Data recap: Steady inflation, merchandise trade deficit, made-in-India iPhones

Food inflation came in at 8.7% in April, up from 8.5% in March owing to higher prices of cereals, meat and fish, and fruit Photo: Mint
Food inflation came in at 8.7% in April, up from 8.5% in March owing to higher prices of cereals, meat and fish, and fruit Photo: Mint

Summary

  • News and developments from the week gone by, through numbers and charts.

Every Friday, Plain Facts publishes a compilation of data-based insights, complete with easy-to-read charts, to help you delve deeper into the stories reported by Mint in the week gone by. 

India's retail inflation remained largely steady at 4.83% in April, compared to 4.85% in March, but rising food prices continue to be a concern. Meanwhile, the merchandise trade deficit widened to a four-month-high in April mainly because of a surge in gold and oil imports.

HCLTech bucks attrition trend

Most top software services companies face shrinking headcounts, but HCL Technologies has emerged as an outlier with an increase of 1,537 employees in FY24. In comparison, the headcount at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) dropped by 13,000, Infosys by about 26,000, and Wipro by 23,000. The divergence is due to different hiring patterns during the pandemic: the growth in HCLTech’s workforce then was more moderate than that of the others, an analysis by howindialives.com showed. That has given the company greater stability at a time of high attrition.

Food keeps inflation elevated

India's retail inflation remained largely unchanged at 4.83% in April, compared to 4.85% in the previous month, data released by the government showed. The figure is now at an 11-month low, and moving closer to the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI’s) medium-term target of 4%. 

It has now stayed within the RBI's tolerance range of 2-6% for eight consecutive months. However, food inflation continued to play spoilsport at 8.7%, up from 8.5% in March owing to higher prices of cereals, meat and fish, and fruit.

Apple's big iPhone plans in India

$14 billion: That's the value of iPhones that were made in India as of FY24-end. In the next three to four years, Apple aims to manufacture a quarter of all iPhones in India, Mint reported. Instead of relying solely on Chinese suppliers, the tech giant is forging partnerships with Indian vendors and has already started work on setting up supply chains. Even though Foxconn Technology Group and Tata Electronics will undertake the majority of production, it will help local networks increase their manufacturing capacities as well.

Banks win big in Q4, but experts voice caution

The banking sector has been a clear winner in the March-quarter (Q4) earnings season so far, a Mint Long Story explained. India's largest lender, the State Bank of India, reported a net profit of 20,698 crore, its highest ever, and the largest quarterly profit of any Indian bank. It even surpassed India's most valuable company, Reliance Industries. 

Private-sector banks have also seen almost 20% profit growth amid healthy disbursals. However, experts are voicing caution, saying much of the profit growth is due to one-time gains and lower provisioning.

Merchandise trade deficit at four-month high

India's merchandise trade deficit hit a four-month high of $19.1 billion in April, data from the commerce ministry showed. The increase was primarily due to a rise in gold and oil imports. 

Merchandise imports totaled $54.09 billion in April, up from $49.06 billion in the same period last year. On the other hand, goods exports amounted to $34.99 billion in April, down from $41.68 billion in March. 

A sluggish recovery in global trade in 2024 after a contraction in 2023, influenced by persistently high energy prices and inflation, has affected the growth momentum of exports.

More brands tap influencers to boost sales 

3,400 crore: That's the estimated value of India's influencer marketing industry by 2026, a recent Ficci-EY report said. Businesses are increasingly using social-media influencers to boost sales and deepen brand connections. 

While Instagram and YouTube remain the top choice, smaller platforms like Snapchat are also being used to reach niche audiences. But with the growth of micro influencers, the stage is set for these creators to be compensated based on how their content drives specific outcomes.

Mutual funds on an investing spree

A bullish market and substantial asset growth has fuelled domestic mutual fund investments in corporates, according to BSE data analysed by Mint

Mutual funds have poured 2.9 trillion into 27 leading companies across key sectors over the past three fiscal years. As much as 77.5% of this investment was concentrated in just 10 companies. HDFC Bank led the pack, with mutual funds increasing their stake from 16.28% at the end of FY22 to 23.17% at the end of FY24, representing an impressive investment of 1.2 trillion. Reliance Industries also saw a marked increase, with mutual fund holdings rising from 5.2% to 7.5% during the period.

Chart of the week: Voters in metros

For whom are people in metro cities voting? A Mint analysis of 30 constituencies in six metro cities shows that the BJP's vote share rose from 18% in 2009 to nearly 39% in 2019. Meanwhile, Congress's vote share fell from 26% to 18%.

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