Chinese authorities, worried about over-investment and strong growth in informal lending, have indicated they are prepared to tolerate slower economic growth rates as they drive through structural reforms. The country’s official 2013 growth target of 7.5pc was approved only four months ago at the annual National People’s Congress (NPC), or parliament, so analysts said it was highly unlikely that Mr Lou was pointing to a change in the target. “A revision of the official growth target may require NPC approval, so we regard the quote with caution and wait for any clarification from the government,” said Zhiwei Zhang, economist at Nomura in Hong Kong, in a note. Instead, they suggested he was trying to steer expectations towards slower growth as the government tries to wean the economy off a reliance on exports and investment and more towards consumption-led economic activity.
Muthoot Finance: Can turn 2,000 gold-loan outlets into bank branches
But even that’s better than the outlook for tech-sector profits, which are expected to drop 8.3% in the second quarter, according to Zacks, following a drop of 4.2% in the first quarter. Technology also has been hurt by a sharp drop in PC sales, which have depressed earnings at giants such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, as well as at their component suppliers, including chip giant Intel. Despite all the gloom profits in the tech sector are expected to fall 6.3% in the first half Wall Street analysts still remain optimistic regarding its prospects this year. Tech earnings for the second half of 2013 are expected to rise 4.2%, helped by back-to-school sales and holiday sales of smartphones, computer tablets and software, all of which are areas of relative strength within the sector.
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“With our last mile connect in to the hinterland, a banking licence will enable us to play a larger role of financial inclusion by taking these services to the unbanked and undeserved population of the country,” Muthoot further said, adding that around 60 per cent his existing branch network is spread across tier 2, 3 and 4 markets. On whether the company will continue with the gold loan business if it gets a banking licence, he said there is no question of shutting that down as there is no regulatory requirement to shut down the existing business. About meeting the funds requirement for the banking foray, he said arranging Rs 500 crore, which is the RBI prescribed net-worth for bank holding company, will not be difficult. Muthoot Finance and 25 other companies, including Tatas, Reliance, Birla and India Post, have applied for bank license. Last month the company got an in-principle go-ahead from the RBI to launch white-label ATMs and it plans to set up at least 9,000 money vending machines over the next three years.