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Business & Economy

Negative global cues subdue key Indian equity indices

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Broadly negative Asian markets, along with high crude oil prices and caution ahead of key quarterly results subdued the Indian equity indices during the morning trade session on Tuesday.
 
According to market observers, heavy selling was witnessed in metals, automobile and banking stocks.
 
Around 9.30 a.m., the broader Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) traded at 10,497.80 points -- down by 18.90 points or 0.18 per cent -- from its previous close.
 
The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex), which opened at 34,601.49 points, traded at 34,574.81 points -- lower by 41.32 points or 0.12 per cent -- from its previous session's close of 34,616.13 points.
 
Sensex has so far touched a high of 34,659.63 points and a low of 34,563.76 points during the intra-day trade.
 
On Monday -- the previous trade session -- both the indices closed in the negative territory for the fifth consecutive session, as the formation of a non-BJP government in Karnataka, along with a weak rupee dampened investor sentiments.
 
Consequently, the NSE Nifty50 closed at 10,516.70 points, down 79.70 points or 0.75 per cent from the previous close of 10,596.40 points.
 
Similarly, the barometer S&P BSE Sensex settled in the red. It had opened at 34,873.16 points, closed at 34,616.13 points -- down 232.17 points or 0.67 per cent -- from its previous session's close of 34,848.30 points.
 
IANS
 
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Karnataka politics, oil prices depress equity market

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The formation of a non-BJP government in Karnataka, along with weakness in global indices and rising crude oil prices, pulled the key Indian equity indices to close in the negative territory for the fifth consecutive session on Monday.
 
According to market observers, a weak rupee against the US dollar also dampened the sentiments.
 
After opening on a flat note, the key indices rose during the early trade session but were unable to hold on to the gains for long.
 
Index-wise, the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 10,516.70 points, down 79.70 points or 0.75 per cent from the previous close of 10,596.40 points.
 
Similarly, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE settled in the red. It had opened at 34,873.16 points, closed at 34,616.13 points -- down 232.17 points or 0.67 per cent -- from its previous session's close of 34,848.30 points.
 
The Sensex touched a high of 34,973.95 and a low of 34,593.82 points. 
 
Broader markets like the S&P BSE mid-cap index ended 1.64 per cent lower, while S&P BSE small-cap plunged 2.2 per cent. The overall BSE market breadth was bearish with 2,003 declines against 653 advances.
 
"Sentiments were weak due to the political situation in Karnataka. Private banks, realty and pharma stocks came under selling pressure," said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.
 
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On the currency front, the Indian rupee weakened by 12 paise against the US dollar to 68.13, from its previous close at 68.01 per greenback.
 
In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 166.15 crore, while the domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 149.58 crore.
 
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE IT, oil and gas and Teck (Technology, Media and Entertainment) indices posted marginal gains, up by only 18.77 points, 13.74 points and 4.72 points, respectively.
 
On the other hand, the S&P BSE auto index fell the most, by 467.06 points, followed by the consumer durables index, which slumped by 445.98 points and the healthcare index that fell by 331.91 points. 
 
The major gainers on the Sensex were State Bank of India (SBI), up 2.47 per cent at Rs 245.10; Tata Consultancy Services, up 1.59 per cent at Rs 3,557.95; Coal India, up 1.26 per cent at Rs 269.75; ICICI Bank, up 1.1 per cent at Rs 289.65; and ONGC, up 0.43 per cent at Rs 185.85 per share.
 
The top losers were Sun Pharma, down 4.50 per cent at Rs 443.80; Dr. Reddy's Lab, down 4.23 per cent at Rs 1,894.35; Yes Bank, down 3.27 per cent at Rs 334.15; Tata Motors, down 2.85 per cent at Rs 296.55; and Tata Motors (DVR), down 2.69 per cent at Rs 175.45 per share.
 
IANS
 
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Petrol prices highest ever in Delhi, Mumbai

File photo of a petrol pump
File photo of a petrol pump
Spiralling petrol prices touched fresh record levels in Delhi and Mumbai on Monday, at Rs 76.57 and Rs 84.40 per litre respectively.
 
On Sunday, the fuel price breached the all-time high levels touched in 2013 and was priced at Rs 76.24 and Rs 84.07 per litre in both the cities.
 
On Monday, in the other major cities like Kolkata and Chennai, the price of the fuel rose to near five-year high levels, at Rs 79.24 and Rs 79.47 per litre.
 
According to observers, this rise in transportation fuel prices can be attributed to the recent surge in global crude oil prices and high excise duty in the country. On Monday, Brent crude oil was priced around $79 per barrel.
 
Diesel prices, which have already reached unprecedented levels, set new records across the country. In Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, diesel was sold at Rs 67.82, Rs 70.37, Rs 72.21 and Rs 71.59 per litre, respectively.
 
IANS
 
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Petrol, diesel in Delhi hit record highs

File photo of a petrol pump
File photo of a petrol pump
State-run Indian Oil Corp on Sunday raised transport fuel to record highs in Delhi on the seventh day of resuming the daily price change system, following a temporary suspension that lasted 20 days.
 
The price of petrol in Delhi touched a record high of Rs 76.24 per litre under the dynamic pricing regime beating the previous high of Rs 76.06 in the city on September 14, 2013.
 
Sunday's hike of 33 paise over the previous day was the highest since dynamic pricing resumed after the suspension, coinciding with the Karnataka elections.
 
Diesel in the national capital on Sunday went to its highest level of Rs 67.57 per litre.
 
Petrol prices climbed to new multi-year highs in other major metro cities too -- Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai -- at Rs 78.91, Rs 84.07 and Rs 79.13 per litre respectively.
 
Diesel prices also touched record high levels on Sunday in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. They rose to Rs 70.12, Rs 71.94 and Rs 71.32 per litre respectively.
 
The price of the Indian basket of crude oils, composed of 70 per cent sour grade Oman and Dubai crudes and the rest by sweet grade Brent, has gone upwards of $70 a barrel this month, after rising to an average of $69.30 in April 2018. 
 
It averaged $47.56 and $56.43 per barrel respectively during the last two financial years.
 
During a telephonic interaction earlier this week with Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan raised concern over the surge in crude oil prices.
 
IANS
 
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Draft National Policy on Official Statistics placed in public domain

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The draft National Policy on Official Statistics (NPOS) has been placed in the public domain for comments, views and suggestions by May 31.
 
The United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics was adopted by the Union Cabinet on May 4.
 
The formal adoption of these Principles was a reiteration of the Government’s commitment to constantly work towards improving the quality of Official Statistics, an official press release said.
 
The Government, while adopting the Principles, had also committed to bringing out a National Policy on Official Statistics (NPOS) to give furtherance to the Principles. In this context, draft NPOS has been prepared and placed in the public domain here for comments, views and suggestions, latest by May 31, the release added.
 
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Saudi Oil Minister holds telephonic discussion with Pradhan

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih held telephonic discussions with Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan yesterday on continued cooperation between the two countries and, in particular, the current oil market situation.
 
The Minister updated Mr. Pradhan on his ongoing consultations with colleagues from major producing countries both inside and outside of OPEC, including Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy, Russia and Suhail Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy of the UAE who is also the President of the OPEC Conference.
 
Mr Pradhan expressed his concern about rising prices and its negative impact on consumers and the Indian economy. He expressed his desire for stable and moderate prices. The Saudi Minister assured him that supporting global economic growth was one of the Kingdom’s key goals.
 
He reiterated his commitment towards stable supplies and that Saudi Arabia, together with other producers, will ensure availability of adequate supplies to offset any potential shortfalls and ensure that prices remain reasonable.
 
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Tata Steel acquires 72% stake in Bhushan Steel

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Tata Steel's wholly-owned subsidiary Bamnipal Steel Ltd on Friday acquired 72.65 per cent stake in Bhushan Steel Ltd (BSL) in accordance with the approved resolution plan under the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP).
 
Calling it a historic breakthrough in resolving legacy issues of banks, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said yesterday that lenders recovered almost entire principal loan of Bhushan Steel through Rs 36,400 crore transparent bid by Tata Steel and also got 12 per cent stake in the company.
 
"With recovery of NPAs (non-performing assets), banks will now be in a position to offer more and affordable credit to major sectors of the economy especially the MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) sector. This will boost employment and the economy even more," Goyal said in a tweet.
 
He said that creditors received almost four times the value of liquidation value of Bhushan Steel which was pegged at Rs 14,541 crore.
 
"This was possible due to the robust and transparent Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code brought by this government," Goyal said.
 
"For the first time such a large loan resolution has been achieved through upfront payment received by banks through sale of a company. This is a record step towards resolving the legacy of unprecedented amount of bad bank loans inherited by this government," the minister said.
 
He added that the Narendra Modi government was "systematically cleaning the financial and economic mess left behind by the Congress".
 
"Cleaning up banks and resolving NPAs is part of Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India)."
 
He said the NPA resolution process was being done through a fair and transparent Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code which has been recognized by international credit rating agencies as well.
 
Earlier, Tata Steel said in a statement that the admitted CIRP cost and employee dues have been paid as required under IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code).
 
"Further, the settlement of the amounts equivalent to Rs 35,200 crore towards financial creditor of BSL is being undertaken... Rs 1,200 crore will be paid to the operation creditors of the company over a period of 12 months," the steelmaker said.
 
It added that the investment from its subsidiary in the insolvent company has been done through a combination of equity of Rs 158.89 crore and inter-corporate loan of Rs 34,973.69 crore.
 
Additionally, Rs 100 crore has been paid by the subsidiary company to the financial creditors of the bankrupt firm, it said.
 
The steel maker also said the acquisition is being financed through a combination of external bridge loan of Rs 16,500 crore availed by its subsidiary and balance amount through investment by it in BNPL.
 
IANS
 
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Equities slump on Karnataka political crisis, high oil prices

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The uncertain political environment in Karnataka along with high global crude oil prices and consistent outflow of foreign funds pulled the key Indian equity indices deep in the red on Friday.
 
According to market observers, depreciation in the rupee eroded investor sentiment which was also impacted by broadly negative global markets.
 
Index-wise, the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) ended lower by 86.30 points or 0.81 per cent at 10,596.40 points from its previous close of 10,682.70 points.
 
Similarly, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE declined to end in the negative territory. It had opened at 35,143.59 points, closed at 34,848.30 points -- down 300.82 points or 0.86 per cent -- from its previous session's close of 35,149.12 points.
 
In the intra-day trade, barometer S&P BSE Sensex touched a high of 35,163.11 and a low of 34,821.62 points. The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,856 declines against 765 advances.
 
"Benchmark indices, Nifty and Sensex ended in red for the fourth consecutive session, following mixed sentiment in global stock markets," said Dhruv Desai, Chief Operating Officer, Tradebulls.
 
HDFC Securities' Head of Retail Research, Deepak Jasani said: "A combination of Brent crude oil prices hovering near the $80 per barrel mark, sustained selling from foreign funds and political uncertainty in Karnataka after the Supreme Court reportedly directed for floor test in Karnataka Assembly tomorrow (Saturday) affected the market sentiments."
 
"Broad market indices like the BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices lost more, thereby underperforming the main indices," Jasani told IANS.
 
Accordingly, the S&P BSE mid-cap declined by 1.47 per cent and the S&P BSE small-cap ended 1.62 per cent lower than its previous close.
 
On the currency front, the Indian rupee weakened by 30 paise against the US dollar to 68.01, from its previous close at 67.71 per greenback.
 
In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 166.15 crore, while the domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 149.58 crore.
 
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE FMCG index was the only gainer, rising by 98.76 points.
 
On the other hand, the S&P BSE capital goods index fell the most, by 579.39 points, followed by auto index, which slumped by 452.36 points and the metal index that fell by 329.14 points. 
 
The major gainers on the Sensex were Hindustan Unilever, up 2.22 per cent at Rs 1,604.10; Kotak Mahindra Bank, up 1.99 per cent at Rs 1,294.25; IndusInd Bank, up 1.23 per cent at Rs 1,936.70; ITC, up 1.13 per cent at Rs 282.15; and Hero MotoCorp, up 0.31 per cent at Rs 3,565.50 per share.
 
The top losers were Larsen and Toubro, down 3.54 per cent at Rs 1,316.05; Sun Pharma, down 3.21 per cent at Rs 464.70; ICICI Bank, down 3.21 per cent at Rs 286.40; Tata Motors, down 3.14 per cent at Rs 305.25; and Tata Steel, down 3.04 per cent at Rs 591.50 per share.
 
IANS
 
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India's forex reserves dip by $ 1.237 billion to $ 417.702 billion

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Continuing a downward trend for the fourth consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 1.237 billion to $ 417.702 billion during the week ended May 11, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
India’s forex reserves had gone down by $ 1.426 billion to $ 418.94 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 1.263 biillion to $ 392.453 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves increased by $ 26.2 million to $ 21.687 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) decreased by $ 0.3 million to $ 1.515 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 0.3 million to $ 2.0457 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Airtel, Amazon India join hands to offer affordable 4G smartphones

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Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel and e-tailer Amazon India today announced a strategic partnership with an aim to jointly drive smartphone adoption across the country. 
 
"Millions of Indians can now become first time owners of a 4G smartphone or upgrade to an advanced 4G smartphone of their choice at an affordable price from amongst a wide range of devices starting at an effective price of only Rs. 3,399," a press release from Airtel said. 
 
As part of the partnership, a total cashback of Rs. 2,600 will be available on over 65 Amazon.in exclusive 4G smartphones from popular device brands including Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Honour, LG, Lenovo and Moto, amongst others, it said.
 
The release said customers will get Rs. 2,000 of the cashback from Airtel over a period of 36 months and can avail the additional cashback of Rs. 600 on Airtel recharges of Rs. 169 on Amazon.in, one of the fastest growing mobile recharges platform in India, it said.
 
Vani Venkatesh, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti Airtel said, “The partnership with Amazon India will give further momentum to our ‘Mera Pehla Smartphone’ initiative which has received an extremely positive response from customers across the country. We will continue to deliver greater value to our customers and stride towards empowering every Indian to fulfil their dream of owning a smartphone and getting onto the digital superhighway.”
 
Noor Patel, Director - Category Management, Amazon India said, “We are excited to announce our pioneering partnership with Bharti Airtel to enable Indian customers across the country get digitally savvy. Through this partnership, we are empowering customers to enjoy superior 4G technology at affordable prices with a special cashback offer upon recharging exclusively on Amazon.in. In line with our focus on customers, this offer will be available on all Amazon Exclusive smartphones for a select period on Amazon.in.”
 
According to the release, customers can buy an Amazon India exclusive 4G smartphone of their choice by making full down payment. Customers can view the complete device list on offer under the partnership here.
 
Airtel recharges worth Rs. 3,500 must be done within the first 18 months of the device purchase to claim a first refund installment of Rs. 500. Recharges of another Rs. 3,500 must be done over the next 18 months to claim the second refund installment of Rs. 1,500 to avail a total cashback of Rs. 2,000 from Airtel.
 
To enjoy the additional cashback of INR 600 from Amazon, customers will have to make 24 Airtel recharges of INR 169 here. The Rs. 600 will be given as cashbacks of Rs. 25 onto customer’s Amazon Pay balance every month for a period of 24months.
 
The Rs. 169 recharge will offer unlimited voice calls (STD + local) and 1GB data per day for 28 days, the release added.
 
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Indian markets open in red on selling pressure

The key Indian equity indices opened in negative territory on Friday weighed down by heavy selling pressure in capital goods, banking and IT stocks.
 
At 9.24 a.m., the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) traded at 10,649.20 points, down 33.50 points or 0.31 per cent from the previous close of 10,682.70 points.
 
Similarly, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which had opened at 35,143.59 points, traded at 35,033.85 points (9.24 a.m.) -- down 115.27 points or 0.33 per cent -- from its previous session's close of 35,149.12 points.
 
The Sensex has so far touched a high of 35163.11 and a low of 35,020.77points.
 
The BSE market breadth was tilted towards the bears with 639 declines and 619 advances so far.
 
IANS
 
 
 
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RBI modifies rules for setting up IFSC Banking Units

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday modified some of its "terms and conditions" for setting up of IFSC (International Financial Services Centres) Banking Units (IBUs), said a notification from the central bank.
 
The modifications are based on the suggestions the RBI has received from the stakeholders.
 
"With a view to enabling IBUs to start their operations, the parent bank will be required to provide a minimum capital of $20 million or equivalent in any foreign currency to its IBU which should be maintained at all times," the RBI said in the notification.
 
"However, the minimum prescribed regulatory capital, including for the exposures of the IBU, shall be maintained on an on-going basis at the parent level, as per regulations in the home country, and the IBU shall submit a certificate to this effect obtained from the parent on a half-yearly basis to RBI.
 
"The parent bank will be required to provide a Letter of Comfort for extending financial assistance, as and when required, in the form of capital or liquidity support to IBU," the notification said.
 
In April 2015, the Reserve Bank had formulated a scheme for setting up of IBUs by banks at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar.
 
IANS
 
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PNB fraud: ED seizes Rs 85 cr jewellery in Choksi case

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday seized over 34,000 pieces of jewellery valued at Rs 85 crore in connection with its ongoing probe against absconding businessman Mehul Choksi who is accused along with his diamantaire nephew Nirav Modi of defrauding the Punjab National Bank (PNB) of over Rs 1,300 crore, an official said.
 
The seized jewellery was brought from Dubai and recovered during a search at Bharat Diamond Bourse, the world's largest diamond bourse located in Mumbai.
 
"A stock of 34,000 pieces of jewellery was lying in the office of Choksi's Gitanjali Ventures DMCC situated in Dubai. When the stock was brought to India and reached at the strong room of Bharat Diamond Bourse on May 10, the ED officials reached there with a warrant and seized it," an Enforcement Directorate (ED) statement said.
 
The ED's move is part of its money laundering probe against Choksi, who left the country days before a case of fraud was registered against him and his India-based Gitanjali group of companies -- Gitanjali Gems Ltd, Nakshtra Brands Ltd, Gili India Ltd -- by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in February following a complaint by the PNB.
 
Based on the CBI FIR, the ED registered a case against Choksi who defrauded the bank by illegally issuing Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs).
 
Choksi in connivance with PNB's Mumbai-based Brady House branch officials managed to get unauthorized LoUs aggregating to Rs 3,032.17 crore and FLCs aggregating to Rs 3,106.56 crore in the name of Gitanjali group and the funds so raised for payment of import bills have not been utilised for such purposes, said the ED statement. 
 
Gitanjali group has many overseas subsidiary and shell companies which were used by Choksi for circular trading, said the statement, adding Choksi had devised a modus operandi under which the Indian entities of his firms were importing unfinished goods and raw material like diamonds and pearls from his overseas entities situated mainly in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 
"The same goods were shown to be processed and made into jewellery and again exported by the Indian entities of Choksi to his overseas entities. After dismounting diamonds, colour stones and pearl from the jewellery, gold or silver was sent for melting and converted into bullion and sent back to India directly or through Dubai.
 
"While rotating such transactions, sometimes there were one step transaction and sometimes two or three step transactions depending upon the instructions received."
 
The overseas companies which were mostly used for routing the transactions are Crown Aim Ltd and 4C's Diamonds in Hong Kong and Gitanjali Ventures DMCC and Asian Diamonds Jewellery FZE in the UAE. 
 
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Choksi had deputed his paid employees as dummy directors of most of these overseas companies, the statement said. 
 
Gitanjali Ventures DMCC UAE, a 100 per cent subsidiary company of Gitanjali Gems Ltd and Asian Diamonds Jewellery FZE, is engaged in trading of diamond, colour stone, studded jewellery with Gitanjali group companies in India.
 
"As per the instructions received from Gitanjali head office in Mumbai, the payments received from the Hong Kong-based companies were further remitted into the accounts of Gitanjali group companies in India.
 
"Similarly, the consignments received from Hong Kong-based companies also were further exported under 'air to air' export to India. Most of the payments received against these exports were used for repayment of bank loans of UAE based ICICI Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and EXIM Bank.
 
"The quantity of the consignments were split into more than one consignment before it was exported to next destination to avoid detection, and accordingly export documents were prepared for further destination," the statement said. 
 
In the name of export and import, Choksi through his various companies in India and abroad was involved in money laundering activities, it said.
 
IANS
 
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Reliance sets up used PET bottle reverse vending machine in Mumbai

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has set up a used PET bottle reverse vending machine (RVM) at the Sahakari Bhandar store near Siddhivinayak Temple at Prabhadevi here.
 
The facility was inaugurated by Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray today, a press release from RIL said.
 
RIL, one of the largest recyclers of used PET bottles in India, has started this initiative to keep the city and country clean, restricting the PET bottles from going into the landfill, it said.
 
The release said the company had firmed up plans to install more such machines at 12 different Reliance Retail’s Reliance SMART and Sahakari Bhandar stores in Mumbai before World Environment Day on June 5.
 
To encourage people to bring empty PET bottles and put it into vending machines, these machines will be equipped to dispense discount coupons when a person puts in PET bottle for shredding.
 
RIL will collect the shredded PET bottles and send it to its PET recycling facilities at Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh and Hoshiarpur, Punjab, where the world’s greenest Recron GreenGold fibres are being manufactured.
 
Reliance Industries, the owner of brand R|Elan GreenGold, is one of the largest recyclers of PET bottles in India, recycling 2.2 billion PET bottles a year, the release said.
 
The R|Elan GreenGold fabric, made from recycled PET, substantially reduces the emission of greenhouse gases, and cuts down on water usage as well. The fabric is made from pre-dyed fibres that do not require much water. Whatever little water is required, 90% of it is recycled.   
 
"RIL is the only company in the world that has built a complete circle – right from creation of PET Resin for bottles, and collection of discarded bottles to converting them to Recron GreenGold eco-friendly polyester fibre, which in turn is converted to R|Elan GreenGold fabric for the manufacture of high-fashion apparels," the release added.
 
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Equity indices tumble as oil nears $80 per barrel

A further rise in global crude oil prices to around $80 per barrel, along with heavy outflow of foreign funds, eroded the initial gains made by the key equity indices as they eventually ended in the red on Thursday.
 
Accordingly, the key domestic indices rose higher during the early trade session on the back of positive domestic political cues but also ceded their gains, in part to the heavy selling pressure seen in banking and FMCG counters.
 
Index-wise, the wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 10,682.70 points -- down 58.40 points or 0.54 per cent from the previous close of 10,741.10 points.
 
The barometer S&P BSE Sensex, which had opened at 35,483.62 points, closed at 35,149.12 points -- lower by 238.76 points or 0.67 per cent -- from the previous day's close at 35,387.88 points.
 
Besides, volatility was evident as the Sensex touched a high of 35,510.01 points and a low of 35,087.82 points during the intra-day trade session.
 
The BSE market breadth was, however, slightly tilted towards the bulls with 1,392 advances and 1,232 declines. On the NSE, too, the market breadth was positive, analysts said.
 
"A rise in Brent crude oil futures put pressure on the markets as did FII (Foreign Institutional Investors) outflows and mixed signals from Asian markets," Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities, told IANS.
 
BNP Paribas Mutual Fund's Senior Fund Manager for Equities Abhijeet Dey said: "Benchmark indices in India traded in negative zone today as selling pressure gripped markets."
 
"While domestic markets did kickstart the day on a positive note after BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, stocks reversed initial gains on mixed global cues," he said. 
 
Jasani, however, said broad market indices like the BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices gained, thereby outperforming the main indices. The S&P BSE mid-cap rose 0.67 per cent and S&P BSE small-cap ended 0.43 per cent higher from its previous close. 
 
On the currency front, the Indian rupee strengthened by nine paise against the US dollar to 67.71, from its previous close at 67.80 per greenback.
 
In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 830.94 crore, while the domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 428.92 crore.
 
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE consumer durables index rose by 292.39 points, the capital goods index edged up by 46.30 points and the oil and gas index ended 11.33 points higher.
 
On the other hand, the S&P BSE banking index fell by 186.23 points, followed by FMCG index, which declined by 102.13 points and the metal index that ended 83.07 points lower. 
 
The major gainers on the Sensex were Coal India, up 2.53 per cent at Rs 271.40; Sun Pharma, up 1.75 per cent at Rs 480.10; Tata Motors, up 1.53 per cent at Rs 315.15; Wipro, up 1.15 per cent at Rs 277.45; and Tata Motors (DVR), up 0.98 per cent at Rs 185.30 per share.
 
The top losers were ITC, down 2.43 per cent at Rs 279.00; Bharti Airtel, down 2.34 per cent at Rs 366.55; HDFC, down 2.08 per cent at Rs 1,875.05; Tata Steel, down 1.93 per cent at Rs 610.05; and Axis Bank, down 1.79 per cent at Rs 539.50 per share.
 
IANS
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L&T Construction wins orders worth Rs. 2,440 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said that the Power Transmission & Distribution Business of its construction arm had bagged engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) orders worth Rs. 2,440 crore.
 
These include a major order received under the Saubhagya scheme, the scope of which involves electrification works in urban and rural areas, augmentation of 33/11kV sub-stations and replacement of conductors with aerial bunched cables.
 
A press release from the company said it had secured an order from the Department of Disaster Management for the construction of underground power cable network on turnkey basis in the eastern region of India.
 
The other orders include one to build grid-connected rooftop solar plants in government buildings under the ‘Alo Shree’ scheme and another for supply, erection, testing and commissioning of 400kV double circuit transmission lines on a turnkey basis in the southern region of India, the release added.
 
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Cabinet approves initial corpus of Rs. 5000 crore for Micro Irrigation Fund with NABARD

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved an initial corpus of Rs. 5,000 crore for setting up of a dedicated Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) with NABARD under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY). 
 
An official press release said the allocation of Rs. 2,000 crore and Rs. 3,000 crore would be utilised during 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively. 
 
NABARD will extend the loan to State Governments during this period.  Borrowings from NABARD shall be paid back in seven years including the grace period of two years.
 
The lending rate under MIF has been proposed at 3% lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD.
 
This cost shall be met from the ongoing scheme of PMKSY-PDMC by amending the existing guidelines. The total financial implication on interest subvention comes to about Rs 750 crore, the release said.
 
The MIF would supplement the efforts of Per Drop More Crop Component (PDMC) of PMKSY in an effective and timely manner, the release added.
 
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30 States, UTs participating in State Startup Ranking Framework 2018

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As many as 30 States and Union Territories (UTs) are participating in the State Start-up Ranking Framework 2018 launched by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on February 6 this year.
 
The ranking aims at fostering competitiveness and to propel the States and UTs to work proactively towards promotion of their start-up eco-systems. It is also aimed at facilitating States and UTs to identify, learn and replicate good practices from each other and for bringing to the fore  their own progress in the regard.
 
An official press release said that, as a run-up to this, DIPP actively engaged with State and UT Governments over the past several weeks to help them prepare and participate in the States Startup Ranking exercise. Two rounds of video conferences were organised by DIPP with all the States and UTs in March and April, 2018. A dedicated team from DIPP also visited all States and UTs to conduct ranking awareness and capacity-building workshops.
 
In order to provide exposure to State/UT officials about the process of developing start-up ecosystem in their respective regions, three knowledge exchange workshops were conducted at leading incubators in the country. The workshops were organised at T-Hub, Hyderabad on April 9,9th April, 2018, iCreate, Ahmedabad on April 11 and Sunrise Incubation Tower, Vishakhapatnam on April 16. There was a lot of enthusiasm shown by the States and Union Territories in these workshops which were attended in large numbers.
 
The release said that the participating States and UTs will now be evaluated on a score of 100, against 38 action points categorized into seven areas of intervention such as Startup Policy and implementation, Incubation support, Seed Funding, Angel and Venture Funding, Simplification of Regulations, Easing Public Procurement and Awareness & Outreach.
 
In order to evaluate States/UTs in a balanced and transparent manner, the assessment will be based on the aggregate score of the documentary proofs substantiating the implementation of action points by the State/ UT Government and also feedback from Startup ecosystem beneficiaries/components (to be picked up randomly from the list of beneficiaries/components that the state itself provides).
 
DIPP has appointed seven dedicated evaluation committees involving members from all relevant departments and reputed players in the ecosystem, for evaluating States’ responses in each area of intervention. The performance of the States will be dynamically presented on the State Startup Ranking dashboard hosted on the Start-up India portal.  
 
The overall exercise is expected to be complete with announcement of rankings in June, 2018, it said.
 
The launch of the ranking framework has galvanized the States into action, thereby giving impetus to the start-up movement across the country, the release added.
 
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Weak global cues pull Indian equities lower

The key Indian equity indices traded in negative territory on Thursday afternoon due to weakness in the global markets along with persistent rise in crude oil prices. The indices had, however, opened on a positive note.
 
At 12.30 p.m., the wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was trading at 10,706.45 points -- down 34.65 points or 0.32 per cent from the previous close of 10,741.10 points.
 
The barometer Sensex of the BSE, which had opened at 35,483.62 points, was trading at 35,281.67 points (12.30 p.m.) -- lower by 106.21 points or 0.30 per cent -- from the previous day's close at 35,387.88 points.
 
The Sensex touched a high of 35,510.01 points and a low of 35,227.77 points in the trade so far.
 
The BSE market breadth was, however, tilted towards the bulls with 1,203 advances and 1,168 declines.
 
So far, the major gainers on the BSE were Coal India, Tata Motors, Wipro, Tata Motors (DVR) and Hindustan Unilever, while Tata Steel, HDFC, Dr Reddy's Lab, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Industries were the major losers.
 
On the NSE, the top gainers were Gail, Coal India and Bharti Infratel. The major losers were Hindalco Industries, BPCL and Tata Steel. 
 
IANS
 
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India’s large talent pool gives it natural advantages in services, says Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind has said that India’s large talent pool gives it natural advantages in services.
 
Inaugurating the 4th Global Exhibition on Services and launching a portal on 12 Champion Sectors in Services here yesterday, Mr Kovind noted that around 500 international delegates were participating in this Global Exhibition from about 100 countries.
 
He expressed confidence that it would promote the Indian services domain and enlarge and deepen India’s engagement with the global services sector. The launch of 12 Champion Sectors is a bold new step that will contribute to both India’s economy and the global economy and will create jobs.
 
The President said that the services sector represents a vibrant and expanding component of the global economy. “Today, services dominates in terms of employment, value addition, productivity and innovation. The pace of technology is intensifying the contribution of services in other sectors – including agriculture, infrastructure and manufacturing. It would not be an exaggeration to say that services form the backbone of the 21st-century global economy,” he added.
 
"In India, the services sector contributes 61% in gross value added. With its young population, large talent pool and comfort with technology, India has natural advantages in the sector and is set to become even more of a provider of services to the world,” Mr Kovind said.
 
“Technology has emerged as an enormous enabler and allowed local services companies to go national or even global. In India, which is the third largest centre of start-ups in the world, this has thrown up a generation of young entrepreneurs, of men and women with hunger and ambition,” he added.
 
The President noted that Government programmes such as Start-up India and the Mudra Yojana, which has provided capital to 120 million grassroots businesses, have seeded a culture of entrepreneurship, largely in services. He expressed confidence that some of these start-ups will grow into giants in the years and decades to come.
 
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Uncertainty over Karnataka government formation subdues equities

Uncertainty over the Karnataka government formation, along with high crude oil prices and outflow of foreign funds, dragged the key Indian equity indices in the red on Wednesday.
 
On Tuesday, none of the major political parties were able to achieve a clear majority in the Karnataka assembly elections, leading to political uncertainty.
 
According to market analysts, heavy selling pressure was witnessed in banking, oil and gas and automobile stocks.
 
Index-wise, the wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 10,741.10 points -- down 60.75 points or 0.56 per cent from the previous close of 10,801.85 points.
 
The barometer Sensex of the BSE, which had opened at 35,452.35 points, closed at 35,387.88 points -- lower by 156.06 points or 0.44 per cent -- from the previous day's close at 35,543.94 points.
 
The Sensex touched a high of 35,543.89 points and a low of 35,241.63 points during the intra-day trade.
 
The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,645 declines and 993 advances.
 
"It was the second consecutive negative closing for the Nifty due to political uncertainty in Karnataka and subdued Asian markets," said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research, HDFC Securities.
 
"Broad market indices like the BSE mid-cap lost less, thereby outperforming the main indices."
 
The S&P BSE mid-cap fell by 0.27 per cent, whereas the S&P BSE small-cap ended a tad higher, by 0.06 points from its previous close.
 
Besides domestic cues, Abhijeet Dey, Senior Fund Manager, Equities at BNP Paribas Mutual Fund said that stock markets in India were impacted by weak US and Asian shares.
 
Additionally, a hung assembly in Karnataka kept the mood of the markets indecisive and spurred a risk-off sentiment in the market, Dey added.
 
On the currency front, the Indian rupee strengthened by 72 paise against the US dollar to 67.80, from its previous close at 68.08 per greenback.
 
In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 699.22 crore, while the domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 229.06 crore.
 
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE FMCG index rose by 184.11 points, the realty index edged higher by 45.42 points and the IT index ended 23.88 points higher.
 
On the other hand, the S&P BSE auto index plunged 349 points, followed by the oil and gas index, which declined by 232.75 points and the auto index that ended 76.14 points lower. 
 
Scrip-wise, fraud hit Punjab National Bank's (PNB) stocks slumped around 14 per cent (intra-day) on Wednesday, a day after the bank reported a loss of over Rs 13,000 crore for the fourth quarter of 2017-18. 
 
The stock closed at Rs 75.55 -- down Rs 10.45 or 12.15 per cent -- from the previous close of Rs 86 per share.
 
The major gainers on the Sensex were Hindustan Unilever, up 3.84 per cent at Rs 1,574.20; ITC, up 1.47 per cent at Rs 285.95; Wipro, up 1.44 per cent at Rs 274.30; Tata Motors (DVR), up 1.33 per cent at Rs 183.50; and Yes Bank, up 1.11 per cent at Rs 349.50 per share.
 
The top losers were ICICI Bank, down 3.28 per cent at Rs 297.90; Reliance Industries, down 2.34 per cent at Rs 956.45; State Bank of India, down 2.19 per cent at Rs 243.15; Hero MotoCorp, down 2.10 per cent at Rs 3,576.40; and Adani Ports, down 1.19 per cent at Rs 403.90 per share.
 
IANS
 
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CCEA okays enhancement of budget for implementation of Network for Spectrum for Defence Services

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval for enhancement of budget by Rs.11,330 crore for Network For Spectrum (NFS) project for laying of alternate communication network for Defence Services for release of spectrum over and above Rs.13,334 crore already approved by Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure in July, 2012.
 
The project, being implemented by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL),  will be completed in a period of 24 months, an official press release said.
 
The NFS project will boost the communication capabilities of the Defence Forces in a major way leading to enhanced national operational preparedness, it said.
 
The project will also have forward linkages to other related industries such as telecom equipment manufacturing and other telecommunication related services, the release added.
 
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Indian markets open in red

The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a negative note during the morning session of the trade.
 
The Sensex of the BSE after opening at 35,452.35 points touched a high of 35,452.35 and low of 35,363.66 points.
 
The Sensex is trading at 35,405.33 down by 138.61 points or 0.39 per cent from its Tuesday's close at 35,543.94 points.
 
On the other hand, the broader 51-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,751.95 points after closing at 10,801.85 points.
 
The Nifty is trading at 10,754.60 points in the morning.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
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India's exports rise by 5.17% in April, 2018

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India's merchandise exports moved back into positive territory and grew by 5.17 percent to $ 25.91 billion in April, 2018 as compared to $ 24.64 billion in the same month of the previous year.
 
In rupee terms, the exports rose by 7.01% to Rs. 170052.96 crore in April, 2018 from Rs. 158913.79 crore during the corresponding of 2017.
 
The country's exports had fallen by 0.66% in March, 2018 after being on a positive trajectory since August, 2016 barring a blip in October, 2017.
 
An official press release said the major commodity groups of export which showed growth in April, 2018 over the corresponding month of the previous year were engineering goods (17.63%), organic and inorganic chemicals (38.48%), drugs and pharmaceuticals (13.56%), cotton yarn, fabs, made-ups, handloom products, etc (15.66%) and plastic and linoleum (30.03%).
 
The release said non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in April, 2018 were valued at $ 19.80 billion as against $ 17.72 billion in April 2017, an increase of 11.73%. 
 
According to it, imports during April 2018 were valued at $ 39.63 billion (Rs 260084.67 crore) which was 4.60% higher in dollar terms and 6.43% higher in rupee terms over the level of imports valued at $ 37.88 billion (Rs. 244380.52 crore) in April 2017.
 
Major commodity groups of import which showed high growth in April, 2018 over the corresponding month of last year were petroleum, crude and products (41.49%), machinery, electrical and non-electrical (9.11%), coal, coke and briquettes, etc. (20.43%), organic and inorganic chemicals (18.36%) and transport equipment (33.18%).
 
Oil imports during April 2018 were valued at $ 10.41 billion which was 41.49% higher than oil imports valued at $ 7.36 billion in April 2017. The release pointed out that global Brent prices ($/bbl) have increased by 35.20 % in April 2018 vis-à-vis April 2017 as per World Bank commodity price data.
 
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Non-oil imports during April 2018 were estimated at $ 29.21 billion which was 4.30% lower than non-oil imports of $ 30.53 billion in April 2017.
 
The release said exports of services during March, 2018, the latest month for which data is available, were valued at $ 16.83 billion (Rs. 109456.91 crore), registering a positive growth of 7.16% in dollar terms as compared to negative growth of 3.84% during February, 2018.
 
Imports of services during March, 2018 were valued at $ 10.28 billion (Rs. 66841.93 crore), registering a growth of 1.35% in dollar terms as compared to 3.01% during February, 2018.
 
As far as merchandise is concerned, the trade deficit for April, 2018 was estimated at $ 13.72 billion as against the deficit of $ 13.25 billion during April, 2017.
 
As regards services, the trade balance for March, 2018 was estimated at $ 6.55 billion.
 
Taking merchandise and services together, the overall trade deficit for April-March 2017-18 is estimated at $ 80.61 billion as compared to $ 41.79 billion during April-March 2016-17. 
 
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GEAC declines to give green light to GM mustard, seeks impact on bees

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The regulator for genetically modified (GM) crops in its meeting on March 21 declined to reinforce its decision in May 2017 recommending approval for commercial cultivation of the GM mustard hybrid developed by a team of Delhi University scientists.

Instead, it decided to seek data on the impact of the hybrid on honeybees, other pollinators and soil microbes.

The minutes of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)'s March meeting were posted on its site on Monday. At the meeting, the GEAC asserted that the issues in the representations it received against its May 2017 decision to recommend approval for cultivation of GM mustard by farmers had already been deliberated upon and a change in stance was not warranted.

But since Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had referred back to it the application for approval of the environmental release of GM mustard -- and presumably out of deference to him -- the GEAC has decided to ask the developers for a detailed protocol for conducting field trials in five-acre plots at two or three different locations.

"I see it as a positive decision," said geneticist and former Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental, who leads the team of DU mustard scientists. Even If the Minister acted on the GEAC's recommendation and gave his approval, it would take about two years to produce GM mustard hybrid seeds for large-scale planting.

The team can use the five-acre field demonstrations to produce seed while studying the impact on bees, pollinators and soil microbes. It can also invite farmers over to see for themselves and be convinced.

The five-acre field demonstration plots will have to be isolated from non-GM mustard by about 50-100 metres. Pental does not expect any adverse impact. Data on bees generated in Australia and Canada, which allow cultivation of GM rapeseed (related to mustard) makes him hopeful.

A 2014 study by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University showed honey bees thriving in fields of genetically-engineered cotton because being naturally toxic to bollworms they didn't need pesticide sprays.

Pental wants to work with relevant experts from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), as his programme is publicly funded. He would like to conduct trails at ICAR institutes, state agricultural university field stations and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs). The more the number of trials the better, he says.

The March meeting of the GEAC took place after 10 months. Dr Vardhan does not seem to be in favour of approving GM mustard. Earlier, at a book release function in Delhi, he had commended Jairam Ramesh, who as environment minister in the Congress-led Manmohan Singh government, had blocked the release of genetically-engineered Brinjal in 2010.

Dr Vardhan is believed to be aligned to the thinking of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) -- an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh -- which is vehemently opposed to GM crops.

In response to a right to information application by this correspondent, the environment ministry furnished 11 documents which the ministry said it received after the GEAC's May 2017 decision. There was none from the SJM. Some of these were photocopies of newspaper articles. Half of them were from scientists and scientific bodies urging approval.

In the light of the Minister's views, the GEAC decision may appear to be quite convenient for the government. The field trials for impact on honeybees will have to be held in the coming winter season. It will enable Dr Vardhan to avoid a decision on the commercial release of GM mustard as the term of the government would have ended by the time the data is collected and analysed.

IANS

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