MENA Project Tracker — RCJY synthetic rubber deal; Lebanon’s $150m wheat loan

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India In-Focus — Shares rise; Wheat prices hit record high; Google Maps launches India Street View

RIYADH: Indian shares rebounded on Wednesday after a shaky start to the week, closing 1 percent higher, as Bajaj Finance and engineering major Larsen & Toubro advanced on better-than-expected earnings, offsetting investor worries ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision.

The NSE Nifty 50 index closed 0.96 percent higher at 16,641.8, while the S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.99 percent to 55,816.32. The indexes have risen over 5 percent each so far this month as crude prices dropped, easing inflation fears.

In Mumbai, non-bank lender Bajaj Finance climbed 2.1 percent to its highest in nearly three months after reporting a better-than-expected jump in quarterly profit.

Engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro jumped 2.6 percent to its highest since mid-April after beating profit estimates. 

Wheat prices jump

Indian wheat prices jumped to a record high, despite a ban on exports, amid strong demand and dwindling supply from a crop damaged by heatwave.

Local wheat prices jumped to a record 23,547 rupees ($294.72) per ton on Wednesday. That was up nearly 12 percent from recent lows that followed the government’s surprise ban on exports on May 14.

Supplies in grain markets were much lower this year than normal, showing that 2022 production had dropped far more than the government had estimated, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

India, the world’s second-biggest wheat producer, harvested 109.59 million tons in 2021. The government estimated less output this year because of a heatwave in March and April.

Maruti Suzuki feels squeeze as costs hit India’s top carmaker

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the country’s top carmaker, said on Wednesday that rising raw material costs had eaten into its margins despite more sales at higher prices, hurting quarterly profit, which came in below analyst estimates.

Maruti recorded a profit of 10.13 billion rupees for the quarter that ended on June 30, compared with 4.41 billion rupees a year ago when production was hampered by COVID-19-related disruptions. Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 15.95 billion rupees, according to Refinitiv data.

“The increase in prices of commodities adversely impacted the operating profit of the company  and was forced to increase prices of vehicles to partially offset this impact,” Maruti said in a statement.

Maruti, majority-owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. increased prices six times from January 2021 to June 2022, while cutting back on discounts as demand rebounded from pandemic lows.

Google Maps launches Street View in India after 11-year wait

Alphabet Inc’s Google Maps on Wednesday launched its panoramic Street View service in 10 Indian cities, in partnership with Tech Mahindra and Genesys, 11 years after a first attempt that ran into regulatory troubles.

The feature, which offers 360-degree views of streets around the world using photos taken by cruising vehicles, has faced privacy complaints and regulatory scrutiny in many countries.

The Indian launch comes after Google was denied permission at least twice in the last decade by the government over security concerns.

Company executives said on Wednesday it was able to meet the regulatory requirements thanks to a new geospatial policy from India last year, which allows foreign map operators to provide panoramic imagery by licensing the data from local partners.

(With input from Reuters) 


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