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Sensex rallies 562 points to close at 60,655, Nifty ends at 18,053

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Published on Jan 17, 2023 03:42 PM IST

Sensex rallies 562 points to close at 60,655, Nifty ends at 18,053.

Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)(REUTERS)

Sensex rallies 562 points to close at 60,655, Nifty ends at 18,053.


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Mortgage demand fell last week, even after interest rates fell further

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A “For Sale” sign outside a house in Albany, California, on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

After a stronger start to the year, mortgage demand plunged last week, despite another drop in interest rates.

Total mortgage application volume fell 9% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) decreased to 6.19% from 6.20%, with points falling to 0.65 from 0.69 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. The rate was 3.78% the same week one year ago.

Even with rates well off their recent highs, applications to refinance a home loan fell 7% for the week and were 80% lower than the same week one year ago. Homeowners may have jumped back briefly after the holiday lull, causing demand to rise over much of January, but overall there are still very few borrowers who can benefit from a refinance at today’s rates, so demand is now falling again.

Mortgage applications to buy a home fell 10% for the week and were 41% lower year over year. While both home prices and mortgage rates are coming down steadily, the supply of homes for sale is still quite low, and that may be keeping mortgage demand under pressure.

“Purchase activity is expected to pick up as the spring homebuying season gets underway, bolstered by lower rates and moderating home-price growth,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “Both trends will help some buyers regain purchasing power.”

Mortgage rates have been moving in a narrow range for the last few days, but that could all change depending on commentary expected from the chairman of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday. The central bank is expected to hike its interest rate, but that doesn’t necessarily raise mortgage rates. The monthly employment report Friday could also move rates decidedly, depending on what it says about the state of the economy, recession and inflation.

“There are also several important economic reports that could lead traders to revise their assessment of the Fed’s likely course of action,” noted Matthew Graham, chief operating officer at Mortgage News Daily. “In other words, even after the Fed-induced volatility, traders could find new reasons to buy/sell bonds at an even faster pace, thus causing bigger movement in rates for better or worse.”

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New tax regime better if deduction, exemption less than ₹3.75 lakh: Official

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As taxpayers are now divided between the old and new tax regime after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a slew of announcements on personal tax making in an attempt to make the new regime more attractive, a finance ministry officer said the new regime would be advisable for those whose deductions and exemption claims are less than 3.75 lakh annually. They will be paying less tax than the old regime, the officer said, as quoted by news agency PTI.

“So, a taxpayer who claims deductions less than 3.75 lakh while filing the annual I-T returns will be advised to opt for the new tax regime as declared in the Budget. They will stand to benefit by enjoying the reduced tax slab as stated in the Budget,” the officer said. The figures have been derived after analysing tax filing data, he said.

The new tax regime does not have many concessions which the old regime has though standard deduction has been introduced to the new regime for the first time. The new tax regime makes income upto 7 lakh annually tax free. But for those who are much higher than 7 lakh, the question is whether to shift to the new regime as they may end up paying more taxes with limited exemptions available.

Not many taxpayers can claim deductions on various investments, expenses and loans to the tune of 3.75 lakh per annum, the finance ministry official said.

The new tax regime becomes the default one while the old one will also continue, it has been clarified. Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated that the aim is to attract taxpayers to the new regime but no one will be forced to switch to the new regime.

(With PTI inputs)

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Amazon may have more robots than humans by 2030

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Cathie Wood, chief executive officer and chief investment officer, Ark Invest, gestures as she speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 Conference at Miami Beach Convention Center on April 7, 2022 in Miami, Florida.

Marco Bello | Getty Images

The growth of automation in the workplace will accelerate this decade, with robot workers possibly surpassing human employees at one of the world’s biggest companies, according to Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood.

Amazon‘s use of automated robots will dramatically change the company’s workforce in the coming years, the portfolio manager said Wednesday.

“Amazon is adding about a thousand robots a day. … If you compare the number of robots Amazon has to the number of employees, it’s about a third. And we believe that by the year 2030 Amazon can have more robots than employees,” Wood said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“So we are just at the dawn of the robotics age. And I would say artificial intelligence and battery technology are all a part of that movement as well,” she added.

The robot revolution will not be limited to Amazon; it will spread across manufacturing, Wood said, as improving technology and falling costs speed up the transition.

“If you look at the cost declines, which drive all of our models … for every cumulative doubling in the number of robots produced, the cost declines are in the 50-60% range,” she said.

Amazon had more than 1.6 million workers at the end of 2021, according to its most recent annual report. The company is expected to release fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.

However, like many other tech companies, Amazon has begun to lay off workers in recent months. Amazon announced more than 18,000 job cuts in January, though that leaves company still well above its pre-pandemic level of employees.

Wood’s bets on new technologies made her a star investor in 2020, when the Fed cut interest rates and the work from home boom fueled interest in high-growth tech stocks. Some of those stocks are back in favor again, as Wood’s Ark Innovation ETF (ARKK) just finished its best month ever, rising 27.8% in January.

However, the rally only made a small dent in the fund’s losses over the past two years. The ETF is still more than 70% below its peak from February 2021.

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