Moody’s predict over 3% GDP growth of G20 countries and warns of geopolitical risks

In its latest report, Moody’s Investors Services forecast the G20 economic growth at over 3% for the current and the next year. In addition, it also warns of geopolitical risks, US protectionism and spill overs from monetary tightening and China’s deleveraging measures.

The ratings agency clarified that strong data in the first two quarters of the year prompted it to raise 2017 growth forecasts for China to 6.8 % from 6.6%; for South Korea to 2.8% from 2.5%; and for Japan to 1.5% from 1.1%.

In tandem, the agency expects acceleration in the Euro zone through the year based on strong sentiment indicators and has hence revised its forecasts to upwards for economies like Germany, France, and Italy.

However, the agency cut its forecast for the United States to 2.2% in 2017 and 2.3% in 2018, citing its weak first half performance and expectations of more modest fiscal incentive than earlier assumed.

According to the Reuters, the report stated, “The balance of risks is more favourable than it was at the beginning of the year. However, we note event risks related to conflicts in the Korean Peninsula, the South China Sea, and the Middle East. The test firing of missiles by North Korea, intensification of aggressive rhetoric on both sides, and a hard-line stance from the Trump administration have raised the risk of a conflict in the Korean Peninsula.”

While labelling the wide-ranging measures of the Donald Trump administration to address bilateral trade issues as unfair trade practices, which could hurt the superpower’s growth, Moody’s warned China of its growing debt and lowered China’s ratings by one notch to A1 in May, saying the financial strength of the economy would erode in approaching years.

While forecasting for India, the agency slightly lowered the rate to 7.1% because of the government’s demonetization policy last year which led to several months of acute shortages for manufacturing and construction firms in particular; although it said it expects the impact to ease in coming months.

Sources: Reuters, The Hindu Business Line

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Uber to end post-trip tracking of riders

Uber Technologies Inc has decided to pull off the tracking feature from its app which allows it to track a customer up to five minutes post a trip.

Starting this week, ‘ability to share location data only while using the app’, will be rolled out to Apple Inc iPhone users. It comes at a time when Uber is trying to recover from a series of crises culminating in the ouster of Chief Executive Travis Kalanick and Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of travel-booking company Expedia Inc prepares to become Uber’s new chief executive, as reported by Reuters.

Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, said that he and his team have been working to bring in better customer privacy at Uber since he joined in 2015.

The change comes in just two weeks after Uber settled a U.S. Federal Trade Commission complaint that the company unsuccessful in protecting the personal data of drivers and passengers and was deceptive about its efforts to prevent snooping by its employees.

Sullivan said, the location-tracking update will initially only be available to iPhone users, but Uber intends to bring this change to Android devices as well.

These changes are a part of a series of updates expected in the upcoming year to increase privacy, security, and transparency at Uber, Sullivan added.


Sources- Reuters and NDTV



AAP wins big in Bawana; BJP takes Goa

The assembly by-polls results in Bawana came as a disappointment to the BJP as they could only manage to be a distant second. Aam Aadmi Party managed to win the battle in an intense battle. AAP candidate, Ram Chander got 59886 votes, BJP’s Ved Prakash got 35834 votes and Congress’ Surender Kumar stood at 31919 votes.

In Goa, where the by-polls were contested for two assembly seats, the BJP saw an easy win.  CM Manohar Parrikar registered an easy victory in the assembly elections by winning the Panaji seat by a margin of 4803 votes.
In the other seat, BJP’s Vishwajeet Rane bagged Goa’s Valpoi seat, defeating Roy Naik of the Congress by a margin of 10,066 votes.

“I will resign from Rajya Sabha next week,” Goa CM Manohar Parrikar tweeted after winning Panaji by-poll.

In Andhra Pradesh, BJP’s ally TDP won the Nandyal by-poll. Bhuma Brahmananda Reddy, who is a novice in electoral politics, defeated his Congress counterpart and former minister Shilpa Chandra Mohan Reddy by a huge margin of 27,466 votes.


Sources: India Today, First Post

Crude oil price rise: Markets speculate low supply

Crude oil price rise on Tuesday came across with speculation that the future supply may be hit gradually, especially in the United States. At Record price, Brent crude oil went up by 20 cents at $51.86 a barrel by 0930 GMT. U.S. light crude was 15 cents higher at $47.52.

Market analyst, Fawad Razaqzada at futures brokerage said that the US crude oil stocks have been falling consistently in recent weeks.

“If the downtrend in oil inventories is maintained, then a bullish case can be made for oil, especially given the ongoing supply restrictions from OPEC and Russia,” Razaqzada added

A 13% fall has been recorded in the US commercial crude inventories from their March figures, to 466.5 million barrels.

In addition, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers including Russia have pledged to hold back around 1.8 million bpd of output between January this year and March 2018 in order to tighten supplies which would eventually lead to rising prices.

Whereas on the contrary, oil production elsewhere has been rising, blunting the impact of output cuts by OPEC and its allies.

With a record crude production in US breaking 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd), its highest since July 2015. Some analysts say that output growth may slow down as energy corporations cut a number of rigs drilling for oil. However, the rise in production has been relentless with increasing volumes from shale, significantly from the enormous Permian basin in Texas and New Mexico.

“With U.S. shale oil production proving more than resilient, the autumn period presents a lot of downside risk to oil prices,” Harry Tchilinguirian, chief oil market strategist at French bank BNP Paribas, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.

To see if the recent downward trend in US stocks continues; the weekly data on US inventories have to be tracked which starts later on Tuesday. According to a Reuters poll, U.S. crude inventories are expected to fall for the eighth week in a row and drop by 3.4 million barrels

Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN AMRO Bank NV in Amsterdam said, Another decline in US crude stocks may lead to somewhat higher prices again, though the upside may be limited – especially if U.S. crude production ticks higher again.




SEBI: Government to decide on 25% holdings of PSUs

The government needs to take a stand on the fate of public sector companies be from the 25% minimum public shareholding rule, market regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchanges Board of India) chairman Ajay Tyagi said.

Also, stricter norms for credit rating agencies will be considered, mainly because in the past they have failed to take timely action in the case of stressed companies, and that the National Stock Exchange (NSE) should ideally file revised offer documents for its initial public officer.
“Department of investment and public asset management, under the finance ministry, has represented to us on 25% minimum shareholding, but the government has to decide on this,” Tyagi said on Monday on the sidelines of an event organised by Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE), an organisation representing central public sector companies. DIPAM oversees stake sale of state-run companies.
Governance Issues 
  • 20% of cos still do not have a woman director
  • Scope for improvement in the functioning and appointment of independent directors and audit panels
  • Role of nominee directors needs to be looked into
All listed PSUs must ensure that their public holding is minimum 25% by August 21, 2017. But a number of such firms are not likely to be able to meet the deadline.

The government is now contemplating extending the deadline to allow time to these PSUs, some officials said. The proposal to bring listed PSUs on par with private sector entities was announced in 2014. The final government decision will have implications on its divestment plan.

Tyagi made these remarks at a recent session with CEOs and senior executives of PSUs organised by SCOPE (Standing Conference of Public Enterprises). SCOPE is an apex professional organisation representing central government public enterprises.

Sources: Economic Times, The Hindu Business Line

Pakistan may loose it’s status as major non-NATO ally 

Republican Congressman Ted Poe and Democratic lawmaker Rick Nolan introduced a bill, which calls for revoking the major non NATO ally status of Pakistan. The status was granted to the country in 2004 to help US fight the terrorist outfits Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
“Pakistan must be held accountable for the American blood on its hands,” said Poe, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as chairman of the Sub-committee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade, in a report by the Times of India.

“For years, Pakistan has acted as a Benedict Arnold ally of the United States. From harbouring Osama bin Laden to backing the Taliban, Pakistan has stubbornly refused to go after, in any meaningful way, terrorists that actively seek to harm opposing ideologies,” he said in the report.

Poe also made it very clear that it was time to make a clean break with Pakistan, but at the very least, US should stop providing them  the eligibility to obtain their sophisticated weaponry in an privileged status.

Being a MNNA entitles a country for priority delivery of defence materials, a US loan guarantee programme and an expedited arms sale process.

Under this status a country can stockpile US military hardware, be sold more sophisticated weaponry and participate in defence research and development programmes.

Sources: Times of India, India Today


3 LeT terrorists killed in an encounter in Kashmir’s Pulwama

Three local militants from the terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba were shot down by Indian security forces during the early hours of June 22, 2017. The encounter between militants and Indian armed forces began in the Kakapora area, Kashmir’s Pulwama district. 

The Commanding Officer of the 182 battalion said, “Three LeT terrorists were killed, and the operation ended early morning. Two AK-47s and one pistol have been recovered”. The three militants were identified as Majid, Irshad Ahmad and Shariq Ahmad.

The cordon-and-search operation began on the evening of June 21, 2017, following an intelligence input that three local boys, who had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, were hiding in a densely-populated area. This encounter was a joint operation between the Special Operation Group (SOG) and 183 CRPF battalion,  along with 50 rashtriya rifles. The number of militants holed up in the area was not immediately clear. A police official told PTI that a mob pelted stones at security forces to distract them from the operation.

“This is the first successful counter-insurgency operation in Pulwama area which is believed to have large presence of local militants aided with a strong network of over ground workers”, a police officer told PTI. He also added that Majid was involved in a number of killings, including that of Kakapora’s sarpanch and Pulwama’s district president.


Sources: The Hindu, ANI