Forex reserves comfortable to counter rupee fall: Jaitley

Aug 15, 2018 0

New Delhi– A day after the rupee fell to its record low, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that India holds sufficient foreign exchange reserves to mitigate any undue volatility in the foreign exchange market.

Geo-political pressures, along with outflows of foreign funds and high crude oil prices dragged the Indian rupee to its lowest ever intra-day level of over 70 against the US dollar on Tuesday when it plunged to 70.08 — the lowest ever — against the greenback.

Arun Jaitley

However, intervention by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and stabilisation in the global currency markets pared the rupee’s early fall.

At the end of the intra-bank trade session on Tuesday, the Indian rupee strengthened by four paise at 69.90 against the dollar, compared to Monday’s close of 69.94 per greenback.

“India’s foreign exchange reserves are comfortable by global standards and sufficient to mitigate any undue volatility in the foreign exchange market,” Jaitley tweeted.

“However, India’s macro fundamentals remain resilient and strong. The developments are being monitored closely to address any situation that may arise in the context of the unsettled international environment,” he said in another tweet.

“Recent developments relating to Turkey have generated global risk aversion towards emerging market currencies and the strengthening of the dollar.

“The developments are being monitored closely to address any situation that may arise in the context of the unsettled international environment,” Jaitley, who is currently convalescing, said in a separate tweet.

According to analysts, the rupee’s swift move past 69 happened due to foreign institutional investor outflows and the impact of global sentiment.

“On a medium term basis, the rupee will need to depreciate further to keep up with the inflation differentials with other trading partners. However there could be a minor reversal of this depreciation on a short term basis when the global situation stabilises,” said ICICI Bank Global Markets Head B. Prasanna.

“Since currencies of emerging and developed markets are falling, the RBI is not intervening aggressively in the market. It is intervening selectively to contain volatility,” said Rushabh Maru, Research Analyst, Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers. (IANS)

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Modi showcases economic achievements in I-Day address

Aug 15, 2018 0

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday avoided major economic announcements in his last Independence Day address before the next Lok Sabha elections and instead highlighted his government’s achievements, citing GST as the centrepiece and the commendations from multilateral agencies on the reform measures.

He said his government will not relent on its unwavering commitment to weeding out corruption and black money.

Narendra Modi (Photo: Twitter)

“India has registered its name as the sixth largest economy in the world. It has created positivity. We are celebrating the festival of freedom in such a positive atmosphere,” Modi said.

“Before 2013, institutions and economists across the world used to refer to India as a risky economy, but today the same institutions and individuals are saying with confidence that reforms have given India a new momentum and strong fundamentals.”

While the country was earlier counted among the fragile five economies of the world, “today India is considered a multi-trillion dollar destination for investment,” Modi said.

“They say the sleeping elephant has woken up and started walking. For the next three decades, India is going to guide and speed up the world economy.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last week that India’a near-term macroeconomic outlook is “broadly favorable” and that the country is on course to hold its position as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. IMF mission chief for India Ranil Salgado said the Indian economy is like “an elephant starting to run”.

Targeting the Congress-led UPA without naming it, Modi said if his government had worked with the speed followed in 2013, it would have taken a century in making India open defecation free or electrifying every part or even providing LPG connection to every woman.

“The demand for higher MSP (minimum support price) was pending for years. From farmers to political parties to agriculture experts, everybody was asking about it but nothing happened. The decision was taken by our government to provide the MSP of 1.5 times of production cost,” The Prime Minister said.

He talked about the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying it had given a new confidence to small and big traders who “wholeheartedly embraced” the new tax regime despite facing “initial problems”.

“From 70 lakh indirect tax payers after 70 years of Independence, within a year of GST implementation this number has gone up to 1.16 crore,” Modi said.

He said the various initiatives to plug leakages in government subsidy distribution had benefited the exchequer to the tune of Rs 90,000 crore.

“We will not spare people who generate illicit income and black money. As many as 3 lakh shell and suspicious companies have been closed and their directors blacklisted by my government,” he added.

Pointing to the government’s inclusive programmes, Modi noted that under the Mudra loan scheme for disadvantaged sections, including women, as many as 13 crore loans had been disbursed, of which 4 crore people were first-time loan takers. (IANS)

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Modi’s interest led to record investment in rail infrastructure: Minister

Aug 14, 2018 0

Mau (Uttar Pradesh)–  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special interest led to a record investment in basic rail infrastructure in the country in the last four years, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha claimed on Tuesday.

Manoj Sinha

“Due to the Prime Minister’s special interest, investment in railways tripled and sufficient funds were given for infrastructure development. The funds are being used properly now,” Sinha said at a function after flagging off Mau-Lucknow Inter City Express here and launching Wi-Fi facility at 60 railway stations.

“In the last financial year, Rs 1.30 lakh crore was invested in rail infrastructure development while it increased to Rs 1.48 lakh crore in the current fiscal,” he said, adding that under the earlier UPA rule only Rs 47-48,000 crore was invested in such developmental works.

The BJP leader, an MP from Gazipur, said that the country suffered a lot due to lack of investment in railways during the earlier regime.

“After independence, expansion of railway infrastructure should have got the utmost priority but its pace was very slow. After the NDA came to power in 2014, its pace has increased. In the coming days, it is going to further improve and people will get more facilities,” he said.

He said that electrification and doubling of railway tracks are being given top priority and rail-cum-road project in Gazipur on the Ganga river is its best example.

“The work that used to be completed in 10 years earlier is now completed in only three years,” the Minister claimed.

He said that under the Congress rule, the focus of development remained limited to Amethi and Rai Bareli but the Modi government is non-discriminating. (IANS)

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Rupee devalues to record low of 70 to a USD; recovers

Aug 14, 2018 0

Mumbai– Geo-political pressures, along with outflows of foreign funds and high crude oil prices dragged the Indian rupee to its lowest ever intra-day level of over 70 against a US dollar on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, the Indian currency plunged to 70.08 — the lowest ever — against the greenback.

However, a likely intervention by the Reserve Bank of India and stabilisation in the global currency markets pared the rupee’s early fall.

At the end of the intra-bank trade session on Tuesday, the Indian rupee strengthened by four paise at 69.90 against the dollar, compared to Monday’s close of 69.94 per greenback.

“A near 4 per cent intra-day rebound in the Turkish Lira, on the back of talks between NSA from USA and Turkish Ambassador to US, was not enough to prevent the rupee from sliding past 70 handle against the greenback,” said Anindya Banerjee, Deputy Vice President for Currency and Interest Rates with Kotak Securities.

“RBI intervention has kept the pair below 70 since then on spot. However, demand from offshore speculators and also demand from importers have not allowed the rupee to appreciate.”

Banerjee pointed out the trend in USD/INR for the rest of the week will be dictated by the trend in greenback against major currencies like Euro and GBP.

Recent US-imposed sanctions and tariffs on Turkey has had an impact on its and other emerging market currencies over fears of further global protectionist measures.

“Since currencies of emerging and developed markets are falling, the RBI is not intervening aggressively in the market. It is intervening selectively to contain volatility,” Rushabh Maru, Research Analyst, Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers, told IANS.

“Since 70 level has been breached today we may see importers rushing to buy dollars on every dip in the USD/INR. On the other hand exporters may avoid selling dollars at current levels as the rupee is depreciating sharply.”

Apart from global cues, outflow of foreign funds from the Indian equity and bond markets has had an adverse impact on the rupee.

Investment-wise, provisional data with exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrip worth Rs 378.84 crore.

“The swift move past 69 happened due to Foreign Institution Investor (FII) outflows and the need to hedge existing short dollar positions in the market, driven by global market sentiment rather than actual importer demand,” said B. Prasanna, Group Executive and Head for Global Markets Group, ICICI Bank.

“On a medium term basis, the rupee will need to depreciate further to keep up with the inflation differentials with other trading partners. However there could be a minor reversal of this depreciation on a short term basis when the global situation stabilises.” (IANS)

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Those opposing developmental projects have terror links: Modi

Aug 13, 2018 0

Chennai– Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said there are proof of links between terror outfits and those who oppose developmental projects in states.

In an interview to Tamil newspaper Daily Thanthi, Modi said in the recent times it has been observed that some people hinder the implementation of developmental projects in states.

“There are proof of such people having links with terror outfits. It is not only me who is saying this, even my predecessor Manmohan Singh had rightly said that some foreign non-governmental organisations (NGO) are instigating protests against the nuclear power project in Kudankulam,” Modi said in an e-mail interview to the newsdaily.

He was responding to a question about Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan saying that there are movements of terror organisations in Tamil Nadu and their activities are of serious concern.

Continuing further, he had said that these terror outfits create fear among innocent people about projects that are for the welfare of people.

Asked about Bharataiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah’s statement that Tamil Nadu is one of the most corrupt states in India, Modi said it is the right of the people of that state to estimate the performance of their governments.

“My government is against corruption. It will fight corruption wherever it is. No other government since Independence has fought against corruption like ours,” Modi said.

On the issue of aligning with Rajinikanth when he floats a political party, Modi said the question itself is hypothetical and he cannot be expected to answer that.

Modi said without the support of AIADMK and DMK, the BJP won one Lok Sabha constituency in the last general elections.

“It is not an ordinary achievement in Tamil Nadu. We have some traditional pockets of support. That support base is now expanding. For a long period, the choice was limited in Tamil Nadu elections, but now youth are in search of an alternative,” Modi said. (IANS)

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Amid currency woes, Turkey accuses US of ‘stabbing it in back’

Aug 13, 2018 0

Ankara– Turkey on Monday accused the US of “stabbing it in the back” as the country’s economic woes failed to stop market turmoil amid a deepening diplomatic spat with Washington.

The US last week imposed sanctions on Turkey over its refusal to extradite a US pastor imprisoned in the country.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Twitter)

The sanctions caused market turmoil, which the central bank attempted — but failed — to soothe with market-boosting measures.

Hitting out at the US, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “You act on one side as a strategic partner but on the other you fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner.

“We are together in NATO and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back.”

As the crisis deepened at the end of last week, the lira and the Turkish stock market slid sharply.

Erdogan, who has presided over soaring inflation and borrowing levels, said the currency’s fall was the result of a “plot rather than prevailing economic conditions”, the BBC reported.

Turkey’s stock market has fallen 17 per cent, while government borrowing costs have risen to 18 per cent a year. Meanwhile, inflation has hit 15 per cent.

Although the lira rose slightly after the central bank’s move to support the economy, it still hit a new record low against the dollar and stock markets in Europe and Asia fell.

On Monday, benchmark stock indexes in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai were all down more than 1.5 per cent in late morning trading. The Shanghai Composite later recovered from a fall of 1.7 per cent to trade with much smaller falls in afternoon trading.

In mid-day trading in Europe, London’s 100-share index was down 0.6 per cent, while the German and French share markets were down by 0.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry said it was taking legal action against 346 social media accounts it claimed had posted comments about the weakening lira “in a provocative way”.

The lira’s worst day was last Friday when US President Donald Trump approved the doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium over Ankara’s refusal to release American pastor Andrew Brunson.

He has been detained for nearly two years, accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.

Erdogan is irked over the inaction by the US against the Gulenist movement and failure “to unequivocally condemn” the 2016 coup attempt. Washington has refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

The Turkish Central Bank announced on Monday that banks would be given all the liquidity — help to keep money moving — they needed. But the bank did not increase interest rates, which would help contain inflation while supporting the lira.

Erdogan dismissed the fall of the currency as “a storm in a tea cup” and urged Turks to sell dollars and buy lira to help boost the currency. (IANS)

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Chatterjee played critical role in regaining investors’ confidence, say industrialists

Aug 13, 2018 0

Kolkata– Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had played “a critical and important role” as the Chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and he performed “onerous task of regaining investors’ confidence” for promotion of industries in the state, said industrialists on Monday.

Somnath Chatterjee (Photo: wikipedia)

“He had a very critical and important role to play because for the first time the then Jyoti Basu government (then Left Front government) came out with an industrial policy probably in 1994 and he was made Chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation at that time to take forward the industrialisation of the state,” said Chairman of the Ambuja Neotia Group’s Chairman Harshavardhan Neotia.

“It was a major shift in the policy. I had the privilege travelling with him to many countries,” said Neotia.

He was a passionate leader who wanted to showcase opportunities in Bengal, he said.

“I think he created a positive atmosphere which was subsequently built on by others. He had brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the promotion of industries in the state,” he told IANS.

The 10-time parliamentarian was the Chairman of the nodal agency for industrial development in the state and visited many countries to promote the state as an attractive investment destination.

R.P. Sanjiv Goenka Group’s Chairman Sanjiv Goenka described the demise of Chatterjee as the “end of an era.”

“The passing away of Somnath Chatterjee snaps a family tie which began many years ago when my father, the late Rama Prasad Goenka, studied in Presidency College. An outstanding lawyer, a legendary parliamentarian and an ardent lover of his country, Chatterjee will be remembered for the sacrifices he made,” Goenka said.

Echoing Neotia, Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Ramesh Agarwal said Chatterjee was “entrusted the challenging task of reviving industrialisationa in West Bengal when the “state was struggling an image crisis in the mid-1990s and a flight of entrepreneurial capital.”

“He contributed significantly to drafting the state industrial policy, 1994. As the Chairman of WBIDC, he performed the onerous task of regaining investors’ confidence as he enjoyed the confidence of the business community despite his known political affiliation,” Agarwal said.

Expressing condolences, CII’s Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said: “We have lost not only a brilliant lawyer, politician, and a Parliamentarian, but also a statesman.”

He also said the industry body interacted with him closely in West Bengal and later, on many areas which he was passionate about, viz promoting sustainability in industry, robust water management and a vision for India.

Chatterjee died at 8.15 a.m at the Bellevue Clinic, where he was admitted on August 7. (IANS)

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Intel eyes $200 bn data centre market opportunity by 2022

Aug 9, 2018 0

San Francisco– With more and more data being generated, global chip-maker Intel is eyeing at $200 billion market opportunity in 2022 for its data-centric businesses, a top executive has said.

According to Navin Shenoy, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Data Centre Group (DCG) at Intel Corp, the company garnered $1 billion in Artificial Intelligence (AI) revenue from Intel Xeon Processors in 2017.

“I find it astounding that 90 per cent of the world’s data was generated in the past two years. Analysts forecast that by 2025, data will exponentially grow by 10 times and reach 163 zettabytes,” Shenoy said during his keynote at the company’s Data-Centric Innovation Summit at its headquarters in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday.

The company introduced the first Intel Xeon processor 20 years ago.

“Since launching the Intel Xeon Scalable platform last July, we’ve seen demand continue to rise. We have shipped more than 2 million units in 2018’s second quarter. Even better, in the first four weeks of the third quarter, we’ve shipped another 1 million units,” said Shenoy.

In 2017, more than $1 billion in revenue came from customers running AI on Intel Xeon processors in the data centre.

“We continue to improve AI training and inference performance. In total, since 2014, our performance has improved well over 200 times,” said Shenoy.

The company announced that Intel Optane DC persistent memory-based systems can achieve up to eight times the performance gains for certain analytics queries over configurations that rely only on DRAM memory.

“We are further expanding our connectivity portfolio with a new and innovative ‘SmartNIC’ product line — code-named Cascade Glacier — which is based on Intel Arria 10 FPGAs and enables optimized performance for Intel Xeon processor-based systems,” Shenoy said.

According to him, the proliferation of the Cloud beyond hyperscale and into the network and out to the edge, the impending transition to 5G, and the growth of AI and analytics have driven a profound shift in the market.

“We need to look at data holistically, including how we move data faster, store more of it and process everything from the Cloud to the edge,” Shenoy added. (IANS)

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Offering something for everybody, IKEA gets huge response on day one

Aug 9, 2018 0

Hyderabad– Ikea’s first India store, which opened its doors to a huge response by customers on Thursday, offers a world of options for people looking to furnish their homes with products of good quality and yet affordable.

The store by the world’s leading Swedish home furnishings retailer was teeming with customers in the evening and the total number for the day might cross 30,000 when the store shuts down at 11 p.m.

About 10,000 customers had visited the store by 4 p.m. but the crowds swelled later as thousands of techies headed to the place while returning home from offices.

There was traffic jam in front of the store located in the heart of HITEC City, the hub of information technology. The IKEA employees had to regulate the customers by allowing them in batches.

Patrick Antoni, Deputy CEO, IKEA India, had said on Wednesday that they are expecting an average daily footfall of 30,000 to 35,000.

IKEA welcomed the first customers at the 400,000-square feet facility with loud cheers from company officials and employees, holding Indian and Swedish flags amid loud band and music.

The store was formally inaugurated by Telangana’s Industry Minister K. T. Rama Rao along with first customer Rajni Venugopal, IKEA Group CEO Jesper Brodin and Sweden’s Ambassador to India Klas Molin.

The first India store was opened five years after the world’s largest single brand retailer received government approval in 2013 to invest Rs 10,500 crore to open 25 stores in India by 2025.

The company now revised the number of stores to 40 across all formats. Its officials on Wednesday said they plan to approach the government with revised investment figures.

IKEA’s next store will open in Navi Mumbai in next summer, followed by Bengaluru and Delhi. In the next phase, IKEA would cover Ahmedabad, Surat, Pune, Chennai and Kolkatta.

The sight of concept homes meets the customers as they walk through the sprawling Hyderabad store.

From living rooms to dining rooms, children’s rooms to workspaces, kitchen and bedrooms to bathrooms, the display rooms offer ideas, inspiration and solutions for the entire home in a setting, perhaps not seen before in India.

The sheer range of products in different room is impressive as the furniture giant has designed them with a promise to make Indian homes brighter and better.

The products displayed in concept room are not for pickup but the customers can note down the details to purchase them in the market hall, which has extensive range of products including home kitchen utensils and accessories, textiles, rugs, lighting, decoration, stationary and even live plants.

Bringing its world-class shopping experience to India, Ikea has designed the store in a manner which tempt customers into buying something after a long walk through the store that is the equivalent of 10 football grounds.

Located in the heart of HITEC City, the information technology hub, and close to the posh localities, the store appears to be designed to target upper middle-class and the rich. However, Ikea claims it is for everyone, irrespective of size of their wallet.

Laying a greater emphasis on affordability, Ikea has priced over 1,000 products out of total 7,500 below Rs 200. One finds a set of four spoons for as low as Rs 15.

Ikea officials promise there is something that everyone can buy for their homes. “We found love for homes is very big in India. We did not know this. Friends, families, festivals and food all happen at home,” Patrik Antoni told IANS.

“Unlike countries like China, Taiwan and Korea, people in India celebrate at home and we promise to improve their everyday life,” he said.

Ikea, in tune with its philosophy, has come out with home furnishing solutions for India by taking people’s inputs. The company says its team visited 1,000 homes to understand life at home, frustrations, needs, dreams and aspirations.

Ikea, which has stores in 49 countries, has a mixed global range with the local needs and realities. It developed products for local needs including masala boxes, pressure cookers, tawas, idli makers, colourful sheets and mattresses made with coconut fibre centre.

Sourcing from India for over 30 years, Ikea is not new to the country. About 1,000 products displayed at the store are made in India. It also tailored 2,000 products from its range to suit Indian needs, taking into consideration climatic realities such as dust and humidity.

The unique shopping experience is incomplete without tasting Indian and Swedish delicacies at a 1,000 seat restaurant, the biggest for Ikea globally. Like the products, the food is also affordable with biryani priced at Rs 99 and chicken meat balls Rs 149. (IANS)

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Musk wants Tesla to go private at $420 per share

Aug 8, 2018 0

San Francisco– In a surprise move, Elon Musk has announced to take his electric car maker company Tesla private at $420 per share.

Tesla has been public since 2010.

Elon Musk (Photo: Twitter)

“A final decision has not yet been made, but the reason for doing this is all about creating the environment for Tesla to operate best.

“As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders,” Musk wrote to Tesla employees in an email on Tuesday.

According to him, being public also subjects Tesla to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on it to “make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term”.

As the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market, being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company.

The news led to Tesla share going up to $343.84 at the end of trading on Tuesday.

Musk, who owns approximately 20 per cent of Tesla at the moment, said he aims to structure the company in such a way so that all shareholders have a choice.

“Either they can stay investors in a private Tesla or they can be bought out at $420 per share, which is a 20 per cent premium over the stock price following our Q2 earnings call (which had already increased by 16 per cent).

Musk said he wants all Tesla employees to remain shareholders of the company just as is the case at SpaceX.

“The intention is not to merge SpaceX and Tesla. They would continue to have separate ownership and governance structures,” Musk wrote.

This proposal to go private would ultimately be finalised through a vote of shareholders.

“Investor support is confirmed. Only reason why this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote,” Musk tweeted.

Shares of Tesla were halted on Tuesday afternoon following Musk’s Twitter message — an announcement that blindsided Wall Street and led to questions about fraud, the New York Post reported.

The Tesla CEO tweet earlier sent shares up $16 in five minutes, to $371.07.

The stock since settled at $366.94 before exchanges halted trading, pending an upcoming announcement from the company.

It was unclear what prompted the tweet. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Saudi Arabia was taking a $2 billion stake in the electric automaker, the New York Post reported.

It was also unclear what brought him to the $420-a-share figure — the number can be used as a slang term for marijuana. Musk previously tweeted an April Fool’s joke about his $60 billion company going broke.

The surprise announcements prompted former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt to question whether Musk had broken securities laws.

The tweet “might constitute fraud if any of the facts he disclosed are not true”, Pitt said on CNBC.

Tesla has not confirmed whether the tweet was real — or if the CEO’s account was hacked.

Bullish on the performance and increased production of “Model 3” cars, Musk is also planning to introduce a mini-car.

The electric car maker reported revenue of $4 billion in the second quarter of 2018, with $2.2 billion in cash in hand.

Tesla is producing roughly 7,000 Model 3, Model S and Model X vehicles per week. (IANS)

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