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Maruti Suzuki jacks up prices of Swift, Grand Vitara Sigma

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New Delhi April 10 (IANS) Leading carmaker Maruti Suzuki on Wednesday announced an increase in the prices of its popular Swift and Grand Vitara Sigma models by Rs 25,000 and 19,000 respectively.

The Swift was priced in the Rs 5.99 lakh to 9.03 lakh range while the Grand Vitara was priced between Rs 10.80 lakh and 20.09 lakh across variants before the prices were increased.

Both the cars are hot-selling products with the company having sold 15,728 units of Swift in March making it among the top 5 in the sales list of the Indian market.

The car major also sold 11,232 units of the Grand Vitara during the month.

Maruti Suzuki also raised the prices of its car by 0.45 per cent across models in January this year, citing the increased input costs.

–IANS

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IANS Analysis: Pakistan's precarious economy needs a change in its state policy

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New Delhi: During the recently concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Heads of State meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif highlighted Pakistan’s geostrategic location as an “ideal conduit for connectivity” and emphasised its potential to further enhance economic interlinkages in the region.

While Pakistan’s position could indeed facilitate regional trade and potentially help revive its struggling economy, its historical preference for economic ties with the West over its neighbours, with the notable exception of China, has left it regionally isolated and overly dependent on American and Chinese benevolence.

Several factors have hindered Pakistan’s economic integration within the region. These include political and territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, both perceived and actual security concerns, a limited range of exportable products, and a reliance on the West for trade and aid. These elements are key contributors to Pakistan’s ongoing economic isolation.

As such, Pakistan’s regional economic isolation is underscored by its limited participation in active regional trading blocs. Although Islamabad is nominally a member of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), both groupings have remained largely non-operative since their inception and more so because of Islamabad’s actions.

This lack of active engagement in regional trade certainly contributes to Pakistan’s failure to capitalise it’s strategic location for diversifying its trading partners and strengthening its economy. Baring China, its trade relations with the other three bordering countries of Afghanistan, India and Iran are hardly any substantive.

Consider Iran, Pakistan’s western neighbour. Despite sharing over 900 km of border, bilateral economic cooperation between Islamabad and Tehran has been minimal.

As of 2022, Pakistan’s imports from Iran were just $848 million, while its exports to Iran were only $162 million. By the end of 2023, the total trade volume increased to $2 billion.

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During his maiden visit to Pakistan in April, Iran’s Late President Ebrahim Raisi was prompted to highlight the dismal state of their bilateral economic cooperation, stating that the “economic and trade volume between Iran and Pakistan is not acceptable at all.”

He announced a commitment to increase the trade volume to $10 billion as a first step toward strengthening ties. However, the likelihood of this commitment translating into improved trade dynamics remains uncertain due to Islamabad’s susceptibility to the US pressure against engaging with Tehran, as part of Washington’s policy of isolating Iran.

It may be noted that the US quickly warned Islamabad against deepening its economic engagement with Tehran, threatening sanctions. As such, this alliance with the US has hindered Pakistan and Iran from enhancing their economic cooperation over the years.

It begets the assertion that if Islamabad had maintained its strategic autonomy, it could have leveraged Iran’s economic isolation to its advantage, acting as a frontline state similar to what the United Arab Emirates, especially its Dubai emirate, has done over the years.

Despite strained Tehran-Abu Dhabi dynamics, Dubai has played a crucial role in facilitating Iran’s economic outreach to the world, a role Pakistan could have easily assumed due to its geographic proximity to Iran.

Similarly, Pakistan, which supported the Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021, has failed to establish sustainable bilateral trade cooperation with Afghanistan.

Contrary to expectations that a friendly regime in Kabul would enhance Pakistan’s internal security and allow it a greater economic role in the country, relations between Pakistan’s military-dominated establishment and the Afghan Taliban government have consistently deteriorated over the last two years, as Kabul has overlooked Islamabad dictations, especially with regards to the presence of Pakistan Taliban in Afghanistan.

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This has not only exacerbated Pakistan’s security challenges but also restricted its influence over Afghanistan’s economic outreach to the world.

As such, Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral have continued to decline and failed to witness a turnaround even after the Taliban takeover.

Apparently, Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan have significantly dropped from $2.1 billion in 2012 to an estimated $969 million in 2023, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s exports to Pakistan were estimated to be around $440 million in 2023.

As with Iran, Pakistan’s economy would have benefited from maintaining cordial relations with the Taliban regime by serving as its gateway to the world. However, instead of leveraging the geo-economics through Iran and Afghanistan, Pakistan has isolated itself in the region due to its flawed policy outlook.

Pakistan’s economic cooperation with India is again abysmal. The two countries have not maintained full diplomatic relations since 2019, when Islamabad recalled its High Commissioner from New Delhi in response to India’s constitutional reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, an internal matter for India.

This diplomatic rift led to a significant decline in trade, from $2.5 billion in 2018-19 to just $0.6 billion by 2023. In 2023, Pakistan’s exports to India were estimated at a mere $20 million, while its imports from India stood at $627 million. Notably, India’s trade with Pakistan constitutes only 0.1 per cent of its total exports and 0.03 per cent of its total imports for that year.

With its economy in free fall, Pakistan has recently expressed a desire to re-establish trade relations with India. Pakistani officials, including Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, have made multiple public appeals in recent months. However, New Delhi has largely ignored these overtures.

For India, it has made it clear that terrorism and trade cannot coexist and unless Islamabad takes concrete steps to address New Delhi’s concerns there will be no resumption of trade relations.

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On the other hand, despite its expressed desire to improve relations with India, Pakistan has failed to take meaningful steps to curb its support for terrorism in India. The recent instances of terrorist attacks in Jammu by Pakistan-based terrorist groups, clearly demonstrate a lack of genuine commitment on Pakistan’s part to foster cordial relations with India.

In contrast, consider Pakistan’s economic relations with the US. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics report for 2023, the US continues to be the topmost export destination for Pakistani goods.

Pakistan’s exports to the US were recorded at $5.1 billion, constituting 21.23 percentage share in the country’s total exports. Likewise, Pakistan imported goods worth over $2.1 billion during the same year, thereby totalling their total bilateral trade over $7.2 billion. This shows Islamabad’s continued preference for overseas trade partners over its immediate neighbours.

It appears that Pakistan is unwilling to shed its dependency on the West and diversify its economic relations, and more so on integrating itself in the regional geoeconomic mix.

Islamabad needs to understand that profound economic engagements with the regional countries are a prerequisite to not only overcome its regional trade isolation but also to forge a meaningful economic recovery.

This is a golden opportunity for Islamabad to leverage its geostrategic position more effectively so as to actively participate in regional trade initiatives to become indispensable to regional economic interlinkages.

Unless and until, Pakistan change its state policy towards its immediate neighbours, it will continue to be a dependent aid economy and will fail to make any meaningful economic recovery.

–IANS

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India can do to AI what China did to manufacturing: Bhavish Aggarwal

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Ola Founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal on Sunday said that with the kind of talent India has, it will become a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) the way China became in manufacturing.

In a post on social media platform X, Aggarwal said it will not “automatically happen unless we make it happen”.

India has the largest number of developers in the world.

“It also has largest number of silicon designers in the world, largest amount of data in the world and largest IT services industry in the world,” said Ola Electric CEO.

The India AI Mission has been approved with an outlay of Rs 10,372 crore and out of this, Rs 2,000 crore would be utilised towards supporting the Indian startup ecosystem to develop indigenous AI-based solutions. According to the latest IDC report, the spending on AI and Generative AI (GenAI) in India is projected to reach $6 billion by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.7 per cent.

ALSO READ:  India’s coal imports for power plants fall by 37% as self-reliance grows

–IANS

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Markets at uncomfortable levels – Book profits

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) It was an action-packed week, with markets volatile but range-bound for the first four days. On Friday, it appeared that markets had taken steroids and gained sharply, making new highs on an intraday basis as well as a closing basis.

The sector rotation continues unabated, and there is just a single point agenda that markets must be up and up and up.

Friday’s post-TCS results were the turn of the IT sector, and during the week, it was helped by sharp moves in the FMCG sector as well. At the end of the week, with markets gaining on two of the five trading sessions and losing on three, BSESENSEX was up 522.74 points or 0.65 per cent, to close at 80,519.34 points.

NIFTY gained 178.30 points or 0.73 per cent to close at 24,502.15 points. The broader markets saw BSE100, BSE200 and BSE500 gain 0.65 per cent, 0.58 per cent and 0.47 per cent respectively. BSEMIDCAP gained 0.15 per cent, while BSESMALLCAP was down 0.26 per cent.

The gains made on Friday were 624 points on BSESENSEX and 187 points on NIFTY, indicating that without Friday’s gains, markets were actually in the negative. The intraday highs on BSESENSEX were at 80,893.51 points, while the closing high was at 80,519.34 points. On NIFTY, these levels were at 24,592.20 points on an intraday basis and at 24,502.15 points on a closing basis.

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The Indian Rupee lost 6 paise or 0.07 per cent to close at Rs 83.54 to the US Dollar. Dow Jones gained on three of the five trading sessions and lost on two. It was up 625.03 points or 1.59 per cent to close at 40,000.90 points.

In primary market news, there were two listings which happened in the week gone by. The first share to list was Emcure Pharmaceuticals Limited, which had issued shares at Rs 1,008. The discovered price was Rs 1,325, a gain of Rs 317 or 31.45 per cent. By the end of the day, the share gained some ground and closed at Rs 1,358.85, a gain of Rs 350.85 or 34.80 per cent. At the end of the week, the share gained some more and closed at Rs 1,361.95, a gain of Rs 363.95 or 35.11 per cent. Emcure shares were listed on Wednesday, July 10.

The second share to list also on Wednesday was Bansal Wires Limited. The company had issued shares at Rs 256. The discovered price was Rs 352.05, a gain of Rs 96.05 or 37.51 per cent. By the end of the day, the share lost some ground and closed lower at Rs 350.30, a gain of Rs 94.30 or 36.83 per cent. By the weekend, the share gained further ground and closed at Rs 356.40, a gain of Rs 100.40 or 39.22 per cent.

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TCS declared results on Thursday, July 11. The company reported revenues of Rs 62,613 crore for the quarter against Rs 59,381 crore in the previous year. Profit after tax was at Rs 12,105 crore versus Rs 11,120 crore. The EPS was at Rs 33.28 versus Rs 30.26. The results could be termed as decent but certainly not inspiring.

The share gained Rs 262.20 or 6.68 per cent on Friday post the results. TCS was instrumental in pushing benchmark indices up to a great extent. No other IT company has as yet declared results, and on the back of TCS, the IT sector gained a whopping 3.5 per cent for the week.

The budget is a mere six trading sessions away, with there being a trading holiday on Wednesday, July 17, and the budget to be presented on Tuesday, July 23. Markets have not built up a big wish list as yet, however, markets have gained substantially. This is a cause for worry. The last 10,500 points on BSESENSEX and 3,400 points on NIFTY have come in double quick time and have happened in just about five weeks’ time. This is too much in too short a time. To make markets healthy and sustainable, we need a correction, and we need it now. Whether they will oblige or not, only time will tell.

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The strategy for the four-day week ahead would be to continue to take money off the table and move out of momentum stocks. Allow the budget to be presented as there could be some populist measures with some hard decisions also being taken.

While in terms of overall, the budget would be growth-oriented and conducive to development, the fine print could always have areas of concern. It, therefore, makes sense to lie low over the next six sessions and allow the budget to be presented and sink in.

Post the same, it would be a good time to have a relook at markets and make a better choice and selection for the long term. Targets at such elevated and new levels are not necessary and suffice it to say that we have plenty of support at various levels, which would act as comfort if markets were to correct.

Trade cautiously and avoid the temptation of buying in a red-hot market.

(Arun Kejriwal is the founder of Kejriwal Research and Investment Services. The views expressed are personal)

–IANS

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India’s defence exports record over 30-fold quantum leap in last 10 years

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) India’s defence exports have recorded a 30-fold quantum leap over the last 10 years from a mere Rs 686 crore in the financial year 2013-14 to a record Rs 21,083 crore in FY 2023-24, reflecting the global acceptability of Indian defence products and technologies.

With exports reaching more than 85 countries across Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, India’s defence industry has shown its capability of design and development to the world, with around 100 firms exporting defence products at present, a senior official said.

To give a push to defence exports, the Government has taken a number of policy initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and rolled out economic reforms over the last 10 years. Export procedures have been simplified and made industry-friendly with end-to-end online export authorisation curtailing delays and bringing Ease of Doing Business, he added.

Further, the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives have helped the country by encouraging indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment in the country, thereby reducing dependence on imports in the long run.

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A significant development has been the emergence of the private sector as a supplier of defence equipment with companies such as Larsen & Toubro, Tata Advanced Systems, and Bharat Forge emerging as major players.

Of the total value of production in 2023-24, about 79.2 per cent has been contributed by DPSUs/other PSUs and 20.8 per cent by the private sector. The official data shows that in terms of absolute value, both DPSUs/PSUs and the private sector have recorded steady growth in defence production.

India’s export basket of defence products includes missiles, radars, naval systems, helicopters, and surveillance equipment.

India has made substantial progress in the indigenous production of advanced naval systems that also cater to the export market. Advanced platforms like the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier highlight the achievement in this segment. Fast-attack naval craft, offshore patrol vessels, and various maritime weapon systems are other products that are being exported. The export of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, developed jointly with Russia, has been another major achievement, with countries like the Philippines purchasing the system recently.

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–IANS

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Market outlook: Q1 results, FII inflow, monsoon updates key factors next week

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Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) The Indian equity market experienced one of the best weeks of 2024, with the Nifty and Sensex reaching all-time highs of 24,592.20 and 80,893.51, respectively, before closing at 24,502.15 and 80,519.34.

This marked gains of 0.73 per cent for the Nifty and 0.65 per cent for the Sensex. Both benchmark indices extended their winning streak for a sixth consecutive week.

It is the first time ever that the nifty closed above 24,500.

On the other side, small-cap and mid-cap stocks underperformed compared to large-cap. However, several PSU stocks posted staller gains during last week.

The outlook of the market will be guided by several domestic and international factors next week.

On the domestic front, upcoming budget-related announcements, Q1 Fy25 results, monsoon updates and foreign institutional investments (FIIs) inflows will catch investors’ eyes in the week ahead.

On the global front, China will be a significant focus. The country is scheduled to announce its GDP and Index of Industrial Production (IIP). Additionally, there is speculation about a major economic stimulus announcement, which could keep the metal sector in the spotlight.

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Other global factors to watch include the speech by the US Federal Reserve Chairman, US retail sales figures, and macroeconomic data from Japan. These developments are likely to influence market movements and investor sentiment.

Vinod Nair, Head of Research of Geojit Financial Services said: “We expect stock-specific moves to gain traction due to the ongoing earnings season; indeed, IT will be in the limelight due to the good start to the earnings and outlook.”

Arvinder Singh Nanda, Senior Vice President of Master Capital Services, said that on the daily chart analysis, Nifty has exhibited a breakout from the psychological resistance level of 24,500, indicating that the bullish trend is likely to continue into the next week.

“Despite this positive trend, buying on dips is expected to provide resilience to the market. However, strong upward movements may attract profit booking, making a sustained rally challenging,” Nanda added.

–IANS

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