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Mon, 27th March 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “March 5, 2017” Day

Tata Steel may scrap merger plans with Thyssenkrupp

Tata Steel may be considering breaking off talks over a planned merger of its European business with German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, a UK media report claimed today. The merger talks had been revealed by the Indian steel giant last year as part of a major restructuring of its UK steel business.

Such a deal with the German steel major could potentially lead to the formation of a European steel behemoth with blast furnaces in Wales, the Netherlands and Germany. However, ‘The Sunday Times’ claims that the deal may be under threat due to German pension liabilities.

The deal has been slow moving as Tata Steel tries to solve the problem of its own 15-billion-pound British steel pensions scheme. Last month its UK workers had voted in favour of a new pension deal to save their jobs.

Nearly 10,000 workers voted in a ballot in favour of moving from a final salary pension to a less generous scheme in return for job safety and Tata’s promise of nearly 1-billion-pound worth of investment over the next 10 years.

According to the newspaper, Dutch unions representing workers at Tata’s vast Ijmuiden plant have raised concerns over the Thyssenkrupp pensions, which are an unfunded liability and underpinned by cash-flow from the steelworks.

Greater relief for patients coming soon; NPPA to put more drugs under price control

Drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) today said “few more” medicines will come under the control as part of measures to provide relief to patients. “Next Authority meeting of NPPA on March 9; Few more drugs to come under price control,” NPPA said in a tweet. The regulator has been fixing and revising the prices of drugs, and by January this year, when it had slashed the prices of 33 drugs, over 620 drugs had been placed under the price control sine April 2016.

Stepping up measures to ensure the availability of stents, the regulator is also holding a second round of meeting with stent manufacturers and importers on March 7, 2017 to review stock positions of the stents and plans for next six months.

As stipulated under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO) 2013, NPPA fixes ceiling price of essential medicines of Schedule I.

The calculation of price for essential drugs is based on the simple average of rates of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1 per cent.

In respect of medicines not under price control, manufacturers are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10 per cent annually.

 The government had notified the DPCO 2013, which covers 680 formulations, with effect from May 15, 2014, replacing the 1995 order that regulated prices of only 74 bulk drugs.

China trims 2017 growth target, warns against trade controls

China’s top economic official trimmed its growth target and warned Sunday of dangers from global pressure for trade controls, as Beijing tries to build a consumer-driven economy and reduce reliance on exports and investment.

In a speech to the national legislature, Premier Li Keqiang Li promised more steps to cut surplus steel production that is straining trade relations with Washington and Europe. He pledged equal treatment for foreign companies, apparently responding to complaints Beijing is trying to squeeze them out of technology and other promising markets.

 Li’s report set the growth target for the world’s second-largest economy at “around 6.5 percent or higher, if possible.” That’s down from 6.7 percent expansion last year but, if achieved, would be among the strongest globally, reflecting confidence that efforts to create new industries are gaining traction.

Li called for attention to the risks of China’s surging debt levels, which economists see as a rising threat to growth. He announced no major initiatives, but that was widely expected as the ruling Communist Party tries to avoid shocks ahead of a congress late this year at which President Xi Jinping is due to be given a second five-year term as leader. Analysts expect Chinese leaders to use the legislative meeting to emphasize reducing financial risks and keeping growth stable.

At a time of demands in the United States and Europe for trade controls, Li warned China faces “more complicated and graver situations” at home and abroad.

LDP passes rule change that could see Abe remain PM until 2021

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided Sunday to extend its term limit on party leaders, potentially allowing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to remain in his role until September 2021.

Abe’s tenure as president of the LDP was set to run out in September next year before the rule change, which would have meant stepping down as prime minister even if the LDP was still in power.

 The party, holding its annual convention at a Tokyo hotel, approved extending the limit to three consecutive three-year terms from the previous two consecutive three-year terms.

This means Abe can stand for re-election in the next party leadership vote in the fall of next year.

Abe, 62, served as prime minister for around a year before resigning in September 2007. He became prime minister again when the LDP returned to power in December 2012 after a three-year period in opposition.

Emerging Markets :An Update

  • A Korean special prosecutor indicted Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee on bribery charges.
  • Korean press is reporting that China has told its travel agents to halt sales of holiday packages to South Korea.
  • Bulgaria’s interim government said it may apply to join the eurozone within a month.
  • South Africa’s main labor union Cosatu accepted a government-proposed minimum wage.
  • New Commerce Secretary Ross appears to be taking a less confrontational stance with regards to Nafta.
  • Press reports suggest Mexico may request a swap line from the Fed.
  • Peru’s central bank cut reserve requirements again.
In the EM equity space as measured by MSCI, Turkey (+1.5%), Czech Republic (+1.4%), and Mexico (+1.2%) have outperformed this week, while Colombia (-3.4%), Brazil (-2.1%), and UAE (-2.1%) have underperformed.  To put this in better context, MSCI EM fell -1.4% this week while MSCI DM rose 0.3%.
 
In the EM local currency bond space, India (10-year yield -11 bp), Poland (-9 bp), and Indonesia (-3 bp) have outperformed this week, while Turkey (10-year yield +44 bp), Colombia (+18 bp), and Malaysia (+14 bp) have underperformed.  To put this in better context, the 10-year UST yield rose 18bp to 2.50%.
 
In the EM FX space, MXN (+1.6% vs. USD), PLN (+0.4% vs. EUR), and ARS (+0.2% vs. USD) have outperformed this week, while COP (-3.1% vs. USD), TRY (-3.0% vs. USD), and KRW (-2.2% vs. USD) have underperformed.
 
A Korean special prosecutor indicted Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee on bribery charges.  He is accused of exchanging bribes for government favors, which were uncovered during the investigation of President Park.  Lee allegedly directed tens of millions of dollars to a confidante of President Park in return for government support of a 2015 merger that benefited his interests.  These developments could fundamentally change the role of the chaebol in the Korean economy.
Korean press is reporting that China has told its travel agents to halt sales of holiday packages to South Korea.  If confirmed, the move would likely be in retaliation for Korea agreeing to deploy a US missile defense system.  Spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said he wasn’t aware of any such measures while an official at the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) said China has issued the ban.  KTO estimates that nearly half of the foreign visitors to Korea last year were from China.

Titans of oil world meet in Houston after two-year price war

The biggest names in the oil world come together this week for the largest industry gathering since the end of a two-year price war that pitted Middle East exporters against the firms that drove the shale energy revolution in the United States.

When OPEC in November joined with several non-OPEC producers to agree to a historic cut in output, the group called time on a fight for market share that drove oil prices to a 12-year low and many shale producers to the wall.

Oil prices are about 70 percent higher than they were the last time oil ministers and the chief executives of Big Oil met in Houston a year ago at CERAWeek, the largest annual industry meet in the Americas.

The ebullience as both sides enjoy higher revenues will be a welcome relief from the gloom of a year ago, near the depths of the price war.

“The oil market has been rebalancing and the powerful forces of supply and demand have been working,” said Dan Yergin, vice chairman of conference organizer IHS Markit and a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian.

“The mood will be different this year.”

This House Was 3D-Printed In Under 24 Hours At A Cost Of Just $10,000

While 3D-printing may have been faded away in recent years from the spotlight of core “disruptive” technologies, that may soon change again after a company managed to 3D-print an entire house in just 24 hours. Located in Russia, the following 400-square-foot home, or 37 square meters, was built in just a day, at a cost of slightly over $10,000.

As profiled in the Telegraph, the company Apis Cor, 3D-printing specialists based in Russia and San Francisco, built the house using a mobile printer on-site. According to the company, the walls of the building were printed and painted in just 24 hours.