The rupee saw its biggest single-day gain in 21 months on Tuesday, while bond yields fell to their lowest in two weeks following RBI’s new measures to stabilize markets. The RBI on Monday had said it will sell short-term and buy long-term sovereign bonds. This resulted in a decline in government debt yields, based on which corporate bonds are priced. Lower borrowing costs will come as a boost for companies reeling from the pandemic and an economy that’s suffered its worst quarterly contraction on record. For more updates on the national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.
It’s back to the classroom
Schools and colleges are still shut in India, but masked students filled exam centres on Tuesday as the JEE engineering entrance exams began despite protests and pleas for postpone-ment. More than 850,000 students will take the exam at 660 centres till 6 September. The NEET for medical admissions will start on 13 September. Globally, students have returned to their classrooms. Over 1.4 million started school on Tuesday in China’s Wuhan, where the covid-19 outbreak originated. Authorities have emphasized handwashing, maintaining a safe distance and wearing masks. Schools in France also reopened on 1 September despite a recent rise in infections, as did those in Russia and Poland, with strict safety measures. All classes are back full time from this week in the UK as well. In Italy, schools are set to reopen on 14 September, around the same time when Spain is planning to start primary and secondary schools.
Zoom profits surge 3,300%
The pandemic and the large-scale shift to working and schooling from home has been benefitting videoconferencing apps. Zoom’s revenue surged over 350% for the quarter ended July. It reported a net profit of $185.7 million for the quarter, up 3,300% compared with a year earlier. Revenues in the quarter were $663.5 million, up 355%, topping analysts’ estimates of $500 million. Shares rose over 32% in early trading on Tuesday. Zoom’s large customers, those generating over $100,000 in revenue in the past year, more than doubled to 988 in Q2. When the pandemic hit early 2020, Zoom was a relative upstart that had gone public on a promise to make videoconferencing software easier to use. The sudden surge in users led to security and privacy concerns, which Zoom tried to address with a 90-day plan. It began testing end-to-end encryption in July but has not yet implemented the feature for most users.
WFH has changed us
Instant coffee, ketchup, Lululemon yoga pants and Nike Air Max sneakers are in. Bottled water, pricey diapers and Burberry luxury trench coats are out as the pandemic shifts consumer habits in the US. A Reuters analysis of a varied basket of goods shows how the covid-19 crisis has upturned a decades-old consumer model for everything, from clothing to food (see chart). Many of the new trends can be attributed to one factor: working from home. Americans are now shelling out more than a year before for coffee, eggs, ketchup and cheese as they cook and work at home and companies have raised prices in view of the demand. Sales of bottled water and disposable diapers have fallen as people are unwilling to pay extra when they can drink their own water at home, and opt for reusable diapers.
Ozone levels on the rise
Ozone pollution levels have increased over the past 20 years, says a new study, which is the first to use data collected by commercial international flights. From 1994-2016, commercial aircraft captured 34,600 ozone profiles, more consistently than satellite data. Researchers at University of Colorado Boulder found the most striking increases in areas where ozone levels were once lowest: India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. These regions had very low ozone values in 1994-2004, and very high levels in 2011-2016. Ozone is a greenhouse gas that, at high levels, can harm people’s lungs and damage plants. It says ozone levels have been rising over many countries in North America and Europe, which have tight controls on emissions, indicating that local level regulation is not enough to limit pollution as ozone from the tropics may be causing rises in the northern hemisphere. The study was published in Science Advances.
Venice film fest goes real
Top-tier festivals such as Cannes have been forced online, but the most prestigious of them all, the Venice Film Festival, will go ahead in the real world from Wednesday, though masks, distancing, temperature checks and other covid-era rules will be enforced. There will be no fans as a smaller contingent of stars walk the red carpet at the first such internat-ional event since March when covid-19 affected most nations. It will be a mostly-European affair as restrictions on travel from the US to Europe have meant that Hollywood films, which often use Venice as a springboard for other festivals and ultimately the Oscars, are essentially no-shows this year. Venice has had a hard year since the 2019 floods, followed by the virus outbreak, which has hit both the tourism and cruise industries. Italy was one of the first and the worst affected by the virus in Europe, and the film festival is being seen as a step towards revival.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at email@example.com or tweet to @shalinimb