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Business & Economy

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.
 
IANS

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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.
 
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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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Fuel prices continue northward march, climb to new highs

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Domestic fuel prices continued their northward push on Tuesday with a depreciating rupee and expensive crude oil further pushing petrol and diesel to new record highs as per daily rates under the dynamic pricing regime.
 
Petrol in Delhi rose to Rs 80.87 per litre, while it increased in Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai to Rs 83.75, Rs 84.05 and Rs 88.26, respectively, according to the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
 
Elsewhere, petrol prices on Tuesday breached the psychological barrier of Rs 90 and touched a scorching Rs 90.11 in Maharashtra's Parbhani - a new record in India.
 
Similarly, diesel prices rose in Delhi and Kolkata to Rs 72.97 and Rs 75.82 per litre respectively, while it climbed to Rs 77.13 and Rs 77.47 per litre in Chennai and Mumbai respectively. 
 
Fuel prices in the country have been going up almost daily since August 1. They fell only once on August 13 in the last 41 days. Prices have surged on 30 days and remained unchanged on 11 days, and have been breaching record levels for more than a week now. 
 
Sector experts say a weak rupee and high excise duty are major factors for the rise in fuel prices. 
 
Inflationary risks along with broadly negative global cues depressed the Indian rupee to a new low of 72.74 on Tuesday.
 
Also, high global crude oil cost has become a major concern for the country which is a net importer of oil. The UK Brent crude oil price hovers around $77 per barrel.
 
Since the start of the calendar year, the petrol price in Delhi has gone up by 15.4 per cent from Rs 69.97 on January 1, 2018. The hike in diesel price has been even more steep. It has gone up by 22 per cent since January 1, 2018 when it was Rs 59.70.
 
On Monday, a united Opposition led by the Congress staged a nationwide shutdown protest against the rising fuel prices.
 
As per the country's pricing mechanism, the domestic fuel prices depend upon the international fuel prices on a 15-day average and the value of the rupee.
 
IANS
 

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Inflationary risks, global cues drag Sensex, Nifty down; both tank over 1%

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Inflationary risks on the back of higher crude oil prices and a weak rupee coupled with a rise in global protectionist measures dragged the key Indian equity indices deep into the red on Tuesday.
 
According to market observers, foreign fund outflows and downturn in Asian and European markets dented domestic investors' sentiments.
 
Consequently, the S&P BSE Sensex plunged 509 points and the NSE Nifty50 ended below 11,300 points.
 
Index-wise, the Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 11,287.50 points, lower by 150.60 points or 1.32 per cent from its previous close of 11,438.10 points. 
 
The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex, which had opened at 38,017.49 points, closed at 37,413.13 points, lower by 509.04 points or 1.34 per cent from the previous close of 37,922.17 points.
 
It touched an intra-day high of 38,043.27 points and a low of 37,361.20 points.
 
In the broader markets, the S&P BSE Mid-cap declined by 1.36 per cent and the S&P BSE Small-cap ended 1.37 per cent lower from its previous close.
 
The BSE market breadth was bearish with 1,872 declines against 845 advances. The total number of stocks traded on the exchange were 2,867 and only 150 scrips ended unchanged.
 
"Markets corrected further on Tuesday after a shaky opening. The losses came on the back of negative global cues as concerns over escalating tensions surrounding the US-China trade war continued to dampen investor sentiments," said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.
 
On the currency front, the Indian rupee touched a new closing low of 72.69 to the US dollar on Tuesday after it touched a fresh low of 72.74.
 
The Indian rupee settled 24 paise weaker than its previous close of 72.45 per greenback.
 
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"Selling continued as worries over widening deficit due to rising oil price and weak rupee added clouds over investor's sentiment," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services. 
 
"FMCG was hit the most today owing to weak market sentiment and stretched valuation. The threat of trade tariffs, outflow of foreign funds and concern on domestic macros will influence investors to stay on a cautious note."
 
Investment-wise, provisional data with exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 1,454.36 crore and domestic institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 749.62 crore.
 
Sector-wise, all the S&P BSE indices ended in the red. The consumer durables index lost the most, by 510.74 points, the banking index declined by 428.64 points and the auto index slipped 368.54 points from its previous close.
 
The main gainers on the Sensex were Coal India, up 0.95 per cent at Rs 282.80; NTPC, up 0.36 per cent at Rs 169.55; Infosys up 0.31 per cent at Rs 734.25; Mahindra and Mahindra, up 0.26 per cent at Rs 940.45; Asian Paints, up 0.26 per cent at Rs 1,295.85 per share.
 
The majors losers were Tata Steel, down 3.46 per cent at Rs 592.30; Power Grid, down 3.21 per cent at Rs 186.85; Hero MotoCorp, up 3.06 per cent at Rs 3,178; Tata Motors, down 3.03 per cent at Rs 267.20; and ITC, down 2.92 per cent at Rs 297.25 per share.
 
IANS

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Bengal reduces fuel tax by Re 1 per litre

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Urging the Centre to reduce the cess on fuel prices, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced that her government will reduce the state tax on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre.
 
"We demand that the Central government reduce the cess on petrol and diesel. The price of crude oil has gone down internationally, but they (Centre) are increasing the prices and also the cess. Both cannot happen simultaneously. The state government does not get any percentage from the cess.
 
"In this situation, our government has decided to reduce the tax so as to bring down the prices of petrol and diesel by one rupee per litre," she said at the state Secretariat Nabanna.
 
The cess imposed by Central government has been increased and no attempts are being made to stabilise fuel prices, Banerjee alleged.
 
"In January 2016, petrol price was Rs 65.12 whereas in September 2018 it is Rs 81.5 per litre. So the petrol price has gone up by Rs 16.48 per litre. Diesel price was Rs 48.80 in 2016 but now it is Rs 73.26, a hike of Rs 24.46," she said.
 
The Andhra Pradesh government had earlier reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre while Rajasthan slashed tax on fuel by four per cent.
 
"Our government has not increased sale tax or excise duty on petrol or diesel in these years so that the common people do not get disturbed," Banerjee said.
 
Expressing concern over rising fuel prices, Merchants' Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Ramesh Agarwal said that the reduced price of fuel in West Bengal will provide relief to the people and business community.
 
IANS

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Inflationary risks depress rupee; touches new low of 72.74

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Inflationary risks along with broadly negative global cues depressed the Indian rupee to a new low of 72.74 to the US dollar during late afternoon session on Tuesday.
 
At 3.35 p.m. the rupee traded around 72.64 per dollar, against the previous close of 72.45 per dollar at the Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange Market.
 
According to analysts, expectations of higher overall inflation rate, growing protectionism in global trade and an increasing outflow of foreign funds from the country's equity market have subdued the Indian currency.
 
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Larger number of bad loans originated in 2006-2008: Raghuram Rajan

Raghuram G. Rajan
Raghuram G. Rajan
A larger number of bad loans or non-performing assets (NPAs) originated in 2006-2008 when Indian economic growth was strong as the banks made mistakes, former Reserve Bank of India ( RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan has said.
 
He said that global slowdown, project cost overruns and government decision-making were among the factors that contributed to the process. 
 
"A larger number of bad loans originated in 2006-2008 when economic growth was strong, and previous infrastructure projects such as power plants had been completed on time and within budget. It is at such times that banks make mistakes. They extrapolate past growth and performance to the future. So, they are willing to accept higher leverage in projects, and less promoter equity," he said. 
 
In a note to Parliament's Estimates Committee on NPAs of public sector banks, Rajan called for examining MUDRA loans and Kisan Credit Cards more closely for potential credit risk.
 
In the note prepared on request of committee Chairman and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, the former RBI chief said that the Credit Guarantee Scheme for MSME run by SIDBI is a growing contingent liability and needs to be examined with urgency.
 
Rajan pointed out that the loan waivers vitiate the credit culture and an all-party agreement to this effect would be in the country's interest in view of impending elections. 
 
The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have traded charges over mounting NPAs and the Congress has been pressing the Modi government to announce loan waiver to farmers. 
 
The former RBI Governor said that sometimes banks signed up to lend money based on project reports by the promoter's investment bank without doing their own due diligence. 
 
Rajan said that years of strong growth before the global financial crisis were followed by a slowdown which extended to India and demand projections for various projects were shown to be increasingly unrealistic. 
 
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He said that a variety of governance problems such as suspect allocation of coal mines coupled with fear of investigation slowed down government decision-making in Delhi, both in the United Progressive Alliance and its successor NDA governments. 
 
"Project cost overruns escalated for stalled projects and they became increasingly unable to service debt. The continuing travails of the stranded power plants, even though India is short of power, suggests government decision-making has not picked up sufficient pace till date," he said. 
 
Rajan said that once the projects get delayed promoters with little equity left in the project loses interest. 
 
"Ideally, projects should be restructured at such times, with banks writing down bank debt that is uncollectable, and promoters bringing in more equity, under threat of losing their project otherwise."
 
Referring to malfeasance and corruption as a factor in the NPA problem, Rajan said: "Undoubtedly, there was some... clearly, bankers were overconfident and probably did too little due diligence for some of these loans."
 
However, he said, the size of fraud in public sector banking has been increasing though it still is small relative to overall volume of NPAs. 
 
"Unfortunately, the system has been singularly ineffective in bringing even a single high-profile fraudster to book. As a result, fraud is not discouraged."
 
Rajan said the RBI set up the fraud monitoring cell during his Governorship to coordinate early reporting of such cases to the investigative agencies. 
 
"I sent a list of four high-profile cases to the PMO for coordinated action to bring at least one or two offenders to book. I am not aware of the progress. This is a matter that should be addressed with urgency," he said.
 
Rajan pointed out that bank recovery rate on defaulted loans was only 13 per cent of the amount at stake... the inefficient loan recovery system gave promoters tremendous powers over lenders," he said. 
 
IANS

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Sensex plunges 500 points; Nifty loses 150 points

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The key Indian equity indices continued their steep fall for the second consecutive session on Tuesday with the benchmark Sensex losing 509 points and the Nifty50 down 150 points.
 
The domestic equity market was weighed down by a record low rupee and weak global markets.
 
The Indian rupee touched a new low of 72.74 on Tuesday which dampened the domestic investor sentiment. Globally, the ongoing US-China trade tensions subdued the markets.
 
All the sectors on the BSE ended in the red with consumer durable losing the most -- 530.42 points or 2.57 per cent from its previous close -- followed by banking and auto counters.
 
At 3.30 p.m., the wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange provisionally closed at 11,287.50 points, lower by 150.60 points or 1.32 per cent from the previous close of 11,438.10 points.
 
The BSE Sensex, which had opened at 38,017.49 points, closed at 37,413.13 points (3.30 p.m.), lower by 509.04 points or 1.34 per cent from the previous close of 37,922.17 points.
 
It touched a high of 38,043.27 points and a low of 37,361.20 points during the day.
 
IANS
 

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WhatsApp to be provided on all JioPhones

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Telecom services provider Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), today said that WhatsApp, the most used chat application in the world, would be provided on all JioPhones starting today.
 
Reliance Retail had launched the JioPhone in August 2017 to reach the 500 million-odd feature phone users in India who could not afford even an entry level 4G smartphone.
 
“During this movement of connecting the unconnected, many partners came forward to strengthen the cause. One such partner who has really stood by us from the beginning is Facebook and its ecosystem. The result of one such partnership is out for the world to see today. We will be providing WhatsApp, the most used chat application in the world, on all JioPhones starting today. Jio wants to thank the Facebook and WhatsApp team for making this happen," Akash Ambani, Director, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, said.
 
"After successful completion of the trials, for the first time, WhatsApp will be available for JioPhone across India. WhatsApp built a new version of its private messaging app for JioPhone, running the Jio-KaiOS, to give people a simple, reliable, and secure way to communicate with friends and family.
 
"The new app offers the best of WhatsApp including fast and reliable messaging and the ability to send photos and videos — all end-to-end encrypted. It's also easy to record and send voice messages with just couple taps on the keypad. To get started, JioPhone users only need to verify their phone number and then they can begin chatting with other WhatsApp users one-on-one or in groups," he said.
 
“Millions of people across India can now use WhatsApp private messaging on the best-in-class JioPhone across India,” said Mr. Chris Daniels, Vice President, WhatsApp. “By designing this new app for KaiOS, we hope to expand the ability for people to communicate with anyone in India and around the world by offering the best messaging experience possible to JioPhone users.”
 
Jio had launched its services two years ago and, in this perod, it has garnered a subscriber base of more than 215 million users, creating a world record of sorts.
 
"While it was evident that most of the 4G smartphone users were adopting Jio and enjoying the world-class services at the lowest price anywhere in the world, a large majority of the feature phone users that constitute two-third of the Indian mobile user base got left out," a press release from RJIL said, adding that the JioPhone was launched to address this segment.
 
The JioPhone brought down the entry barrier to only Rs. 501, making it affordable to almost all phone users.
 
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"Jio provides the best-in-class data and true-HD voice calling at the lowest price anywhere in the world, with attractive tariff offers for JioPhone users. JioPhone users are already enjoying premium applications such as JioTV, JioCinema, JioMusic, JioChat, Google Maps and Facebook.
 
"Like any other high-end 4G smartphone user, JioPhone users are also able to enjoy entertainment, education, information and other important services, at will," it said.
 
According to the release, in the last one year, JioPhone has become the largest selling phone in India ever. 
 
"Out of every 10 phones sold in the sub-Rs 1,500 price-range, 8 are JioPhones. The number of Voice Commands used on a JioPhone surpasses that on a smartphone by 5 times. JioPhone users spend more time using the internet and applications than even smartphone users.
 
"JioPhone users are not just going from unconnected to connected, but are truly unleashing the potential of the JioPhone and the internet together," the release said.
 
According to it, WhatsApp has become available on the JioPhone AppStore from yesterday and will be rolled out on all JioPhones by September 20.
 
"On being made available on the JioPhone, users can download WhatsApp on both the JioPhone and the JioPhone 2 by visiting the AppStore and clicking on download.
 
"Reliance Retail has created a special helpline number ‘1991’ to answer queries on the JioPhone," the release added.
 
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Petrol touches Rs 90.11 in Maharashtra's Parbhani

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Petrol prices on Tuesday breached the psychological barrier of Rs 90 and touched a scorching Rs 90.11 in Maharashtra's Parbhani - a new record in India, an official said.
 
Parbhani District Petrol Dealers Association (PDPDA) President Sanjay Deshmukh told IANS that diesel prices also increased from Rs 77.92 to Rs 78.06 on Tuesday.
 
On Monday, the petrol price was Rs 89.97 and diesel stood at Rs 77.92 in the town with a population of around 3,10,000, around 500 kms east of Mumbai in Marathwada region.
 
On the 15th day of consecutive hikes, petrol prices increased on Tuesday by Rs 0.14 and diesel by Rs 0.15, from 6 a.m, barely two days before the state's biggest 10-day Ganeshotsav festival begins.
 
The other highest centres include Nanded where petrol was retailing at Rs 89.93 per litre and diesel Rs 77.90, and Amravati Rs 89.93 and Rs 78.84.
 
Elsewhere in Maharashtra, in Thane petrol retailed at Rs 88.43 and diesel Rs 77.64. In Mumbai, petrol was selling at Rs 88.35 and diesel at Rs 77.56.
 
On Monday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party termed the hike in petroleum products as a 'momentary difficulty' owing to an international crisis after the Opposition parties in the country observed a Bharat Bandh, to protest the skyrocketing fuel prices.
 
IANS
 

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Global cues, inflationary risks subdue equity indices

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Broadly negative global cues subdued the key Indian equity indices during the pre-noon trade session on Tuesday.
 
According to analysts, investors feared that high petrol and diesel prices and a weak rupee would pump up the retail and wholesale inflation rates, thereby mitigating chances of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India in the near term.
 
Heavy selling pressure was witnessed in the consumer durable, FMCG, telecom and capital goods stocks.
 
On the currency front, the rupee traded over 72.30 against the US dollar around 11.35 a.m. at the Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange Market.
 
At 11.35 a.m., the wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange, traded at 11,451.70 points, lower by 22.40 points or 0.20 per cent from its previous close.
 
The S&P BSE Sensex, which had opened at 38,017.49 points, traded at 37,846.75 points, lower by 75.42 points or 0.20 per cent than the previous close of 37,922.17 points.
 
So far, it has touched an intra-day high of 38,043.27 points and a low of 37,838.30 points.
 
On Monday, the Indian equity indices recorded their steepest fall in the last six months as expectations of a rise in inflationary pressure dented the risk-taking appetite of investors.
 
The NSE Nifty50 closed at 11,438.10 points, lower by 151 points or 1.30 per cent from its previous close of 11,589.10 points.
 
The S&P BSE Sensex, which had opened at 38,348.39 points, closed at 37,922.17 points, lower by 467.65 points or 1.22 per cent from the previous close of 38,389.82 points.
 
IANS
 

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Global cues subdue equity indices

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Broadly negative global cues subdued the key Indian equity indices during the morning trade session on Tuesday.
 
According to analysts, heavy selling pressure was witnessed in the FMCG, consumer durable and metal stocks
 
At 9.45 a.m., the wider Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange, traded at 11,451.75 points, higher by just 13.65 points or 0.12 per cent from its previous close.
 
The S&P BSE Sensex, which had opened at 38,017.49 points, traded at 37,956.77 points, up by only 34.60 points or 0.09 per cent from the previous close of 37,922.17 points.
 
So far, it has touched an intra-day high of 38,043.27 points and a low of 37,848.64 points.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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