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US imposes additional tariffs on certain EU goods

Washington started to impose additional tariffs on a wide range of European products worth $7.5 billion in October 2019, after a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on subsidies to the EU aircraft Airbus…reports Asian Lite News

The US is adjusting tariffs on certain products imported from the European Union (EU) amid a long-time dispute over aircraft subsidies, said the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

Washington started to impose additional tariffs on a wide range of European products worth $7.5 billion in October 2019, after a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on subsidies to the EU aircraft Airbus, reports Xinhua news agency.

Following a similar WTO decision on subsidies to Boeing earlier this year, the EU slapped additional tariffs on US products worth $4 billion in November.

The USTR’s office on Wednesday claimed that the EU imposed tariffs on “substantially more products than would have been covered” as it used trade data from a period in which trade volumes had been drastically reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although the US explained to the EU the distortive effect of its selected time period, the EU refused to change its approach,” the office said in a statement, adding that products subject to new additional tariffs include aircraft manufacturing parts, certain non-sparkling wine, and certain cognac and other grape brandies from France and Germany.

“In order to not escalate the situation, the US is adjusting the product coverage by less than the full amount that would be justified utilising the EU’s chosen time period,” the USTR’s office said.

Both US and EU trade officials have expressed their desire for a negotiated settlement in aircraft subsidies, but Wednesday’s move reflects USTR Robert Lighthizer’s scepticism that such a deal can be done with less than a month left for the administration of President Donald Trump, said Bloomberg News.

The aircraft subsidy dispute has dragged on for 16 years.

In 2004, the United States filed a case with the WTO, accusing the EU of providing illegal subsidies to Airbus in various forms.

The EU has since filed a similar case over allegedly illegal US subsidies to Boeing.

The WTO has ruled that both the US and the EU have provided illegal subsidies for their respective airlines.

Also read:India Witnesses Sequential Drop In CA Surplus

-Top News USA

California reports 1st case of mutant Covid-19 strain

San Diego County’s Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said during another online news conference that the infected person was the 30-year-old man with no travel history…reports Asian Lite News

A 30-year-old man from San Diego County was confirmed as the first Covid-19 variant case in California, the most populous state in the US.

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom in a joint news conference with Anthony Fauci on Facebook Live announced that the variant, known as B.1.1.7, was detected in Southern California, but did not provide any more specifics on exactly where or how it was discovered, reports Xinhua news agency.

Hours later, the San Diego County’s Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said during another online news conference that the infected person was the 30-year-old man with no travel history.

The man became symptomatic on Sunday and was tested on Tuesday, Eric McDonald, the county’s medical director for epidemiology said, adding the new strain was spotted in a sample that came from the University of California San Diego and was confirmed on Wednesday morning.

Fauci, Americas top infectious diseases expert, noted during the conversation with Newsom that he was not surprised about the news of the variant showing up in the Golden State, saying: “I don’t think that Californians should feel that this is something odd, This is something that’s expected.”

On Tuesday, the first reported US case of the variant strain, first found in Britain, was discovered in state of Colorado.

Fletcher said the local authority believed the 30-year-old man was not an isolated case in San Diego County, and there were probably other cases of the same strain in the county.

Also read:California extends stay-at-home order as cases surge

-Top News USA

Trump shortens Florida trip

The President’s return to the capital means that he will not be celebrating New Year’s Eve at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach like in the previous three years…reports Asian Lite News

US President Donald Trump has cut short his trip to Florida, where he celebrated Christmas with his family, and will now return to Washington D.C. on Thursday, according to a media report.

According to the President’s daily schedule released late Wednesday, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump “will be leaving Florida for the White House” at 11 a.m. (local tim) on Thursday, reports The Hill news website.

The President’s return to the capital means that he will not be celebrating New Year’s Eve at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach like in the previous three years.

Trump’ return to Washington comes just a week ahead of Congress formally counting Electoral College votes on January 6.

Also read:Biden slams Trump admin for slow vaccine roll-out

Business Economy

Global Laptop Sales Hit Record Highs in 2020

Riding on the surge in remote work and learning, the global laptop market will hit a high in 2020, increasing 9 per cent (on-year) to reach 173 million units and over $132 billion in total sales value.

The top three players – Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell – accounted for 68 per cent of the market in 2020, according to Counterpoint Research.

However, there has been an increased level of competition between the second tier and third tier players.

“Second tier players such as Apple, Asus and Acer have seen their market shares decline in recent years with the emergence of Chinese brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi,” said Mengmeng Zhang, an analyst with Counterpoint.

With uncertainty persisting over COVID-19, work-from-home and study-from-home will likely continue into much of 2021 and some part of 2022.

“Therefore, we expect the global laptop shipments to continue to grow slightly in 2021 and 2022. The demand will slow down gradually in 2023,” Zhang said.

After reaching its peak in 2011, the laptop market growth has slowed down with the rise of alternatives such as smartphones and tablets.

“Nonetheless, due to the continuous demand for laptops for commercial use, the market remains relatively stable with global shipments averaging 160 million units over the past few years,” she informed.

Building on their success in smartphones, Huawei and Xiaomi have expanded into laptops, quickly gaining a foothold, especially in the Chinese market.

In 2016, Huawei launched its first MateBook and soon followed it up with a comprehensive product line ranging from low-end to high-end products.

Meanwhile, Xiaomi also launched its Mi Air laptop in the same year, focusing on its light weight and good value for money.

“In the future, we believe that laptops will continue to focus on the ability to process heavier applications such as games, graphic rendering and data processing,” Zhang noted.

Also Read: Festive spike in E-Com demand lesser than expected: Report

Business Economy

Nifty50 Touches 14K Mark First Time Ever

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) has crossed the 14,000 mark for the first time ever.

It touched an all-time high of 14,010.15 points amid a largely subdued trade.

The indices traded on a flat-to-positive note during the afternoon trade Sensex also touched its all-time high of 47,865.56 points.

Around 12.50 p.m., Sensex was trading at 47,798.68 points, higher by 52.46 points or 0.11 per cent from its previous close of 47,746.22.

It opened at 47,753.11 and has touched an intra-day high of 47,865.56 and a low of 47,602.12 points.

Nifty was trading at 13,993.70 points, higher by 11.75 points or 0.08 per cent from its previous close.

The top gainers on the Sensex were HDFC, ICICI Bank and Maruti Suzuki India, while UltraTech Cement, TCS and Tech Mahindra.

Also Read: Sensex, Nifty surpass record figures

Business Economy India News

Profit to GDP Ratio To Begin Growth Shortly: Report

Corporate earnings recovery will likely provide a cushion for valuations in 2021, Motilal Oswal Private Wealth Management said in its 2020 year-ender note.

It pointed out that earnings growth over the last few years have remained subdued on account of structural reforms such as GST, IBC and RERA.

“With Corporate India deleveraging its balance sheet by a considerable extent over the last few years, and with financial system (particularly PSU banks) already at high provision coverage, corporate profit-to-GDP ratio in India should start inching upwards steadily from its current decadal lows over the next few quarters,” the note said.

“Hence, while our ‘Temperature Gauge Index’ for equities indicates that Large Cap valuations are in expensive zone, earnings recovery going forward will likely provide cushion for valuations. The broader market still offers a lot of attractive investment opportunities.”

According to the note, Q2FY20 domestic earnings season saw a ‘bumper harvest’ with majority of companies beating estimates.

“Cost optimisation during the lockdown phase has been one of the main reasons for the growth in profits apart from demand recovery,” the note said.

“Managements across sectors are talking about continued recovery in the upcoming quarter due to the festive season and pent up demand. BFSI sector has delivered strong earnings with large private banks indicating lower than expected stress on their loan books. Healthcare sector has also delivered double digit returns in this quarter. After many years, analysts are finally considering a positive upgrade in Nifty50 earnings.”

Besides, the note expects an extended period of low yields on the back of RBI’s maintenance of its accommodative stance while emphasising the importance of economic growth over inflation.

“Relaxation of the prevailing inflation targeting mechanism is also being discussed with the Govt… It would be prudent to follow a barbell portfolio approach.”

“Gold should continue to remain part of portfolio allocation, predominantly as a hedge against heightened volatility.”

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Bollywood Films Lite Blogs

2020 Rewind: Major Events In B’ wood

While the year 2020 would always be remembered for the havoc the pandemic created for humankind, it also become momentous as it marked several events which brought cheer to life.

From celebrities tying the knots to some getting pregnant and many Bollywood stars venturing into OTT platforms, 2020 saw it all. Let’s rewind and look back at some of those moments that took place in 2020.

Lockdown weddings

Lockdown weddings were a hit in 2020 as many celebrities chose to enter the wedding lock in a private wedding ceremony rather than a star-studded wedding. Actress Kajal Aggarwal married her long-time boyfriend Gautam Kitchlu in a private ceremony in Mumbai. Singers Neha Kakkar and Rohanpreet Singh also tied the knot during this period.

Actor Rana Daggubati married his girlfriend Miheeka Bajaj at an intimate wedding ceremony in Hyderabad. Actor and Bigg Boss 7 winner Gauhar Khan also tied knot with a social media influencer Zaid Darbar in Mumbai. Cricketer Hardik Pandya and Natasa Stankovic also had an intimate wedding during this period.

Celebs announce pregnancy

While some couples spent their days in lockdown baking in the kitchen, others have spent it whipping up a storm. Celebrities around the globe forced into home sheltering have used this time to get pregnant.

Power couple Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli announced the couple’s first pregnancy on social media. Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan are also expecting their second baby.

Across high seas, supermodel Gigi Hadid and boyfriend Zayn Malik confirmed they were expecting their first child together. Cricketer Hardik Pandya and his wife Natasa Stankovic welcomed their first child during this period.

FASHION, art shows go digital

Major international and Indian fashion events like the New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week and India Fashion Week and Lakme Fashion Week went online and were held in digital format. Deviating from the tried and tested and adapting to a ‘new normal’, these online events were very much appreciated and accepted by consumers as well as the designers. The India Art Festival (IAF), a contemporary art fair, also took the conventional presentation of visual art to a digital platform with ‘Virtual India Art Festival’.

Celebs debut on OTT platforms

The year 2020 saw veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah made his OTT debut with ‘Bandish Bandits’. Actress Sushmita Sen returned to acting after a decade with the web-series ‘Aarya’. Karisma Kapoor too made her digital debut this year with ALT Balaji’s show ‘Mentalhood’. Actress Jacqueline Fernandez was also seen in the show ‘Mrs. Serial Killer’ on Netflix.

Abhishek Bachchan made his OTT debut with crime thriller show ‘Breath: Into The Shadows’ on Amazon Prime Video.

Also Read-Exploring a mélange of moods

Economy India News

India Witnesses Sequential Drop In CA Surplus

India’s current account surplus moderated to $15.5 billion in Q2FY21 from $19.2 billion reported for the first quarter of the current fiscal.

On a YoY basis, the country’s Balance of Payment status was in a deficit of $7.6 billion during Q2FY20.

“The narrowing of the current account surplus in Q2 of 2020-21 was on account of a rise in the merchandise trade deficit to $14.8 billion from $10.8 billion in the preceding quarter,” the RBI said in a statement on developments in India’s Q2FY21 BoP.

However, the data showed an increase in net services’ receipts both sequentially and on a YoY basis, primarily on the back of higher net earnings from computer services.

“Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, declined on a y-o-y basis but improved sequentially by 12 per cent to $20.4 billion in Q2 2020-21.”

“Net outgo from the primary income account, primarily reflecting net overseas investment income payments, increased to $9.3 billion from $8.8 billion a year ago.”

In terms of financial account, the data pointed out an inflow in net foreign direct investment of $24.6 billion as compared with $7.3 billion in Q2 of 2019-20.

“Net foreign portfolio investment was $7 billion as compared with $2.5 billion in Q2 of 2019-20, largely reflecting net purchases in the equity market.”

“With repayments exceeding fresh disbursals, external commercial borrowings to India recorded net outflow of $4.1 billion in Q2 of 2020-21 as against an inflow of $3.1 billion a year ago.”

Besides, the data cited a moderation in net accretions to non-resident deposits to $1.9 billion from $2.3 billion in Q2 of 2019-20.

“There was an accretion of $31.6 billion to the foreign exchange reserves (on a BoP basis) as compared with that of $5.1 billion in Q2 of 2019-20.”

ICRA’s Principal Economist Aditi Nayar said: “India’s current account surplus remained robust in Q2 FY2021, despite the entirely expected moderation from the level recorded in the lockdown quarter, given the rise in imports in tune with the resumption in economic activities.”

“The emergence of logistical challenges, and fresh restrictions that have been imposed in some major trading partners to ward off rising Covid-19 infections, have interrupted the improvement in exports in Q3 FY2021. We expect a tempered revival in exports in Q4 FY2021, that would remain prone to hiccups related to Covid-related restrictions in the trading partners.”

Also Read: Indian Startups Make Big Gains In 2020: Report

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Bollywood Lite Blogs

Kareena shares ‘lazy last day’ pics

Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan seems to be having a lazy last day of the year. Instagram images she posted on Thursday capture Kareena, son Taimur and actor husband Saif Ali Khan in a cosy mood in bed.

“Ending the year snuggling and cuddling trying to force the boys into a perfect picture… 2020 would not have been possible without the two loves of my life… marching ahead… to new beginnings. Stay safe my friends… Love and hope from us. We love you all…Happy new year,” Kareena wrote as the caption.

Saif and Kareena got married in 2012. She gave birth to their first-born, Taimur, in 2016. Kareena is currently expecting their second baby, and she often shares photographs of her baby bump on social media.

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Read More-Exploring a mélange of moods

Arts & Culture Lite Blogs

Exploring a mélange of moods

Drawing from a collection of pre-modern and modern Indian art, art gallery DAG has curated an unparalleled art show, ‘Navrasa — The Nine Emotions of Art’, that views stellar works of Indian masters through the lens of the aesthetic expression of nine bhavas or emotions that lies at the foundation of Indian art…writes Siddhi Jain.

Exploring a melange of moods that we experience during the course of our lives — sometimes on the same day — but with a skew towards beauty, ‘Navrasa’ depicts these emotions through the prism of art with a uniquely Indian perspective and breaks new ground in the visualisation of Indian art.

As the clock winds down on 2020, a year that made us experience every human emotion possible — helplessness (but also compassion), anger (but also love), disgust (but also courage), fear (but also heroism), ugliness (but also beauty), restlessness (but also peace), the gallery rediscovers these crescendos of human emotions. It also explores their intrinsic link with each other and the dynamics they share with Indian modern art in Navrasa, throwing fresh perspective on a language created millennia ago.

The deeply researched and carefully selected works of art are currently on physical exhibit at the DAG galleries in New Delhi and Mumbai till January 2021, and mark the official reopening of DAG spaces in New Delhi and Mumbai for art lovers and connoisseurs, patrons and collectors to view these works of art in their appropriate environment.

Ashish Anand, DAG CEO and Managing Director, notes, “We will long remember 2020 for the havoc that it created but also for the path to hope that it ignited. To mark an event that has reshaped our lives, I wanted to mark the transition from 2020 to 2021 with an exhibition where we could revisit the many moods we experienced and their relationships with each other expressed through the medium of art. Navrasa is our tribute to this experience seen through the eyes of artists who are forever calibrating the world as they see it, and I hope looking at these works through the lens of different emotions will ignite your curiosity and interest in a refreshingly different way of understanding and looking at modern art.”

Distilling the works of art into nine sections, Navrasa interprets artistic practices into shringara (celebration of beauty, love and romance), haasya (laughter and satire), karuna (compassion), veera (courage and heroism), raudra (anger), bheebhatsya (disgust or revulsion), bhayanak (horror, terror or fear), adbhut (a sense of wonderment) and shaantha (peace and tranquillity).

Among the highlights are works by M. F. Husain, F N Souza, Krishen Khanna, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Jamini Roy, B Prabha, Sunil Das, Rameshwar Broota, K K Hebbar, D P Roy Chowdhury, Madhvi Parekh, Altaf, Gogi Saroj Pal, Paritosh Sen, Nikhil Biswas, Rabin Mondal, Somnath Hore, Jogen Chowdhury, K C S Paniker, A Ramachandran, Kshitindranath Mazumdar, as well as rare works by Raja Ravi Varma, A H Muller and Stefan Norblin, among others.

Including prints, paintings and sculptures, the exhibit has 120 lots featuring 129 works of fine art by 85 artists. The online viewing room on the gallery website also runs till January 10, 2021.

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