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High Food Prices Take Inflation Up To 5.6%

India's consumer price index (CPI)-based retail inflation in November hit 5.55 per cent, according to the data released by the National Statistical Office on Tuesday. In October, the retail inflation was recorded at 4.87 per cent

By Govindraj Ethiraj
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Food Prices Inflation
On today’s episode, financial journalist Govindraj Ethiraj talks to Aditi Nayar, Chief Economist and Head of Research at ICRA Ratings as well as Sheetal Sapale, Vice President at tracking and analysis firm Pharmarack.

Our Top Reports For Today

  • (00:00) Stories Of The Day
  • (01:00) High food prices take inflation up to 5.6%
  • (08:19) Anti-obesity drugs to rising online sales, the big pharma trends of 2023
  • (18:13) SpiceJet to raise over Rs 2,000 crore, lives to fight another day.
  • (19:02) Steve Jobs’ favourite Gorilla Glass comes to India


NOTE: This transcript contains only the host's monologue and does not include any interviews or discussions that might be within the podcast. Please refer to the episode audio if you wish to quote the people interviewed. Email [email protected] for any queries.

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Inflation Has Risen Again

India's consumer price index (CPI)-based retail inflation in November hit 5.55 per cent, according to the data released by the National Statistical Office on Tuesday. In October, the retail inflation was recorded at 4.87 per cent.

The figure was mostly anticipated and projected but is still worrisome given the fact that much of it is being driven by double digit inflation across food items, ranging from fruits, vegetables and cereals.

Pulses inflation which includes the various deals was ruling at over 20%.

Spices too were still over 21%. Interestingly, in the case of pulses, policy interventions don’t seem to be working much, at least right now.

Only oils saw a negative or -15% fall in prices, in keeping with the consistent trend of lower cooking oil prices.

Meat and fish continued to stay around 2% whole eggs, milk and fish were close to 6%.

Till October, the retail inflation rate had declined for the second consecutive month to a five-month low. 

The headline inflation remained within the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) tolerance band of 2-6 per cent for the third month in a row in November, However, it has now been above the medium-term target of 4 per cent for 50 consecutive months.

To understand the workings of this time’s inflation numbers, I reached out to Aditi Nayar, Chief Economist and Head of Research at ICRA Ratings.

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Meanwhile in the markets, neither 70,000 or 21,000 held their levels.

Somewhat broad base selling pulled both the major indices down, with the BSE Sensex ending 378 points lower at 69,551, and the Nifty50 closing 91 points lower at 20,906.

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And now the energy segment brought to you by IndiaEnergyWeek.

Oil prices stayed low thanks to higher supplies which diluted the production curbs by the OPEC+ alliance. So non OPEC countries are pumping more or dumping oil, depending on how you want to see it.

Brent is trading near $76 a barrel. 

Spreads between monthly contracts continue to indicate oversupply, with the front end of the Brent futures curve this week closing at the weakest level since June, Bloomberg said.

Oil has now dropped for the past seven weeks, the longest losing run since 2018, and is down by about a fifth from a peak in late September. Forecasts for slowing Chinese consumption growth and lingering risks of recession in the US are also endangering the outlook into the first quarter next year, according to Bloomberg.

The energy segment is supported by India EnergyWeek, to be held in February next year. Log onto www.indiaenergyweek.com for more details.

Anti-Obesity Drugs To Online Sales, Pharma Trends Of 2023

Trends that have perhaps been visible to us anecdotally are now showing up in drug sales data.

In the last year for instance, younger patients are getting treated for cardiac or heart related ailments.

Overall, more drugs are being dispensed to treat neurological and central nervous system conditions. Possibly, many patients are also going for treatment and thus diagnosing symptoms faster than earlier.

Online sales are strong and even stronger in some parts of the country. 

Sales of semaglutide, the generic term for anti diabetes drug Rybelsus and now also anti-obesity drug manufactured by Danish drug giant Novo Nordisk are picking up briskly. This drug was launched last January in India.

Quite a few drugs that have gone off patent are being picked up by Indian drug majors as branded generics and are able to sell them at one fourth the price. This is not a new trend in itself but has picked up sharply in the last year, including in diabetes drugs and from companies like Alkem and USV.

Augmentin is also off patent but doctors are comfortable prescribing the original made by GSK, also because of its more sensitive applications including in hospitals.

I caught up with Sheetal Sapale, Vice President at tracking and analysis firm Pharmarack and began by asking her to walk us through the top trends she was seeing.

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SpiceJet Lives To Fight Another Day

The Delhi-based airline appears to have got a fresh lease of life or is not going to give up without a fight, of which it has had several.

The airline whose schedules have been quite awry in recent months leading to much stress among passengers said it will raise fresh capital of around Rs 2,250 Crore (approximately USD 270 million) through the issuance of equity shares to institutional and private investors.

The investors include Elara India Opportunities Fund, Aries Opportunities Fund and Prabhudas Lilladher. 

“This is a significant fund raise and it is designed to strengthen SpiceJet’s financial position, enhance operational capabilities, settle outstanding issues and position the airline again for sustained growth in the dynamic aviation sector,” said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.

Gorilla Glass

When Steve Jobs was building out the iPhone, he apparently decided that he wanted to use glass instead of plastic for the iPhone’s screen, but glass cracked too easily. 

Someone suggested he check with Corning, the now 170-year old, NY headquartered company which had developed tough but light glass.for ophthalmic products, and applications for the automotive, aviation, and pharmaceutical industries.” 

As the story goes, Jobs flew to Corning, New York to meet with Corning CEO Wendell Weeks and explained that he wanted the iPhone’s screen to be made of glass, but that it had to be durable and he needed enough of it within six months to be produced for all the iPhones he was planning to sell. 

Weeks apparently told Jobs he wasn’t set up to actually mass-produce it.

To which Jobs placed a massive order for Gorilla Glass anyway, repeatedly telling Weeks, “Don’t be afraid. You can do this.” 

The iPhone was unveiled in early January of 2007 and went on sale in late June.

Now and back home, Corning will invest Rs 1,000 crore to set up a manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu to make gorilla glass,, multiple sources aware of the development told The Economic Times.

The facility will be set up near Chennai on a 25-acre plot and employ around 300 people. 

This marks the formal entry of another Apple supplier into India, bolstering the expanding ecosystem of Apple as well as electronic component manufacturers in the country.

Corning’s intent to make Gorilla Glass in India has been known for some time but it was unclear where it would eventually set up shop.

The choice of Tamil Nadu, if it indeed is the final location, appears to be closer to the iPhone ecosystem obviously.

"While I choose not to delve into the specifics of potential investment commitments which may be under consideration, I can affirm that Tamil Nadu is diligently crafting an outstanding electronics ecosystem of international standards," TN Industries Minister TRB Rajaa told ET.

Corning will be working with its Indian partner Optiemus Infracom for this facility.