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Why the questioning of RBI officials for 80:20 scheme is a witch-hunt

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The questioning in the Nirav Modi case has now reached a few current and one former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor. At the outset, one needs to distinguish between the Nirav Modi issue and the 80:20 gold scheme.

Nirav Modi, in cohorts with a couple of employees of Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) Brady House branch, took a large amount of loans without margins -- loans which, it now appears, he could repay only by taking more loans. His uncle Mehul Choksi appears to have benefitted by changing a decimal point in one of his loans and making off with a much larger loan than was sanctioned.

Nirav Modi is not at all connected to the 80:20 scheme. Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems was one of the Star Trading Houses that got a licence to import gold in May 2014, when gold was scarce in the country, but it is now well documented that of the 14 STHs, Gitanjali imported the least and hence probably benefitted the least. The questioning of the current and former officials of the RBI is hence in connection with the 80:20 scheme.

The question marks over this scheme emanate from both the timing of the relaxation and the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s remark that the STHs benefitted by Rs4,500 crore because of the policy.

What the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and other investigating agencies need to note that policies intended for general benefit often tend to help some more than others. A policy to build say the golden quadrilateral pushes up prices of land in areas through which the road runs. But the policy was not intended to benefit those owning the land. It was meant for the entire nation. One ought to see the 80:20 policy in the light.

When the taper talk hit the Indian rupee in July 2013 along with the other four “fragile” currencies, RBI’s and the government’s effort was to control imports and increase the flow of dollars into the country.

The FCNR-B scheme was designed to attract NRIs into depositing more dollars in Indian banks, with the RBI agreeing to bear the swap cost. A number of NRIs made money hand-over-fist by leveraging nearly 20 times to benefit from the FCNR scheme. India got over $25 billion due to this scheme.

When the time came for the deposits to mature (in October-November 2016) the dollar had become cheaper, so the RBI didn’t lose any money buying back the dollars and repaying the NRIs. But that’s beside the point. In the pursuit of more dollar inflows, so that the rupee didn’t look fragile, the government and RBI started a scheme that enriched some NRIs hugely. Does this mean RBI and the government were in cohorts with some handpicked individuals? No. The scheme was policy decision to get more dollars.

The 80:20 scheme needs to be seen in the same light. The government banned gold imports because it was a large import item and was unimportant enough for the country to do without for some time. Both government and RBI were aware that anything rationed would benefit those who could lay hands on any amount of gold. Yes, the STHs made money when they were allowed to import from May 2014.

But one needs to note that from June 2013 to May 2014 as well, a lot of jewellers made tonnes of money on gold imported by the banks. This was how the scheme was designed: only four banks and two government trading companies MMTC and STC were allowed to import gold.

Jewellers who had a record of imports and exports until May 2013, were sold this gold at the landed price on promise they would use 20% to export jewellery. They had the licence to sell the remaining 80% in the domestic market which earned them a massive premium. If the CAG’s office tries to find out how many jewellers benefitted before the policy was liberalized, the will find that a clutch of jewellers made even more money than the Rs4,500 crore the STHs did after May 2014. But that’s how rationing works.

In war time, nations ban a bunch of unnecessary imports, or impose price controls. Black markets flourish and those who have the goods make money. Nevertheless during wars, governments continue to impose rationing. In all these cases one assumes the larger good that is served by controlling prices or imports is more than the evil of some people making money.

Likewise in 2013, the extra bucks made by some FCNR-B depositors and some jewellers was considered a price the nation had to pay to control the exchange rate from a free fall. It may be recalled, at that time the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government also decided to raise the price of petrol and diesel by 50 paise every month.

This was political suicide for the UPA because raising prices on the eve of an election would have hurt the ruling party. But, the government went ahead and raised prices so that at higher prices, fuel consumption would fall and the country’s trade deficit would correct. This act of the UPA government of raising fuel prices even on the eve of an election to serve a larger good is an act of statesmanship.

Short point, in the face of a massive current account deficit and a run on the rupee many actions were taken by the government and the RBI to rebalance the deficit. Some policies benefitted some persons. But witch-hunting, of all people RBI officials, is unfair and even dangerous.

The next time the country’s currency is in danger, RBI officials who so far have been in the forefront of the firefighting, may simply want to play safe instead of serving the country.

This column had pleaded in the past, and pleads again: controlling the exchange rate is a delicate task. Questioning RBI’s motives on hindsight can be a costly blunder.

RBI might revisit its neutral stance if inflation moves higher; top 6 takeaways: Suvodeep Rakshit

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As expected, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) MPC kept the policy repo rate unchanged at 6 percent in the April 4-5, 2018 meeting. Given that this was the first meeting of FY19, the RBI’s estimated inflation trajectory forms the nub of the policy.

The Monetary Policy Report (published biannually) outlined that the inflation trajectory would hover around the 4.5 percent mark, not just in FY19 but in FY20, too.

With headline CPI inflation expected to be in a ‘no-man’s land’ for an extended period and growth seeing some nascent recovery, the RBI is likely to remain on an extended wait-and-watch mode.

While the policy should provide some cheer to the bond market, further downward move in yields will be contingent on the fiscal situation and sustained lower inflation prints.

The RBI revised its inflation forecast lower to 4.7-5.1 percent (earlier estimate of 5.1-5.6 percent) for 1HFY19 and 4.4 percent (earlier 4.5-4.6 percent) for 2HFY19.

However, the RBI remains wary of the adverse impact on inflation from
(1) a revised formula for MSP for Kharif crops,
(2) staggered impact of HRA revisions by state governments, specifically second-rounds impact,
(3) further fiscal slippage either in FY19 or in the medium-term path,
(4) adverse temporal or spatial distribution of monsoons,
(5) surveys indicating that input and output prices could rise going forward, and

(6) recent volatility with hardening bias in crude prices.

The MPC noted that growth has been recovering and the output gap is closing. There has been some recovery (especially in the investment cycle) as indicated by the recent pickup in credit offtake, sustained growth in capital goods production and higher non-oil imports.

However, caution should be exercised as global growth could swiftly move lower on the back of rising trade protectionism and volatile global financial markets. We estimate FY19 GDP growth at 7.3 percent, in line with RBI’s estimate of 7.4 percent.

We expect headline inflation to trend towards 5.2 percent by June 2018 partly led by unfavorable base effect, before moderating towards 4.5 percent by end-FY2019. This trajectory would neither provide comfort to the RBI (being above 4 percent on a sustained basis) nor convincingly warrant a rate-hike cycle (not significantly higher than 4 percent).

We remain cautious on the core inflation part, which could stay high as the economy undergoes a gradual cyclical recovery and corporates possibly gain pricing power through the year.

We expect headline and core inflation to average 4.6 percent and 4.9 percent in FY19 (3.6 percent and 4.5 percent in FY18). As highlighted above, there are various upside risks to the inflation trajectory. A nascent cyclical growth recovery is underway.

The RBI will take cognizance of this dynamics. Also, a change in stance would be warranted when a series of rate actions seems necessary rather than a token rate action.

In the current scenario, the conditions necessitate a wait-and-watch policy with a hawkish bias. However, any sharp deviation from the RBI’s estimated inflation trajectory on account of non-transitory causes may prompt the RBI to revisit its neutral stance.

Stock Market-Research Report-5-4-2018

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Topic :- Share Market Closing Note

Markets ended over 1.5% higher on Thursday after the Reserve Bank of India kept the repo rate unchanged at 6% in the first Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meet of FY19.

The S&P BSE Sensex ended at 33,597, up 578 points while the broader Nifty50 index settled at 10,325, up 197 points.

The MPC had started its 2-day meeting on Wednesday amid little hope of a rate cut, given a hardening in global crude oil prices.

The RBI has maintained the status-quo on the key short-term borrowing rate (repo) in its last three policy meets. The benchmark lending rate was reduced by 0.25 percentage points to 6 per cent last August, bringing it to a 6-year low.


Topic :- Time: 2.00 PM

Nifty is trading flat on account of upcoming RBI policy announcement. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 10300 level then expect some upmove and if it breaks and trade below 10260 level then some profit booking can be seen in it.


Topic :- Time:1.30 PM

SILVER Trading View:

SILVER is trading at 38080. It will find its immediate resistance at 38330 level. If it manages to hold below it then it can slide towards 37820 level quite soon. Sell on every rise till it holds below 38330 is recommended in it.


Topic :- Time:1.00 PM

Nifty is trading flat ahead of RBI policy. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 10300 level then expect some upmove and if it breaks and trade below 10260 level then some profit booking can be seen in the market.


Topic :- Time:12.40 PM

PNB fraud case: Belgium freezes two Nirav Modi accounts:

In a breather to the Indian authorities in the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, the Belgian authorities have frozen two accounts of diamond merchant Nirav Modi at Enforcement Directorates (ED) request, according to a report in The Hindu.

In a bid to stop Modi from using the funds parked in the accounts, the ED had reached out to the Belgian government via diplomatic channels and sought a freeze on the accounts.

After the Punjab National Bank scam broke out and investigations were launched, all agencies were roped in to gather more and more facts. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has also been providing vital information, the report quoted an official.

Last week, the ED also managed to arrest a close associate and the vice president of a firm of Modi for allegedly aiding in the laundering of over Rs 5,900 crore in connection with the Delhi-based government owned bank fraud case.

So far, the agency has sent judicial requests to over a dozen countries for obtaining information about the overseas businesses and assets of Modi. In India, since the scam broke out in February, a total of 251 searches have been conducted to begin criminal probe against him.

The total seizure and attachment of diamond, gold, precious and semi-precious stones and other movable and immovable assets in the case stand over Rs 7,600 crore.

Apart from Belgium, the ED has sent Letters Rogatories (LRs) to countries including Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa, tracking the diamond and gold jewellery businesses of the firms owned by Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others associated with them.


Topic :- Time:12.30 PM

COPPER Trading View:

COPPER is trading at 436.30. If it manages to trade and sustain above 437 level then expect it to rise further and if it breaks and trade below 434 level then some profit booking can follow in it.


Topic :- Time:11.30 AM

News Wrap Up:

1. Sensex surges 400 pts, Nifty above 10,250; RBI policy eyed

2. Services sector grows in March, spurs fastest hiring spree in 7 years: PMI

3. Centre may completely exit Air India, sell its residual stake to LIC

4. These are not the best of times to be a banker: SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar

5. Salman Khan convicted in Blackbuck case, Tabu, Saif acquitted.

6. Nepal has Rs 9.5 bn in demonetised Indian notes and doesnt know what to do

7. Interest rate sensitive stocks gain upto 4% ahead of RBI policy

8. Smartlink Network Systems surges 15% as board mulls share buyback proposal

9. Adani Enterprises trades ex-date to spin off its renewable energy biz

10. Jhunjhunwala, shareholders question Fortis-Manipal deal over valuations


Topic :- Time:10.30 AM

After positive opening nifty is still trading in positive zone. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 10285 level then further upmove is expected and if it breaks and trade below 10260 level then some softness can be seen.


Topic :- Nifty Opening Note

Indian Stock Market Trading View For 05 April,2018:

Nifty to trade volatile and is expected to follow global cues.

Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 10160 level then expect some upmove and if it breaks and trade below 10080 level then expect some profit booking in it. Please note this is just opening view and should not be considered as the view for the whole day.

Now, insure your Ola Cabs ride for just Re 1

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Next time you take a ride with Ola Cabs, you will get an option to pay Re 1 for a trip insurance cover worth Rs 5 lakh for riding from one point to another. For Ola Rentals, the premium will be Rs 10 while it will be Rs 15 for Ola Outstation.

In India, Ola is one of the first smart mobility platforms to offer an in-trip insurance cover to its users, across all categories viz. cabs, auto, kaali-peeli, and e-rickshaw. Ola has partnered with Acko General Insurance Ltd to launch this program designed to benefit its customers across more than 110 cities.

For now the programme is being rolled out for customers in major metros. Ola plans to scale up the programme to other cities it operates in. The comprehensive insurance programme provides benefits in cases of loss of baggage or laptops, missed flights, accidental medical expense, ambulance transportation cover, and much more.

Several digital insurance companies, large and small, like Acko and Fairfax-based Digit Insurance, as well as players like ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General and HDFC ERGO General Insurance are actively tapping the small-ticket insurance market.

In fact, Bajaj Allianz General launched a Bharat Bhraman policy that covers travel by bus, train, cabs, bicycles or air within India. This covers personal accident as well as hospitalisation.

Several insurance companies have been in the race to enter into tie-ups with Ola, Uber, Flipkart and Amazon in India in an attempt to have a wider reach and audience for their products. For example, Ola says it clocks 2 million rides a day across the cities it operates in.

In August 2017, Uber, in partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance, rolled out an insurance programme for drivers.

In the case of the Ola trip insurance for customers, the optional policy can be purchased through the Ola app. The claims can be made through the Ola app as well as Acko’s website, mobile app and, call center. In the near future, Ola will also partner with ICICI Lombard General Insurance for this programme. Post this, customers could get an option to choose between insurers for the product.

Vishal Kaul, Chief Operating Officer at Ola said, “Just for INR 1, Ola customers can avail an insurance policy of Rs 5 lakh which will provide cover for missed flights, loss of baggage, loss of laptop, emergency hotel requirements, and many more.”

There is an in-app communication while booking a ride. Once a customer has given his/her consent, insurance is charged on all his/her future rides unless the toggle is put to 'off'.

Varun Dua, Founder & CEO, Acko General Insurance said that this policy will ensure that daily commute is stress-free for daily commuters.

Among other sectors, the Indian Railways also offers an insurance cover at a premium of 92 paise. This product offers families a compensation of Rs 10 lakh in the event of death or total disabilty, Rs 7.5 lakh for partial disability, upto Rs 2 lakh for hospitalisation expenses and Rs 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains due to an accident.

Royal Sundaram General Insurance, Shriram General Insurance and ICICI Lombard General Insurance are the insurers for this scheme.

For air travel as well, travel insurance is available for the duration of the flight. Customers booking tickets through online platforms get an option to add insurance for a few hundred rupees.

US proposes $50 billion tariffs on 1,300 Chinese products

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The United States today announced a proposed list of products imported from China that could be subject to additional tariffs of 25 per cent amounting to USD 50 billion.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) said the proposed list of products is based on extensive interagency economic analysis and would target products that benefit from China's industrial plans while minimizing the impact on the US economy.

Sectors subject to the proposed tariffs include industries such as aerospace, information and communication technology, robotics, and machinery.

The list covers approximately 1,300 separate tariff lines and will undergo further review in a public notice and comment process, including a hearing. After completion of this process, the USTR will issue a final determination on the products subject to the additional duties.

The total value of imports subject to the tariff increase is commensurate with an economic analysis of the harm caused by China's unreasonable technology transfer policies to the US economy, the USTR said.

China had said yesterday that its door for talks with the Trump administration is open but if there is a trade war it will "fight till the end". The comments came a day after Beijing imposed tariffs on 128 American products as a retaliation against US duties on steel and aluminium.

China had imposed tariffs on 128 US imports worth USD 3 billion, including meat, fruit and pork, as retaliation against taxes approved by US President Donald Trump on imported steel and aluminium.

Last month, Trump announced that the US will impose tariffs on approximately USD 50 billion worth of Chinese imports and take other actions in response to China's policies that coerce American companies into transferring their technology and intellectual property to domestic Chinese enterprises.

These policies bolster China's stated intention of seizing economic leadership in advanced technology as set forth in its industrial plans, such as "Made in China 2025".

Trump raked up the issue of trade gap with China once again, saying the US cannot afford to have a USD 500 billion a year trade deficit with Beijing.

"We have a problem with China. They've created a trade deficit, and I really blame our representatives and, frankly, our preceding presidents for this. They have a trade deficit of USD 500 billion a year. It's not something we can live with," Trump told reporters during a media interaction with visiting Baltic leaders.

The theft of intellectual property alone, he said, is probably around USD 200-300 billion a year.

"The US has to do something on trade with certain countries. And obviously, China is the leader in terms of deficits. We've never had a situation where a country -- nor has there ever been in -- in history, a situation where a country has done that to another country," he said.

However several industry groups were quick to oppose Trump's proposal to impose tariff on some 1300 selected Chinese products.

"The Trump administration is right to push back against China's abuse of economic and trade policy, but imposing tariffs on producer goods will inadvertently hurt Americans through reduced capital investment and lower productivity growth.

"The list of tariffs that the USTR has proposed today would hurt companies in the US by raising the prices and reducing consumption of the capital equipment they rely on to produce their goods and services," Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) President Robert D Atkinson said.

Attempts to roll back Chinese innovation mercantilism should be more carefully targeted than this. The focus should be on things that will create the most leverage over China without raising prices and dampening investment in the kinds of machinery, equipment, and other technology that drives innovation and productivity across the economy, he said.

Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of International Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce said the administration is rightly focused on restoring equity and fairness in US trade relationship with China.

"However, imposing taxes on products used daily by American consumers and job creators is not the way to achieve those ends. The US Chamber looks forward to working with the administration throughout the comment period to make the business community's voice heard on the US-China economic relationship," he said.

But several US lawmakers supported Trump's move.

"Publishing this preliminary list is an important step that will allow US companies to evaluate the implications and convey their views about the effect of such tariffs on our economy. I'm confident that we can protect national security and minimize unfair trading practices while protecting American consumers and jobs," House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said.

"We must address China's theft of technology and intellectual property belonging to American companies. It is a serious problem that requires action," said Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Dave Reichert.

Stock Market-Research report-2-4-2018

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Topic :- Share Market Closing Note

Sensex up over 280 pts, Nifty ends above 10,200; banks recover in last hour:

The market has ended first session of the new fiscal on a strong note, with the Sensex gaining over 280 points, while the Nifty has managed to end above 10,200. A gain in pharma, auto, IT and infra names pushed the indices in a strong zone, but a last hour recovery in the Bank Nifty aided sentiment and helped both close around high points of the day. The market breadth favoured the advances.

The Sensex is up 286.68 points or 0.87% at 33255.36, while the Nifty is up 98.10 points or 0.97% at 10211.80.

Adani Ports, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and Cipla have gained the most on both indices, while ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, and IOC were the top losers.


Topic :- Time:3.00 PM

Nifty showing some momentum. Nifty spot close above 10205 will result in some further pull back in the market and if it closes below above mentioned level then some sluggish movement can follow.


Topic :- Time:2.30 PM

GOLD Trading View:

GOLD is trading at 30587. If it manages to trade and sustain above 30600 level then it is likely to show some quick upmove and if it breaks and trade below 30540 level then some profit booking can follow in it.


Topic :- Time:2.00 PM

Nifty is in small range. Avoid big trades and one should wait for trend to be clear.


Topic :- Time:1.30 PM

CRUDEOIL is trading at 4239. If it manages to trade and sustain above 4240 level then expect some quick upmove in it and is expected to test 4280 level quite soon and if it breaks and trade below 4230 level then some profit booking can follow in it.


Topic :- Time:1.10 PM

RBI asks Axis Bank to reassess CEO Shikha Sharmas 4th term, look for successor:

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked Axis Banks board to reconsider the fourth term accorded to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shikha Sharma, The Economic Times reported.

Although Sharma had been given a fourth term last year, the latest development seems to be a sign of precaution taken by the central bank on the back of multiple frauds coming to light at public sector banks (PSBs).

In a letter addressed to Axis Bank Chairman Sanjiv Misra, RBI urged a review of the decision citing the banks performance and its deteriorating asset quality, among other reasons. The regulator urged the banks board to give Sharma a one-year term and scout for a successor during the period.

A bank spokesperson was quoted by the newspaper as saying, The banks board follows a standard process on senior appointments, and forwards its recommendations to the regulator. This process is currently in progress and we are unaware of any final decision on this issue. The source added that the all communication between the bank and RBI were confidential.


Topic :- Time:1.00 PM

Nifty is trading in a very tight range. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 10180 level then expect some upmove and below 10150-10140 levels some softness can be seen in the market. Avoid big trades for some time.


Topic :- Time:12.40 PM

Just In:

Indian Oil plans $22 billion expansion over five years.


Topic :- Time:12.30 PM

COPPER Trading View:

COPPER is trading at 440.60. If it breaks and trade below 440 level then it is likely to show some decline and if it manages to trade and sustain above 440.90 level then some further upmove can follow in it.


Topic :- Time:12.00 PM

Nifty is trading in a very small range. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 10180 level then expect some upmove and if it breaks and trade below 10150-10140 levels then some softness can be seen in it.


Topic :- Time:11.30 AM

News Wrap Up:

1. Indices range-bound, Nifty below 10,150 mark; PSU banks slip

2. H-1B visa application process begins Apr 2; zero tolerance for minor errors

3. Capital goods, construction firms see 69% jump in new orders in FY18

4. Day 1 sees no major glitch for e-way bill, says GSTN chief executive

5. Private equity investments decline 49% to $3.7 billion in March quarter

6. ICICI Bank falls 5% as ED initiates enquiry in ICICI-Videocon loan

7. Sandhar Techno makes decent debut; lists 4% higher from issue price

8. Karda Constructions makes weak debut; lists 24% below issue price

9. Dilip Buildcon surges 12% on winning new highway projects from NHAI

10. Number of delisted companies on the rise; bourses may see more exits


Topic :- Time:11.00 AM

New financial year started on a strong note. Nifty spot if manages to trade and sustain above 10160 level then expect some further upmove in the market and if it breaks and trade below 10140 level then some softness can follow in the Nifty.


Topic :- Nifty Opening Note

Indian Stock Market Trading View For 02 March,2018:

After long weekend some action work is expected in the market. Following global cues nifty is likely to turn volatile as the day progresses.

Nifty future if manages to trade and sustain above 10140 level then expect some upmove in the market and if it breaks and trade below 10080 level then some softness can be seen. 

Please note this is just opening view and should not be considered as the view for the whole day.

Default rates at Indian companies likely to rise further: ICRA

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More Indian companies are likely to default on their borrowings in the fiscal year that started in April compared with the previous year on higher interest costs and a deterioration in business conditions, according to rating agency ICRA.

The default rate for Indian companies rose to 3.4 percent in the fiscal year ended March from 2.6 percent in the previous year, ICRA, the subsidiary of global rating agency Moody's Investors Service, said in a report published on Monday.

"The default rate could go up in fiscal year 2019 on higher interest cost, deteriorating business conditions, likely difficulty in getting bank funding given the challenges in the banking system," said Jitin Makkar, head of credit policy at ICRA, in a webinar.

Besides huge stressed assets, banks are also likely to go slow on lending following the detection of more than $2 billion fraud at the country's second largest state lender, Punjab National Bank, which could eventually hit the economy that grew at 7.2 percent in October-December but still below 8 percent needed to hit full employment.

While the report showed that 646 companies were upgraded and 418 were downgraded, the trend did not mean that there was an improvement in the credit quality of the corporates given that the volume of debt downgraded at 3 trillion rupees ($46.08 billion) in the fiscal year ended March was sharply higher than 1.7 trillion rupees upgraded, ICRA said in the report.

Looking ahead, credit quality pressures will "take longer to dissipate" as hardening interest rates and banking sector woes will create hindrances for businesses.

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