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Business & Economy

Fuel price hike continues; petrol at Rs 81.28 in Delhi

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Domestic fuel prices continued their upward movement on Friday and touched fresh record levels in three of the four metro cities.
 
In the national capital petrol price rose by 28 paise, to a fresh record high of Rs 81.28 on Friday, from the previous level of Rs 81 per litre, data from the Indian Oil Corp's website showed.
 
Price of the fuel in the other key cities of Mumbai and Chennai also rose to new record levels of 88.67 and Rs 84.49 respectively, up from Rs 88.39 and Rs 84.19 per litre on Thursday.
 
In Kolkata, petrol was sold at Rs 83.14 on Friday, against the previous close of Rs 82.87. The record level in the West Bengal capital is Rs 83.75 per litre, touched on Tuesday.
 
Transportation fuel prices have been on the rise for over a month now on the back of high crude oil prices and a weak rupee. Depreciation in the rupee against the US dollar makes the import of crude oil dearer as transaction takes place with dollars.
 
The Brent crude oil is currently priced over $78 per barrel. 
 
In tandem with petrol prices, cost of diesel also scaled new highs. In Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, price of the fuel rose to Rs 73.30, Rs 77.82 and Rs 77.49 per litre, from the Thursday's levels of Rs 73.08, Rs 77.58 and Rs 77.25 per litre.
 
Diesel price in Kolkata rose to Rs 75.15, from the previous Rs 74.93 per litre. The all-time high price of diesel in the city is Rs 75.82 per litre, recorded on Tuesday.
 
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India’s forex reserves fall by $ 819.5 million to $ 399.282 billion

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Maintaining a downward trend for the second consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 819.5 million to $ 399.282 billion during the week ended September 7, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had dipped by $ 1.191 billion to $400.102 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 fallen by $ 887.4 million to $375.099 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 $ 71.9 million to $ 20.234 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) decreased by $ 1.5 million to $ 1.475 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went down by $ 2.5 million to $ 2.473 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Sensex rises over 350 points, oil and gas stocks gain

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A recovery in the Indian rupee's value along with broadly positive global cues and a slower rise in wholesale price inflation for August pushed the Indian equity indices higher on Friday.
 
Sector-wise, all the indices closed in the positive territory. Healthy buying was witnessed in the consumer durables, banking and oil and gas stocks.
 
The wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange provisionally closed at 11,515.20 points, higher by 145.30 points or 1.28 per cent from the previous close of 11,369.90 points.
 
The BSE Sensex, which had opened at 37,939.29 points, provisionally closed at 38,090.64 points, higher by 372.68 points or 0.99 per cent from the previous close of 37,717.96 points.
 
It touched a high of 38,125.62 points and a low of 37,859.52 points during the day'S trade.
 
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India's wholesale inflation rate eases to 4.53% in August, 2018

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India's wholesale inflation rate, based on the revised monthly Wholesale Price Index (WPI), with base 2011-12=100, eased further to 4.53 percent in August, 2018 as compared to 5.09 percent for the previous month and 3.24% in the corresponding month of the previous year, provisional data released here today said.
 
The decline in the inflation rate was attributed to a fall in food prices.
 
An official press release, citing the  provisional data, said the official WPI for All Commodities for August, 2018 rose by 0.3% to 120.0 from 119.7 for the previous month.
 
The build-up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 3.18% compared to a build-up rate of 1.41% in the corresponding period of the previous year, it said.
 
The release said the rate of inflation based on WPI Food Index, consisting of Food Articles from Primary Articles group and Food Products from Manufactured Products group, decreased from -0.86% in July, 2018 to -2.25% in August, 2018.
 
It said that the final WPI for June, 2018 stood at 119.1 as compared to 119.2 provisionally reported on July 16. Accordingly, the annual rate of inflation based on the final index for June, 2018 stood at 5.68% as compared to 5.77 percent provisionally reported on that date, it added.
 
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Road improvement works in Gujarat worth Rs 200 crore approved

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Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways Mansukh L Mandaviya today announced sanctioning of nine road construction and improvement works in  Gujarat worth around Rs 200 crore.
 
These projects would enhance the connectivity between five States – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Diu.
 
Nearly 33,000 km of national highways have been constructed in the last four years and work is underway on another 53,000 km. The aim was to complete 200,000 km of national highways by the year 2022, he said.
 
The Minister said the nine works had been approved under EI/ISC Scheme. The concerned authorities have been asked to prepare DPRs and tendering for these projects will start soon, he added.
 
The approved works are widening and strengthening of the 14.80 km-long Dantiwada-Kuchavada Road (state highway) at an estimated cost of 19.5 crore, widening and strengthening of the 15.10 km-long Chandisar Danthinda road (state highway) at an estimated cost of Rs 20 crore, widening and strengthening of the 15.50 km Kodinar Velan Kotada road (state highway) at a cost of Rs 24.74 crore.
 
The works also include widening and strengthening of 14.40 km of the Delwada Ahmedpura Mandavi Vaso, Kob Road (major district road) at a cost of Rs 14.75 crore, the 31.20 km Kalu river causeway to Maharashtra border (state highway) at a cost of Rs 39.50 crore, widening and strengthening of the 19km Ahwa Navapur road (state highway) at a cost of Rs 43.88 crore.
 
Widening and strengthening of the 13.20 km Gangardi-Garbada-Jambua-Agawada Road (major district road) at a cost of Rs 6 crore, construction of a bridge across River Anas on Chakaliya Nani Mahudi Anas road (major district road) at Rs 15.90 crore and widening and strengthening of Vansda Sitapur Khamphla Bilmoda Road (major district road) at a cost of Rs 13.20 crore are also included.
 
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Equity indices open in green on firm Asian cues

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The key Indian equity indices opened in green on Friday tracking similar cues from the Asian markets.
 
Healthy buying was witnessed in banking, oil and gas and metal counters.
 
The 51-scrip Nifty50 at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 11,443.50 points, against its previous close of 11,369.90 points.
 
At 9.42 a.m., the Nifty50 traded at 11,431.60 points, higher by 61.70 points or 0.54 per cent from its previous close.
 
The S&P BSE Sensex which had opened at 37,939.29 points, traded at 37,899.46 points, higher by 181.50 points or 0.48 per cent from its previous close of 37,717.96 points.
 
So far, it has touched an intra-day high of 38,058.92 points and low of 37,874.33 points.
 
Stock exchanges were closed on Thursday on account of Ganesh Chaturthi.
 
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SpiceJet to operate cargo flights on India-Afghanistan air corridor

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has said that it would operate cargo flights on the India-Afghanistan air corridor from October 15 as part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by it here on Thursday with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).
 
"This is for the first time that an Indian carrier has been given an important role to promote trade for Afghanistan via Indo-Afghan air corridor. SpiceJet plans to transport 1500 tons of cargo every month under this MoU," a press release from the airline said.
 
The MoU was signed by Mr. Manjiv Singh, Chief Project Officer, SpiceJet Ltd. and Mr. Atiqullah Nusrat, Chief Executive Director, ACCI along with Mr. Ajmal Ahmady, Senior Advisor of the President of Afghanistan in Banking and Financial Affairs.
 
"In collaboration with ACCI and with the support of government of Afghanistan, SpiceJet will transport fresh fruits and dry fruits, carpets and other commodities from Kabul to different states of India at competitive prices, which will be subsidized by the Afghan Government," the release said.
 
SpiceJet operates dedicated air cargo services under the brand name SpiceXpress. SpiceJet will transport these commodities from Kabul using its freighter aircraft to Indian metro cities and through its pan India passenger flight network would be distributing it to 47 cities in India.
 
"The sustainable and on time access to the global markets is a vital need for Afghanistan," the release said.
 
"SpiceJet is excited about the tremendous potential the logistics industry offers. There is a huge untapped market for air cargo services in India and a player like SpiceJet - with its low cost structure - is best suited to address this need," they said.
 
SpiceXpress which starts operation from September 18, 2018, will function as a separate business unit under SpiceJet Limited. SpiceXpress has laid down a detailed plan covering both domestic and international routes. To begin with the air cargo operations will cover Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hong Kong, Kabul and Amritsar.
 
The signing of the MoU with ACCI has come days after  SpiceJet has inducted its first freighter aircraft, a Boeing 737-700. SpiceJet plans to have an air cargo fleet with the first four freighters scheduled to be inducted in FY 2019.
 
"With the induction of freighters, the airline is all set to strengthen its footprint whilst offering safe, on-time, efficient and seamless air cargo connectivity across India, Asia and Europe. SpiceJet will offer direct freighter operations powered by its fully integrated transportation network including air cargo, ground transportation and warehousing facilities across the country.
 
"The current cargo capacity of SpiceJet’s existing fleet is about 500 tonnes per day and with the launch of the dedicated freighter service this capacity would go up to 900 tonnes a day in a phased manner with the addition of four freighters by March 2019," the release said.
 
SpiceJet currently offers cargo capacity on its passenger aircraft fleet of 36 Boeing and 22 Q400s operating across 47 domestic and 7 international destinations. The added capacities through the acquisition of the freighters will enhance the airline’s existing cargo competence to 60 domestic destinations by the end of this year. SpiceJet aims to further ramp up this competence servicing up to 150 destinations across India, Asia and Europe by 2022.
 
SpiceJet aims to shore up SpiceXpress’s existing capacity, transforming it into a full scale freighter cargo service, the release added.
 
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After a day's respite, fuel prices resume rise

File photo of a petrol pump
File photo of a petrol pump
Fuel prices in the country resumed their upward movement on Thursday, hitting fresh highs in three of the four metro cities.
 
In the national capital, petrol price touched Rs 81 per litre, up from Rs 80.87 on Wednesday, according to data from the Indian Oil Corp website.
 
On Wednesday, prices were unchanged in three cities, except Kolkata, where fuel prices fell by a rupee after the West Bengal government cut excise duty by Re 1 per litre.
 
Transport fuel prices have been on the rise for around a month now, owing to higher crude oil prices coupled with a depreciating rupee. Any fall in the Indian rupee against the US dollar makes the import of crude oil expensive as the transaction is done in dollars.
 
Brent crude oil is currently priced over $79 per barrel. The rupee, on the other hand, slumped to a record low of 72.91 per dollar on Wednesday, before settling at 72.19 per greenback.
 
In Mumbai and Chennai, petrol was sold at an all-time high of Rs 88.39 and Rs 84.19 per litre, respectively, both record levels, up from the previous Rs 88.26 and Rs 84.19 per litre.
 
In Kolkata, too, the fuel price rose but did not surpass the all time high of Rs 83.75 on Tuesday. On Thursday, it was sold at Rs 82.87 in the West Bengal capital, up from the previous 82.74 per litre.
 
In tandem with the rise in petrol prices, diesel prices also climbed to fresh highs.
 
In Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, diesel prices were at record levels of Rs 73.08, Rs 77.58 and Rs 77.25 respectively, up from the previous levels of Rs 72.98, Rs 77.47 and Rs 77.13 per litre. 
 
Diesel price in Kolkata rose to Rs 74.93, against Wednesday's 74.82 per litre. The all-time high in the city for diesel price is Rs 75.82, recorded on Tuesday.
 
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Cabinet approves RCF land to MMRDA and MCGM

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave ex-post facto approval for the transfer of land of the public sector Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd. (RCF) to Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) and to Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).
 
It also approved the sale of Transferable Development Right (TDR) Certificate received/receivable against the transfer of land to MMRDA/MCGM.
 
RCF is a public sector fertilizer and chemical manufacturing company established on March 6, 1978, on the reorganization of erstwhile Fertilizer Corporation of India Ltd. At present, the authorized share capital of RCF is Rs. 800 crore and paid up capital of Rs. 551.69 crore.
 
The company has been accorded the coveted "Miniratna" status in 1997. MMRDA acquired 48,849.74 sq.mtrs. (8265 sq. meters unencumbered/ free land and 40584.74 sq. metres encumbered land) of the land of RCF and completed the construction of Eastern Free Way – Anik Panjrapol Link Road (APLR) and opened for public use in the year 2014.
 
RCF received TDR certificate of 16530 sq. mtrs. on 1.11.2017 issued by MMRDA against 8265 sq. mtrs. Of unencumbered/free land as an interim relief. The claim of RCF for TDR/compensation against encumbered land admeasuring 40584.74 sq. mtrs. was being decided by the Arbitrator.
 
RCF was demanding from MCGM to delete the internal roads of RCF colony from their Development Plan of Mumbai for a long time. Subsequently, RCF agreed to hand over about 16,000 sq. meters of land (subject to actual measurement at the site) for construction of 18.3 meter DP road in lieu of TDR as compensation subject to mutually agreed terms & conditions.
 
MCGM in the development plan has shown reservation of 331.96 sq. meters of RCF land in front of the proposed township of RCF for public road widening. As per development control rules 1991 of MCGM, in case of reservation on the land it is mandatory to surrender the land, as road set back area to MCGM.
 
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Cabinet approves MoU on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Block Chain Technology

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its ex-post facto approval for the MoU on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Blockchain Technology in the context of development of digital economy by Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) with the participating member banks  under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.
 
The banks are Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES) of Brazil, China Development Bank (CDB), State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank) of Russia and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
 
Distributed Ledger/Blockchain technology holds potential for solutions to various challenges being faced in the financial sector space of the BRICS nations, an official press release said.
 
The MoU intends to enhance understanding of Distributed Ledger/Block Chain technology, through joint research efforts to identify areas within respective business operations where it may have the potential for applications aimed at enhancing the operational efficiencies.
 
The Xiamen Declaration signed in China on digital economy by the BRICS leaders had highlighted the importance of the digital economy and how the BRICS nations could leverage the thriving and dynamic digital economy that will foster global economic development and benefit everyone.
 
Accordingly, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on collaborative research in  the area was suggested to be inked by all member banks.
 
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CCEA nod for continuation of Capacity Development Scheme for 2017-18 to 2019-20

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved the continuation of the Capacity Development Scheme for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 with an outlay of Rs 2,250 crore.
 
The overall objective of the scheme is to augment infrastructural, technical as well as manpower resources for making available credible and timely official statistics for policymakers and the public at large.
 
The major ongoing activities under the Capacity Development Scheme, include augmenting resources for bringing out important statistical products, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Consumer Price Index (CPI), Index of Industrial Production (IIP), Statistical classifications, and so on.
 
It also involves conducting various socio-economic surveys, capacity building and strengthening statistical coordination, and improving IT infrastructure. Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), a continuous survey to assess quarterly labour data in urban areas and annual labour data for the whole country (urban and rural areas), was launched in April 2017 under the scheme.
 
It has two sub-schemes, Economic Census and Support for Statistical Strengthening (SSS). Under Economic Census, a listing of all non-agricultural establishments is undertaken periodically, which forms the basis for conducting detailed socio-economic surveys.
 
The previous Economic Census was conducted during January 2013 to April 2014 and the Government now aims to conduct the Census once every three years. The SSS sub-scheme is to strengthen State/ Sub-State level statistical systems/ infrastructure to facilitate the development of a robust national system. Funds are released to States and UTs for this purpose after detailed examination of their proposals.
 
In view of the requirement for better statistical coverage of sectors/areas, in addition to the regular ongoing activities, the Ministry proposes to also take up three new surveys under the Capacity Development Scheme, namely, Time Use Survey (TUS), Annual Survey of Service Sector Enterprises (ASSSE), and Annual Survey of Unincorporated Sector Enterprises (ASUSE), the release added.
 
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Cabinet approves new umbrella scheme, PM-AASHA, for farmers

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new umbrella scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan" (PM-AASHA) for farmers.
 
The scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018, an official press release said.
 
The Government has already increased the minimum support price (MSP) of Kharif crops by following the principle of 1.5 times the cost of production. It is expected that the increase in MSP will be translated to farmer’s income by way of robust procurement mechanism in coordination with the State Governments, the release said.
 
The new umbrella scheme includes the mechanism of ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers and comprises Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) and pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS).
 
The other existing schemes of the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) for procurement of paddy, wheat and nutri-cereals/coarse grains and of Ministry of Textile for cotton and jute will be continued for providing MSP to farmers for these crops.
 
The Cabinet has also decided that participation of private sector in procurement operation needs to be piloted so that on the basis of learnings the ambit of private participation in procurement operations may be increased, the release said.
 
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For oilseeds, states have the option to roll out Private Procurement Stockist Scheme (PPSS) on a pilot basis in selected district/APMC(s) of district involving the participation of private stockists. The pilot district/selected APMC(s) of the district will cover one or more crop of oilseeds for which MSP is notified.
 
Since this is akin to PSS, in that it involves physical procurement of the notified commodity, it will substitute PSS/PDPS in the pilot districts.
 
The selected private agency will procure the commodity at MSP in the notified markets during the notified period from the registered farmers in consonance with the PPSS Guidelines, whenever the prices in the market fall below the notified MSP and whenever authorized by the state/UT government to enter the market and maximum service charges up to 15% of the notified MSP will be payable.
 
The Cabinet also decided to give additional government guarantee of Rs 16,550 crore making it Rs 45,550 crore in total.
 
In addition to this, budget provision for procurement operations has also been increased and Rs 15,053 crore is sanctioned for PM-AASHA implementation, the release added.
 
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CCEA okays fixation/revision of ethanol price for supply year 2018-19

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved revision/fixation of the price of ethanol derived from B heavy molasses/partial sugarcane juice and fixation of a higher price for 100% sugarcane juice based ethanol for the sugar season 2018-19 during ethanol supply year from December 1, 2018 to November 30, 2019.
 
An official press release said the CCEA had granted its approval to fix the ex-mill price of ethanol derived out of B heavy molasses/partial sugarcane juice to Rs 52.43 per litre (from the prevailing price of Rs.47.13 per litre).
 
The ex-mill price of ethanol derived from 100% sugarcane juice will be Rs. 59.13 per litre (from prevailing price of Rs.47.13 per litre) for those mills who will divert 100% sugarcane juice for production of ethanol, thereby not producing any sugar.
 
Additionally, GST and transportation charges will also be payable. OMCs have been advised to fix realistic transportation charges so that long distance transportation of ethanol is not disincentivised.
 
OMCs will be advised to prioritise ethanol from 1) 100 % sugarcane juice, 2) B heavy molasses / partial sugarcane juice, 3) C heavy molasses and 4) Damaged food grains/other sources, in that order.
 
The decision will serve multiple purposes of reducing excess sugar in the country, increasing liquidity with the sugar mills for settling cane farmer's dues and making higher ethanol available for the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme, the release said.
 
All distilleries will be able to take benefit of the scheme and a large number of them are expected to supply ethanol for the EBP programme. Remunerative price to ethanol suppliers will help in reduction of cane farmer's arrears, in the process contributing to minimizing difficulty of sugarcane farmers.
 
Ethanol availability for EBP Programme is expected to increase significantly due to higher price being offered for procurement of ethanol from B heavy molasses / partial sugarcane juice and 100% sugarcane juice for first time.
 
Increased ethanol blending in petrol has many benefits including reduction in import dependency, support to agricultural sector, more environmental friendly fuel, lesser pollution and additional income to farmers.
 
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Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme was launched by the Government in 2003 on pilot basis which has been subsequently extended to the Notified 21 States and 4 Union-Territories to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels. This intervention also seeks to reduce import dependence for energy requirements and give boost to agriculture sector.
 
The Government has notified administered price of, ethanol since 2014. This decision has significantly improved the supply of ethanol during the past four years. The ethanol procured by Public Sector OMCs has increased from 38 crore litre in ethanol supply year 2013-14 to estimated 140 crore litre in 2017-18.
 
Consistent surplus of sugar production is depressing sugar price. Consequently, sugarcane farmer's dues have increased due to lower capability of sugar industry to pay the farmers. Government has taken many decisions for reduction of cane farmer's dues.
 
With a view to limit sugar production in the country, the Government has taken multiple steps including, allowing diversion of B heavy molasses / sugarcane juice for production of ethanol. As the ex-mill price of sugar has increased from the earlier estimated price, there is a need to revise price of B heavy molasses / partial sugarcane juice and 100% sugarcane juice for production of ethanol.
 
"It is worth noting that as compared to ethanol derived from C heavy molasses route, diversion of B heavy molasses reduces the sugar by about 20% and increases ethanol availability by about 100%. On the other hand, diversion of sugarcane juice reduces sugar by 100% and increases ethanol availability by about 600%," the release added.
 
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Rupee recovery, value buying buoy Indian equity indices

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A recovery in the rupee value after the government said it will take steps to support the currency along with value buying buoyed the key Indian equity indices on Wednesday.
 
Further, reports said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may hold a meeting this weekend to take stock of the country's economy boosted investor sentiment in the last couple of trading hours when the indices made major gains of the day.
 
The key equity indices -- S&P BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty50 -- which had a gap-up opening, traded in a flat-to-negative range before the mid-afternoon session as investors were cautious over the upcoming macro-economic inflationary data point. 
 
However, the indices reversed the bearish trend during the last few hours as healthy buying was witnessed in FMCG, metal and capital goods counters.
 
In the past two trade sessions, the Sensex had shed nearly 1,000 points, giving investors an opportunity to pick up stocks on an attractive valuations.
 
Index-wise, the Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 11,369.90 points, higher by 82.40 points or 0.73 per cent from its previous close of 11,287.50 points. 
 
The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex, which had opened at 37,546.42 points, closed at 37,717.96 points, higher by 304.83 points or 0.81 per cent from the previous close of 37,413.13 points.
 
It touched an intra-day high of 37,752.58 points and a low of 37,342.00 points.
 
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In the broader markets, the S&P BSE Mid-cap rose by 0.52 per cent and the S&P BSE Small-cap ended 0.27 per cent lower from its previous close.
 
The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,545 declines against 1,121 advances. The total number of stocks traded on the exchange was 2,844, with 178 ending unchanged.
 
On the currency front, the Indian rupee closed at 72.19 recovering 50 paise from its previous close of 72.69 per greenback.
 
Investment-wise, provisional data with exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 1,086.39 crore and domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 541.44 crore.
 
Sector-wise, the S&P BSE FMCG index gained the most, by 281.50 points, metal index gained 206.58 and capital goods was up by 192.76 points.
 
Of the 19 sectoral indices on the BSE, only three indices ended in the red -- telecom index, which lost 8.68 points, the realty index, declined 6.94 points and the banking index slipped 5.90 points from its previous close.
 
The top gainers on the Sensex were Power Grid, up 3.40 per cent at Rs 193.20; ITC, up 3.11 per cent at Rs 306.50; Sun Pharma, up 2.98 per cent at Rs 649.85; Adani Ports, up 2.96 per cent at Rs 375.50; and Hindustan Unilever, up 2.29 per cent at Rs 1,627.95 per share.
 
The major losers were Axis Bank, down 2.30 per cent at Rs 635.55; Tata Motors, down 1.70 per cent at Rs 262.65; Bharti Airtel, down 1.28 per cent at Rs 375; ICICI Bank, down 1.07 per cent at Rs 323.10; and Yes Bank, down 0.71 per cent at Rs 314.45 per share.
 
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India’s retail inflation rate declines to 3.69% in August, 2018

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India’s retail inflation rate decelerated further to 3.69 percent in August, 2018 from 4.17 percent in the previous month, thanks to lower food prices, official data released here today said.
 
The retail inflation rate was, however, higher than the 3.28% recorded  in the same month of the previous year,
 
According to the data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the inflation rate based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 3.41% in rural areas and 3.99% in urban areas, making for a combined rate of 3.69%.
 
The inflation rate based on the Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) stood at 1.22% in rural areas, -1.21% in urban areas, adding up to a combined rate of 0.29% in August, 2018 as compared to 1.30% in the previous month and 1.52% in the same month of the previous year.
 
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India's industrial output grows by 6.6% in July, 2018

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India's industrial output grew by 6.6 percent in July, 2018 as compared to the same month in the previous year, official data released here today said.
 
Industrial production had grown by 7.0 percent in the previous month.
 
The Quick Estimates of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) with base 2011-12 for July, 2018 released here today said the General Index for the month stood at 125.8.
 
The cumulative growth for the period April-July, 2018 over the corresponding period of the previous financial year stood at 5.4%, an official press release said.
 
The Indices of Industrial Production for the Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity sectors for July, 2018 stood at 95.8, 127.6 and 162.1, respectively, with corresponding growth rates of 3.7%, 7.0% and 6.7% as compared to July, 2017.
 
The cumulative growth in these three sectors during April-July, 2018 over the corresponding period of 2017 was 5.0%, 5.6% and 5.3%,  respectively.
 
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The release said 20 of the 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector had shown positive growth during July, 2018 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
 
The industry group ‘Manufacture of furniture’ showed the highest positive growth of 42.7%, followed by 30.8% in ‘Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products’ and 28.4% in ‘Manufacture of tobacco products’.
 
On the other hand, the industry group ‘Manufacture of paper and paper products’ and ‘Printing and reproduction of recorded media’ showed the  highest negative growth of (-) 2.7% followed by (-) 0.9% in ‘Manufacture of machinery and equipment n.e.c.’.
 
The release said the growth rates in July 2018 over July 2017 were 6.9% percent in Primary goods, 3.0% in Capital goods, 1.2% in Intermediate goods and 8.4% in Infrastructure/ Construction Goods.
 
Consumer durables and Consumer non-durables recorded growth of 14.4%  and 5.6%, respectively.
 
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CCEA approves electrification of unelectrified broad gauge routes of Railways

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved a proposal for electrification of the remaining unelectrified broad gauge (BG) routes of Indian Railways (IR), comprising 108 sections covering 13,675 route kilometers (16,540 track kilometers), at a cost of Rs. 12,134.50 crore. 
 
This electrification is likely to be completed by 2021-22, an official press release said.
 
According to the release, the major trunk routes on IR network have already been electrified and are operational. 
 
"Considering the requirement for seamless operation of rail traffic across the network, it is necessary that the bottlenecks created by the need to change traction are done away with. The proposed electrification, which is mainly for missing links and last mile connectivity will increase the operational efficiency, enhance the line capacity and improve the average speed of trains," it said.
 
The release said the approved electrification will reduce the use of imported fossil fuels and thereby improve the energy security of the nation.
 
After the planned electrification, there would be reduction in the consumption of high speed diesel oil by about 2.83 billion litres per annum and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will also reduce environmental impact of Railways, it said.
 
Currently, around two thirds of freight and more than half of passenger traffic in Indian Railways moves on electric traction. However, electric traction accounts for just 37% of the total energy expenses of Indian Railways. Due to this advantage, post electrification, Indian Railways is likely to save Rs 13,510 crore per annum in fuel bill and the same will improve its finances.
 
The approved electrification will generate direct employment of about 20.4 crore man days during the period of construction, the release said.
 
The release said 100% electrification would provide seamless train operation by eliminating detention of trains due to change in traction from diesel to electric and vice versa. It will help Railways in enhancing line capacity due to higher speed and higher haulage capacity of electric locomotives.
 
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No relief in sight from rising oil prices

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There is no relief in sight from the rising petrol, diesel and gas prices which are burning a hole in the consumers' pockets.
 
The government on Wednesday evaded questions on the subject at an official media briefing here, with Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asserting that he would not answer questions outside of the day's Cabinet decisions.
 
"We will confine ourselves to the Cabinet decisions only," Pradhan told IANS when asked if a relief was in the offing from soaring oil prices.
 
The Minister also chose to keep mum when asked if the Union Cabinet discussed the issue on Wednesday.
 
On Monday, Pradhan had an hour-long meeting with BJP President Amit Shah after the opposition organised a Bharat bandh on the issue.
 
IANS
 

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Rupee recovery, value buying buoy equity indices

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A recovery in the rupee value along with value buying buoyed the key Indian equity indices on Wednesday.
 
The key equity indices -- S&P BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty50 -- which had a gap-up opening, traded in a flat-to-negative range, as investors were cautious over the upcoming macro-economic inflationary data point.
 
However, the key indices reversed the bearish trend after the mid-afternoon session as healthy buying was witnessed in FMCG, metal and capital goods counters.
 
In the past two trade sessions the Sensex had shed nearly 1,000 points and gave investors an opportunity to pick up stocks on attractive valuations.
 
On the currency front, the Indian rupee registered a recovery at 72.11 at 4.00 p.m. after it touched a new low of 72.91 earlier in the day. 
 
At the provisional closing time, the wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange stood at 11,369.90 points, higher by 82.40 points or 0.73 per cent from the previous close of 11,287.50 points.
 
The BSE Sensex, which had opened at 37,546.42 points, provisionally closed at 37,717.96 points, higher by 304.83 points or 0.81 per cent from the previous close of 37,413.13 points.
 
It touched a high of 37,752.58 points and a low of 37,342 points during the day.
 
IANS
 

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Rupee recovers from record low of 72.91/$

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The Indian rupee recovered from the day's low to trade around 72.50 per dollar during the afternoon session on Wednesday.
 
Around 1.45 p.m., the rupee traded at 72.50 per dollar, appreciating by 19 paise from its previous close of 72.69 per greenback.
 
Earlier in the day, it hit a new record low of 72.91 per dollar, weighed down by inflationary concerns and amid weakness in global currencies against the dollar.
 
The market would focus on the country's Index of Industrial Production and Consumer Price Index data to be released later in the day, analysts said.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Equity indices cede gains to trade flat

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The key Indian equity indices ceded major gains made earlier in the day to trade on a flat-to-positive note during the afternoon session on Wednesday.
 
Market sentiment was subdued due to broadly negative global cues along with inflationary risks on the back of higher crude oil prices. The retail inflation data, Consumer Price Index, is scheduled later in the day.
 
Further, the rupee continued to slide on Wednesday and touched a fresh low of 72.91 during the morning session which eroded the domestic investor sentiment.
 
The market, however, was supported by value buying after the indices had dropped significantly in the last two trading sessions.
 
At 1.15 p.m., the wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange traded at 11,289.65 points, higher by 2.15 points or 0.02 per cent from its previous close.
 
The S&P BSE Sensex, which had opened at 37,546.42 points, traded at 37,459.33 points, higher by 46.20 points or 0.12 per cent than the previous close of 37,413.13 points.
 
So far, it has touched an intra-day high of 37,638.16 points and a low of 37,342 points.
 
IANS
 

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NITI Aayog, Intel and TIFR to set up model International Centre for Transformative AI

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Aiming to solve major challenges in India, NITI Aayog, Intel and TIFR will collaborate to set up a model International Centre for Transformative AI (ICTAI).
 
The proposed centre will focus on application-based AI research in healthcare, agriculture and smart mobility, an official press release said.
 
The initiative is part of NITI Aayog’s ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ Discussion Paper that focuses on establishing ICTAI in the country through private sector collaboration, it said.
 
On September 7, NITI Aayog, Intel, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) had announced the decision to collaborate on setting up the centre for Transformative Artificial Intelligence aimed at developing and deploying AI-led application-based research projects.
 
Based in Bengaluru, the model ICTAI aims to conduct advanced research to incubate AI-led solutions in three important areas – healthcare, agriculture and smart mobility – by bringing together the expertise of Intel and TIFR.
 
It aims to experiment, discover and establish best practices in the domains of ICTAI governance, fundamental research, physical infrastructure, compute and service infrastructure needs, and talent acquisition.
 
Through this collaborative effort, the model ICTAI is chartered to develop AI foundational frameworks, tools and assets, including curated datasets and unique AI algorithms.
 
The intent is to develop standards and support policy development related to information technology such as data storage, information security, privacy, and ethics for data capture and use. The model Centre also plans to develop AI foundational technologies to promote applied research that can scale for national impact and will lead to the creation of a vibrant and self-sustaining ecosystem.
 
Another key area of its focus will be a collaboration with industry leaders, startups, AI services and product companies to productize technologies and IP that are developed at the model ICTAI.
 
The ultimate goal is to support skilling and talent development for world-class AI talent. The learning and best practices developed through this model ICTAI will be used by NITI Aayog to set up the future ICTAIs across the country.
 
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Anna Roy, Advisor, NITI Aayog, said it had recommended ICTAIs for applied research in AI in the National Strategy Paper.
 
“Private sector collaboration is deemed to be essential in making fundamental research get adopted for solving actual problems India faces, especially in the five sectors identified in the paper – Healthcare, Agriculture, Education, Smart cities and Mobility. This collaboration with TIFR and Intel will help us experiment and establish the foundational governance practices required to enable such applied research institutions to succeed in the long term,” she added.
 
Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India, & Vice President, Data Centre Group, said, “Artificial Intelligence is going to be a transformative driver of economic growth and social progress, and Intel’s vision is to drive human-centric AI to benefit humanity in an inclusive manner.
 
“In India, through the AI-for-All initiative, we aim to deliver the twin goals of solving hard problems of humanity and helping India achieve its vision of global AI leader, by bringing together a rich ecosystem of research, innovation, technology development and deployment.
 
“We take immense pride in being the Industry lead along with NITI Aayog and TIFR and I believe the model ICTAI will pave the way for application-based AI research and solutions needed in India for critical domains such as healthcare, agriculture, and smart mobility,” he added.
 
TIFR Director Professor Sandip Trivedi said, “This collaboration is a very exciting beginning where we plan to bring fundamental and applied research, innovation and technology development together to solve important problems facing our nation with potentially transformative effects on society.
 
“There are also a number of important issues related to ethics, privacy, etc. that AI and related technologies raise which are important to address. TIFR is excited to be in this collaboration. This centre will be an important role model for future partnerships between industry, academia and government, which are the need of the hour in our country today,” he added.
 
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SpiceJet inducts its first freighter aircraft, launches dedicated air cargo services

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the launch of its dedicated air cargo services and inducted its first freighter aircraft at a ceremony at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here on Monday.
 
SpiceJet will operate the cargo services under the brand name SpiceXpress and has laid down a detailed plan covering both domestic and international routes, a press release from the airline said.
 
Much like SpiceJet’s commercial passenger aircraft fleet, the airline’s freighters fleet will consist of Boeing 737 planes and will be operated on an incremental direct operating cost model and extending its operations through its common pool of resources like pilots, engineers, ground staff, airport infrastructure, it said.
 
The first freighter aircraft to be inducted by SpiceJet is a Boeing 737-700. SpiceJet plans to have an air cargo fleet with the first four freighters scheduled to be inducted in FY 2019. This unit will be operated as a separate business unit under SpiceJet Limited.
 
“I am delighted to announce the launch of our dedicated air cargo operations and induction of our first freighter aircraft. With our proven operational capability, this is an extension of our ‘belly cargo’ service to a ‘dedicated freighter’ with Boeing 737 aircraft. We are very excited about the tremendous potential the logistics industry offers. There is a huge untapped market for air cargo services in India and a player like SpiceJet - with its low cost structure - is best suited to address this need,” said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.
 
“The freighter aircraft will be acquired on pure operating leases and haven’t incurred any major capex, while the ground operations will be either self-handled by the existing Spicejet ground infrastructure or shall be outsourced till we develop a certain scale of operations” he added.
 
SpiceXpress will launch operations on September 18, 2018. To begin with the air cargo operations will cover Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hong Kong, Kabul and Amritsar.
 
"With the induction of freighters, the airline is all set to strengthen its footprint whilst offering safe, on-time, efficient and seamless air cargo connectivity across India, Asia and Europe. SpiceJet will offer direct freighter operations powered by its fully integrated transportation network including air cargo, ground transportation and warehousing facilities across the country.
 
"The current cargo capacity of SpiceJet’s existing fleet is about 500 tonnes per day and with the launch of the dedicated freighter service this capacity would go up to 900 tonnes a day in a phased manner with the addition of four freighters by March 2019," the release said.
 
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SpiceJet currently offers cargo capacity on its passenger aircraft fleet of 36 Boeing and 22 Q400s operating across 47 domestic and 7 international destinations. The added capacities through the acquisition of the freighters will enhance the airline’s existing cargo competence to 60 domestic destinations by the end of this year. SpiceJet aims to further ramp up this competence servicing up to 150 destinations across India, Asia and Europe by 2022, it said.
 
"The service will address time and temperature sensitive shipments across verticals, like letters and credit cards under banking, blood, organs, and medicines under pharma. Other shipments would include automobiles, apparels, consumer electronics, e-commerce and live animals. Besides, the airline will also ship perishables like farm fresh fruits and vegetables to the Middle East. Among its key features, SpiceXpress will offer Priority Based Delivery (PBD), Hour Based Delivery (HBD), Priority Cargo and Personalised Services (PSS) among others," it said.
 
According to the release, the air cargo traffic in India is expected to grow by 60% in the next five years. The Indian logistics industry which provides employment to more than 22 million people has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8% during the last five years and is expected to touch a worth of $ 215 billion in the next two years.
 
"Eyeing the huge growth potential in both domestic and global markets, fuelled by the ever increasing e-commerce boom, SpiceJet aims to shore up SpiceXpress’s existing capacity, transforming it into a full scale freighter cargo service," the release added.
 
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Rupee inches closer to 73, hits 72.91/$

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Continuing its downward trend, the Indian rupee hit a new low of Rs 72.91 on Wednesday morning.
 
The rupee has been on a down slide owing to inflationary pressure and decline among its global peers against the dollar.
 
On Wednesday, it opened at a low of 72.78 per dollar, against the previous close 72.69 per dollar.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Markets open on high note on Wednesday

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The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note during the morning session of the trade.
 
The Sensex of the BSE after opening at 37,546.42 points touched a high of 37,638.16 points and a low of 37,432.66 points.
 
The Sensex was trading at 37,499.11 points up by 85.98 points or 0.23 per cent from its Tuesday's close at 37,413.13 points.
 
On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 11,476.85 points after closing at 11,438.10 points on Tuesday.
 
The Nifty was trading at 11,287.50 points in the morning.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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