India’s services sector activity declined in March: HSBC survey

The seasonally-adjusted HSBC Services Business Activity Index posted 52.3 in March, down from 56.5 in February. In January, it stood at 58. India’s manufacturing sector also witnessed the third consecutive month of decline in March as output and new order growth weakened amid power cuts leading to capacity constraints

New Delhi: India’s services sector witnessed a significant decline in the month of March amid slower rise in new business orders and a dip in business sentiment, reports PTI quoting a survey by HSBC.

According to the HSBC Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data, the seasonally-adjusted HSBC Services Business Activity Index posted 52.3 in March, down from 56.5 in February. In January, it stood at 58.

A score above 50 indicates growth in the sector, while a reading below 50 means the segment is contracting.

“Activity in the service sector decelerated notably in March, although it is still expanding. New business also ticked in at a slower pace and the sentiment gauge took a dive,” HSBC chief economist for India and ASEAN Leif Eskesen said.

India’s manufacturing sector also witnessed the third consecutive month of decline in March as output and new order growth weakened amid power cuts leading to capacity constraints.

Service companies noted that rising prices had restricted the latest increase in new business. Overall, the rate of new order expansion slowed to a four-month low.

The HSBC survey further said that confidence sunk sharply since February, largely as “concerns over the latest budget announcement weighed on sentiment.”

The general perception of the market about the latest Budget was that it was neither bold nor reformist. Besides there were no big announcement in the Budget.

The survey said prices charged and input prices rose at a faster pace and sequential inflation remained above the historical average, indicating that a further uptick in inflation is likely.

Wholesale price-based inflation, which remained high during most of 2011, has started showing signs of moderation but rose to 6.95% in February, against 6.55% in the previous month.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had left all key policy rates unchanged during its 16th March review of the third quarter policy, citing persistence of inflation risks due to rising global crude oil prices, a weak fiscal position and a vulnerable exchange rate.

“With inflation pressures still firm, the RBI will have to approach the easing cycle cautiously, and it may have to stay on the sidelines if the inflation outlook does not improve significantly soon,” Eskesen said.

There was a marginal increase in employment in the Indian services sector. Job creation has been recorded in three of the last four survey periods, although the gains in staffing have been marginal in each instance.

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Bharti Airtel selects ZTE to manage 4G network in Kolkata

Bharti Airtel has selected ZTE Corporation to plan, design, supply and deploy its 4G network in Kolkata, which will allow its subscribers to experience high-speed wireless internet access, an Airtel statement said

Bharti Airtel said it has roped in telecom equipment maker ZTE to manage its fourth generation (4G) technology based network in Kolkata, where the services are expected to be launched later this month.

Bharti Airtel has selected ZTE Corporation to plan, design, supply, and deploy its 4G network in Kolkata, which will allow its subscribers to experience high-speed wireless internet access, a statement said.

No financial details were disclosed. 4G services can support bandwidth intensive applications like video streaming and high-definition video conferencing.

“According to industry estimates, by 2016, 6% of all mobile connections will have 4G connection, which would create 36% of the total mobile data traffic, thus paving way for the ensuing data revolution,” Bharti Airtel CEO (India and South Asia) Sanjay Kapoor said.

The impending launch of 4G in the country will provide ultra high speed data access, driving fundamental changes in society at large, he added.

Bharti Airtel has already awarded the contract for building and operating its 4G network in Maharashtra to Nokia Siemens Networks.

Bharti Airtel had bagged broadband wireless access (BWA) licence to offer the services in four Indian telecom circles -- Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kolkata and Punjab.

The company had paid a total of Rs3,314.36 crore for licence and spectrum fees during an auction held in June 2010.

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Loop Mobile introduces mobile money transfer service

The service allows subscribers to make payments by sending a text communication, Loop Mobile said in a statement.

Loop Mobile said it has introduced a mobile money transfer service ''M WALLET'' in Mumbai.

The service allows subscribers to make payments by sending a text communication, the company said in a statement.

“Apart from serving as an easy alternative to cash/card payment options, we offer the convenience of instant money transfer to any mobile subscriber in the country,” Loop Mobile (India) chief operating officer Surya Mahadevan said.

Loop Mobile has launched the service in collaboration with electronic payment service provider ZipCash.

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