US Jobless Claims Drop for Fourth Consecutive Week Reflecting Stronger Economy

US Jobless Claims Drop for Fourth Consecutive Week Reflecting Stronger EconomyUS Unemployment Falls on Record Hiring Activity; Wage Growth LaggingReuters

The number of applicants claiming unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week, showing the growing strength in the US economy, a Wednesday report released by the US Labour Department revealed.

Jobless claims dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000 for the week ended 20 December. This is the fourth straight week of decline in the number of applicants claiming unemployment benefits since 1 November.

The unemployment rate as of 8 November was 5.8 percent. So far, the economy has added 2.6 million workers on the payroll – the biggest addition since 1999.

“This is hinting at ongoing improvement in the labor market,” Gennadiy Goldberg, a strategist at TD Securities USA LLC told Bloomberg, adding that some of the jobs lost in the period was just normal and “allows hiring to better translate into a decline in the unemployment rate.”

“The labor market is tightening up. Any job losses are just normal frictional unemployment in a healthy growing economy,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank was quoted by Reuters.

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The Labour Department’s report comes at the heels of another government report which showed that the US economy grew by 5 percent in the third quarter of 2014, its fastest rate in more than a decade.

Experts are positive about the upcoming year and believe that the New Year should post stronger growth.

“After four years of rocky recovery the U.S. economy is now hitting its stride with a notable acceleration in growth. Growth should remain good next year, with lower gasoline prices a big plus for consumers,” Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group was quoted as saying by The Courier Express.

Yahoo to lay off about 10% of its workforce: Report

Yahoo to lay off about 10% of its workforce: ReportYahoo said last month it would pursue a tax-free spinoff of the core Internet business, which could take at least a year. Picture: A Yahoo logo is pictured in front of a building in Rolle, 30 km (19 miles) east of Geneva, in this file picture taken 12 December, 2012.Reuters

Yahoo is planning to lay off about 10% of its employees as part of its proposed reorganisation, which could begin as early as this month. More than 1, 000 employees are expected to be sacked.

The layoffs would affect the Internet company’s media business, platforms-technology group and European operations, Reuters reported.

The company’s activist investor Starboard Value LP has been increasingly pressuring the company to remove Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer. Starboard has indicated that a proxy battle is approaching. “A team is working on it and they want to do it this quarter,” a source told Business Insider.

Starboard, which has a 0.75% stake in Yahoo, has been seeking changes in the company since 2014. It has reportedly urged the company to separate its Asian assets and auction the core business.

“Despite over three years of effort and billions spent on acquisitions, the management team that was hired to turn around the Core Business has failed to produce acceptable results, in turn causing massive decline in profitability and cash flow. It appears investors have lost all confidence in management and the board,” Starboard Value LP wrote in a letter released on Wednesday, according to CNBC.

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Despite facing pressure from Starboard to separate its Asian shares, which include stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Holding Ltd, and Yahoo Japan Corp, Yahoo has resisted the change and instead wants to create a new unit from existing tax units to ensure that there are no tax implications, Reuters added.

According to reports, Yahoo had consulted McKinsey & Co in November 2015 to help them reorganise their core business.

Global unemployment rate to slip lower next year, ILO says

Global unemployment rate to slip lower next year, ILO saysThe ILO also said the total number of unemployed people will top 200 million for the first time in 2017, Picture: Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder presents the ILO report “World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2016″ before a news conference at the UN European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 19 January, 2016.Reuters

The global unemployment rate will inch down to 5.7% in 2017 from 5.8% in 2014-16, helped by job creation in the US and Europe, although a growing population means the total of number of unemployed people will rise, the International Labor Organization said a report.

The ILO’s forecast for the unemployment rate to fall is more optimistic than it was a year ago, when the United Nations agency estimated it would remain at 5.9% from 2014 to 2017.

Publishing its annual World Employment and Social Outlook report on Tuesday, the ILO also said the total number of unemployed people will top 200 million for the first time in 2017, up from 197.1 million in 2015 and its forecast for 199.4 million this year.

The rise will come in developing and emerging countries such as Brazil, where the number of jobless will grow from 7.7 million to 8.4 million this year and next, and Russia and South Africa. All three are forecast to fare much worse than the expectation a year ago.

“The deteriorating labor market conditions in these large economies will have knock-on effects in their respective regions, as spillovers from migration, reductions in remittances and slower earnings growth affect neighboring economies,” the report said.

However, the number of unemployed in the United States is expected to fall to 7.7 million in 2017 from 8.7 million in 2015, the report said.

The US unemployment rate is forecast to fall from 5.3% in 2015 to 4.9% this year and 4.7% next year, partly because of job creation but also because of people giving up on looking for work.

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In the crisis-hit European economies of Greece, Portugal and Spain, unemployment rates have fallen by an average of almost 2% points in the past year, but remain above 20% in Spain and Greece.

“Declining energy prices and depreciation of the Euro have supported faster-than-expected employment creation in export-oriented southern European countries, such as Spain, Portugal and, more recently, Italy,” the report said.

But unemployment rates will remain higher than the pre-crisis level across Europe, with the big exceptions of Britain and Germany. The euro zone unemployment rate is forecast to fall from 11.6% in 2014 to 10.9% in 2015, 10.7% in 2016 and 10.4 percent in 2017.

The influx of refugees into Europe will present short-term challenges, but in the longer term the migrants will help to counter skills shortages and mitigate risks associated with low population growth, the report said.

Japan’s Softbank invests Rs 100 crore in Housing. com

Japan's Softbank invests Rs 100 crore in Housing., a real estate services portal, said on Thursday that it has raised Rs 100 crore in a fresh round of funding from its existing investor, Japan’s Softbank.

The investment is expected to give much-needed boost to the company following a fund crunch that forced it to layoff hundreds of employees to trim costs.

“We are now well-capitalised to aggressively execute on our focused strategy and growth plans and believe 2016 will be a great year for the company,” said CEO Jason Kothari.

Last week, Snapdeal was reported to be in talks with to acquire it for $650-700 million. Commenting on the speculation, responded, “We are in NO talks with anybody for any sale.”

The portal’s former CEO and co-founder Rahul Yadav had created a fair amount controversy at the company. Yadav had quit the real estate start-up in May 2015, criticising the board members in his resignation letter. Later, he made a U-turn by withdrawing his resignation and apologising to the board.

Finally, the company’s board members decided to fire Yadav in July last year, stating “his behaviour is not befitting of a CEO and is detrimental to the company.”

Founded in 2012, the valuation of stood at Rs.1,500 crore ($250 million) during its last round of funding, which saw an investment of $90 million from SoftBank in November 2014.

The other investors include Nexus Ventures, Falcon Edge, Helion Ventures, Nirvana Ventures, Qualcomm, DST founder Yuri Milner, Viacom 18 co-founder Haresh Chawla, Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal.

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Going forward, company will continue to enhance people’s lives the world over by providing energy-efficient, connected lighting solutions that deliver value beyond illumination.

Yahoo to decide next strategic steps after quarterly earnings: Sources

Yahoo to decide next strategic steps after quarterly earnings: SourcesYahoo said last month it would pursue a tax-free spinoff of the core Internet business, which could take at least a year. Picture: A Yahoo logo is pictured in front of a building in Rolle, 30 km (19 miles) east of Geneva, in this file picture taken 12 December, 2012.Reuters

Yahoo Inc will decide on its next strategic steps only after releasing quarterly earnings on 2 Feburary, people familiar with the matter said, as the company continues to resist investor calls to explore a sale of its core Internet assets.

Yahoo wants to gauge shareholder reaction after presenting its strategic vision during the earnings conference call, one of the people said.

Yahoo this month rebuffed several potential buyers for its core Internet assets, including private equity firms, the three sources said this week. They declined to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

Yahoo declined to comment.

Yahoo said last month it would pursue a tax-free spinoff of the core Internet business, which could take at least a year.

But investors are pressing for an outright sale, fearing that the business, which includes selling search and display ads on its news and sports sites and email service, could lose more value in the face of competition from Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc.

Yahoo’s resistance to the outright sale has set it on a collision course with activist investor Starboard Value LP, which earlier this month reiterated its call for the company to auction off the core business.

The last time Yahoo solicited interest in its core Internet assets was in December, ahead of a board meeting in which the spinoff of the assets was decided, one of the sources said.

At the time, the Sunnyvale, California-based company asked potential buyers to submit preliminary indications of interest and state how much they would be willing to pay for the Internet assets, that source said. No formal sale process was ever launched, the person added.

Verizon Communications Inc Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo declined to discuss whether the telecommunications company was considering buying Yahoo’s core assets.

“You can’t talk about something that’s not up for sale,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “We’ll wait to see when it’s kickstarted and then we’ll decide.”

Yahoo in December abandoned plans to spin off its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and announced it would instead spin off other assets, including its stake in Yahoo Japan, into a new company.

Yahoo might find it hard to avoid a formal sales process for long, however, as investors, including Starboard, push more aggressively for a sale.

Other investors, including Canyon Capital Advisors and Mason Capital have also been urging Yahoo to sell its Internet business.

Yahoo investors have a one-month window to nominate a slate of board members starting 25 Feburary, and Starboard has indicated in its last two letters to the board it is prepared to launch a proxy contest.

Housing. com set to fire more employees to raise funds: Report

Housing. com set to fire more employees to raise funds:

Real estate services portal is reportedly preparing to announce another round of layoffs in a bid to raise funds.

To trim escalating costs, the Mumbai-based firm has already reduced its headcount to about 1,800 from 2,500 in March, in a series of layoffs undertaken in the past few months.

The company now has to bring down its staff strength to 1,200 in order to receive further funding and therefore more layoffs may happen soon, Business Standard quoted sources close to the development as saying.

“It is difficult to put a number to the lay-offs. Housing hired indiscriminately in March and handed fat pay packets to whoever applied and ended up overstaffing. There was a bench in digital marketing once,” said a senior executive.

Earlier this month, the company had cut 200 jobs amid growing pressure to meet the cost reduction targets set by its stakeholders. As part of restructuring its non-core operations, the company had shutdown commercial properties, short stays and land businesses in its previous restructuring move.

“The only restructuring the company is doing has already been communicated… The company has many offices across the country, and, as a result, the restructuring happens across a few days, but we are not doing any additional restructuring,” Housing chief executive Jason Kothari said.

But sources said the company is set to announce another round of layoffs “sooner rather than later”, as the cash being burnt by it is “too high”.

While the company gave two or three-month severance pay to employees who were terminated, there is no clarity on the equity donated by its founder and former CEO Rahul Yadav to the staff in June, said sources.

“Whenever we asked about equity we were told it is being held in escrow or there are some legal issues around it,” said the executive.

Yadav had 4.57% stake (worth Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore) in the company, which he gave away to employees in May.

“Modalities of Yadav’s shares are currently being worked on,” Kothari said.

Reliance Jio may help RCom to pay spectrum fee of Rs 5,384 crore: Report

Reliance Jio may help RCom to pay spectrum fee of Rs 5,384 crore: ReportReliance Jio may help RCom to pay spectrum fee of Rs 5,384 crore. Pictured: Anil Ambani (R), chairman of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, talks to his brother Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, during the launch of “Digital India Week” in New Delhi, India, on 1 July, 2015.Reuters

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio may help Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications (RCom) in paying up a liberalisation fee of Rs 5,384 crore for sharing its 800 MHz spectrum in 16 circles. The spectrum liberalisation fee is collected from telecom operators for all the circles where airwaves were not auctioned.

The department of telecommunications (DoT) had, on 22 December, also asked RCom to pay a one-time spectrum usage charge of Rs 1,596 crore within a month, sources told Business Standard.

“The company will submit a bank guarantee equal to the one-time spectrum usage charge of Rs 1,596 crore as the matter is sub judice,” the sources said.

RCom, India’s fourth largest telecom operator by subscribers, plans to partner with Reliance Jio to offer 4G services. In September last year, RCom chairman Anil Ambani had said the company would enter into a “strategic partnership” with Reliance Jio for 4G spectrum sharing-cum-trading.

RJio possesses 2,300 MHz in all circles, 1,800 MHz in 18 circles and 850 MHz in 10 circles. But, 800 MHz band provides good connectivity indoors and offers seamless voice services through Voice over LTE (VoLTE). The benefits of having 800 MHz spectrum has made the deal “critical” to roll out 4G services. The tie-up will enable RJio to provide 4G services over the 800 MHz band across 10 circles.

On the other hand, the partnership will also be beneficial to RCom, as it can use Jio’s 4G network in the 10 circles without incurring any “incremental capex cost”.

By the end of September, RCom had a huge debt load of Rs 39,800 crore, which it plans to reduce to Rs 20,000 crore by selling its tower business Reliance Infratel.

Meanwhile, the merger of RCom and Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), which provides telecom services through MTS brand, will enable the former to gain access to liberalised 800 MHz spectrum in eight circles. MTS has a strong presence in non-voice segment and derives nearly half of its total revenues from the segment.

Analysts said that increased competition in the data services will likely lead to further increase in capital expenditure by the operators to keep growth intact. Telecom companies are also expected to purchase spectrum from others at a higher price, resulting in increased debt levels.

In November last year, Idea Cellular had agreed to buy spectrum for two circles — Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh (West) — from Videocon for Rs 3,310 crore, which is double the amount paid to acquire spectrum for those circles in the March 2015 auction.

Gold, silver prices up on safe-haven demand

Gold, silver prices up on safe-haven demandA saleswoman checks the weight and quality of gold jewellery inside a showroom in Mumbai, India, August 13, 2015.Reuters

Gold prices soared by Rs 340 to hit an over two-month high of Rs 26,690 per 10 grams on Wednesday, tracking the strength in metal prices in overseas markets.

The rally in precious metal prices was also led by a fall in rupee to 68 against the US dollar, as a cheaper rupee makes the metal imports costlier.

In the overseas markets, the yellow metal prices rallied towards $1,100 an ounce due to increased demand for its safe-haven status. Investors rush to buy gold whenever there is sharp sell-off in global markets.

“Gold’s safe haven rationale is back in vogue,” Citigroup analysts told Reuters. “While geopolitical issues typically tend to be short-lived in terms of lending support to gold prices, we expect ongoing global macro concerns to lend support this quarter.”

Gold prices also got a boost from the IMF’s bleak outlook about the global economy. In a report on Tuesday, the Fund cut its 2016 global growth outlook to 3.4% from an earlier estimate of 3.6%. The IMF cited slowdown in China and a slump in commodity prices as main reasons for revising down its growth forecast.

Falling crude oil prices, which led to a sell-off in Asian stock markets, also supported the gold prices. Brent crude oil prices fell to $28 a barrel on the worries over imminent resumption in oil supply from Iran.

“One of the contributing factors was no doubt the extremely bearish comments made by the International Energy Agency about the situation on the oil market. According to the IEA, a combination of unusually warm temperatures and increasing supply from Iran could mean that the oil market remains oversupplied until at least the end of 2016 and that prices could slide even further,” said Commerzbank Corporates & Markets in a note.

Domestic stock markets ended sharply lower following a further decline in oil prices, with the benchmark indices hitting a fresh 20-month low.

Silver prices were also supported by a weakness in equities and the metal prices closed Rs 34,400 per kg, up Rs 400.

Will Kya Kool Hain Hum 3, Airlift, Mastizaade do a Bajirao Mastani at the box office?

Will Kya Kool Hain Hum 3, Airlift, Mastizaade do a Bajirao Mastani at the box office?Bollywood films may hope the the good run at the box office continues. Picture: Actors Sunny Leone and Vir Das during the promotion of “Mastizaade” in Mumbai on 23 December, 2015.IANS


“Airlift” did well on its opening day at the box office in India and abroad, especially in the GCC and the UAE, according to trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

#Airlift has an IMPRESSIVE Day 1. Fri ? 12.35 cr. India biz. Exceptional word of mouth. Biz should multiply over the weekend.

— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) January 23, 2016

#Airlift takes UAE and GCC by storm. Collects approx AED 900,000 [? 1.66 cr] on Thu. Highest opening day grosser of Akshay Kumar there.

— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) January 22, 2016

So was the case with “Kya Kool Hain Hum 3″.

#KyaaKoolHainHum3 Fri ? 8.15 cr. India biz.

— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) January 23, 2016

Original story

After the box office success of Eros International Media-distributed film “Bajirao Mastani”, the spotlight will now be on Balaji Telefilms’ “Kya Kool Hain Hum 3″ and Pritish Nandy Communications’ adult comedy “Mastizaade”, along with Akshay Kumar’s “Airlift”.

Balaji Telefilms (BTL) and Pritish Nandy Communications (PNC) — both listed entities — would like to see a decent success at the box office, after “Bajirao Mastani” grossed over Rs 359 crore till its fifth weekend worldwide.

“Bajirao Mastani” starring Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone and directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, released on 18 December, the day Shah Rukh Khan’s “Dilwale” also released.

In a regulatory filing with the BSE last month, PNC said the Sunny Leone-Tusshar Kapoor-Vir Das-starrer “Mastizaade” will release on 29 January, 2016, with an estimated 2,000 prints by Kumar Mangat’s Panorama Studios, which acquired the movie’s theatrical rights.

Eros International Media, global distributor for “Bajirao Mastani”, grossed much more than the Rs 200-300 crore predicted by brokerage Maybank, as reported by NDTV.

“Dilwale”, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon, did better than “Bajirao Mastani”, grossing Rs 375 crore worldwide at the box office. The film was distributed by Shah Rukh’s production house, Red Chillies Entertainment.

“Kya Kool Hain Hum 3″, produced by Ekta Kapoor’s BTL, has Tusshar Kapoor, “Bigg Boss 9″ contestant Mandana Karimi, Gizele Thakral and Aftab Shivdasani in the lead, and will release on 22 January, 2016.

BTL, which has interests in movies apart from Hindi and regional soaps, had earlier said in its post-second-quarter earnings presentation that movies would be part of its three-pronged strategy to become a media powerhouse in India, the other two being television content and digital business.

“Kya Kool Hain Hum 3″ is scheduled to release the same day Akshay Kumar’s “Airlift”.

Shares of Balaji Telefilms closed at Rs 119.40 on the BSE on Tuesday, up 5.11% from the previous close. In the past six months, the stock has appreciated almost 35%.

PNC shares edged lower on Tuesday to close with a loss of 4.6% at Rs 20.70. The stock has gone up 55% in the past six months.

Inflation to remain well anchored in 2016 as well: Barclays

Inflation to remain well anchored in 2016 as well: BarclaysInflationReuters

Retail inflation rose more than expected in October, posting an increase for a third consecutive month, but consumer prices are expected to remain under check given the strong fundamental factors.

A measure of retail inflation inched up to 5% in October, led largely by an increase in prices of pulses, which went up by over 33%.

According to a study by Assocham, India’s imports of pulses are estimated to reach 10 million tonnes in the current fiscal year, more than double the volume imported in 2014-15.

However, inflation is projected to remain under control amid falling crude oil prices and a stable exchange rate. Global crude oil prices traded at over 10-week lows, as oversupply issues continue to rattle the oil market.

“Fundamental factors — such as markedly better food price management, sustained idle industrial capacity, softer commodity prices and a largely stable rupee — augur well for inflation likely staying anchored in 2016 as well. We see little sign of demand-driven inflation,” said Barclays Capital in a note.

Falling inflation rate has allowed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut lending rates by 125bps to 6.75% so far this year. Nevertheless, the latest inflation data will likely lead the central bank to keep rates unchanged at its next meeting in December.

“The RBI continues to emphasise that its future actions will remain data-dependent. Accordingly, we think a prolonged period of softer inflation and moderation in inflation expectations — which remains likely, in our view — will offer space for further monetary easing. We forecast another 50bp of repo rate cuts during H1 2016,” said Barclays.

Reliance Industries reports 39% rise in Q3 net profit

Reliance Industries reports 39% rise in Q3 net profitReliance Industries declared its third quarter financial results on Tuesday. Picture: Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries.Reuters file

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries on Tuesday reported a 38.7% rise in its consolidated net profit for the third quarter of this financial year over the like period of the previous year, and a sequential rise of 8.5% over the second quarter.

On a standalone basis, which includes the numbers for the company’s own operations and excludes those of subsidiaries, the profit was up 41.9% for the third quarter of 2015-16 over the like quarter of the previous financial year, and 10% sequentially.

In a filing with stock exchanges, Reliance Industries said its consolidated net profit stood at Rs.7,290 crore for the latest period under review, while on a standalone basis the figure was placed at Rs.7,218 crore.

Both the figures beat market expectations.

Even though the results were announced well after the closing bell of Indian stock markets, the company’s scrip rose Rs.25.60 per share, up by 2.51%, to end at Rs.1,043.60 — not far from its 52-week high of Rs.1,089.50 achieved on 15 January.

“Refining business delivered yet another record performance on the back of a 7-year-high refining margins and highest-ever crude throughput,” Ambani said. “In current 9-month period, our refining business earnings before interest and taxes surpassed record earnings it achieved in FY15.”

The chairman also commented on the impact of the crash in crude oil prices in recent months.

“The benefits of low crude oil and energy prices for our downstream businesses clearly outweigh the impact of these factors on our upstream segment, reflecting in the record earnings for the quarter,” he said, referring to exploration and petrochemicals businesses.

The company also said the quarter under review saw the launch of Jio 4G services to over 100,000 group employees and families, even as the retail business topped the Rs.6,000 crore quarterly revenue milestone with a footprint encompassing more than 3,000 stores in 371 cities.

In terms of earnings for the quarter ended December 31, 2015, the company achieved a turnover of Rs.73,341 crore, which was a decrease of 23.9 percent over Rs.96,330 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

“The decline in revenue was led by the 42.7 percent year-on-year decline in benchmark Brent oil price,” the company said in its corporate filing.

“Exports from India operations were lower by 37.5 percent at Rs.36,564 crore, against Rs.58,507 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year due to lower product prices in line with lower feedstock prices.”

Reliance Jio 4G may pose more risks to Vodafone than Bharti Airtel: CLSA

Reliance Jio 4G may pose more risks to Vodafone than Bharti Airtel: CLSAMukesh AmbaniReuters File

Reliance Jio’s 4G launch is expected to pose significant risks to market shares of the top two telecom operators — Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India — as their high-value subscribers may become “early adopters” of the high-speed data services offered by the telecom arm of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, said a global brokerage firm.

Of the two, Vodafone is more vulnerable to Reliance Jio services as it holds limited 4G spectrum, according to CLSA.

“As high-ARPU (average revenue per user) subscribers are likely to be early adopters of 4G, the two highest-ARPU operators are at a higher market share risk with new entrant Reliance Jio’s launch of 4G services,” CLSA said in a note released on Thursday.

Airtel has already rolled out its 4G services in more than 300 towns in the country, while Vodafone recently launched services in Kochi, Kerala. Vodafone plans to expand its 4G coverage to the metros by the end of December.

As revenue from voice services is becoming flat, the telecom operators will vie to gain premium data customers in the coming months, it said.

Going forward, the long-term growth of the telcos is likely to be led by mobile data usage, the revenue from which is projected to increase by three times to $14 billion (Rs 93,800 crore) in FY18 from FY15, according to CLSA.

3G penetration in the top five markets — Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu — is twice that of 3G connections in the remaining 17 markets and accounted for over 40% of 3G users in the country.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India are the leading players in the top five data markets, where the APRU is Rs 225, up 40% compared to the industry average of Rs 161.

“However, in these markets, Bharti Airtel not only has comparable spectrum to Reliance Jio to defend its turf, but also has launched its own 4G services, leaving Vodafone, which has limited 4G spectrum, as the more vulnerable of the two,” The Economic Times quoted CLSA as saying.

Reliance Jio may launch 4G services across India by April 2016

Reliance Jio may launch 4G services across India by April 2016[Representational Image]Reuters

Reliance Jio is expected to launch its pan-India 4G services in April this year, according to a US-based brokerage firm.

Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries, had launched its 4G services for its employees on 27 December.

“We expect Reliance Jio’s pan-India launch by April 2016 as the company mentioned all regulatory compliance measures are in place,” Morgan Stanley said in a note sent to The Economic Times.

Morgan Stanley expects Reliance Jio to earn $1.7 billion of revenue by the end of 2016-17 if it starts its commercial operations in April.

The positive outlook by the brokerage firm comes in wake of Reliance Jio’s partnership with Reliance Communications in spectrum trading and sharing. As per the agreement reached by both the companies this week, RJIL will buy spectrum from RCom in the 800-megahertz (MHz) band across nine circles and the two companies will share spectrum in the 800-MHz band across 17 circles.

RJio possesses 2,300 MHz in all circles, 1,800 MHz in 18 circles and 850 MHz in 10 circles.

“RCom has applied for spectrum liberalisation in the 850 MHz band, Jio will be able to get the spectrum in 45 days when its files with the telecom department for related permission,” Morgan Stanley said.

Reliance Jio may aim to gain about 131 million customers by end-2019-20, it added.

It also expects the company to raise its annual revenue of $6.69 billion (Rs 45,492 crore) by March 2020.

Reliance Jio’s 4G launch is expected to pose significant risk to market shares of the top two telecom operators — Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India — as their high-value subscribers may become “early adopters” of the high-speed data services offered by the company, CLSA had said last month.

Apple plans to set up its own retail stores in India, applies to DIPP for approval

Apple plans to set up its own retail stores in India, applies to DIPP for approvalApple plans to setup its own retail stores in India: Files application with DIPP for approvalREUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Apple is increasing its focus on India, one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, with plans to launch its own branded stores in the country. The Cupertino-based technology giant has filed an application with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which is currently under review.

By opening Apple stores in India, the iPhone-maker will be able to set up a direct connection with consumers, who currently go through a franchised network. Apple confirmed to Reuters it has filed an application with the DIPP, but did not reveal details of how much investment or how many stores are in the offing.

“We have just received Apple’s proposal. We are examining it,” DIPP secretary Amitabh Kant told The Times of India on Wednesday.

Apple is also seeking the government’s approval to directly sell its products — iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs and iPods — online. In the filing, Apple posted 44% increase in sales for 2014-15, which puts it at Rs 6,472.89 crore, up from Rs 4,500.35 crore a year earlier. The net profit doubled over the past year to Rs 242.85 crore from Rs 119.48, the TOI report added.

What’s next after Apple stores in India is still a mystery, but the chairman and managing director at consulting firm Technopak told Forbes: “When Apple says it’ll open its own stores, it means it’s serious about India. This could mean that potentially, in a few years, they may even look at product development and manufacturing in India.”

Looking back a few decades, Apple’s primary interest markets did not include India. But recent years have shown Apple is keen on growing its presence and sales in what is deemed to replace the US as the world’s second-largest smartphone market in 2017. The tech titan has introduced several offers, such as attractive buyback schemes, EMI options and discounts on old models.

Apple’s sales in India crossed $1 billion for the first time in the fiscal year that ended March 2015, according to the Registrar of Companies.

Apple’s attempt at seeking approval for opening its own stores in India isn’t a first. Prior to the change in FDI norms in November 2015, which prevented foreign direct investment in single-brand retail, Apple had argued with the authorities in 2014 to do away with such limitations. India’s former FDI policy required any foreign company investing more than 51% in a local firm or joint nventure to source 30% of its products from within the country.

Apple currently operates more than 450 stores across 18 countries.

Singapore: Financial sector jobs face the heat

Singapore: Financial sector jobs face the heatSingapore’s Merlion Park near the city’s Central Business District.S V Krishnamachari

Singapore is in for tough times ahead, with the country’s financial services sector expected to be hit by layoffs by banks due to disruptive technologies and a weakening global economy.

The country has seen its GDP growth declining steadily over the past three quarters, with the estimate for the third quarter (July-September) at 1.4%. The economy had grown at 2% in the second quarter and 2.6% in the first.

The Singapore government’s third-quarter labour market report released this month says though total employment grew by 12,600 in the third quarter compared to 9,700 in the second, it was far below the 33,400 in the third quarter of 2014.

The financial and insurance services added 2,600 jobs during the third quarter this year, with the sector now employing 2 lakh people.

But things could change in the country, a key financial centre in Asia, due to banking majors such as Standard Chartered, Barclays and Deutsche Bank cutting jobs due to a global slowdown. Singapore won’t be insulated from the depressing development, say analysts.

The worldwide cut in banking-sector jobs is a staggering 1 lakh, according to an estimate by the Financial Times, says Channel News Asia.

“We have seen a lot of offshoring happening, not just this year, but in 2014 as well,” CNA quoted Toby Fowlston, managing director, Robert Walters Southeast Asia, as saying. “We’ve seen areas like product control downsize in a number of banking businesses, and also some of the back-office functions as well, where we’ve seen that shipped to cheaper cost locations.”

Disruptive technologies in the banking sector that the country has to contend with, going forward, could worsen the situation.

“I think with digitisation, online banking, there’s even greater reason for banks to actually cut headcount. So I would say that in the next one or two years, we will see a lot of this happening,” says Ho Kok Yong, Financial Services Industry leader at Deloitte Singapore.

The financial sector contributes to more than 12% of Singapore’s GDP, said the CNA report.

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