Data Recap: Wheat Export Ban, Price Hikes

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Every week, Plain Facts publishes a compilation of data-based insights—complete with easy-to-read visual charts—to help you delve deeper into the stories reported by Mint. This week, we examine how the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) debuted on the exchange following its initial public offering (IPO), how price increases have impacted multiple economic spheres, the impact of rising temperatures on human lives, and the search for an HIV vaccine. Here’s some more:

Soaring staples

Heatwaves, particularly in northwest India, have significantly hampered foodgrain production, prompting the government to temporarily halt wheat exports. The production estimate for this year has also been reduced from 111 million tonnes to 105 million tonnes. Meanwhile, government officials have dismissed fears of a food crisis, claiming that the objective of wheat exports restriction was mainly to keep prices under control, which were up about 15% from last year.

Soaring staples

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Soaring staples

Pricey production

A Mint analysis of 435 manufacturing companies shows input costs have risen about 24% year on year in the March quarter. Many companies have passed on the higher expenses to consumers and reported improved revenues. However, sectors such as paints, cement, and packaged goods are said to have been the hardest hit by the spike in commodity costs, with the price rise most likely not being passed on. If this continues, it will represent a threat to consumers and businesses in the coming quarters.

Soaring staples

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Soaring staples

Muted debut

8.62%: That’s the discount at which LIC shares debuted on the stock market on Tuesday. The stock debuted on exchanges at 867.20, a drop from its allocation price of 949, as recent market volatility and negative investor sentiment weighed on the listing of India’s largest insurance corporation. While the listing has been modest, analysts have retained an optimistic outlook for the insurer, and some believe it will remain a smart bet in the long run.

Jetting airfares

Airfares are projected to rise in the coming days as airlines pass on the recent increase in the prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to customers. This will potentially suppress passenger traffic, which has been gradually increasing after multiple restrictions following the coronavirus outbreak. The price of ATF, which accounts for a large share of airlines’ operating expenses and has undergone 10 consecutive price hikes since the beginning of 2022, was the highest ever in New Delhi on 16 May.

Jetting airfares

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Jetting airfares

Shooting up

Wholesale price-based inflation rose from 14.5% in March to 15.1% in April, official data released last week showed. It has remained in double digits for over a year and is the highest in the current data series with 2011-12 as the base year. This strong inflation print suggests that the Reserve Bank of India may raise interest rates again at its June monetary policy meeting. Retail inflation in April also accelerated to 7.8%, the highest in eight years, giving further reason for rates to be hiked.

Shooting up

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Shooting up

Twitter spammers

0.5 million: That is the minimum number of spam accounts Twitter suspended eachay, according to its chief executive officer Parag Agrawal. There is a problem with Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter takeover deal since he is unsure of the number of “fake accounts” on the site. Musk claims there is no indication that fewer than 5% of Twitter accounts are false. Agrawal has defended his company’s efforts in fighting spam as it “harms the experience” of Twitter users.

Rising mercury

Heatwaves are becoming more common in India, causing power outages, drinking water crisis, drop in agricultural production, and a significant decrease in human productivity. The India Meteorological Department said 2022 had the hottest March in 122 years and April was the hottest ever for northwest India. A study has found that the average number of heatwaves a year has risen from 9.9 in 1980-1999 to 23.6 in 2000-2019. India is eagerly awaiting the monsoon as it battles heat.

Rising mercury

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Rising mercury

Chart of the week: Vaccine search

Vaccine search

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Vaccine search

On 18 May, the world commemorated World AIDS Vaccine Day. Data released by the National AIDS Control Organization following an RTI request show that more than 1.7 million Indians have become HIV positive in the last 10 years.

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