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India Focus – Stocks Rise; Wheat prices hit record high; Google Maps launches India Street View

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

The NSE Nifty 50 index closed up 0.96% at 16,641.8, while the S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.99% at 55,816.32. The indexes have risen more than 5% each so far this month as crude prices have fallen, easing inflation fears.

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

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

Wheat prices jump

Indian wheat prices hit a record high, despite the export ban, amid strong demand and shrinking supply due to a heat-damaged crop.

Local wheat prices jumped to a record 23,547 rupees ($294.72) a tonne on Wednesday. This represents an increase of nearly 12% from recent lows following the government’s surprise ban on exports on May 14.

Supplies in grain markets have been well below normal this year, showing that 2022 production has fallen far more than the government had estimated, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading company.

India, the world’s second largest wheat producer, harvested 109.59 million tonnes in 2021. The government estimated lower production this year due to a heat wave in March and April.

Maruti Suzuki feels squeezed as costs hit India’s top automaker

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the country’s biggest automaker, said on Wednesday that rising raw material costs had eaten into its margins despite increased sales at higher prices, hurting quarterly profit, which fell short of analysts’ estimates. .

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

“The increase in raw material prices negatively impacted the company’s operating profit and was forced to increase vehicle prices to partially offset this impact,” Maruti said in a statement.

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

Google Maps launches Street View in India after 11 years of waiting

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

The feature, which provides a 360-degree view of streets around the world using photos taken by cruise vehicles, has been the subject of privacy complaints and regulatory scrutiny in many countries.

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

Company executives said on Wednesday it was able to meet 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 of local partners.

(Contributed by Reuters)

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