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TRAI Reduces International Termination Charge

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Telecom regulator TRAI on Friday reduced the international termination charge (ITC) to 30 paise per minute from 53 paise, effective from February 1, 2018.

In industry parlance, ITC refers to “charges payable by an International Long Distance Operator (ILDO), which is carrying calls from outside the country, to the access provider in the country in whose network the call terminates”.

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“The authority has decided to revise the termination charge for an international incoming call to wireline and wireless from Rs 0.53 per minute to Rs 0.30 per minute,” TRAI said in a notification.

“The Authority is of the view that, with this revision, the arbitrage opportunity between ITC and domestic call tariffs would become so insignificant that illegal VOIP Gateway business in India would become unviable in turn, the grey market for ILD incoming traffic would eventually cease to exist.”


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Indian ADRs: ICICI Bank gains 2.2%; Dr. Reddy’s Lab, HDFC Bank up

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Indian ADRs ended mostly higher on Friday. HDFC Bank added 1.07 percent and Tata Motors was up 0.09 percent.

Indian ADRs ended mostly higher on Friday. In the banking space, ICICI Bank gained 2.25 percent at USD 9.98 and HDFC Bank added 1.07 percent at USD 102.43.

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In the IT space, Infosys shed 2.66 percent at USD 16.81 and Wipro was down 0.70 percent at USD 5.68.

In the other sectors, Tata Motors was up 0.09 percent at USD 34.32 and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories rose 0.34 percent at USD 38.20.


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Wall Street Hits new Highs on Earnings Optimism, Data

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 228.46 points, or 0.89 percent, to 25,803.19, the S&P 500 gained 18.68 points, or 0.67 percent, to 2,786.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 49.29 points, or 0.68 percent, to 7,261.06.


Wall Street continued its rally on Friday with record closing highs as the fourth-quarter earnings season kicked off with solid results from banks and robust retail sales drove investor optimism about economic growth.

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both registered their eight record closing highs out of the first nine trading days of 2018, while the Dow boasted its sixth closing high of the year.

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. lender by assets, said a U.S. tax overhaul would help future profits by reducing its tax bill and stimulating more business. The bank’s shares rose 1.7 percent.

“The fact all the big money center banks beat on the bottom line is a good omen for the rest of the earnings season,” said William Lynch, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates, in Hinsdale, Illinois.

Investors were also hopeful 2018 financial forecasts from U.S. companies would beat Wall Street estimates as many analysts may not have tax savings fully reflected in their models as the tax bill was signed into law so late in December.

“I don’t know how much of that is priced in right now,” said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. “It seems like the economy is going OK, inflation is kind of nonexistent right now, wage growth is not an issue for most income statements, so what’s not to like here.”

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to increase by an average of 12.1 percent in the quarter, with profit for financial services companies likely to increase 13.2 percent.

BlackRock rose 3.3 percent. The world’s largest asset manager reported profit that beat estimates as investors flooded into the relatively low-cost funds.

While Wells Fargo earnings beat expectations, its shares slipped 0.7 percent after it set aside $3.25 billion in the fourth quarter to cover legal expenses related to probes into its mortgage and sales practices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 228.46 points, or 0.89 percent, to 25,803.19, the S&P 500 gained 18.68 points, or 0.67 percent, to 2,786.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 49.29 points, or 0.68 percent, to 7,261.06.

For the week, the S&P rose 1.6 percent, compared with the Dow’s 2-percent rise and a 1.8-percent advance in the Nasdaq.

The S&P consumer discretionary index jumped 1.3 percent after retail sales data showed households bought more goods, suggesting the economy exited 2017 with strong momentum.

Amazon rose 2.2 percent to reach $1,300 for the first time. It closed at $1,305.20.

The sector was also helped by a late-afternoon that activist D.E. Shaw built a position in Lowe’sCompanies, sending its shares up 5.3 percent.

Bank stocks were helped by a rise in Treasury yields after underlying U.S. consumer prices for December posted the biggest gain in 11 months, signaling a pickup in inflation.

The Treasury move helped push the utility sector down 0.6 percent, making it the weakest performer of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.17-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.54-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 164 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 222 new highs and 14 new lows.

Volume so far on U.S. exchanges was 6.88 billion shares, above the 6.39 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.


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Sensex, Nifty cautious ahead of Infosys Q3 nos, macro data

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Vedanta, IOC, and Indiabulls Housing Finance were other gainers.

The government is likely to increase the budget allocation for farm education, research and extension by up to 15 percent to around Rs 8,000 crore in 2018-19 fiscal as the focus will on making rapid strides in doubling farmers’ income, sources said.

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The Union Budget for 2018-19 will be presented on February 1.

“There has been a minimum 10 percent annual increase in the budget allocation for agri-education, research and extension purpose in last few years. We hope 15 percent higher budget allocation would be made available for the DARE (Department of Agricultural Research and Education) for the next financial year,” the sources said.

The funds will be used on priority areas with an aim to address the country’s key farm sector problem and make rapid strides in the direction of doubling farmers’ income through the use of technology and innovation, the sources added.


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SEBI CURB: Price Waterhouse set to lose 75 listed Firms to Rivals

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PW was the statutory auditor for 85 listed firms in 2016-17, and these firms spent Rs 1 billion on audit expenses during the year.

The hit on Price Waterhouse (PW) has opened up new business opportunities worth over Rs 1 billion for other auditing firms in the country. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had on Wednesday banned PW from auditing listed companies for two years.

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PW was the statutory auditor for 85 listed companies in 2016-17, and these companies spent Rs 1 billion on audit expenses during the year.

This financial year, PW has around 75 listed firms on its roster.

Experts say auditing assignments with large companies also open opportunities for big accounting firms in the areas of tax advisory, management, and business consultancy services, which can generate much higher revenue than the audit business.

Once the ban period is over, many of these firms may go back to PW, as the law requires listed companies to rotate their auditors every 10 years.

“But some may decide not to go back to PW for the reputational risk that the name now carries with auditors. Loss of auditing clients may also impact PW’s supplementary businesses in India,” said a senior corporate executive on condition of anonymity.

PW added marquee clients such as Tata Steel, Hindalco, and Ashok Leyland this financial year.

Last year, it audited the accounts of leading listed firms such as IndusInd Bank, Bajaj group firms such as Bajaj Auto and Bajaj Finance, Glaxo, Motherson Sumi, and Marico.

After the Sebi order, these companies will have to look out for new auditors. Experts, however, say they should wait for the outcome of likely appeals by PW against the Sebi order at the Securities Appellate Tribunal.

In all, PW clients during FY17 accounted for nearly 8 percent of the combined market capitalization of all listed companies and 6 percent and 4.5 percent of the universe combined net profits and net sales in FY17.

Auditors are also a worried lot as they would have to increase the scrutiny of accounts, leading to an increase in their efforts.


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5 Key Things to watch out Why Infosys to announce Q3 Earnings on Friday

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The key things to watch out for would be its full-year guidance and management commentary. Overall it is expected to be soft quarter due to seasonality.


Infosys, the country’s second-largest software services provider, will announce its third-quarter earnings on Friday. The key things to watch out for would be its full-year guidance and management commentary. Overall it is expected to be soft quarter due to seasonality.

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The stock rallied 15.6 percent in the quarter ended December 2017, trading at 14.3 times its FY19 EPS.

As it is seasonally a weak quarter for IT companies due to holidays and furloughs in western markets, here are five key factors that investors will focus on:-

Profit

Infosys is expected to report a profit for the quarter at Rs 3,609 crore, down 3.14 percent compared to Rs 3,726 crore in previous quarter, according to an average of estimates of analysts.

Weak earnings before interest & tax (EBIT) and low other income may pull profit lower during the quarter.

Revenue

Analysts expect company’s revenue to grow 1.5 percent sequentially to Rs 17,823 crore from Rs 17,567 crore.

Dollar revenue may grow 1 percent to USD 2,754 million from USD 2,728 million QoQ and constant currency growth is expected to be at 1 percent.

Retail was soft in Q2 and that is expected to be weak in Q3 also.

Operational Performance

Operational efficiency levers have been squeezed materially over the last few quarters so margin expansion might be limited during the quarter.

EBIT margin is likely to contract at 24.1 percent in Q3FY18, compared to 24.2 percent in Q2FY18.

Analysts see negligible cross currency impact on earnings.

Guidance

Full-year guidance is the most important factor to watch out for in earnings.

All analysts expect Infosys to maintain its full-year constant currency revenue growth guidance at 5.5-6.5 percent and EBIT margin at 23-25 percent.

After Q2FY18 earnings, the company had revised its FY18 guidance lower to 5.5-6.5 percent YoY, implying an asking rate of 0.4-1.6 percent for second half of FY18.

With 0.9 percent QoQ growth expectations for Q3 (1 percent in CC), and 1.5 percent in the following quarter, CNBC-TV18 poll expects Infosys to achieve the mid-point of its CC guidance for FY18.

Investor focus will be on:

Strategy of the new CEO Salil Parekh who took charge as MD & CEO of Infosys on January 2, 2018

US H1B norms

CY2018 demand outlook. Infosys had indicated account-specific weakness and also talked about likely budget squeeze at the year-end (instead of budget flush) in its Q2FY18 results conference call

M&A strategy; total contract value of deal wins, focus and strategy for revival of consulting practice, pricing outlook and progress on automation.


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SBI to raise Rs 20,000 crore via Bonds for affordable Housing

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Country’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) plans to raise Rs 20,000 crore through long-term bonds to fund affordable housing. SBI had earlier proposed to raise Rs 5,000 crore for the purpose. “A proposal will be submitted to Executive Committee of Central Board (ECCB) for approval for issuance of long-term bonds of Rs 20,000 crore for the financing of infrastructure and affordable housing in the domestic and overseas market instead of Rs 5,000 crore intimated earlier,” SBI said in a filing to the stock exchanges.

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The bank did not specify whether the borrowing would be in Rupee denomination or Dollar. The executive committee of the central board is scheduled to have a meeting on January 17, it added. Earlier this week, SBI announced plans to raise up to USD 2 billion (over Rs 12,600 crore) by issuing bonds in US Dollar or other convertible currency over two fiscals to fund overseas expansion.

It said the fund-raising will take place through a public offer and/or private placement of senior unsecured notes in US Dollar or any other convertible currency during 2017-18 and 2018-19. Last month, the bank’s board had approved raising Rs 8,000 crore through various sources, including masala bonds, to meet Basel III capital norms.

Masala bonds are rupee denominated specialized debt instruments that can be floated in overseas markets only to raise capital. The bank said it has time until March 2018 to raise the funds. Banks in India have to comply with the global capital norms under Basel III by March 2019. Internationally agreed time frame for the same is January 2019.


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Indian ADRs: Infosys, Tata Motors, ICICI Bank gain

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Indian ADRs ended higher on Thursday. Infosys rose 1.65 percent and HDFC Bank rose 0.33 percent.

Indian ADRs ended higher on Thursday. In the banking space, ICICI Bank added 0.51 percent at USD 9.76 and HDFC Bank rose 0.33 percent at USD 101.35.

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In the IT space, Infosys rose 1.65 percent at USD 17.27 and Wipro declined 1.55 percent at USD 5.72.

In the other sectors, Tata Motors was up 1.60 percent at USD 34.29 and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories gained 0.32 percent at USD 38.07.


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Wall Street rises with Oil prices, Earnings Optimism

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 205.6 points, or 0.81 percent, to 25,574.73, the S&P 500 gained 19.33 points, or 0.70 percent, to 2,767.56 and the Nasdaq Composite added 58.21 points, or 0.81 percent, to 7,211.78.

Wall Street closed at record highs on Thursday as rising oil prices lifted energy stocks and investors bet on a strong U.S. corporate earnings season.

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The S&P energy sector closed up 2 percent as Brent crude went above $70 a barrel for the first time since December 2014, boosted by a surprise drop in US production and lower crude inventories.

The consumer discretionary sector saw strong gains in media and retail stocks, while the industrials index was helped by airlines after news from No. 2 US carrier Delta Air Lines.

“The unifying factor of today’s move and this whole week is a heightened confidence in the pace of economic activity. That helps explain the demand picture, which has oil up at USD 70,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 205.6 points, or 0.81 percent, to 25,574.73, the S&P 500 gained 19.33 points, or 0.70 percent, to 2,767.56 and the Nasdaq Composite added 58.21 points, or 0.81 percent, to 7,211.78.

Wall Street had dropped on Wednesday, the first daily decline for S&P and Nasdaq in 2018, after a report China would slow U.S. government bond purchases and a report that US President Donald Trump would end a key trade agreement.

The major indexes pared gains briefly in late afternoon trading on Thursday after New York Fed President William Dudley said tax cuts could lead to economic overheating. He predicted above-trend GDP growth with rising inflation in 2018.

“Dudley is touching on something that investors should fear,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. “The only threat to the stock market right now is high-interest rates. If rates are higher, the present value of equities is too high.”

Investors are betting on bullish quarterly earnings reports from big companies and details on savings from federal tax cuts. The reporting season kicks off in earnest on Friday, with results from the big U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to have increased by 11.8 percent in the recently-ended quarter, with the biggest gain from the energy sector.

“This market feels this week like a deep breath before the onslaught of earnings reports,” Clemons said. “This is a wait-and-see mode with a healthy amount of optimism.”

Delta Air Lines shares closed up 4.8 percent at USD 58.52 after it predicted a double benefit from the US corporate tax cut – savings on its own bill and an uptick in business travel as companies to spend tax savings. It also reported an upbeat quarterly profit.

Delta helped the Dow Jones US Airlines index close up 4.2 percent. The Dow Jones Transport index rose 2.3 percent – its biggest one-day percentage gain since Nov. 29.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.40-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.18-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 107 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 176 new highs and 18 new lows.

On US exchanges 6.74 billion shares changed hands, above the 6.39 billion average for the last 20 trading days.


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Wall Street falls on China, NAFTA concerns

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16.67 points, or 0.07 percent, to 25,369.13, the S&P 500 lost 3.06 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,748.23 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 10.01 points, or 0.14 percent, to 7,153.57.


The three major US stock indexes ended lower on Wednesday after a choppy trading session as investors worried that China would slow U.S. government bond purchases and that US President Donald Trump would end a key trade agreement.

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The S&P and the Nasdaq snapped a six-day rally after sources reported that China, the world’s biggest holder of US Treasuries, could slow or stop buying the government bonds. The report sent Treasury yields to a 10-month high.

The S&P 500 pared some losses as yields backed away from their intraday peaks and investors digested the China report. But the index lost ground again in mid-afternoon trading after sources reported that Canada is increasingly convinced Trump will soon announce a US exit from the North American Free Trade Agreement. It cited two unnamed government sources.

It’s a fairly light week for economic and financial data. In a week like this, political headlines can have a bigger impact than they normally would, investment strategist at Schroders Investment Management in New York.

While Mackay said the selloff was overblown, he noted that a change to NAFTA could hurt corporate earnings.

“If that news is true, you’d expect a higher Dollar price and a negative impact on earnings,” said Mackay.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16.67 points, or 0.07 percent, to 25,369.13, the S&P 500 lost 3.06 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,748.23 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 10.01 points, or 0.14 percent, to 7,153.57.

Investors were particularly skittish about the China report as they worried that the market was overdue for a correction.

“It’s a reflection of investor weariness and awareness that the market has risen for four straight months without seeing a major pullback,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist, SlateStone Wealth in New York.

“As the day wore on, Treasury yields started to move lower on the realization the story doesn’t have any legs,” he said. “There’s no way on earth the Chinese stop buying US Treasuries.”

The S&P financial index was the best performer among the S&P 500’s 11 major sectors with a 0.9 percent rise, helped by gains in Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo.

Banks and insurance companies often rise with bond yields as investors expect a profit boost from higher interest rates.

Rate-sensitive sectors such as utilities and real estate were the biggest losers with declines of 1.1 percent and 1.5 percent.

Investors started 2018 with high hopes for strong US earnings growth. Banks will kick off earnings season on Friday.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to increase by 11.8 percent, with the biggest contribution from the energy sector.

Berkshire Hathaway rose 1.3 percent after the conglomerate promoted two top executives, cementing their status as the most likely successors to Warren Buffett.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.59-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.09-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 74 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 98 new highs and 24 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 6.93 billion shares, above the 6.38 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.


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