Jobless rate soars to 8.30% in Dec: CMIE - Business Guardian
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Jobless rate soars to 8.30% in Dec: CMIE

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The unemployment rate in the country rose by 8.30 per cent in December 2022, the highest in the last 16 months, according to the data released on Sunday from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It added that in November unemployment rate was at 8 per cent. The urban unemployment rate rose to 10.09 per cent in December from 8.96 per cent in the pre-vious month, while the rural unemployment rate slipped to 7.44 per cent from 7.55 per cent, the data showed. Mahesh Vyas, managing director of the CMIE, said the rise in the unemployment rate was “not as bad as it may seem,” as it came on top of a healthy increase in the labour participation rate, which shot up to 40.48 per cent in December, the highest in 12 months. “Most importantly, the employment rate has increased in December to 37.1 per cent, which again is the highest since January 2022,” he said. Containing high inflation and creating jobs for millions of young people entering the job market remain the biggest challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration ahead of national elections in 2024. The main opposition Congress party launched a fivemonth long cross-country march in September from the southern city of Kanyakumari to Srinagar, in Jammu and Kashmir region, to mobilise public opinion on issues such as high prices, un-employment and what it says are the divisive politics of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party.

India needs to move from a single focus on GDP growth to growth with employ-ment, skilling of youth and creating production capacities with export prospects,” Rahul Gandhi, senior leader of the Congress party, who is leading party’s 3,500 kilometre (2,175 mile) march on foot, told reporters on Saturday. The unemployment rate had declined to 7.2 per cent in the July-September quarter com-pared to 7.6 per cent in the previous quarter, according to separate quarterly data com-piled by state run National Statistical Office (NSO) and released in November. In December, the unemployment rate rose to 37.4 per cent in the northern state of Haryana, followed by 28.5 per cent in Rajasthan and 20.8 per cent in Delhi, CMIE data showed.

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Tesla slashes prices by $2,000 on 3 EVs amid 39% YTD share drop due to falling sales

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Tesla slashed $2,000 off the prices of three out of its five models in the United States, reflecting the challenges faced by the electric vehicle manufacturer led by billionaire Elon Musk. The price reductions applied to the Model Y, Tesla’s bestselling electric vehicle in the US, along with the Models X and S, its older and pricier models. However, prices for the Model 3 sedan and the Cybertruck remained unchanged. Consequently, the starting price for a Model Y dropped to $42,990, while the Model S and Model X now start at $72,990 and $77,990, respectively.

The move came the day after Tesla’s stock tumbled below USD 150 per share, eliminating all gains made over the past year. The Austin, Texas, company’s stock price has dropped about 40 per cent so far this year amid falling sales and increased competition. Discounted sticker prices are a way to try to entice more car buyers. Musk posted early Saturday on X, the social media platform known as Twitter before he acquired and renamed it, that the cost of an entry-level Tesla was as low as USD 29,490 once a federal tax credit and gas savings were factored in.

Industry analysts have been waiting for Tesla to introduce a small electric vehicle that would cost around USD 25,000, the Model 2. Media reports this month that Musk planned to scrap the project created more uncertainty over the company’s direction, although Musk called them untrue.

The price cuts ended a long workweek at Tesla, which announced Monday that it was cutting 10 per cent of its staff globally, about 14,000 jobs. The company also said it was recalling nearly 4,000 of its 2024 Cybertrucks after discovering the accelerator pedal can get stuck, potentially causing the vehicle to accelerate unintentionally and increase the risk of a crash.

On Saturday, Musk confirmed he had postponed a planned weekend trip to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing “very heavy Tesla obligations.” He said on X that he looked forward to rescheduling the visit for later this year.

Tesla is scheduled to announce its first-quarter earnings on Tuesday. The company reported earlier this month that its worldwide sales fell sharply from January through March as competition increased worldwide, electric vehicle sales growth slowed, and earlier price cuts failed to lure more buyers. It was Tesla’s first year-over-year quarterly sales decline in nearly four years.

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Musk delays India visit due to ‘Heavy Tesla obligations

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The highly anticipated visit of Elon Musk, the CEO of electric vehicle giant Tesla, to India has been temporarily put on hold. “Unfortunately, very heavy Tesla obligations require that the visit to India be delayed, but I do very much look forward to visiting later this year,” Musk said in a post on social media platform X, on April 20.

Earlier this month, Elon Musk on the X platform wrote, “Looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India,” on April 10, 2024. Elon Musk was scheduled to meet PM Modi on April 22 in New Delhi. Musk and PM Modi last met in New York in June, and Tesla has continued for months lobbying India to lower import taxes on electric vehicles while it weighed up a factory in the country.

According to the Hindu Businessline report, Tesla has been on the hunt for a local partner to establish an EV unit in India. Citing sources, the English daily said Tesla is in talks with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) to form a joint venture to set up an EV facility in the country. Additionally, the Financial Times earlier this month reported that Elon Musk had sent a team to India in April to scout for sites for a proposed $2 billion to $3 billion electric car plant.

Musk was reportedly poised to disclose plans for injecting nearly ₹3 billion into the Indian market, primarily earmarked for the establishment of a new manufacturing facility. Meanwhile, the license application of Musk’s satellite venture Starlink is under process, and the government is examining the security aspects, news agency PTI reported citing sources. The FDI and financial aspects are in sync with the requirements and conditions, the report said, adding that the ownership ‘declaration’ has also been received from Starlink.

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UltraTech acquires India cements’ 1.1 MTPA grinding unit for Rs 315 cr

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Ultratech Cement, on April 20, announced its acquisition of a grinding unit from India Cements in Maharashtra for Rs 315 crore.

On Saturday, Ultratech Cement’s Board of Directors approved the acquisition of a grinding unit in Parli, Maharashtra, from India Cement for Rs 315 crore. This unit has a capacity of 1.1 mtpa along with a captive railway siding. Ultratech has signed an asset purchase agreement with India Cement for this transaction. According to a statement by the Aditya Birla Group company, this acquisition will bolster its presence in Maharashtra’s burgeoning markets. This move is part of Ultratech’s plan to expand its brownfield capacity, aiming to add 3 mtpa by the fiscal year 2025-26. The proposed expansion includes 1.2 million tonne per annum in Parli, Maharashtra, and 1.8 million tonne per annum in Dhule, Maharashtra, with a planned investment of Rs 504 crore.

The investment planned will be met through internal accruals. Ultratech is the country’s largest cement manufacturer with 147.3 million tonne per annum capacity. The company plans to take its grey cement capacity to 178 mtpa by financial year 2026-27.

In the December quarter of the financial year 2023-24, Ultratech Cement entered Jharkhand with the acquisition of 0.54 million tonne per annum (mtpa) grinding capacity from Burnpur Cement Limited. The company also plans to add 14.7 million tonne per annum Greenfield capacity in the financial year 2024-25. Adani group, which acquired Ambuja Cement, ACC, and Sanghi Industries over the past two years, is now the second-largest cement manufacturer in the country with 78.9 million tonne per annum capacity.

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Netflix gains 9.33M users with originals, password sharing measures

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Netflix Inc. experienced its strongest beginning to a year since 2020, surpassing expectations by attracting a higher number of new subscribers. This was attributed to a robust lineup of original content and measures taken to address password sharing. According to a statement released on Thursday, the company added 9.33 million customers in the first quarter of 2024, nearly doubling the average analysts’ estimate of 4.84 million. Netflix’s customer growth spanned across global markets, with notable strength observed in the US and Canada.

These new subscriptions contributed to the company exceeding forecasts for both revenue and earnings. Despite the growth, Netflix shares were down 4.6 percent to $582.70 at 6:03 p.m. New York time. They were up 25 percent this year through the close of regular trading Thursday.

Expectations for Netflix’s first quarter had soared in recent days, as one analyst after another published rosy forecasts. In its letter to investors Thursday, the company said subscriber gains will be lower this period, while revenue will increase 16 percent. Netflix also said it will stop reporting paid quarterly membership and revenue per subscriber, starting with the first quarter of 2025. Those metrics have long been the primary way Wall Street evaluated the company’s performance, but Netflix has tried to shift the focus to traditional measures like sales and profit. Management will continue to report major subscriber milestones.

“The movement to no longer disclose quarterly subscriptions from next year will not go down well,” Paolo Pescatore, founder and analyst at PP Foresight, said in an email. “More so given the subscriber growth that the streaming king has seen over the last year.”

Netflix has rebounded from a slowdown in 2021 and 2022 to grow at its fastest rate since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. That is due in large part to its crackdown on people who were using someone else’s account. The company estimated more than 100 million people were using an account for which they didn’t pay. While executives at Netflix feared a backlash from customers, the company has been able to convince millions of moochers to pay for access.

Those new customers have had plenty to watch. Netflix has delivered a new hit every couple of weeks so far this year, including limited series such as “Fool Me Once” and “Griselda,” the dramas “The Gentleman” and “3 Body Problem,” and the reality show “Love Is Blind.” The streaming service accounts for about 8 percent of TV viewing in the US — and is a leading TV network in most of the world’s major media markets.

“With more than two people per household on average, we have an audience of over half a billion people,” the company said in its letter. “No entertainment company has ever programmed at this scale and with this ambition before.” The recent growth has lifted Netflix shares back toward record highs, giving the company a market value of more than $260 billion. It set an all-time closing high of $691.69 in November 2021.

Some analysts worry that Netflix is once again trading at a valuation that far exceeds the fundamentals of the business. The company delivered sales of $9.33 billion, rising 15 percent and beating estimates of $9.26 billion. Net income grew to $2.33 billion, or $5.28 a share, also above projections. Those figures are below companies with smaller market values, the boost from the crackdown on account sharing is temporary, and Netflix executives have been reluctant to put a firm timetable on when that growth would stop.

Yet even skeptical analysts have been impressed with the company’s recent performance, lifting their price targets for investors. To sustain its growth going forward, Netflix has also introduced a cheaper, advertising-supported version of its service targeting cost-conscious customers. It’s also begun to invest in live programming, including stand-up specials, wrestling, and an upcoming boxing match.

About 40 percent of Netflix’s new customers are selecting the advertising option in markets where it’s available, the company said.

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Sony and Apollo explore joint bid for paramount Global

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Sony Pictures Entertainment and Apollo Global Management are discussing making a joint bid for Paramount Global, according to a person familiar with the matter. The companies have yet to approach Paramount, which is in exclusive deal talks with Skydance Media, an independent studio led by David Ellison, though some investors have urged Paramount to explore other options. The competing bid, which is still being structured, would offer cash for all outstanding Paramount shares and take the company private, the source said.

Sony would hold a majority stake in the joint venture and operate the media company, and its library of films, including such classics as “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Indiana Jones,” and television characters like SpongeBob SquarePants, according to the source. Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Tony Vinciquerra, a veteran media executive with deep experience in film and television, would likely run the studio and take advantage of Sony’s marketing and distribution.

Apollo would likely assume control of the CBS broadcast network and its local television stations because of restrictions on foreign ownership of broadcast stations, the source said. Sony’s parent corporation is headquartered in Tokyo. The Sony-Apollo discussions. Paramount and Sony declined comment. Apollo could not be reached for comment.

The private equity firm previously made a $26 billion offer to buy Paramount Global, whose enterprise value at the end of 2023 was about $22.5 billion. A special committee of Paramount’s board elected to continue with its advanced deal talks with Skydance, rather than chase a deal “that might not actually come to fruition,” said two people with knowledge of the board’s action. The board committee is evaluating the possible acquisition of the smaller independent studio in a stock deal worth $4 billion to $5 billion. Skydance is negotiating separately to acquire National Amusements, a company that holds the Redstone family’s controlling interest in Paramount, according to a person familiar with the deal terms. That transaction is contingent upon a Skydance-Paramount merger.

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Infosys Acquires German firm in-tech in 450M Euro All-Cash deal

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IT major Infosys announced its acquisition of in-tech, a prominent engineering R&D services provider specializing in the German automotive industry, on Thursday in an exchange filing. This 450 million euro acquisition will help the IT company expand its footprint in Europe. The acquisition is expected to be wrapped up in the first half of the financial year 2025, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, the company said. Infosys has already received approvals from regulatory authorities in Germany, Romania, Austria, India, and “such other regulatory approvals as may be required”.

Headquartered in Germany, in-tech is one of the fastest-growing engineering R&D services providers, playing a pivotal role in driving digitization across the automotive, rail transport, and smart industry sectors. The company focuses on areas such as e-mobility, connected and autonomous driving, electric vehicles (EVs), off-road vehicles, and railroad solutions. The German firm offers a comprehensive suite of services, including system design, methodical consulting, advanced electronics platform development, and validation of automotive-specific software and hardware systems.

“Together with in-tech, Infosys Topaz, an AI-first set of services, solutions, and platforms, and recently acquired InSemi’ semiconductor’s expertise, we have successfully created deeper capabilities for the next phase of automotive innovation in the arena of software-defined vehicles. We are excited to welcome in-tech and its leadership team into the Infosys family,” said Dinesh Rao, executive vice president, and co-delivery head at Infosys.

“Together we now cover the entire end-to-end process, a step that is crucial to fully meet our customers’ needs. With access to more talent and expertise, we gain incredible strength and scale in our delivery capability, enabling us to successfully implement even more ambitious projects,” added Tobias Wagner, CEO of in-tech.

Infosys also reported its results for the financial year 2023-24 (FY24) on Thursday. Infosys reported a net profit increase of 8.9 percent to Rs 26,233 crore from Rs 24,095 crore recorded at the end of FY23 and its annual income from operations went up by 4.7 percent to Rs 1,53,670 crore in FY24 from Rs 1,46,767 crore in FY23.

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