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♦ Lok Sabha passes triple talaq Bill
- The Winter session of Parliament opened on Thursday after a prolonged holiday for Christmas. Parliament proceedings for much of the session was washed out over a variety of issues, including the latest snooping row, the Rafale jet deal and Cauvery dam.
- On Thursday too, the scene in the Rajya Sabha was no different as the House adjourned for the day without transacting any business. There was ruckus in the House over issues ranging from construction of a dam on the Cauvery River to violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district.
- Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha was adjourned twice over protests by the AIADMK on the Mekedatu issue and the Congress, which wanted a JPC probe into the Rafale deal. The triple talaq Bill was passed after the Congress and AIADMK members walked out protesting the government’s refusal to send the Bill to a Joint Select Committee for scrutiny.
♦ HDFC group most valuable domestic biz house, overtakes Tatas in m-cap
- Financial services conglomerate HDFC group has become the most valuable business house in the country, surpassing Tatas, with the cumulative market valuation of its five listed companies surging Rs 10.40 trillion.
- While HDFC group has five listed firms – HDFC Ltd, HDFC Bank, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company, Gruh Finance Ltd and HDFC Asset Management Company- Tatas have nearly 30 listed companies on the bourses.
- At close of trade Thursday, the combined market valuation of five HDFC group firms stood at Rs 10.40 trillion on BSE.
- HDFC Bank with a market capitalisation of Rs 5.72 trillion is the country’s third most valuable firm after TCS (Rs 7.16 trillion) and RIL (Rs 7.09 trillion).
- HDFC has a market cap of Rs 3.3 trillion, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Rs 788.24 billion, HDFC Asset Management Company Rs 315.40 billion and Gruh Finance Ltd Rs 228.86 billion.
- As many as 22 Tata group firms have a combined market valuation of Rs 10.38 trillion, as per data available on BSE Thursday.
- HDFC group had on July 10 this year saw the market capitalisation of its listed firms cross Rs 10 trillion mark
♦ Digital transformation to contribute $154 bn to India’s GDP by 2021
- As the world races towards digitalisation, India’s prowess in Information Technology (IT) has put it in a sweet spot.
- According to a recent report from online skilling provider Simplilearn, digital transformation of industries will contribute $154 billion to India’s GDP by 2021 and will create thousands of high paying jobs. What are the most in-demand skills? Data scientist, artificial intelligence engineer, cloud architect, cyber security expert, and digital project manager make the top 5 list, with median salaries starting at Rs 1.5 million and going up to Rs 3 million per
♦ Bhutanese PM to begin 3-day India visit today
- The visit of the Bhutanese Prime Minister is taking place during the Golden jubilee year of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.
- Foreign Secretary Vijay K Gokhale will call on the visiting dignitary on Thursday.
- During his visit, Bhutanese PM will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
♦ Andhra Pradesh, Telangana to have separate High Courts
- Following a Supreme Court order to the Centre to notify the bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Courts by January 1, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday ordered the separation of the “common” Hyderabad High Court into the two separate High Courts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- Both will function separately from January 1, 2019. The principal seat of the Andhra Pradesh High Court is Amaravati, the capital of the State. The High Court in Hyderabad will function separately as the High Court of the State of Telangana.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♣
- DEFALCATION (NOUN): (कमज़ोरी): default
Synonyms: disaster, failure
Antonyms: accomplishment, achievement
Example: Imran made defalcation in funds.
- DEBILITY (NOUN): decrepitude
Synonyms: enervation, enfeeblement
Antonyms: soundness, healthiness
Example: Even though she beat cancer, she still dealt with debility from her battle.
- DISPARATE (ADJECTIVE): (पृथक्): contrasting
Synonyms: discordant, diverse
Antonyms: agreeing, alike
Example: Avni made disparate arguments.
- ORDEAL (NOUN): unpleasant and prolonged experience🙁कठिन परीक्षा)
Synonym: difficulty, trouble
Antonyms: comfort, peace
Example: This article had a gory description about the ordeals faced by players who came back after loosing a match.
- RAMPANT (NOUN): flourishing or spreading unchecked🙁अनियंत्रित)
Synonyms: uncontrolled, unbridled
Antonyms: restrained, moderate
Example: Corruption is rampant and government is trying its best to control it.
- SPAWN (VERB):originate🙁बनाना)
Synonyms: create, generate
Antonyms: destroy, kill
Example: The new economic freedom has spawned hundreds of new small businesses.
- ODIOUS (ADJECTIVE): extremely unpleasant : (घिनौना)
Synonyms: disgusting, horrid
Antonyms: attractive, delightful
Example: The detective said it was the most odious crime she had ever seen.
- FORTUITOUS (ADJECTIVE): lucky, accidental : (आकस्मिक)
Synonyms: random, chance
Antonyms: intentional, planned
Example: The check could not have arrived at a more fortuitous time.
Winter bear hug: on weakening stocks
U.S. President Donald Trump probably did not have his best Christmas this year. American stocks suffered their worst Christmas-eve loss in market history with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing a massive 650 points on Monday, a drop of almost 3% within a single trading session. Mr. Trump has been keen on projecting the stock market’s performance as a gauge of how well the U.S. economy is doing under his presidency. While U.S. and global stocks performed extremely well in the first year of Mr. Trump’s presidency, they haven’t lived up to his expectations this year. The Dow Jones, now down almost 19% from its peak in early October, is clearly teetering near bear market territory. The index is down about 12% since the beginning of the year. The S&P 500 is already more than 20% down from its intra-day peak during the year, thus meeting the common definition of a bear market. And the Japanese Nikkei index dropped 5% on Christmas day. The Christmas-eve slump in the U.S. came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s statement on Sunday announcing the convening of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, colloquially known as the Plunge Protection Team, that last met in 2008 in the midst of the global financial crisis. Investors interpreted the statement as a sign of possible trouble brewing within the financial system, thus contributing to at least some of the panic in the markets on Monday.
It is no surprise that stocks in the U.S. and around the world have shown signs of weakness just around the time the Federal Reserve and other major Western central banks have been keen on ending the era of easy money by tightening monetary policy. Many major indices have either broken their short-term uptrend or struggled to go past their most recent highs. Mr. Trump has expectedly been public about his criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who has surprised many by sticking to his plan of gradual rate hikes despite U.S. inflation being comfortably below the Fed’s target rate of 2%. He fears that rising interest rates could derail economic growth that has been quite robust in recent times and affect his popularity. Historically, politicians have generally favoured easy money policies represented by low interest rates while central bankers have insisted on sticking to their primary mandate of controlling price inflation. So the battle between the President and the Federal Reserve Chairman is not completely surprising, except for Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Fed. What is important to observe is how markets, which have now clearly begun to price in the effects of tighter monetary policy around the world, will fare in the era of more normalised interest rates.
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