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Business & Economy

Sensex falls as investors turn focus on assembly polls

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Investors deferred equity purchases on Friday, shrugging off a rebound in the rupee and a decline in global crude oil prices, as they turned their focus on key assembly elections for cues.
 
As a result, key equity indices ended slightly lower after a lacklustre trade on Friday. 
 
Also weighing on sentiment was the fact that all the Asian markets closed the day with losses, an analyst said. 
 
The Sensex settled 79.13 points lower at 35,158.55. It had opened at 35,258.13 from its previous close of 35,237.68. It touched an intra-day high of 35,287.29 and a low of 35,011.23.
 
The NSE Nifty closed 15 points lower at 10,582.90. 
 
"Technically, the short-term trend for the Nifty is choppy at the key resistance of 10,600 level. There is a possibility of continuation of this rangebound movement in the early part of next week as well. A slight weakness may also be expected," HDFC Securities' Retail Research Head Deepak Jasani said.
 
"After this phase of consolidation/minor correction, the Nifty is expected to continue its upside momentum. Immediate supports to be watched are at 10,417-480 levels. On upsides, a breach of 10,616 could result in a move towards 10,710."
 
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram go to assembly polls this month and the next. The BJP rules in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, and a return to power in these states will bolster Prime Minister Narendra Modi's chances of winning next year's general election. 
 
European indices like FTSE 100, DAX and CAC 40, too, were trading in the red.
 
The rupee climbed 51 paise to end the day's trade at 72.49 per US dollar, prompting investors to sell export-dependent stocks. The S&P BSE IT fell 1.19 per cent.
 
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Metals, realty and energy counters also came under a heavy selling pressure. However, the financials managed to cling on to their gains.
 
The benchmark Brent crude slipped below the $70 a barrel mark. 
 
India imports nearly 80 per cent of its crude oil requirements, and a rise in prices threatens to widen the current account deficit, fanning inflation in Asia's third-largest economy.
 
The broader markets like the S&P BSE MidCap index gained 0.66 per cent, while the S&P BSE SmallCap index rose 0.58 per cent. 
 
The market breadth was positive, with an advances to declines ratio of 1.22.
 
Provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors bought stocks worth Rs 614.14 crore on Friday, while the domestic institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 337.28 crore.
 
The top gainers on the BSE were led by Yes Bank, up 5.49 per cent at Rs 227.85; Adani Paints, up 3.79 per cent at Rs 1,298.20; Adani Ports, up 3.14 per cent at Rs 336.85; Sun Pharma, up 2.32 per cent at Rs 595.90; and Hero Moto Corp, up 2.08 per cent at Rs 2950.05 a share.
 
The major laggards on the Sensex included TCS and Reliance Industries, which fell 1.70 per cent and 1.55 per cent, respectively. TCS closed at Rs 1,909.80 apiece while Reliance Industries settled at 1,093.35 per share.
 
Others losers included State Bank of India, down 1.27 per cent at Rs 283, Infosys down 2.15 per cent at Rs 661.45 and Bharti Airtel down 2.45 at Rs 298.45 apeice.
 
 
IANS
 

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India’s forex reserves rise by $ 1.053 billion to $ 393.132 billion

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Reversing a five-week downtrend, India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 1.053 billion to $ 393.132 billion during the week ended November 2, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had dipped by $ 1.444 billion to $ 392.078 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 487.7 million to $ 368.138 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 $ 366.5 million to $ 20.888 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) went up by $ 7.4 million to $ 1.465 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 192.2 million to $ 2.640 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Oil, rupee fail to cheer markets as investors turn wary ahead of polls

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Key equity indices settled lower on Friday despite a sharp rebound in the domestic currency and a decline in global crude oil prices, as investors turned cautious ahead of key state assembly elections this month and the next.
 
The rupee climbed 36 paise to Rs 72.64 per US dollar, prompting investors to sell export-dependent stocks. The S&P BSE IT fell 1.12 per cent. 
 
Metals, realty and energy counters also came under a heavy selling pressure. However, the financials managed to cling on to their gains, howsoever meagre.
 
The benchmark Brent Crude also slipped below the $71 a barrel mark. 
 
"The benchmark Brent crude hit a 7-month low of $70.07 a barrel earlier today," Anuj Gupta, Deputy Vice President, Angel Broking told IANS.
 
"The market is lacklustre due to a lack of FII inflow and uncertainty ahead of elections," he added.
 
The Sensex fell 79.13 points to 35,158.55. It had opened at 35,258.13 from its previous close of 35,237.68. It touched an intra-day high of 35,287.29 and a low of 35,011.23.
 
The NSE Nifty closed 15 points lower at 10,582.90. 
 
IANS
 

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Cabinet approves disinvestment of 100% Govt. equity in Dredging Corporation of India Ltd.

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday gave "in principle" approval for strategic disinvestment of 100% Government shares in the Dredging Corporation of India Ltd. (DCIL) to a consortium of four ports -- Vishakhapatnam Port Trust, Paradip Port Trust, Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust.
 
At present, the Government holds 73.44% shares in Dredging Corporation of India Ltd. The approval will further facilitate the linkage of dredging activities with the ports, keeping in view the role of the DCIL in the expansion of dredging activity in the country as well as potential scope for diversification of ports into third-party dredging.
 
The co-sharing of facilities between the company as well as ports shall lead to savings for ports.  This would further provide opportunities for larger investment in DCIL as integration with ports shall help ineffective vertical linkage in the value chain.
 
The strategic disinvestment of DCIL shall be undertaken after conducting due diligence exercise by both the entities with the help of Advisors, appointed for the transaction.
 
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Cabinet approves filling of Padur Strategic Petroleum Reserves by overseas National Oil Companies

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The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the filling of Padur Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) at Padur, Karnataka by overseas National Oil Companies (NOCs). 
 
The SPR facility at Padur is an underground rock cavern with a total capacity of 2.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) having four compartments of 0.625 MMT each. The filling of the SPR under PPP model is being undertaken to reduce the budgetary support of the Union Government.
 
The Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. (ISPRL) has constructed and commissioned underground rock caverns for storage of total 5.33 MMT of crude oil at three locations namely Vishakhapatnam (1.33 MMT), Mangalore (1.5 MMT) and Padur (2.5 MMT). 
 
The total 5.33 MMT capacity under Phase-I of the SPR programme is currently estimated to supply approximately 9.5 days of India’s crude requirement according to the consumption data for FY 2017-18. 
 
The Government has given ‘in principle’ approval in June 2018 for establishing additional 6.5 MMT SPR facilities at Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka, which is expected to augment India’s energy security by 11.5 days. 
 
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Sensex down 100 points, rupee gains 30 paise

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Despite a strong rebound in the domestic currency and continued decline in crude oil prices, the key equity indices -- S&P BSE Sensex and Nifty50 -- traded on a negative note during the afternoon session of the trade on Friday.
 
The rupee bounced back 30 paise to Rs 72.71 a US dollar from its previous close of 73. The benchmark Brent Crude also slipped below the $71 a barrel mark. 
 
Consequently, export-oriented stock S&P BSE IT fell by 1.37 per cent. Metal, Realty and energy also came under heavy selling pressure. 
 
However, the index pivotals -- finance and banking -- stocks held the positive territory.
 
The market breadth was positive with 1,171 advances and 1,138 declines even though the equity indices traded with a negative bias.
 
"This is owing to the lower level buying in quality small and mid-cap stocks by investors," Astha Jain, Senior Analyst, Hem Securities, told IANS.
 
At 1.58 p.m., the S&P BSE Sensex traded 101.14 points down at 35,136.54. It had opened at 35,258.13 from its previous close of 35,237.68.
 
It touched an intra-day high of 35,287.29 and a low of 35,011.23.
 
The NSE Nifty50 traded at 10,574.40, down 24 points or 0.23 per cent. It opened at 10,614.70 from its previous close of 10,598.40.
 
IANS
 

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Cabinet approves quota to ITI Ltd. in procurements made by BSNL, MTNL and BBNL

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved the Procurement Quota to ITI Ltd. in procurements made by BSNL, MTNL and BBNL.
 
The CCEA granted its approval to continue the Reservation Quota policy for ITI Ltd. by reserving 30% of the procurement orders placed by BSNL, MTNL and BBNL for the products manufactured by it and for those outsourced items in which there is a minimum 12% value addition by ITI during 2018-19. 
 
It also okayed the 16% value addition in 2019-20 and 20% value addition in 2020-21 and 20% of the orders for the turnkey projects (like GSM network roll-out, Wi-Fi etc. of BSNL & MTNL and BharatNet project network roll-out, etc. of BBNL).
 
ITI would accept orders under reservation quota only after the price is known and if the same is commercially viable. It will exercise its option under Reservation Quota within 15 days of bid opening.
 
The policy measures will remain in force for a period of three years with effect from the date of approval of CCEA. The policy will again be reviewed considering the financial health of ITI after the expiry of this period, an official press release said.
 
ITI Limited is a listed Schedule "A" Central Public Sector Enterprise, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Communications-Department of Telecommunication. The company is a supplier for the Defence communication and networking needs and a major supplier of encryption products to the Indian Army. 
 
Its major customers are BSNL, MTNL, Defence, Paramilitary forces and State Governments. ITI has six manufacturing units at Bangalore (Karnataka), Rae Bareli, Naini and Mankapur (all in UP), Palakkad (Kerala) and Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir).
 
As the company had become sick in 2004 and was under reference-to BIFR, the CCEA, in its meeting held on February 12, 2014, approved a proposal to provide financial assistance of Rs 4156.79 crore for its revival. 
 
In order to enable ITI to survive in the competitive environment of telecom manufacturing, BSNL and MTNL have been extending reservation quota of 30% to ITI Ltd. The validity of reservation benefit extended to ITI had expired on May 31, 2018.
 
BSNL, MTNL and BBNL will be requested to extend the benefit of procurement quota to ITI Limited for a period of three years. 
 
"ITI  will be the beneficiary of the decision.  It may also help in generating more employment opportunities in the company particularly in the field of new telecom technologies," the release added.
 
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Cabinet approves leasing out six airports for operation, management and development under PPP

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The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave "in-principle" approval for leasing out six airports of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for operation, management and development under Public Private Partnership (PPP).
 
The leasing of the airports in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru will be undertaken through the Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC), an official press release said.
 
An Empowered Group of Secretaries headed by CEO, NITI Aayog with Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs and Secretary, Department of Expenditure will be constituted to decide on any issue falling beyond the scope of the PPPAC.
 
PPP in infrastructure projects brings efficiency in service delivery, expertise, enterprise and professionalism apart from harnessing the needed investments in the public sector, the release said.
 
"The PPP in airport infrastructure projects has brought world class infrastructure at airports, delivery of efficient and timely services to the airport passengers, augmenting revenue stream to the Airports Authority of India without making any investment, etc. of these, for development of Greenfield Airports at Hyderabad and Bengaluru," it said.
 
At present, the airports being managed under the PPP model include Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin.
 
The PPP airports in India have been ranked among the top 5 in their respective categories by the Airports Council International (ACI) in terms of Airport Service Quality (ASQ).
 
"While these PPP experiments have helped create world-class airports, it has also helped AAI in enhancing its revenues and focusing on developing airports and air navigation infrastructure in the rest of the country," the release said.
 
The increase in domestic and international air travel in India combined with congestion at most airports and the strong traffic growth at the five airports which were privatized over a decade ago has attracted the attention of several international operators and investors. 
 
The airport sector is the top contender among infrastructure sectors in terms of international interest. International operators and investors prefer brownfield airport expansion opportunities with having more than 3-4 million passenger capacity. It could also provide an immediate opportunity to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) by the adoption of a PPP approach, the release added.
 
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Sugar exports from India to China to begin soon

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Export of raw sugar from India to China will begin early next year on the basis of a contract for sending 15,000 tonnes entered into by the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) and COFCO, a Chinese public sector company.
 
The initiative for export was taken by the Ministry of Commerce through several rounds of meetings by officials of both the countries, an official press release said.
 
India plans to export 2 MT of raw sugar to China from next year. Raw sugar is the second product after non-basmati rice that China will import from this country. It is a move to reduce the $ 60 billion trade deficit that China has with India. 
 
India’s export to China in 2017-18 amounted to $ 33 billion while imports from China stood at $ 76.2 billion.
 
India is the largest producer of sugar in the world with 32 MMT production in 2018. It produces sugar of all three grades- raw, refined and white. Indian sugar is also of a high quality and is Dextran free because of the minimum time taken from cut to crush. 
 
India is in a position to become a regular and dependable exporter of high-quality sugar in significant volumes to China, the release added.
 
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Key Indian equity indices open in green but slip minutes later

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The 30-scrip S&P BSE Sensex on Friday opened in green over mixed global cues and a recovering rupee.
 
However, the Sensex lost over 170 points minutes into the trading.
 
Healthy buying was witnessed in healthcare and capital goods counters whereas index-pivotals-- finance and banking -- stocks were in red.
 
The Sensex of the BSE opened at 35,258.13 from its previous close at 35,237.68.
 
At 9.20 a.m., the Sensex traded at 35,064.84 lower by 172.84 points or 0.49 per cent.
 
The Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,614.70 after closing at 10,598.40.
 
The Nifty traded at 10,558.85 during the morning trade session, down 39.55 points and 0.37 per cent.
 
IANS

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CCEA approves Rs 469.41 crore package for revival, modernization of Nepa Ltd

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved a financial package of Rs. 469.41 crore for the Revival and Mill Development Plan (RMDP) of Nepa Limited, a public sector newsprint company located in Nepanagar, Madhya Pradesh.
 
The package, approved on October 3, includes an infusion of Rs 277 crore as equity in the company for the completion of RMDP, an official press release said.
 
It will enhance the production capacity to 1,00,000 MT per annum from the present capacity of 83,000 MT per annum, diversify production, improve the quality of products and also help resume production at Nepa Ltd. The RMDP is expected to be completed within a year, it said.
 
A loan of Rs 101.58 crore has also been approved for the payment of salary and wages. This will reduce the hardship being faced by the Nepa Ltd. employees. A sum of Rs 90.83 crore was approved for the voluntary retirement scheme of 400 employees. 
 
The strategic disinvestment of Nepa Ltd. on completion of the RMDP at an appropriate time was also approved. The completion of the RMDP will help Nepa Ltd. to boost production, diversify its product portfolio and also support employment in the tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh, the release said.
 
Nepa Ltd. is a pioneer newsprint company located in Burhanpur district. Set up in 1947, it was the only newsprint manufacturing unit in India up to 1981.
 
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Modi to inaugurate Multi-Modal Terminal on Ganga, sewage infra projects at Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation the newly constructed Multi-Modal Terminal on River Ganga in Varanasi on November 12.
 
This will be the first of the three Multi-Modal Terminals and two Inter-Modal Terminals being constructed on the river, an  official press release said.
 
The Prime Minister will receive India’s first container vessel that sailed from Kolkata on October 30, carrying cargo belonging to Pepsico (India).
 
In a separate event the same day, Mr Modi will inaugurate two National Highways projects – the Babatpur-Varanasi Airport road and Varanasi Ring Road. He will also inaugurate some sewerage projects in the city and lay the foundation stone for a project under the Namami Gange programme of National Mission for Clean Ganga.
 
The MMTs are being built as part of the Government’s Jal Marg Vikas project that aims to develop the stretch of River Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels up to 1500-2000 tonnes weight, by maintaining a drought of 2-3 metres in this stretch of the river and setting up other systems required for safe navigation.  
 
The objective is to promote inland waterways as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly means of transport, especially for cargo movement. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the project Implementing Agency.
 
The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank, at an estimated cost of Rs 5,369.18 crore ($ 800 million, of which $ 375 is IBRD loan) on a 50:50 sharing basis between the Union Government and the World Bank. 
 
The project entails construction of three multi-modal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia); two inter-modal terminals; five Roll On – Roll Off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs; new navigation lock at Farakka; assured depth dredging; integrated vessel repair & maintenance facility, Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS), River Information System (RIS), river training and river conservancy works.
 
Operation, management and further development of the Multi-Modal Terminal is proposed to be entrusted to an Operator on PPP model. Selection of the PPP Operator through an International Competitive Bidding is at an advanced stage and expected to be completed by December 2018.
 
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The project of the multi-modal terminal and proposed Freight Village at Varanasi are expected to generate 500 direct employment and more than 2000 indirect employment opportunities.
 
Mr Modi receiving the first container vessel also marks the first time post-independence container movement is taking place on an inland waterway in India. 
 
The IWAI vessel, MV Rabindranath Tagore is transporting 16 containers equivalent to as many truckloads of food and snacks and is expected to reach Varanasi on November 11. It will make its return journey with fertilizers from IFFCO.
 
In a separate function, Mr Modi will inaugurate a 140 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Dinapur built at a cost of Rs 235.53 crore. The project includes a 10-years Operation & Maintenance agreement.
 
The second project comprises three sewage pumping stations at Chaukaghat (140 MLD), Phulwaria (7.6 MLD) and Saraiya (3.7 MLD). The total cost is Rs 34.01 crore. 
 
The third project involves the construction of a 28 km-long relieving trunk sewer, rising mains and interceptor sewers along Varuna and Assi at a cost of Rs 155.87 crore.
 
The Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for Sewerage Management Scheme for Ramnagar at a cost of Rs 72.91 crore. This will include a10 MLD STP intersecting and diverting four drains.
 
The newly inaugurated sewerage projects will increase the sewage treatment capacity in the city from 102 MLD to 242 MLD. The long-term O&M provision will ensure that the STP will be operated and maintained properly. These projects will ensure treatment of 140 MLD the sewage before getting released in the river thereby reducing the pollution of the river Ganga.
 
These projects along with two other ongoing projects of 120 MLD at Goitha and 50 MLD STP at Ramana will take the sewage treatment capacity in the city to 412 MLD,  which will be adequate for the sewage treatment requirements till the year 2035.
 
There is no sewage treatment facility in the Ramnagar town. The Ramnagar project for which the foundation stone is being laid will intercept the four main drains of the town. The intercepted wastewater will be treated at the proposed 10 MLD STP, the release added.
 
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Mphasis acquires Stelligent, a DevOps Automation Services specialist in AWS ecosystem

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IT solutions provider Mphasis, which specializes in cloud and cognitive services, has announced its acquisition of Stelligent Systems LLC, a  technology services company specializing in DevOps automation on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
 
Headquartered in Reston, VA, Stelligent provides DevOps and DevSecOps solutions on AWS, a press release from Mphasis said here on Thursday.
 
The company is a Premier Consulting Partner on AWS Partner Network (APN) and holds both AWS DevOps and Financial Services expertise in deploying their customers’ applications on AWS with greater speed, agility, and security. 
 
The acquisition is an all-cash deal valued at US$ 25 million, the release said.
 
"Since inception in 2007, Stelligent’s driving mission is to ‘help their customers gain the ability to continuously deploy their software when they want to and with confidence’. The company has been providing leading enterprises, including Fortune 500 companies, with continuous integration and delivery solutions on AWS and has built its brand as a pioneer and visionary within the AWS ecosystem," the release said.
 
“The advent of public cloud infrastructure and SaaS software has elevated the importance of rapid automation in product development and product engineering for enterprises moving to the cloud. Together with Stelligent and its community heroes in the AWS ecosystem, we believe we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this market opportunity. This allows us to join forces with an equally technically-deep company, bringing innovative, in-depth cloud solutions to enterprises in all Mphasis client segments,” said Nitin Rakesh, CEO and Executive Director, Mphasis.
 
“Stelligent is very excited to further its DevOps capability across a broader range of clients and become central to Mphasis’ AWS go-to-market strategy. Our engineers will greatly benefit from being part of a larger, complementary tech-centric community; as well as serve enterprises in end-to-end AWS DevOps, DevSecOps and additional AWS cloud services,“ said Bill Santos, CEO, Stelligent.   
 
Stelligent’s team of over 50  engineers hold over 100 certifications and significant experience and expertise in DevOps Automation as well as one of a select few consulting partners with two AWS Heroes - an AWS Community Hero and an AWS Hero for Containerization, the release added.
 
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Petrol prices cut upto 22 paise; Brent crude below $72/barrel

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The prices of key domestic transport fuels -- petrol and diesel -- came down on Thurdsay as the price of petrol across all metros fell up to 22 paise whereas diesel decreased up to 19 paise.
 
According to the Indian Oil Corp data, petrol was priced at Rs 78.21 per litre in the national capital on Thursday against 78.42 on Wednesday. 
 
Among the other major metros, petrol was priced at Rs 83.72 per litre in Mumbai, Rs 80.13 in Kolkata and Rs 81.24 in Chennai on Thursday, against Rs 83.92, Rs 80.33 and Rs 81.46, respectively, on Wednesday.
 
As per the country's pricing mechanism, under the dynamic pricing regime, transport fuel prices change on a daily basis. 
 
Prices vary from region to region due to local taxes as the product is excluded from the Goods and Services Tax. 
 
In tandem with petrol, the cost of diesel in Mumbai was at Rs 76.38 per litre against 76.57 on Wednesday.
 
Similarly, prices of diesel in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai were Rs 72.89, Rs 74.75 and Rs 77.05 a litre against 73.07, 74.93 and 77.24 per litre, respectively.
 
Fuel prices have been reducing for around 20 days now on the back of multiple factors such as lower international crude oil cost and a recovery in the rupee against the US dollar. The benchmark Brent crude was trading at $71.55 a barrel.
 
Last month, the Centre announced a cut in excise duty by Rs 1.50 a litre. Additionally, the state-owned oil marketing companies had been mandated to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel by Re 1 a litre. 
 
IANS
 

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Demonetisation anniversary: Congress tears into Modi

File photo of Dr.  Manmohan Singh
File photo of Dr. Manmohan Singh
Ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "knowledge of economics", the Congress on Thursday ripped into him for the "reckless" decision of demonetisation that it said wrecked the economy and consumed many lives.
 
On the second anniversary of the Modi's 2016 decision to ban Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, the Congress launched a campaign "Destruction by Demonetisation" highlighting the havoc caused by the move and how it was a complete failure. 
 
The party will also hold a nationwide protest on Friday.
 
A host of party leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came out in stringent criticism of demonetisation.
 
Calling it an "ill-fated" and "ill-thought" exercise, Singh said the scars and wounds of the decision were only getting more visible with time and its deeper ramifications were still unravelling.
 
He asked the government not to indulge in any further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that could cause more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets.
 
Singh said November 8 was a day to remember how economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time and asked the government to restore certainty and visibility in economic policies.
 
"Today marks the second anniversary of the ill-fated and ill-thought demonetisation... The havoc that it unleashed on the Indian economy and society is now evident to everyone.
 
"It is often said that time is a great healer. But unfortunately, in the case of demonetisation, the scars and wounds of demonetisation are only getting more visible with time," he said in a statement.
 
Singh said that beyond the steep drop in headline GDP growth numbers after demonetisation, the deeper ramifications of note ban were still unravelling. 
 
"Small and medium businesses that are the cornerstone of India's economy are yet to recover from the demonetisation shock," he added.
 
"Notebandi (note ban) impacted every single person, regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation or creed."
 
 
Congress slams government on demonetisation anniversary
Addressing the media, former Union Minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma held Modi solely responsible for the note ban and called it a money laundering scheme that helped the BJP and its industrialist cronies. 
 
"It was an arbitrary and reckless decision that led to economic disaster and misery, deaths of large number of citizens, loss of millions of jobs and wiping out of small traders and businesses," said Sharma.
 
"The PM will never oblige with answer either to the media or Parliament. He is less than literate in economics and less knowledgeable in history. So he makes his own history and his own economics. He thinks he is wiser then (John Maynard) Keynes when it comes to economics because no PM in the world would do what he has done," he said.
 
Sharma also said that Modi's claims that the Indian economy was running on black money tarnished the country's image globally.
 
The Congress leader also ridiculed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who on the day sought to justify demonetisation saying it was aimed at "formalising the economy".
 
"The Finance Minister should stay away from defending the decision as he was never consulted before it was taken. His defences are an insult to the people of the nation who suffered countless miseries.
 
"Never before has a finance minister been reduced to an apologist of an arrogant Prime Minister," said Sharma dismissing Jaitley's arguments in support of demonetisation.
 
IANS
 

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Restore certainty, visibility in economic policies: Manmohan

File photo of Dr.  Manmohan Singh
File photo of Dr. Manmohan Singh
Attacking the Narendra Modi government for the 2016 demonetisation, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday urged the Centre to restore certainty and visibility in its economic policies.
 
The former Finance Minister also asked the current NDA regime not to indulge in any further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that could cause any more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets
 
Terming demonetisation an "ill-fated" and "ill-thought" exercise, Singh's statement said: "Today marks the second anniversary of the ill-fated and ill-thought demonetisation... The havoc that it unleashed on the Indian economy and society is now evident to everyone. 
 
"Notebandi (demonetisation) impacted every single person, regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation or creed," Singh said in a statement.
 
"I urge the government to restore certainty and visibility in economic policies. Today is a day to remember how economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time and understand that economic policymaking should be handled with thought and care."
 
He also said that even after two years, the economy was yet to "recover from the demonetisation shock".
 
"It is often said that time is a great healer. But unfortunately, in the case of demonetisation, the scars and wounds of demonetisation are only getting more visible with time.
 
"Beyond the steep drop in headline GDP growth numbers after demonetisation, the deeper ramifications of notebandi are still unravelling. 
 
"Small and medium businesses that are the cornerstone of India's economy are yet to recover from the demonetisation shock."
 
He also said that the step had "a direct impact on employment as the economy continues to struggle to create enough new jobs for our youth".
 
Singh said the financial markets are volatile as the liquidity crisis wrought by demonetisation is taking its eventual toll on infrastructure lenders and non-bank financial services firms.
 
"We are yet to understand and experience the full impact of the demonetisation exercise. With a depreciating currency and rising global oil prices, macroeconomic headwinds are also starting to blow now.
 
"It is therefore prudent to not resort to further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that can cause any more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets."
 
In a sudden move that took everyone by surprise, Modi had on this day in 2016, announced a ban on the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
 
IANS
 

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Opposition attacks Modi over demonetisation

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The opposition on Thursday attacked the Narendra Modi government for unleashing "destruction" on every citizen of India with its 2016 demonetisation move that only helped the Prime Minister's cronies.
 
On the second anniversary of the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, the Congress called it a "black day" for democracy and national economy, while the CPI-M termed it the "biggest scam in history".
 
"The cost and destruction by demonetisation were endured by every citizen of this country other than a few crony capitalist friends of PM Modi. Demonetisation was a black day for our democracy and our economy," the Congress tweeted.
 
Senior Congress leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the Centre to restore certainty and visibility in its economic policies.
 
The former Finance Minister in a statement asked the current NDA regime not to indulge in any further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that could cause any more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets.
 
"Today marks the second anniversary of the ill-fated and ill-thought demonetisation... The havoc that it unleashed on the Indian economy and society is now evident to everyone. 
 
"Notebandi (demonetisation) impacted every single person, regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation or creed," Singh said in a statement.
 
Another former UPA Minister Anand Sharma asked whether Modi would apologise for wrecking the "economy, destroying jobs and lives".
 
"People of India recall the pain and sufferings inflicted by an insensitive and reckless decision of PM Narendra Modi demonetising 86 per cent of our currency.
 
"With 99 per cent of currency back with RBI, will PM Modi apologise for calling that Black money, proceeds of crime and corruption and used to fund terrorism? Wrecking our economy destroying jobs and lives.
 
"Two years after the unforgivable and autocratic decision of demonetisation that wiped out almost two per cent of India's GDP Modi wants more -- 3,60,000 crore from the Reserve Bank of India reserves. This must be resisted," he said.
 
The Communist Party of India-Marxist recalled November 8, 2016, as the "biggest scam in the history of our nation when Modi unleashed destruction by demonetisation of our economy"
 
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CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury blamed Modi for destroying "the economy, lives and livelihoods".
 
"Modi and his minions claimed demonetisation will end black money, finish corruption, terminate terrorism, and bring only digital transactions. Two years later, Modi is silent. The truth is that he single-handedly destroyed the economy, lives and livelihoods."
 
Aam Aadmi Party head and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also called it a "deep wound on the Indian economy".
 
"Though the list of financial scams of Modi government is endless, demonetisation was a self-inflicted, deep wound on Indian economy which, even two years later, remains a mystery why the country was pushed into such a disaster?" he tweeted.
 
Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav also attacked the Centre for the rising unemployment.
 
"Now every citizen has understood that it was not a historical blunder which has ruined every house but it was a decision to benefit only a few capitalists friends of BJP. 
 
"Virtually this government has inter-alia finished the businesses and increased unemployment," he tweeted.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it a 'dark day'.
 
"From the moment it was announced I said so. Renowned economists, common people and all experts now all agree.
 
"The government cheated our nation with this big demonetisation scam. It ruined the economy and the lives of millions. People will punish those who did this," she said.
 
In a sudden move that took everyone by surprise, Modi had on this day in 2016, announced a ban on the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
 
IANS
 

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GAIL awards Rs. 1,100 crore pipes contract for Barauni-Guwahati gas pipeline

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The public sector GAIL (India) Limited today said it had awarded a contract worth Rs. 1,100 crore for the purchase of 616 km of line pipes for the Barauni -Guwahati gas pipeline, putting on fast track the project execution of the crucial 729 km-feeder line linking North East India with the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga pipeline network.
 
The award of the contract will ensure commencement of spurline laying activities of the Barauni – Guwahati pipeline from December 2018. The under-construction pipeline will connect the upcoming ‘Indradhanush’ gas grid network to the national gas network, a press release from GAIL said.
 
Mr. B C Tripathi, Chairman & Managing Director, GAIL said the award of the tenders supports ‘Make in India’ efforts of steel pipe manufacturers and suppliers in the country and marks completion of mainline ordering for the entire 729 km section.
 
The ‘Indradhanush’ gas grid network, being developed by GAIL along with joint ventures partners IOCL, OIL, NRL and ONGC, will provide uninterrupted supply of natural gas across all the North Eastern States, the release said.
 
The Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project endeavours to connect East and North East States of India with the existing gas pipeline grid to ensure access of clean energy solutions for household, transport, industrial and commercial applications in the energy deprived region.
 
Work across India’s single largest pipeline spanning 3,400 km under Jagadishpur-Haldia-Bokaro-Dhamra project is in full swing and progressing as per schedule. Physical progress under phase-1 of the flagship project is 92% complete and it is expected to be completed within next two months, whereas the balance phases including the additional section under Barauni-Guwahati spurline are lined up for sequential completion by December 2021, it said.
 
“GAIL is concurrently executing over 5,500 kms of gas transmission network at an estimated outlay of Rs 25,000 crore. Prime Minister laid the foundation of the Urja Ganga project and GAIL is committed to complete the pipeline within scheduled time and cost. Inspite of recent impact to on-going project work due to calamitous floods, construction of natural gas pipelines in Kerala and Karnataka states are fast tracked for completion by the end of current fiscal year as more than 85% physical progress has been achieved under the Kochi to Mangalore pipeline project. City Gas Distribution in Varanasi, Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack have commenced operations. Given the steady progress achieved so far, the city gas projects could soon be rolled out in Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Kolkata," Mr. Tripathi  added/
 
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Retail markets in India: Opportunities in a dynamic world

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As the retail industry story unfolds in India, new strategies come to the fore. Recent news of Amazon acquiring a stake in Future Retail is an indication that the strategy will be differentiated given the nature of the market and consumption trends.
 
Amazon's acquisition of a stake in Future Retail is in addition to the stake it took in Shoppers Stop, and the earlier Aditya Birla-backed "More" chain. These acquisitions are an indication that large retail players think that, to gain a greater market share, the online strategy will have to be complemented with an offline route as well.
 
Online retail sales as a percentage of total sales have shown a tremendous rise, going from 0.8 percent in 2014 to 3.6 percent of total retail sales in 2017. While the growth has been enormous and will continue to be fast, the fact that 95 percent of the market is still with the offline sector drives home a few important points. Access to offline stores provides a vast distribution network and brand accessibility, especially beyond the Tier 1 cities. Therefore, for a player interested in a higher market share, an offline presence is non-negotiable. 
 
Additionally, besides the offline versus online demarcation, it is essential to understand that 90 percent of all retail in India is in the unorganised sector. The unorganised sector – primarily, physical stores -- thrives due to an extensive last-mile distribution network and long-term relationships. The key for new players is not necessarily the disruption of the unorganised sector but having access to retail stores that provide organised players with the same distribution networks and concomitant advantages.
 
Quite often discussions focus on the market share of online versus offline retail. While it is a relevant topic, the more pertinent discussion is the overall retail market growth rate. The retail market in India is expected to cross $1 trillion in the next three years. The greatest value generation for retail businesses is in capturing market growth as greater cash is generated by retail consumption.
 
A 2007 analysis by McKinsey titled "The Granularity of Growth" had some interesting lessons. A study of 200 large companies around the world showed that almost 80 percent of growth for the companies was driven by growth in the industry segments and successful mergers and acquisition strategies while only 20 percent was through gaining market share. The key learning for Indian retail players is that while market share matters, being a direct beneficiary of rising incomes in India is a lot more advantageous.
 
Given the industry dynamics in the last decade, retail e-commerce has dominated headlines. While e-commerce will continue to be a significant sector, the question is: What other exciting opportunities exist in Indian retail?
 
The creation of niche, sector-focused "digital first" businesses backed by consolidated research-driven manufacturing and distribution platforms hold potential. In the West, businesses such as "Seed Beauty" and "Hatch Beauty" are redefining the retail landscape. Given the creation of "digital first" brands driven especially by social media influencers, businesses such as Seed and Hatch have been able to speed up product research, development and fulfillment.
 
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The division between manufacturing and branding businesses is what Poornima Vardhan, CEO of 335th, a luxury-focused platform, describes as the "delineation of product development and manufacturing from the branding and marketing". In common parlance, separation of the R&D and product development from branding creates the potential for business opportunities through specialisation. Such focused businesses hold promise in the Indian retail landscape. 
 
The next decades might also herald the creation of retail platform businesses that "corporatise" a portfolio of Indian brands. The likes of Kering, Richemont and LVMH are examples of hugely successful global retail platforms that have delivered value. While Indian beauty products, jewellery and fragrances have been marketed to some extent, now is the time to create large scalable platforms that can combine front-to-back retail operations with global scalability for Indian brands. The ability to match Indian entrepreneurship with global capital and distribution will be the vital driver to create sustainable retail platforms.
 
There are many "markets" that offer opportunities in the Indian retail space. Therefore, while online mass retailers will look to create an offline presence, online "digital first" niche brands, backed by specialised manufacturing businesses, also hold value. It is vital to realise that given the diverse customer segments, different pockets of opportunities will require an agile approach.
 
In India, access to the online world has happened synonymously with rising incomes while the developed countries had significantly higher income levels when they got access to the internet. Therefore, a business strategy that deals with local dynamics and trends will determine the eventual winners.
 
(Taponeel Mukherjee heads Development Tracks, an infrastructure advisory firm. Views expressed are personal.)
 

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Petrol, diesel prices stay unchanged on Diwali

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Following five consecutive days of cuts, state-run oil marketing companies kept prices of key domestic transport fuels -- petrol and diesel -- unchanged on Wednesday, on the festival of Diwali.
 
According to the Indian Oil Corp data, petrol was priced at Rs 78.42 per litre in the national capital on Wednesday, which is its lowest level in the last over six weeks.
 
Across the other major metros, petrol was priced at Rs 83.92 per litre in Mumbai, Rs 80.33 in Kolkata and Rs 81.46 in Chennai on Wednesday.
 
As per the country's pricing mechanism, under the daily dynamic pricing regime, domestic fuel prices depend on international fuel prices on a 15-day average, besides the value of the rupee.
 
Prices vary from region to region due to local taxes as the product is excluded from the GST regime. Delhi has the lowest tax rate among the four metros.
 
In tandem with petrol, the cost of diesel remained unchanged on Wednesday across the four metros.
 
The price of diesel in Mumbai was at Rs 76.57 per litre.
 
Similarly, prices of diesel in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai were Rs 73.07, Rs 74.93 and Rs 77.24 a litre, respectively.
 
Fuel prices have been reducing on the back of multiple factors such as lower international crude oil cost and a recovery in the rupee against the US dollar.
 
Last month, the Centre announced a cut in excise duty by Rs 1.50 a litre.
 
Additionally, the state-owned oil marketing companies had been mandated to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel by Re 1 a litre. 
 
IANS
 

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Muhurat session: Indices gain; auto, capital goods stocks rise

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Broadly positive global markets along with lower crude oil prices pushed the key Indian equity indices higher during the special "Muhurat" trade session on Wednesday.
 
The special hour-long session held every year on Diwali day to mark the start of the Hindu New Year saw the key equity indices -- S&P BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty50 -- make gains.
 
According to market observers, the special session to mark Samvat 2075 witnessed healthy buying in automobile, capital goods, oil and gas, banking and IT stocks.
 
The Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) gained 68.40 points or 0.65 per cent to close at 10,598.40 points.
 
Similarly, the 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) made gains during the trade session.
 
The S&P BSE Sensex, which opened at 35,301.88 points, closed at 35,237.68 points -- up 245.77 points or 0.70 per cent from Tuesday's close at 34,991.91 points.
 
"Markets ended the 'Muhurat' session with healthy gains. Nifty (Nifty50) and Sensex closed higher by 0.65 and 0.70 percentage (respectively)," Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research with HDFC Securities, told IANS.
 
"Auto stocks like Mahindra and Mahindra, Hero MotorCorp; Tech stocks like Infosys and those of OMC's (oil marketing company's) rose as crude prices fell," Jasani said. "Gains in the markets seem to usher in better times for the coming year."
 
In Samvat 2074, the S&P BSE Sensex gained 8 per cent on a year-on-year basis while the NSE Nifty50 rose 3.8 per cent.
 
The special trading session held every year on Diwali is considered to be auspicious for stock market trading.
 
It is believed that the "Muhurat" trading on this day brings wealth and prosperity throughout the year.
 
This ritual has been observed for ages by the trading community.
 
The Indian equity market will be closed on Thursday, November 8, to mark Diwali Balipratipada.
 
IANS
 

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RBI acts as seat belt for Govt; protects it in case of accident: Rajan

Raghuram G. Rajan
Raghuram G. Rajan
Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan described the apex bank as a "seat belt" for the Central government which is in the driver's seat, protecting the government against any "accident".
 
Speaking to business news channel CNBC-TV18, Rajan said that historically governments have wanted to focus on economic growth but have had to do so within the limits set by the Reserve Bank of India, based on the country's financial stability.
 
"The RBI is something like a seat belt... the driver being the government," he said, adding if you do not put on your seat belt you may get into an accident which could be quite severe," he said.
 
"So most drivers listen to that annoying beep when you do not put on your seat belt. And then they put it on because they know it's for their own good."
 
The former governor further said: "When we said 'no' (to any proposal), the government understood that. We have responsibility for financial stability and therefore we have an authority to say 'no'."
 
His statement assumes significance amid recent signs of a rift between the government and the bank. RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya in October during a speech hinted at government interference in the bank's functioning when he said the government might face markets' wrath if it was seen eroding the central bank's independence.
 
He noted that although the apex bank listened to all the proposals forwarded by the the government, it made decisions based on national interests.
 
"It has a responsibility to fulfil. It has to listen, of course, but at the end, it has to make a decision because ultimately it has that responsibility," Rajan said.
 
He said the central bank after listening to all the proposals and issues of the government, gives its best "professional" reply.
 
On reports that the government might have imposed Section 7 of the RBI Act curtailing its autonomy, he said it is unlikely that any such step has been taken, suggesting that both the government and the RBI should respect each other's motivation and thoughts.
 
"I think certainly it would be best if both sides respected each other's motivation and thoughts... the RBI after listening to the government has provided the best professional answer... and historically it has done that," he said.
 
"I have no doubt it is doing that today."
 
IANS
 

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Sensex ends Samvat 2074 on a timid note; banking stocks fall

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The key equity indices closed Samvat 2074 on a timid note, as the S&P BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty50 ended flat on Tuesday.
 
Accordingly, the just concluded Samvat, which marks the closure of yearly account books, saw the benchmark Sensex gain eight per cent on a year-on-year basis, while the Nifty50 rose 3.8 per cent.
 
In the day's trade, the domestic equity market, which had opened on a positive note, failed to hold on to its gains, as selling pressure in index pivotals like banking and finance sectors subdued investors' sentiments.
 
On a sector-specific basis, IT, TECK (technology, entertainment and media) and consumers durables stocks made gains on the BSE by over one per cent each, while the banking and finance counters slipped.
 
Index-wise, the S&P BSE Sensex rose 40.99 points to 34,991.91 points. It had opened at 35,076.24 points from its previous close of 34,950.92 points.
 
It touched an intra-day high of 35,196.03 points and a low of 34,889.72 points.
 
Similarly, the NSE Nifty50 closed flat at 10,530 points.
 
Apart from the main indices, the broader markets like the S&P BSE MidCap index declined by 0.62 per cent, while the S&P BSE SmallCap index was also down 0.06 per cent. The market breadth was flat with 1,271 advances and 1,292 declines.
 
"Overseas, Asian stocks were mixed as investors looked to the US midterm elections set for later in the day," said Abhijeet Dey, Senior Fund Manager-Equities, BNP Paribas Mutual Fund. 
 
"The PSU banking, FMCG and metals indices traded with sharp losses while the media and IT indices notched up marginal gains." 
 
According to HDFC Securities' Retail Research Head Deepak Jasani: "Technically, while the Nifty has ended flat, the underlying short term trend remains up. Further upsides are likely once the immediate resistance of 10,600 is taken out."
 
"Crucial supports to watch for any weakness are at 10,492."
 
In terms of currency, the rupee closed at 73 to a US dollar from its previous close of 73.12. 
 
Investment wise, the provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold stocks worth Rs 499.71 crore, while the domestic institutional investors bought scrip worth Rs 118.69 crore.
 
The equity market indices on Monday had reacted positivily to SBI's first profit in the previous four quartes but investors turned bearish on Tuesday "taking note of the grey areas in the results". The bank's scrip declined 3.39 per cent to Rs 285.30 a share.
 
"The results appeared to be positive on the first instance since the lending major logged gains after three straight losses, but investors realised the results had some grey areas like SME slippage," Deepak Jasani, Head of HDFC Securities told IANS. 
 
The other top Sensex laggards were: Axis Bank down 2.98 per cent at Rs 286.50; Maruti Suzuki down 1.31 per cent at Rs 7,073.25; IndusInd Bank, down 1.09 per cent at Rs 1,475.50; Adani Ports down 1 per cent at Rs 325.75 per share.
 
On the other hand, top gainers were: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 2.22 per cent at Rs 1,931.95; Tata Motors(DVR), up 2.11 per cent at Rs 104.15; Yes Bank, up 1.95 per cent at Rs 214.45; Reliance Industries, up 1.37 per cent at Rs 1,103.45 a share.
 
The two key stock exchanges -- BSE and NSE -- will conduct a special 'Muhurat' trading session on Wednesday, November 7 between 5.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m.
 
The special trading session held every year on Diwali is considered to be auspicious for stock market trading. It is believed that the "Muhurat" trading on this day brings wealth and prosperity throughout the year.
 
The trading community has observed this ritual for ages.
 
IANS
 

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India raises trade deficit issue with China, seeks more market access

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India on Tuesday expressed concern over its increasing trade deficit with China and asked Beijing to give Indian products more access to the Chinese market in the fields of pharmaceuticals, agriculture and information technology.
 
India's Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan had a bilateral meet with China's Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen in Shanghai where he expressed concerns regarding the increasing trade deficit.
 
The trade between India and China last year reached $84.4 billion. The current trade deficit between both countries stands over $60 billion.
 
India has often complained to China about less Indian exports due to the strictly-controlled Chinese market.
 
The Indian embassy said in a statement that Wadhawan told Wang that "areas such as agriculture products, pharmaceuticals, information technology services and tourism, in which India has proven strengths and significant global presence but a minuscule presence in China, need to be encouraged in bilateral trade".
 
Besides, he acknowledged Chinese government's efforts in clearing some of the market access issues such as for rice and rapeseed meal, among others, in the past few months and expressed satisfaction over progress on soyabean meal and pomegranate, among other commodities.
 
Wadhawan is attending the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul urges RBI Governor to stand up to government pressure

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday urged Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel to stand up to the government that is asking the central bank for money to "fix the mess his (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's) genius economic theories have created".
 
Embedding an Indian Express report that said that the Finance Ministry was asking the central bank to transfer a surplus of Rs 3.6 lakh crore to the government, Rahul tweeted: "Rs 36,00,00,00,00,000. That's how much the Prime Minister needs from the RBI to fix the mess his genius economic theories have created."
 
"Stand up to him Mr. Patel. Protect the nation," he added.
 
The Indian Express report, quoting sources, said that the RBI felt the government's attempt to dip into its reserves can adversely impact macro-economic stability and has thus been averse to the proposal.
 
The reported amount of Rs 3.6 lakh crore is more than one-third of the total reserves of Rs 9.59 lakh crore the RBI maintains to cover various risks including market risk, operational risk, credit risk and contingency risk.
 
IANS
 

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