News digest: PNB scam, Oscars 2018, Tata stocks, services PMI, and more

Rs 127-billion fraud fallout: Foreign banks stop selling gold to PNB 

Punjab National Bank’s (PNB’s) gold import business has taken a hit after the Nirav Modi swindle. Foreign banks are not willing to sell gold to the scam-tainted public sector bank, said sources. 

Foreign banks selling gold to PNB are not willing to take risks. Concerns about weak compliance after it was struck by fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) linger, said people in the know. 

Several banks, including PNB, are nominated agencies for gold imports on behalf of traders and bullion refiners. In recent months, PNB has emerged as one of the largest gold importing banks, where it earned a margin of 1-2 per cent. Read more 

I-T Dept probes Rs 10-bn tax refund fraud by govt and PSU employees 

With less than a month left for revising income-tax (I-T) returns for 2016-17, the I-T department has unearthed a giant fraud in multiple cities, where government employees allegedly claimed huge tax refunds forging documents, inflating expenses and not revealing complete information.

In Mumbai alone, around 17,000 revised returns have been filed claiming refunds. Similarly, in Bengaluru, the I-T department has found over 1,000 returns filed with inflated claims on account of payments towards home loans. Read more

Tata stocks may take a beating over Donald Trump's protectionism talk 

The Tata group could be affected the most among Indian business houses in the eventuality of a trade war between the US and the European Union (EU).

The group, through companies such as Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals and Tata Global Beverages, has manufacturing operations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Any trade war and reciprocal tariffs on each others’ exports will hit revenue and profitability for the group plants in the US and the EU.

Among Tata group companies, Tata Motors is likely to take the biggest hit, followed by Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, and Tata Global Beverages. In 2016-17, the US was the second-largest market for Tata Motors’ subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) vehicles, behind its home market in the UK. Read more

'The Shape of Water' wins best picture as Oscars project diversity 

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony skittered between the serious and the silly on Sunday night, taking time both to acknowledge #MeToo and to hand out hot dogs at an adjacent movie theatre, but the show ultimately emerged as a powerful call for inclusion and diversity in Hollywood.

Guillermo del Toro’s outcast parable, The Shape of Water, was honoured as best picture, and del Toro won the best director Oscar. Jordan Peele collected the best original screenplay award for Get Out, a movie centered on racism in the liberal white suburbs. And Frances McDormand, winning best actress for her portryal of a mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, made a dramatic stand for gender equality in Hollywood. Read more

Feb services PMI falls to 6-month low as inflation hits demand; jobs rise 

Services, the dominating sector of the economy, contracted to a six-month low in February, as new work orders suffered amid weak demand, showed the widely tracked Nikkei Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) survey. This is the fourth contraction this financial year (2017-18).

But, firms continued to hire, seemingly considering the contraction to be an aberration.

The PMI for services fell from 51.7 in January to 47.8 in February, lowest since August. The index slipped below the 50-point mark, which separates expansion from contraction. It stood at 48.5 in November last year. PMI had fallen to 47.5 and 45.9 in August and July, 2017, because of adjustments after the goods and services tax (GST) roll-out. Read more

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