US have agreed for an indefinite "peace clause" on food security until a permanent solution is found. This is seen as a success for the Narendra Modi government in global trade talks withstanding mounting diplomatic pressure from developed countries. A "peace clause" protects member countries from being challenged under other WTO pacts.

>> Samsung continues to dominate the India smartphone segment with a 25 per cent market share in the third quarter of 2014, followed by Micromax and Karbonn with 20 per cent and 10 per cent market share, respectively, with China's Xiaomi making rapid strides, according to Counterpoint Research. Motorola, which is now a Lenovo company, remained the fourth largest smartphone vendor, while Sony occupied the fifth spot.

>> Citing higher input costs, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra have announced price hikes. M&M raised prices by up to Rs 11,500 (ex-showroom) of passenger, commercial vehicles and tractors, while Tata Motors has hiked prices of its commercial vehicles in the one to two per cent range.

>> Vodafone India has lost its position in the Vodafone Group Plc. Till last year, it was the third-largest contributor to the group's revenues. But now it has been replaced by Vodafone's Italian operations. Thomas Reisten, Chief Financial Officer of Vodafone India, said the drop was due to the increase in stake in Vodafone Italy, which in turn has increased its revenue position.

>> Global gold demand fell to its lowest in nearly five years in the third quarter as Chinese buying slid by a third, putting it back behind India as the world's biggest gold consumer.

>> International ratings agency Moody's has said it expects India to witness "sustained robust growth" over the next two years. The agency has a "Baa3" rating with a stable outlook for India, which is the lowest rating in the investment grade.

>> The government has brought in a fresh draft recommending listing of Airports Authority of India and Pawan Hans on stock exchanges and steps to beef up Air India operations, hinting at its stake sale too. The draft also proposes to enhance regional air connectivity, develop six major metro airports as international hubs, create more airports through PPP mode, rationalise jet fuel cost, promote air cargo, MRO and helicopter operations, and improve passenger facilitation.

>> Delhi Metro, Yamuna-Expressway, Tata Power's Mundra ultra mega power project in Gujarat, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, Interceptor Sewage System and Narmada Canal Solar project have figured in the list of world's most innovative, impactful infrastructure projects prepared by international accounting firm KPMG.

>> China will aim to cap greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, while the US will cut total emissions by more than a quarter by 2025, the world's two biggest carbon polluters said at a summit in Beijing.

>> Facebook, which has over 1.3 billion users globally, now has about 500 million people using the messenger service every month. The USbased social networking giant had originally started the messenger service as a chat feature on the website, but later rolled it out as a standalone mobile app.

>> The US government has warned iPhone and iPad users to be on the alert from hackers who may exploit a vulnerability in iOS to steal sensitive data. Users should not click "Install" from pop-ups when surfing the web. If iOS flashes a warning that says "Untrusted App Developer", users should click on "Don't Trust".

>> Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry's Indian arm, BlackBerry India, saw its net profit decline sharply in 2013/14, by around 50 per cent year-on-year to Rs 11.46 crore. According to the standalone balance sheet for 2013/14 filed with the Registrar of Companies by BlackBerry India, the company's revenues nearly halved to Rs 142.05 crore during the period.

>> Regulators are breathing down banks for misconduct. British, American and Swiss regulators fined five of the world's biggest banks - UBS, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup - a combined $3.3 billion for conspiring to manipulate the foreign currency markets.


BUZZING - Net neutrality

WHAT IS IT - It is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

WHY THE BUZZ - US President Barack Obama asked the Federal Communications Communication, which regulates telecoms and Internet in the US, to treat broadband like a utility and prevent broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, or giving preferential treatment to certain websites.

WHO IS PLEASED - Liberal activists, Silicon Valley companies; they do not want broadband providers deciding which websites reach the consumer the fastest. Netflix, too, is happy.

WHO IS NOT - Steve Ballmer, for one. Cisco CEO John Chambers says it will hurt his business. Shares of Comcast and Time Warner Cable fell after Obama spoke.

WHAT FCC SAYS - "I am an independent agency... What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that does not affect your business... what I have got to figure out is how to split the baby" Tom Wheeler, Chairman, FCC, in a meeting with his executives, according to The Washington Post


>> $9 billion - Alibaba's reported sales on the Singles Day, November 11, an obscure Chinese day that retailers are trying to build up as the Orient's Valentine's Day.

>> $100 million - The value of sales on Flipkart's Big Billion Day on October 6, a discount carnival intended as a tribute to the flat number 610 in which Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal set up the company in 2007.

>> $4.7 billion - The amount Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is paying to acquire battery maker Duracell from Procter & Gamble.

>> 0 - The amount Berkshire will pay in cash. It is a complex, all-stock transaction.

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