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Catching up with Sunak, Biden and Xi
Good morning! Chamoli in Uttarakhand is most famous for its slew of pilgrimage and tourist attractions. Recently, though, it made the news for a prison inmate. Financial Times reports that Fergus MacLeod—the head of investor relations at Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s most valuable companies—was arrested and jailed for carrying a satellite phone while on holiday. India banned sat phones after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. MacLeod, who’s free now, pointed out that he didn’t know about the ban–not least because Indian airport security never stopped him. Yikes.
A quick programming note: On account of the festive season, today’s is a short edition. There will be no edition of our daily newsletter, The Signal, on October 27 (Thursday).
The Market Signal*
Stocks: The Nykaa share dipped below its IPO price on Tuesday. With that, the top four equity issuers of 2021, the others being Paytm, Zomato, Policy Bazaar, are now trading below their issue price. Benchmark indices of the BSE and NSE surged nearly 1% during the ritualistic trading hour called Muhurat trading on the day of Diwali. It marks the beginning of Samvat 2079, the Hindu calendar year. Incidentally, CNBC TV18 reported that it was the first time in the past seven years that the Nifty had posted a Diwali-to-Diwali loss (-1.4%).
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty rose 0.76% higher than its previous close at 7.35 am India time. The Hang Seng Index (+2.08%) and Nikkei 225 (+1.03%) were also in the green.
Trivia that matter
Rishi Sunak stepped into 10 Downing Street as Britain’s Prime Minister on Tuesday, the first of non-British origin. Sunak said his priority was economic stability and to fix mistakes his predecessor, Liz Truss, made.
80+: On 20th November, Joe Biden will become the only octogenarian to be the US President. The average age of US presidents is 55 years.
Unparalleled: Last Sunday, Xi Jinping became the first after Mao Zedong to get a prolonged reign as the country’s paramount leader.
King Charles appointed Sunak as PM, but his stay in office will depend on the pleasure of the markets as Truss found out. Sunak has the ayes for now and fortune, of course, favours the brave. Gas prices in Europe have been falling and the pound gained in strength.
Across the Atlantic, Biden’s handling of the economy is perhaps ensuring a Republican Party victory in the midterms. If the House goes to the GOP as expected and the Senate to Democrats, Biden’s will be little more than a lame duck Presidency for the rest of the term. Unless, of course, the global political temperature rises.
That’s where China comes in. In his inaugural speech at the 20th Party Congress, Xi had clearly articulated a muscular, militaristic foreign policy. That should worry India, which has a long-standing border dispute with the neighbour. But even Xi will have to contend with the markets. The wealthy are not taking any chances.
Funding alert: Sequoia India is in talks with education startup K12 Techno Services to invest over $50 million in the company.
Infusion: South Korean financial services group Mirae Asset may reportedly invest $208 million to help finance Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter acquisition.
Process this: The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority is investigating Meta, Amazon, Google, and Apple for potential anti-competitive practices in retail financial services.
Everything’s dearer: Speaking of Apple, the company is increasing the cost of Apple TV+, Apple Music, and the Apple One bundle for the first time since their inception. It’s also contending with a demand slump for the iPhone 14 Plus.
Cancelled: Adidas joined Balenciaga and Gap Inc in ending its partnership with Ye, aka Kanye West (for Yeezy) following the rapper-producer-designer’s antisemitic tirades on social media.
Take that back: Unilever recalled dry shampoos by Dove, Tigi, Tresemme, and other brands after it was discovered that the products were contaminated with benzene, a carcinogen.
Setback: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has slapped Google with a penalty of ₹936 crore ($113.04 million) for abusing its dominance on the Play Store to promote its payments app. The Indian antitrust regulator has fined the internet giant for the second time this month.
Felines have feelings: Cats, much like dogs and babies, love being indulged with high-pitched baby talk. Only when it's from their owners. According to a new study, cats respond to their owners’ voices in subtle ways such as flicking their tails, tilting their heads and halting their self-grooming sessions. Baby talk from non-owners is just noise to them as they filter out the background information. Colour us surprised.
New horizons: Netflix may not have a theme park as yet but it's making an effort to capitalise on its signature shows. The streaming video giant has set up a 10,000 sq. ft. brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles to retail props, apparel, books, and collectibles from its catalogue of shows such as Stranger Things, Bridgerton, and Squid Game. The store will remain open only until early January, enough to trigger FOMO among fans.
Clickbait?: The middle seat in an airplane is universally disliked, in very small part due to clashes over armrests. Now, Virgin Australia has a bait to make the seats desirable. The airline launched a raffle worth $145,000 for travellers willing to be sandwiched between two seats. Other gifts include a helicopter pub crawl and bungee jump. We'd still pass.
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