1. Berkshire Hathaway could buy an airline
The current steady flight of the airline industry has brought it to the attention of Warren Buffett-owned Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and its $116 billion cash chest that is looking for acquisition targets. After shunning airlines till 2016 for their competition-induced streak of capital destruction, Buffett said in an interview to CNBC that “he wouldn’t rule out owning an entire airline". As of 31 December 2017, Berkshire had stakes in four US-based airlines, each valued between $20 billion and $39 billion, including 8.1% of Southwest Airlines and 7.4% of Delta Airlines.
2. Elections to 58 Rajya Sabha seats on 23 March
Elections will be held on 23 March for 58 Rajya Sabha seats whose member-terms end in April and May (besides a casual vacancy due to the resignation of a Kerala member). These 58 seats are spread across 16 states, and 24 of them are currently with the BJP and its allies. After overtaking the Congress in August 2017 as the largest party in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is expected to gain further ground, as it’s in power in the top four states by vacancies, which account for 27 of the 58 seats. The results will be declared on 23 March itself.
3. Congress beats BJP in both bypolls in Madhya Pradesh
Four weeks ago, it was Rajasthan. This week it was Madhya Pradesh. The Congress retained the assembly seats of Mungaoli and Kolaras in Madhya Pradesh, for which by-polls were held following the death of sitting MLAs and the results for which were declared this week. The Congress coasted in Kolaras, but Mungaoli was a close fight. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, straight fights between the BJP and the Congress, are both currently ruled by the BJP and are due to vote this year.
4. GDP grows 7.2% in Q3, 6.6% projected for full year
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported that India’s GDP (gross domestic product) grew at 7.2% in the third quarter (October to December) of 2017-18, indicating the economy has probably left behind the effects of the November 2016 demonetisation and the July 2017 shift to the goods and services tax (GST) system. However, the government has projected full-year GDP growth at only 6.6%, down from 7.1% in 2016-17 and the slowest since the BJP came to power in 2014.
5. Mumbai leads 52 cities in expat pay
According to the latest HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, Mumbai topped the global rankings for expat salaries, with average annual earnings of $217,165 (about Rs1.4 crore). This is more than twice the global average of $99,903. Other Asian cities in the top 10 include Shanghai, Jakarta and Hong Kong. The report is based on a survey of 27,587 expats in 52 cities across the world. In all, average annual earnings of expats exceeded $100,000 in 31 cities.
6. Davis Cup set to go shorter, slicker
This might be the end of Davis Cup, as we know it. Instead of a year-long, partisan, five matches, five sets each, played out over four weekends in various parts of the world, a seven-day shootout in a single city has been proposed, beginning 2019. Investment group Kosmos, founded by Spanish footballer Gerard Pique, has signed a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with the International Tennis Federation for this team tennis competition, which has been around since 1900. The shorter format is likely to broadbase the list of winners further, which is currently dominated by the US and Australia.
7. US poised to overtake Russia as number one oil producer
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has said the US could leapfrog Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer in a year’s time. The increase in US oil production comes at a time when other major producers, including Russia and members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are cutting output to lift prices. In 2016, the US was ranked third. Late last year, its crude output topped 10 million barrels per day (bpd), which happened for the first time since the 1970s, helping it surpass Saudi Arabia. The world’s largest economy is expected to register an output of over 11 million bpd by end-2018, and overtake Russia as well.
8. Onion prices ease up
The modal price of onion at Lasalgaon mandi, near Nashik in Maharashtra, continued to decline, falling to Rs1,041 per quintal (an equivalent of Rs10.4 per kg). Three months ago, on 23 November, the modal price was Rs4,060 per quintal (or Rs40.6 per kg), demonstrating a now-familiar pattern of spikes and slumps. In April 2017, the modal price had dropped to Rs350 per quintal.
9. ‘Black Panther’ second-highest in 10-day collections in US
Disney and Marvel Studios film Black Panther, currently in its second week of screening, is challenging many records. It has crossed $700 million in worldwide collections and is on its way to cross the $1 billion mark, despite not yet being released in China, Japan and Russia. In the US, it has accumulated the second-highest theatre collections in 10 days, of $403million, according to boxofficemojo.com. It will be released in Russia this week and in Japan the week after.
10. GST collections stable in January
The government earned revenues of Rs86,318 crore in January (as on 25 February) from the goods and services tax (GST). This is marginally below the amount collected in December, which was a three-month high, after November recorded the lowest collections since the introduction of this uniform indirect tax in July 2017. Of the total amount collected in January, Rs14,233 crore was under Central GST, Rs19,961 crore as state GST, Rs43,794 crore as integrated GST and Rs8,331 crore as compensation cess.
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