ECONOMY - 2018 MARCH

March 1

Foreign exchange earnings witness 9.9% jump in January 2018
India's foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) for the month of January 2018, saw a 9.9 percent growth compared to that of the same period last year.
As per data released by the Ministry of Tourism, the FEEs through tourism during the month of January 2018 were Rs.17,725 crore as compared to Rs.16,135 crore in January 2017 and Rs.13,671 crore in January 2016.
Meanwhile, in terms of the US Dollar, the growth rate in FEEs was ascertained to be 17.6 percent compared to 16.6 percent in January last year, over the same period in 2016.
On a related note, the Ministry of Tourism estimates monthly FEEs through Tourism in India, both in Rupee and Dollar terms based on the credit data of Travel Head from Balance of Payments of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

No expenditure cut in FY18 to meet fiscal deficit target'
The government will not go for an expenditure cut in 2017-18 to meet fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent of GDP even as it has breached the level of 113.7% of the target.
When asked how the government will meet the revised fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent, have already been factored into the revised target.
Fiscal deficit has touched Rs 6.77 lakh crore at the end of January 2018, 113.7 per cent of the target for the year, on account of higher expenditure .
The government had revised upwards the fiscal deficit at Rs 5.95 lakh crore or 3.5 per cent of GDP in the recent Union Budget.

Nest Away raises $51 million from Goldman Sachs, UC-RNT and others
In December last year came out stating that Nest Away has raised a $51 million investment round. Nest away announced raising $51 million from Goldman Sachs, UC-RNT and University of California.
Goldman Sachs invested $19 million through its Indian and Hong Kong based investment arm, while UC-RNT invested about $16 million in the home-rental startup.
The investment round also saw participation from Tiger Global and IDG India. The post investment valuation of Nest Away stands between $180 million – $200 million. Also, this takes Nest Away’s total raised investment to $94 million.
The startup has investors like Tiger Global, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner-backed fund Apoletto Asia, among others. The Indian real estate market is expected to reach the $180 billion mark by 2020. The housing sector, alone, seems to be contributing over 5-6% to the country’s GDP.

March 2

Govt raises import tax on crude, refined palm oil
India has raised import tax on crude palm oil to 44 percent from 30 percent and lifted the tax on refined palm oil to 54 per cent from 40 percent.
The duty increase will lift oilseed prices and domestic supply for crushing, helping the country to cap edible oil imports in the 2017/18 marketing year, which started on Nov. 1.
India is the world's biggest importer of edible oils. It buys mainly palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soyoil from Brazil and Argentina.

EESL to install LED lights in all properties of Airports Authority of India
‬Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for installing energy-efficient LED lights at airports, buildings and facilities owned by the AAI across India. EESL will make the entire upfront investment of Rs 24.41crore on the project.
‬A MoU was signed under the Buildings Energy Efficiency Programme (BEEP). The entire procurement of lighting equipment, installation and maintenance will be undertaken by EESL without any cost burden on AAI.
‪‪As part of the Buildings Energy Efficiency Programme launched in May 2017, EESL intends to bring in investment of around Rs 1,000 crore, covering more than 10,000 large government/ private buildings by 2020, enabling annual monetary savings of Rs. 800 crore, energy savings of 100 crore kWh per year and annual CO2 reduction of 10 lakh tonnes.

EV charging infrastructure offers Rs. 2 lakh crore business opportunity
The Indian electrical and electronics industry is expecting business worth more than Rs. 2 lakh crore from electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the next five years as the automobile industry firms up plans for electrification of passenger cars and public transport.
In the next decade, technology will change the face of the industry. There is vast scope of business [possible] from charging infrastructure alone.
The electric charging infrastructure will require a minimum investment of Rs. 2 lakh crore, an exhibition scheduled for next month in Noida to showcase solutions for e-transportation and battery storage systems.
E-highways, induction charging [and] solar roadways are going to offer additional opportunities.

ArcelorMittal, Nippon Steel to jointly bid for Essar Steel
Steel baron Lakshmi Niwas Mittal-led ArcelorMittal and Japanese steel major Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC) have placed a joint bid for debt-laden Essar Steel.
The submitted resolution plan be selected and formally accepted by India’s National Company Law Tribunal, ArcelorMittal and NSSMC would jointly acquire and manage Essar Steel.
The ArcelorMittal bid is ahead of Numetal’s bid; Rewant Ruia, son of Essar promoter Ravi Ruia is a stakeholder in [Numetal].
Mr. Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO, ArcelorMittal, “Partnering with NSSMC for Essar Steel was always our intention and adds further strength to our offer. Combining our experience and expertise creates a powerful partnership that has a proven track record — our rich history of... collaboration dates back more than 20 years with three joint ventures in the U.S''.

Demand for steel grows by 5.2%: ICRA
Domestic steel demand has grown by 5.2% during the first nine months of 2017-18, which is positive for the industry.
The rise in demand was aided by a buoyancy in the automobile sector and recovery in the construction and capital goods sectors.
ICRA expects domestic consumption growth to be favourable in the backdrop of the government’s thrust on infrastructure, particularly in affordable housing and power transmission. A combination of favourable factors like domestic demand rise in domestic and international markets and lower growth in imports would help the sector in the days forward.

Brokers resist SEBI move to tighten oversight
The move by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to enhance the supervision of market participants is facing fresh resistance from stock brokers who are trying to stall the regulator’s attempts to monitor any possible misuse of client funds by the broking community.
Brokers are currently required to upload information related to client funds lying with them on a monthly basis. SEBI wants this to be done weekly, from April 1.
This includes a wide array of important information such as the aggregate value of client fund balance, collateral, credit & debit balances in all the client accounts and value of margins utilized.
The Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI), which is the umbrella body of brokers, has written to SEBI to continue with the existing system.
ANMI is of the strong view that current system of uploading data by monthly is [running] smoothly to the satisfaction of exchanges and also the regulator.

March 3

Eveready eyes Rs. 1,000 crore via FMCG by 2023
Eveready Industries India Ltd. (EIIL), popularly known for dry cell batteries, expects a turnover of Rs. 1,000 crore through its FMCG segment by 2023.
The company, which had diversified into several related fields like lighting and small appliances, is now trying to mark an increased presence in the FMCG segment by bringing in variety to the product basket.
The firm was trying to penetrate the FMCG segment, where its presence was now only through the tea joint venture, which turns in an annual revenue of ₹80 crore.
Batteries now contribute 50% to EIIL’s turnover, followed by 30% from lighting and flashlights, 7% through the small appliances segment and 5% via packet tea.
In five years, this matrix will change, EIIL saw a 33% increase in its third quarter turnover on lightings at a time when its overall turnover rose by 12%. Recently, it received a Rs. 22-crore order.

IMF warns that U.S. steel, aluminum tariffs will likely hurt economies
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminum would likely cause economic damage to the United States and its trading partners, and urged countries to resolve trade disputes without resorting to retaliatory measures.
The import restrictions announced by the U.S. President [Donald Trump] are likely to cause damage not only outside the U.S., but also to the U.S. economy itself, including to its manufacturing and construction sectors, which are major users of aluminum and steel.
Mr. Trump planned to impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum products that were designed to safeguard American jobs in the face of cheaper foreign products and would be formally announced next week.
The IMF did not elaborate on the economic damages. It is currently in the midst of updating its global economic forecasts ahead of April meetings of its 189 member countries.

March 4

Solar goal for 2022 too hot to handle
India had been on track to meet its target of 100 Gigawatt (GW) of solar energy capacity by 2022 but momentum has been severely eroded in the last few months, according to industry players. Issues such as uncertainty around import duties and future tax rates on existing power purchase agreements have dampened investor sentiment.
If you look at the trajectory India is on, [with] regard to solar capacity addition, real volumes have started to come and it’s accelerating too. If that trajectory is to continue over the next few years, it will certainly be possible to get to that number.
The Director General (Safeguards) had earlier this year recommended imposing a 70% safeguard duty on imported solar cells, panels and modules for a minimum period of 200 days. No decision has been taken yet on this, but the proposal is causing a lot of uncertainty in the industry because of the higher costs this would result in.
The 70% safeguard duty proposed will also inflate project costs by 25% and crank up the viable tariff to Rs. 3.75 per unit from Rs. 3 estimated earlier, making solar power less attractive to discoms. That would also be more than the average power purchase cost [for] 10 out of 14 discoms last fiscal.

GMR submits bid to revamp Manila airport
The GMR-Megawide consortium that manages the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines has submitted a $3 billion proposal to decongest and redevelop the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.
The redevelopment proposal involves increasing the capital city’s airport’s capacity to 950-1,000 aircraft movements a day from the present 730 and takes the overall passenger handling capacity to 72 million per annum.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the second largest airport in the Pacific island nation and is operated by the GMR Group and Megawide in a 40:60 joint venture.

Lafarge Holcim’s new CEO writes off more than $4 billion
Lafarge Holcim’s new chief executive set out his plan to revive the company’s fortunes by cutting costs, selling assets and focusing on fewer markets as the world’s biggest cement maker announced a $4 billion write off.
The stock fell more than 7% after the strategy was revealed. Lafarge Holcim also reported a 3.1 billion Swiss franc ($3.3 billion) net loss during its fourth quarter, hit by the impairment charge as Mr. Jenisch cleared the decks for his overhaul.
Previous CEO Eric Olsen left after the company admitted paying armed groups in Syria to keep a plant running.
The merger is now behind it was quite an exercise and not an easy one. Building materials is a market that is growing above GDP globally, so would we would expect building materials to grow 2 to 3%.

India wins back fastest growing economy tag, grows at 7.2 per cent in Q3
India's economic growth surged to a five-quarter high of 7.2 per cent in the October-December quarter of the current fiscal, enabling the country to regain the status of the fastest growing economy in the world ahead of China after a year's gap.
The Chinese economy recorded a 6.8 per cent growth rate during the same quarter. Official figures released showed that the improvement came on the back of a pick-up in the manufacturing, farm and services sectors which have overcome disruptions from the chaotic launch of the new goods and services tax (GST) regime in July.
The last time India had a faster growth rate was in the final three months of 2016. The Ministry of Statistics also revised its 2017-18 GDP growth forecast to 6.6 per cent from 6.5 per cent earlier and revised upward its GDP growth for the July-Sept quarter, to 6.5 per cent, from an earlier estimate of 6.3 per cent.

March 5

Indian Oil mulls Rs. 730 crore new pipeline project in Chennai
Indian Oil Corporation will lay five underground pipelines of about 22 km between its Ennore and Korukkupet terminals in the northern part of Chennai at an estimated cost of about Rs. 730 crore.
The proposal is waiting for approvals and we will start work once we get the clearances, after dedicating three new multi-product pipelines that have been re-routed between Chennai Port and Korukkupet terminal at a cost of Rs. 98 crore.
The proposed new pipelines project between Ennore and Korukkupet terminals will help save transport costs and secure flexibility to adjust fuel supplies.
Earlier, explaining the re-routing of pipelines, it will help in safe transfer of products between Chennai Port and Korukkupet terminals.

Reliance Infra slaps Rs. 5,440 crore notice on Pipavav founders
Reliance Infrastructure has served an arbitration notice on founder-promoters of Pipavav Defence and Engineering Limited (PDEL), seeking indemnity of Rs. 5,440 crore for breach of warranties under a purchase agreement.
Notice is issued for breach of warranties under purchase agreement by founder-promoters for acquisition of Pipavav Defence shares.
The company has discovered that there have been serious breaches of warranties and representations made by the founder-promoters.
On March 4, 2015, Reliance Infrastructure, its subsidiary Reliance Defence Systems (RDSPL) and the founder promoters of Pipapav Defence and Engineering (Nikhil Gandhi and Bhavesh Gandhi) entered into an agreement for acquisition of shares of Pipapav Defence and Engineering, which was being named as Reliance Naval and Engineering Ltd (RNEL).

Metal stocks fall after Trump's tariff move
Indian metal stocks were trading lower, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last week to levy hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminium to protect local industry.
Tata Steel was trading down 2.27% at Rs. 659.95, Steel Authority of India Ltd was trading down 3.83% at Rs. 77.85, Hindalco Industries was trading down 3.41% at Rs. 232, Vedanta was trading down 1.53% at Rs. 318.25, and JSW Steel was trading down 5% at Rs. 292.15 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
According to research firm Maybank Kim Eng, India's steel and aluminium exports (2-2.4% of U.S. imports) to the U.S. are negligible and the imposition of high tariff on these two metals is not significant.
If the trade war escalated to other products, it could hurt and the manufacturing investments undertaken in the country.

The Government constitutes a Steering Committee on Fintech related issues
The Centre has set up a steering committee to go into various issues relating to Fintech space in India. The committee will be headed by Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs.
The committee will consider means of using data with GSTN and data residing with information utilities such as credit information companies (CICs) and others in open domain with a view to developing applications for financing of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
It will also develop regulatory interventions e.g., regulatory sandbox model, that will enhance the role of Fintech in sectors identified for focused interventions. The ideas is to facilitate ease of doing business in the Fintech sector.
The committee has also be asked to consider how Fintech could be leveraged in critical sectors of economy.

(1) Who is the Director of Indian Oil Corporation?
A. Anish Aggarwal
B. Ajay Aggarwal
C. Anish kumar
D. Mayank Aggarwal
E. Bhavish Aggarwal
(2) In which city the Indian Oil mulls Rs. 730 cr new pipeline project?
A. Hyderabad
B. Amravati
C. Mumbai
D. Kolkata
E. Chennai
(3) How much amount Reliance Infra slaps on Pipavav founders?
A. Rs. 5,000 crore
B. Rs. 5,440 crore
C. Rs. 5,400 crore
D. Rs. 5,040 crore
E. Rs. 4,440 crore

March 6

First U.S. LNG shipment to reach India from Louisiana facility
India will receive its first LNG import from the U.S. later this month. The cargo from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG export facility in Louisiana was loaded on to GAIL’s chartered LNG ship ‘Meridian Spirit’ on March 5.
The sale purchase agreement was signed in December 2011 and the cargo is expected to discharge LNG at the Dabhol terminal of GAIL on or around March 28.
Under the terms of the agreement, GAIL would purchase approximately 3.5 million tonnes of LNG per year from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass.
This long-term pact would go a long way in strengthening ties between GAIL and Cheniere and reinforcing India-U.S. trade ties. GAIL, which commands 75% market share in gas transmission, is expanding pipeline network by about 5,000 km at an investment of more than $3 billion to operate more than 16,000 km by 2020.

Amazon invests Rs. 195 crore in India payments arm, eyes digital market
Online retail giant Amazon had invested Rs. 195 crore in its digital payments arm Amazon Pay (India) Private Limited. The company is eyeing India’s booming digital payments market and planning to take on rivals such as Flipkart’s PhonePe, Paytm and Google’s mobile payment service Tez.
Amazon Pay got the capital infusion in February this year under the “Rights Issue.” The digital payments space in India is expected to rise fivefold to reach $1 trillion by 2023 and it would be led by the growth in mobile payments.
The firm was working on inventing ways that reduce customer friction, improve affordability and foster everyday habits, thereby building preference for digital payments.
In January, Amazon Pay unveiled its “cash load” service, enabling customers to add cash to their Amazon Pay balance account from the convenience of their doorstep.

Myntra gets Rs. 414 crore from parent Flipkart
E-commerce major Flipkart has invested Rs. 414.60 crore in Myntra, its lifestyle and fashion arm, for its expansion. The fund infusion came from the Singapore holding company via Singapore-based affliate FK Myntra Holdings Pvt Ltd.
While Flipkart Fashions is positioned as a mass-premium brand, Myntra Fashion Brands is in the premium category, with a clear differentiation in its offerings. Fashion as a category is set to overtake electronics, which is currently the largest category, by 2020.
Fashion and lifestyle e-tailer Myntra’s private label portfolio of 13 brands, including, Roadster, HRX, All About You, Mast & Harbour and Dressberry deliver about 23 per cent of its business.
Myntra expects its private label brands to contribute 35-40 per cent of its business in the next 12 months.

March 7

Paytm arm gets SEBI nod as registered Investment Adviser
Financial services platform Paytm wholly-owned subsidiary, Paytm Money, has received approval of market regulator SEBI to become a registered Investment Advisor.
The nod from the Securities and Exchange Board of India will allow the company to roll out investment and wealth management products to consumers across the country.
Paytm Money is currently completing integrations with the respective compliance and regulatory authorities for KYC under the SEBI regulations. It is also integrating all leading AMCs (Asset Management Companies) in India.
The platform has planned a limited rollout of investment products, starting with direct plan mutual funds investments with zero commissions. The company will have a separate app available for both Android and iOS users.

CCI slaps Rs. 54 crore fine on 3 airlines
The Competition Commission of India slapped a total penalty of more than Rs. 54 crore on Jet Airways, Inter Globe Aviation and Spice Jet for unfair business practices with respect to fixing fuel surcharge on cargo transport.
Passing an order on the same complaint for the second time in nearly three years, the watchdog has directed the airlines to “cease and desist” from anti-competitive practices.
A fine of ₹39.81 crore has been imposed on Jet Airways while penalties on Inter Globe and Spice Jet are Rs. 9.45 crore and Rs. 5.10 crore respectively.

India-China trade hits a record $84.4 billion
The India-China bilateral trade has reached $84.44 billion last year, a historic high, notwithstanding bilateral tensions over a host of issues, including the Doklam standoff.
A rare novelty of the bilateral trade, otherwise dominated by the Chinese exports, was about 40% increase of Indian exports to China in 2017 totalling to $16.34 billion.
The bilateral trade in 2017 rose by 18.63% year-on-year to reach $84.44 billion. This is regarded as a landmark; as the volume of bilateral trade for the first time touched $80 billion, well above the $71.18 billion registered last year.
The trade touched a historic high despite bilateral tensions over a number of issues including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China blocking India’s efforts to bring about a UN ban on J-e-M leader Masood Azhar, Beijing blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as the Doklam standoff.
The bilateral trade stagnated around $70 billion for several years, despite leaders of both nations setting a $100 billion target for 2015.

U.S. move to hike import duty on steel distorts local markets: ISA
The proposal by the Trump Administration to levy a steep tariff on steel imports will encourage steel-surplus nation to divert their exports to “vibrant consumption centres like India and distort domestic markets considerably,'' asserted the Indian Steel Association (ISA).
India is the third largest producer of steel and produces 12 per cent of the world's non-Chinese production of steel, it has only a 2.7 per cent share in the U.S. imports.
ISA also pointed to the fact that there were a total of 16 trade remedies in place in the U.S. against Indian steel companies. This included 10 anti-dumping and 6 countervailing duties. All these had made it nearly impossible to export to the U.S.

March 8

Direct tax mop up rises 19.5% in April - February
Direct tax collections have risen 19.5% to Rs. 7.44 lakh crore in the April - February period of the current fiscal, buoyed by a strong pick up in corporate tax.
The net direct tax collection represents 74.3% of the Rs. 10.05 lakh crore targets as per the revised estimates given in Union Budget 2018-19, presented in Parliament last month.
The provisional figures of direct tax collections up to February, 2018 show that net collections are at Rs. 7.44 lakh crore which is 19.5% higher than the net collections for the corresponding period of last year.
The gross collections, before adjusting for refunds, rose 14.5% to Rs. 8.83 lakh crore during the 11-month period of the current financial year. The growth rate for net corporate tax collections stood at 19.7% while for personal income tax is 18.6%.

HC rejects RCom plea against NCLT order
In a setback to Reliance Communications (RCom), the Bombay High Court dismissed its appeal against an arbitration order which “restrained” the sale or transfer of the Telco’s assets without prior permission.
This may further delay RCom’s plans to sell assets to Reliance Jio for Rs. 25,000 crore a deal that was to be closed by this month end.
RCom’s network, had filed the insolvency petition in September 2017, seeking total dues of Rs. 1,150 crore, an amount disputed by RCom.

March 9

Blue Star to set up two new plants, invest Rs. 350 crore
Air-conditioning and commercial refrigeration major Blue Star Ltd. is planning a 50% increase in its capital expenditure for setting up two new plants and for making certain adjustments.
As part of the new manufacturing footprint, our investment is set to raise from Rs. 210 crore to Rs. 350 crore, The investment is for setting up new plants in Jammu and Sri City in Andhra Pradesh and for shifting water coolers’ facility from Himachal Pradesh to Wada.
The vision was to garner 15% market share by 2021 from the present 11.5%. This would be done by picking up States in which it does not have good market share, roll out new models to fill the price-point gap and make investment in research and development.
Blue Star has 150 exclusive stores in the country and it plans to increase it to 200 by end of fiscal 2019.

Govt. to split Air India debt ahead of stake sale: Sinha
India will transfer part of Air India’s $8.5 billion debt pile to a special purpose vehicle before selling a stake in the state-owned carrier, its Minister of State for Civil Aviation.
The government had already decided to split the debt into sustainable and unsustainable debt. The unsustainable part will be with the special purpose vehicle (SPV) the sidelines of an event in Mumbai.
The government had proposed transferring non-aviation assets and up to ₹300 billion in short-term loans into a separate company.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet gave the go-ahead last year to sell the loss-making flagship airline, after successive governments spent billions of dollars in recent years to keep it solvent. But its debt burden and bloated cost structure have been a concern.

Ljungstrom opens air preheater facility
New York-based Ljungstrom, a division of ARVOS Group which offers solutions for thermal power plants and industrial facilities, commissioned a $7 million state-of-the-art air preheater manufacturing facility at Mahindra World City, near Chennai.
This is our seventh global manufacturing facility. They have opened this new unit, after closing down smaller facilities in Shahabad, Karnataka and Maraimalai Nagar, Chennai and moving out the operations to the new facility.
Spread across 12,000 sq.mtrs, the new facility is dedicated to heating element manufacturing, quality, testing and inspection. It will have a production capacity of 16,000 tons per annum.

March 10

E-Way Bill from April 1, GSTR-3B extended till June
Businesses will continue to file summary sales return GSTR-3B till June as the GST Council extended the present system of return-filing by three months.
Briefing reporters after the GST Council meeting, electronic way or e-way bill for movement of goods between States will be implemented from April 1.
However, for intra-State movement the e-way bill would be rolled out in a phased manner beginning April 15 and will cover all the States by June 1.
The Council could not decide on a simplified GST return form and entrusted the ministerial panel under Sushil Modi to chalk out a single-page form which is simpler and evasion-proof.
Besides, tax exemptions to exporters have also been extended by six months, till September.

SEBI takes up 116 cases to probe violation of securities law during FY17-18
Regulator SEBI has taken up as many as 116 cases to probe alleged violation of securities law including market manipulation and price rigging. The cases were related to market manipulation, price rigging, insider trading, takeover violations and illegal collective investment schemes.
During 2017-18 (till December last year), as many as 116 cases were taken up for investigation compared to 256 in the preceding financial year, 179 in 2015-16 and 135 in 2014-15, the minister noted.
Of these cases, a total of 36 matters related to market manipulation and price rigging, illegal CIS (14) and insider trading (9). In a separate reply, Minister of State for Corporate Affairs P.P.Chaudhary, that SEBI has mandated listed companies to appoint at least one women director.
As on March 2017, 1,664 out of 1,728 active companies listed on NSE and 3,945 out of 4,107 listed on BSE have appointed women directors, he added.

Bharti Airtel plans to raise up to Rs. 3,000 crore
Telecom major Bharti Airtel plans to raise up to Rs. 3,000 crore through non-convertible debentures for refinancing debt and meeting spectrum liabilities.
A meeting of committee of directors is to inter-alia consider and subject to market and other conditions, issue listed, unsecured, rated, redeemable, non-convertible debentures (NCDs Series I and II) on private placement basis aggregating up to Rs. 3,000 crore.
It is clarified that the Company is seeking approvals in the usual course of business. Any funds raised under such approvals, if granted, are to be used for routine treasury activities including refinancing of debt and spectrum liabilities.
As on December 31, 2017, the company’s consolidated net debt stood at Rs. 91,714 crore. Shares of Bharti Airtel closed 0.19 per cent higher at Rs. 401.95 apiece on BSE.

March 11

CSO projects the growth of GDP to be 6.6 per cent in 2017-18
As per the Second Advance estimates released by Central Statistics Office (CSO) the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to be 6.6 per cent in 2017-18.
According to the Reserve Bank of India, there is no shortage of systemic liquidity. As mentioned in the sixth bi-monthly statement “The liquidity in the system continues to be in surplus mode.
Moving steadily towards neutrality. The weighted average call rate (WACR) traded 12 basis points (bps) below the repo rate during December-January as against 15 bps below the repo rate in November.
Reserve Bank injected average daily net liquidity of Rs. 388 billion into the system. For December as a whole, however, the Reserve Bank absorbed Rs. 316 billion (on a net daily average basis).

Digital transactions could reach Rs. 1 lakh crore by value by 2025: Report
India could witness around Rs 1 lakh crore worth of digital transactions every year with more than 80% of the transactions happening digitally, mainly being driven by higher adoption of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Transactions 2025 released by digital payments company AGS Transact in collaboration with ACI Worldwide.
The report further goes on to highlight that there could be 3 billion connected devices by 2025 and merchant adoption of payments to go up by 10 folds.
While on one hand digital payments will go up so will cyber security risks and the cost of managing the attacks could rise to $20 billion from around $4 billion currently, predicts the report.
India is undergoing an incredible transformation driven by the rapid digitalization of payments. The findings of our new research reinforce our view that flexible, scalable and reliable technology will be critical to the future of payments in India as the market continues to experience incredible growth.

India on its way recovering from demonetisation disruptions: IMF
The Indian economy now seems to be on its way to recovering from disruptions caused by demonetization and roll-out of goods and services tax.
The IMF has underscored the significance of reforms in other key sectors like education, health and improving the efficiency of the banking and financial systems.
The economy expanding by 7.2 per cent in the latest quarter, India has regained the title of the fastest-growing major economy. Calling this development a “welcome change”.
The Indian economy would benefit from further reforms, such as enhancing health and education, encouraging private and public investment, and improving the efficiency of the banking and financial system.

U.S. tariffs: India must raise dispute at WTO
India should drag the United States into the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) dispute mechanism against the latter’s move to hike import duties on steel and aluminium, as the decision will impact exports and is not in compliance with the global trade norms.
The decision of the U.S. would not only impact India’s export of these goods to America but also affect global trade, Biswajit Dhar, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Such decisions are protectionist in nature. India needs to approach the WTO against this move as it would severely hit global trade.

March 12

IIP quickens to 7.5%, inflation softens
Industrial activity accelerated in January to 7.5% on the back of strong manufacturing growth and a rebound in the consumer durables sector.
Retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), eased to 4.4% in February, following two months of figures above 5%.
Growth in the Index of Industrial Production quickened to 7.5% in January from 7.07% in December. The manufacturing sector saw growth quickening marginally to 8.7% in January from 8.4% in the previous month.
Electricity also saw growth accelerating to 7.6% from 4.43% in December.
Growth in infrastructure and construction quickened slightly to 6.8% in January from 6.68% in the previous

Bharti board gives nod to raise up to $1 billion
The country’s largest telecom services provider Bharti Airtel board had approved raising up to Rs. 16,500 crore through a mix of non-convertible debentures and foreign currency bonds, to be used for refinancing of debt and payment of spectrum liabilities.
In a communiqué to the stock exchanges, Bharti Airtel board of directors, approved ''issuance of non-convertible debentures (NCDs) of up to Rs. 10,000 crore on a private placement basis in such tranches / series and at such rates as may be approved from time to time on cumulative basis along with all NCDs issued by the company; and issuance of foreign currency bonds up to a limit of $1 billion or equivalent in one or more tranches''.
Any funds, if raised from the issuance of aforesaid debt securities, shall be used for routine treasury activities, including refinancing of existing debt and spectrum liabilities.

March 13

HAL fixes IPO price at Rs. 1,215 - Rs. 1,240
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., a Navratna Public Sector Undertaking, will open its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on March 16, 2018, at a price band of Rs. 1,215 to Rs. 1,240 per equity share of face value of Rs. 10 each.
The IPO is an offer of sale by the President of India acting through the Department of Defence Production of Government of India. At the upper price band, the issue size is estimated at Rs. 4,229 crore and all the money will go to the government exchequer.
The company which is into 77 years of operation, is profitable and has been paying dividend for the last 40 years. For the financial year 2017 the company reported net profit of Rs. 2,624 crore on revenues of Rs. 17,951 crore. For the six months ended September 30, 2017 the company reported a net profit of Rs. 391 crore on revenues of Rs. 5,172 crore.
Over 90% of the revenue of the company comes from Indian defence customers which include Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Army and Coast Guard. The company has order in hand of Rs. 68,460 crore.

Vedanta to pay Rs. 8,091 crore dividend
Vedanta Limited has decided to pay an interim dividend of Rs. 21 per equity share implying a dividend of 2,120% on a face value of Rs. 1 per share. This will entail a total dividend payout of Rs. 8,091 crore to both its equity and preference shareholders.
The record date for the purpose of payment of dividend is March 21, 2018. The total payout is Rs. 7,881 crore, being the highest ever dividend payout by the company in a financial year.
Vedanta’s board has also approved the dividend at the rate of 7.5% p.a. for Financial Year 2017-18 on preference shares of Rs. 3,010 crore issued and allotted on April 28, 2017 due to merger of Cairn India with Vedanta Limited.
The company has also appointed former SEBI chairman U.K. Sinha as a non-executive independent director. Vedanta shares rose 1.2% on the BSE to close at Rs. 320.85 in a weak Mumbai market.

March 14

Boeing inks pact with Tata's TAL to make beams for Dreamliners
US aviation major Boeing and TAL Manufacturing Solutions (TAL), a Tata group company signed a new contract to manufacture advanced composite floor beams for Boeing's 787-9/10 Dreamliners at the latter's dedicated facility in Nagpur.
Boeing and various Tata group companies are already manufacturing aero structures for the aircraft maker's commercial and military planes.
This new contract for ACF beams for the B 787-9 and 787-10 planes is a reaffirmation of our commitment to India, Boeing India president Pratyush Kumar Boeing has provided advanced technology to support this partnership, and closely worked with TAL.
TAL recently delivered the 13,000th floor beam to 787 fuselage suppliers from its Mihan SEZ-based manufacturing facility for Boeing in Nagpur, the release added.

India’s growth to speed to 7.3%: World Bank
The World Bank in its India Economic Update has predicted India's economy to grow at 6.7% in the current financial year, which is set to accelerate to 7.3% in 2018-19 and 7.5% in 2019-20.
The Central Statistics Office predicted GDP growth to be 6.6% in the current financial year.
The key takeaways about the Indian economy are that it is steadily growing, and it is growth where volatility has significantly decreased. Another factor is that growth is not being led any single factor, and is instead being driven by a number of factors such as exports, consumption, and investment.
Yet another highlight is the resilience of India’s growth. Despite shocks such as the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, and demonetization, the growth path is back on trend.

BHEL secures order worth Rs. 736 crore from NPCIL
Bharat Heavy Electricals has secured a significant order worth Rs. 736 Crore for supply of Steam Generators from Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). The order has been received against competitive bidding.
The Steam Generators will be used for a 700 MWe Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) to be installed at Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojna (GHAVP) in Fatehabad district of Haryana. The Steam Generators will be manufactured at the Tiruchirappalli plant of BHEL.
BHEL has been a pioneer in the design and development of Nuclear Steam Generators along with NPCIL and has so far supplied 38 Steam Generators for various Nuclear power installations in the country.

March 15

Trade deficit narrows to 5 month low
Country's trade deficit narrowed to $12 billion in February, its lowest in five months, amid concern that a global trade war could hit its exports because of US President Donald Trump's decision to hike import taxes on steel and aluminum.
Merchandise exports are expected to touch $300 billion in the current fiscal year ending this month compared with $275.8 billion, mainly driven by a rise in commodity prices and strong demand in the US and Europe.
February merchandise exports were $25.8 billion while imports were $37.8 billion, Rita Teaotia, a top trade ministry official.
In the first 11 months of the fiscal year merchandise exports were up 11% to $273.7 billion from a year ago while imports rose 21% to $416.9 billion.

India likely to push for dropping ‘Asian premium’ on oil prices
India is likely to lobby heavily for an end to the discriminatory Asian premium on oil prices and a responsible price mechanism, as it prepares to host a major conference for oil producing and consuming countries.
Addressing a curtain raiser for diplomats of countries that are expected to send delegations for the International Energy Forum (IEF) April 10-12. Mr. Pradhan promised a “new roadmap” for the world during the IEF, especially given the oil price fluctuations.
Key Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) including Saudi Arabia, and Iran’s petroleum ministers, will attend the conference said officials handling the programme.
The IEF represents 90% of world consumption and production of oil and gas. All 92 member countries of the IEF are expected to send delegations, with about 40 participating at a ministerial level.

US challenges India's export subsidy program at WTO
India with reciprocal taxes, the US has challenged practically almost the entire of India’s export programmes. It has filed a complaint at the WTO about India’s export subsidy programmes claiming them to harm American workers.
These programmes are the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme; Export Oriented Units Scheme and sector specific schemes, including Electronics Hardware Technology Parks Scheme; Special Economic Zones; Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme; and a duty free import for exporters programme.
These export subsidy programmes harm American workers by creating an uneven playing field on which they must compete, pegging these subsidies at $7 billion.
The US has sought consultations on the mater in the WTO. Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. If the two are not able to reach a mutually agreed solution through consultations, the US may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel to review the matter.

Post demerger, Arvind targets Rs. 20,000 crore with 4 listed firms
Sanjay Lalbhai-led Arvind Limited announced a revenue target of Rs. 20,000 crore in the next five years with interests spanning textiles, garments, brands, real estate and engineering.
They plan to invest Rs. 1,500 crore in the next three years in Arvind Limited to make it a Rs. 10,000 crore company from Rs. 6000 crore now.
In the brand and retail segment, each brand is growing at the rate of 20% and this business growing to Rs. 9,000 crore in the next five years from Rs. 4,000 crore now.
Arvind is also expanding its garment facilities in Ethiopia and in Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand in India.

March 16

SEBI raises currency derivative trade limit to $100 million
Capital markets regulator raised the exposure limit under exchange-traded currency derivatives trading for residents and FPIs to USD 100 million across all currency pairs involving the Indian rupee.
Domestic clients/FPIs may take long or short positions without having to establish existence of underlying exposure, up to a single limit of USD 100 million equivalent, across all currency pairs involving INR, put together, and combined across all the stock exchanges.
Earlier, there were two different sets of limits based on currency pairs -- USD 15 million for FPIs in USD-INR per exchange, while FPIs were allowed to take long (bought) as well as short (sold) positions in EUR-INR, GBP-INR and JPY-INR pairs, all put together, up to USD 5 million equivalent per exchange.

Rs. 10,000 crore of GST refunds sanctioned: Govt.
The government sought to debunk reports carrying unverified estimates of pending GST refunds, terming these figures highly speculative and mostly inaccurate.
Rs. 10,000 crore of refunds had been sanctioned by the Central Board of Excise and Customs and the States, although it did not mention the quantum of the remaining amount.
It has been noticed that at regular intervals, unverified estimates of pending GST refunds on account of exports are published in the print media or put forward by various trade bodies.

Higher trade deficit pushes up Q3 current account deficit to $13.5 billion
The current account deficit (CAD) rose to 2% of the GDP or $13.5 billion in the December quarter, up from $8 billion or 1.4% in the year-ago period, on the back of higher trade deficit.
The CAD, which shows the difference between foreign exchange earned and spent, stood at $7.2 billion or 1.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the preceding September quarter.
The widening of the CAD on a year-on-year basis is primarily due to a higher trade deficit which rose to $44.1 billion in the reporting quarter due to a larger increase in merchandise imports relative to exports.
On a cumulative basis, CAD more than doubled to 1.9% of GDP in the April-December 2017 period from 0.7% in the corresponding period of 2016-17 due to wider trade deficit, which increased to $118.9 billion from $82.7 billion.

REC launches USD 300 mln dollar-dominated bonds
Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd. (REC) has unveiled an issue of $300 million (Rs. 1,949 crore) through 10-year dollar-denominated bonds carrying an interest of 4.625%.
Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd. has launched an issue of USD 300,000,000 at 4.625 per cent. Notes will mature on March 22, 2028, and all the principal and interest payments will be made in US dollars.

L&T arm gets Rs. 2,864 crore corridor deal
A subsidiary of Larsen and Toubro Ltd. has landed a contract worth Rs. 2,864 crore from the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL)
L&T Construction’s Transportation Infrastructure Business has been awarded the contract for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor.
The EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) order involves construction of 222 km of a single-track corridor from Khurja to Pilkhani in Uttar Pradesh. The order was secured against stiff competition from five other major EPC firms.

March 17

Sandhar Technologies raises Rs 154 crore from anchor investors
Auto component maker Sandhar Technologies has raised Rs. 154 crore from anchor investors.
It has allotted 46,30,842 shares to 15 anchor investors at a price of Rs. 332 per scrip, garnering Rs. 153.74 crore.
Among the anchor investors are DSP BlackRock Small Cap Fund, ICICI Prudential and SBI Equity Savings Fund.

Zee Entertainment calls off acquisition of 9x Media, INX Music
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) proposed acquisition of two media entities, 9X Media Pvt. Ltd. and INX Music Pvt. Ltd., has been called off due to non-completion of certain material conditions.
Last year, the company announced it would acquire 100% stake in 9X Media and INX Music in a Rs. 160 crore cash deal.

March 18

Anti-dumping duty imposed on Ofloxacin imports from China
India has imposed anti-dumping duty on import of Chinese pharma product, used in the treatment of certain infections, to protect domestic producers from below-cost shipments.
The duty on import of ‘Ofloxacin’ from China will be in the range of $2.58 to $9.48 per kg for three years.
Countries carry out anti-dumping probe to determine whether their domestic industries have been hurt because of a surge in imports which are below the cost of producing them. As a counter measure, they impose duties under the multilateral regime of WTO.
The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level-playing field for domestic producers with regard to foreign producers and exporters.

Only 16% of initial GST returns filed for July-Dec matched with final returns
With only 16% of the summary sales returns under GST matching with the final returns, the revenue department has started to analyse major gaps with a view to check any possible tax evasion.
GST returns data between July and December showed, 34% of businesses paid Rs. 8.16 lakh crore to the exchequer by filing GSTR-3B, whereas an analysis of their GSTR-1 data showed that their tax liability should have been Rs. 8.50 lakh crore.

E-wallet will address GST refund issue of exporters
Introduction of e-wallet mechanism will effectively address the woes of exporters who have been complaining of delays in the refund of taxes under the GST regime.
Under the e-wallet mechanism, a notional credit would be transferred to exporters’ accounts based on their past record and the credit can be used to pay taxes on inputs.

March 19

UN launches $951 million appeal for Rohingya refugees
United Nations agencies and NGO partners have released a 2018 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis, with a $951 million appeal to meet the urgent needs of nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees.
Announcing the appeal before the media at the UN in Geneva, it also applies to more than 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities hosting the refugees from Myanmar.
The 2018 appeal for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis was launched by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, IOM Director General William Swing and the UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo.
Over 16 million liters of safe water are needed every day for the Rohingya refugee population, adding that some 12,200 metric tons of food are required every month and at least 180,000 refugee families need cooking fuel.

BHEL commissions 1st unit of Kishanganga hydro project in Jammu & Kashmir
State-run power equipment maker BHEL has commissioned first unit of 110 MW of the Kishanganga hydro-electric project (HEP) of NHPC in Jammu and Kashmir.
Located on the river Kishanganga, a tributary of the Jhelum in Bandipora district, all the three units of the 340 MW project will generate 1,350 million units (MU) of clean electricity annually.
BHEL was entrusted with execution of the Electro-Mechanical (E&M) package for the project comprising design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of Vertical Shaft Pelton Turbines and matching synchronous Generators, Controls & Monitoring (SCADA) System along with electrical and mechanical auxiliaries.
In J&K, BHEL has so far commissioned 31 Hydro sets with a cumulative capacity of 1,257 MW. It is executing hydroelectric projects of more than 2,900 MW in the country and 2,940 MW in Bhutan which are at various stages of implementation.

F-16 jet production in India will be exclusive: Lockheed
The plan to set up a F-16 jet production unit in India will be an "exclusive" proposition that will help the country in achieving its operational needs as well as the 'Make in India' initiative.
As India continues to shop around to add new fighter jets into its air force, Lockheed Martin has offered to relocate its entire production line to India.
The F-16 gives the Indian industry a unique opportunity to be at the centre of the world's largest fighter aircraft ecosystem. Lall claimed the offer from Lockheed is cost advantageous for India.
The F-16 remains the backbone of the US Air Force, the world's most capable air force.

Binani seeks to end insolvency proceedings in cement arm
Binani Cements promoter Binani Industries Limited (BIL), has decided to seek termination of its insolvency proceedings at the the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), after Ultra Tech Cement agreed to buy out the promoters’ stake in Binani Cement for Rs. 7,266 crore.
This development comes after the Committee of Creditors approved Dalmia Bharat’s Rs. 6,700-crore bid to buy Binani Cement. The idea of IBC is to maximise value for all stakeholders. The NCLT has powers to keep the corporate debtor out of the IBC process, if all liabilities are paid.

March 20

US bans use of Venezuela's new petro currency
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order making it illegal for Americans to purchase any crypto currency issued by Venezuela.
The order prohibits US entities from engaging in any financial transactions involving the Venezuelan state digital currency, the Petro, and builds upon the one that the President signed in August 2017.
Specifically, this executive order prohibits transactions and dealings in the Petro and Petro gold, as well as any similar future efforts by the Maduro regime to issue a digital currency, digital coin, or digital token by US persons or within the US.
At face value, the Petro is a scam ripe for exploitation by corrupt regime insiders seeking to defraud international investors and ordinary Venezuelans. Investing in the Petro should be viewed as directly supporting this dictatorship and its attempts to undermine democratic order in Venezuela.

India signs double taxation avoidance pact with Hong Kong
India and Hong Kong signed a bilateral double taxation avoidance treaty to curb evasion and promote flow of investment.
The Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion will stimulate flow of investment, technology and personnel from India to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and vice versa.
Under Section 90 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, India can enter into an agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for avoidance of double taxation of income, for exchange of information for the prevention of evasion.
The double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) will give protection against double taxation to over 1,500 Indian companies and businesses that have a presence in Hong Kong as well as to Hong Kong-based companies providing services in India.

Govt. scraps sugar export tax to boost exports, cut inventory.
India has scrapped a 20 per cent sugar export tax, a government source, to help boost overseas sales in a year of surplus production.
The country is likely to produce a record 29.5 million tonnes of sugar, up 45 per cent from the previous year, pulling down local prices more than 15 per cent over the past six months.
Pakistan, which has decided to give subsidies for sugar exports, is selling the sweetener at $340 per tonne, a price India would find difficult to match.
India's current domestic price for sugar is $460 a tonne, free on board. In late January, Pakistan increased the amount of sugar eligible for export subsidies to 2 million tonnes from 500,000 tonnes to reduce its own excess supplies.

EESL acquires U.K. energy firm Edina for Rs. 493 crore.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has acquired Edina, a supplier, installer and maintenance provider for combined heat and power (CHP), gas and diesel power generation solutions in the U.K. for £55 million (₹493 crore).
The acquisition, a first-of-its-kind by an entity under the Ministry of Power, was made through EESL’s U.K. subsidiary, EnergyPro Assets Limited (EPAL).
Leveraging Edina’s unique bespoke approach with our business models for scaling energy efficiency solutions across international borders.
Edina, with more than 30 years of experience, commands 27% of the gas engine market share and has revenue of £100 million.

March 21

Amazon vaults ahead of Google parent Alphabet in market value for the first time.
Amazon.com Inc. vaulted ahead of internet rival Alphabet Inc. in market value for the first time, a sign of growing investor optimism about the prospects for the world’s largest online retailer as it reaches into new markets such as groceries, health insurance and consumer devices.
Shares of the Seattle-based e-commerce giant rose 2.7 per cent at the close in New York, giving it a market capitalization of US $768 billion. That made it the world’s second-most valuable publicly traded company behind Apple Inc. Google parent Alphabet was little changed, putting its value at US $762.6 billion.
The shift underscores the value that investors see in Amazon’s e-commerce hub, which draws 196 million unique visitors a month and keeps offering new products and services.
Google still dominates digital advertising. Despite Alphabet’s ventures into fields like self-driving cars and biotechnology, Google ads, a US $95.4 billion business last year, still accounts for 86 percent of total sales.

India hands over 18 high-end diesel locos to Myanmar.
India handed over the 18th diesel-electric locomotive to Myanmar, thereby completing the first project under the current Indian line of credit (LoC) to the eastern neighbor.
These 18 locos are fitted with the microprocessor control based system. 1350 HP AC/DC main line diesel locomotives with a maximum speed of 100 KM PH have been customised for the Myanmar Railways, built by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi.
Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain attended the formal handing over ceremony of 18th AC-DC 1350 HP diesel-electric locomotive to Myanmar Railways, supplied by RITES and manufactured by Diesel Locomotive Works.
Speaking at the occasion, Gohain expressed satisfaction on the close cooperation between the two railway systems on regular basis since last 20 years.

IOC starts doorstep delivery of diesel.
State-owned Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) has launched home-delivery of diesel on a pilot basis in Pune and plans to expand doorstep delivery of the fuel to other parts of the country in near future.
The country's biggest oil company has mounted a diesel dispenser, similar to the one seen at petrol pumps, on a midsized truck along with a storage tank for delivering the fuel at customer’s doorsteps in Pune.
Initially, the company is targeting 'static customers' like shopping malls and commercial establishments that use diesel in gensets for producing electricity, and transport companies with large diesel consumption.
Like IOC, other two state-owned fuel retailers, Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) too have got PESO approval for a trial run of doorstep diesel delivery.

US slaps anti-dumping duty on Chinese, Indian steel flanges.
The Trump Administration has decided to slap anti-dumping duty on the stainless steel flanges imported from China and India after it found in its preliminary probe that both the countries had provided subsidies to the exporters.
In January, the US had slapped anti-dumping duty on finer denier polyester staple fibre from China and India after the Department of Commerce found that exporters from both the countries received subsidies of 41.73 to 47.55 per cent and 9.50 to 25.28 percent, respectively.
The Department of Commerce has found that exporters from China and India have sold stainless steel flanges in the US at 257.11 per cent and 18.10 to 145.25 per cent less than fair value, respectively.
The commerce department will instructed the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) to collect cash deposits from importers of the stainless steel flanges from China and India, based on these preliminary rates.

March 22

MCX to launch world's first Brass Futures Contract.
Multi Commodity Exchange of India announced the launch of Brass futures contract at an event organised in Jamnagar (Gujarat). The exchange will commence futures trading in brass, marking the first time that a Brass Futures contract will be traded on an organised exchange anywhere in the world.
Brass futures will not only provide its stakeholders with a more organised and robust price discovery platform, but will also help them to use a national level benchmark price as a ready reference to enable them to mitigate their price risk.
Three contracts ending in April, May and June 2018 will be available for trading. The lot size of the contract is 1 MT (metric tonne). Significantly, a MCX Brass future is the first non-ferrous contract with compulsory delivery option.
The price is quoted ex-warehouse Jamnagar (basis centre) inclusive of taxes and duties, excluding GST. The ingots and billets are of IS-319 grade.

Autonomous food inspection start-up AgShift raises $2 million.
AgShift, a tech start-up had raised $2 million in a funding round led by Exfinity Ventures. The California-based firm is the world’s first autonomous food inspection system leveraging deep learning and computer vision, to reduce global food waste.
Miku Jha, founder and CEO of AgShift, inconsistent and subjective inspections result in a loss of $15.6 billion a year for the organisations responsible. AgShift can make a huge impact on reducing 1.3 billion tons of annual food loss and waste - a complex, real-world challenge for everyone.
The firm is currently working with a select group of food industry leaders to bring their innovative solution to market. The firm is software blends patented deep learning models with computer vision to make food inspections autonomous, consistent and standardised at scale.

March 23

China unveils list of potential retaliatory tariffs on US goods.
China released a list of potential tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. goods, from pork to fruits and wine that it could impose in retaliation to new U.S. trade sanctions.
The commerce ministry warned in a statement that a 15 per cent tariff on a first batch of goods worth almost $1 billion - including fresh fruit, nuts and wine - would be imposed if the United States fails to reach a negotiated agreement.
It would be a major blow to US farmers, as a third of their soybean exports go to China, which totaled $14 billion last year.
President Donald Trump hit China with tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports to retaliate against the “theft” of American intellectual property, fuelling fears of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

ISRO–BHEL Tie up for the Production of Space Grade Lithium-Ion Cells
State-run power equipment maker BHEL entered into a technology transfer agreement with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the manufacturing of space-grade lithium-ion cells of various capacities.
BHEL will utilise technology developed by ISRO at its Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
The ISRO has so far been sourcing space-grade lithium-ion cells from foreign vendors and BHEL has been assembling and testing space-grade lithium-ion batteries with such imported cells, for satellites and launch vehicles of ISRO.
This transfer of technology will enable BHEL to manufacture lithium-ion cells in-house for ISRO and other suitable applications.

Flipkart invests Rs. 518 crore in PhonePe
Digital payments start-up PhonePe has received a funding of Rs. 518 crore from its parent firm Flipkart, a homegrown online retail giant.
Number of securities allotted in the form of equity shares were 24,56,066. Flipkart had committed $500 million investment towards PhonePe. It was going to surpass Rs. 80,000 crore in total payment volume (TPV) annual run rate by March this year.
PhonePe had done 28 million transactions. The firm found out that Paytm’s average transaction value was less than Rs. 40, while PhonePe’s average transaction value was over Rs. 1,800.
The digital payments space in India is expected to rise fivefold to reach $1 trillion by 2023 and it would be led by the growth in mobile payments. In February, online retail giant Amazon invested Rs. 195 crore in its digital payments arm Amazon Pay (India) Private Limited.

March 24

Reliance Jio, Saavn to create $1 billion digital music platform.
In a deal led by Reliance Jio Director Akash Ambani, Reliance Industries today signed an agreement for merging the digital music service Saavn with JioMusic to create a digital media platform with global reach having total value of over $1 billion.
Reliance Industries executed definitive agreements for JioMusic’s merger with Saavn. The combined entity is valued at over $1 billion, with JioMusic’s implied valuation at $670 million.
Reliance will also invest up to $100 million, out of which rupee equivalent of $20 million will be invested upfront, for growth and expansion of the platform into one of the largest streaming services in the world.
Reliance will be acquiring a partial stake from the existing shareholders of Saavn for $104 million. The shareholder base of Saavn includes Tiger Global Management, Liberty Media and Bertelsmann among others.

Telangana slashes VAT on aviation fuel
In a move that could boost the growth of the aviation sector, the Telangana Government has slashed VAT on aviation turbine fuel to 1 per cent from 16 per cent.
KT Rama Rao, State Industries and IT Minister announced the slashing of the VAT on ATF at the GMR Group event where 10 years of Hyderabad airport was being celebrated.
The Minister also announced the Government plans to set up a logistics hub and a dry port near the airport and transform it into a multi modal transport hud.
Government move to develop a Rs 4,650 crore expressway to Hyderabad within two years by providing State's support.

Venezuela to eliminate three zeros from currency
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has decided to eliminate three zeros off the country's inflation-ridden currency, the bolivar, taking effect from June 4, as an economic measure to "guarantee commercial activities".
The new monetary denomination, which replaces the one he established in January 2017, will help the government fight the "economic war of financial persecution.
500 bolivars, the new maximum denomination of the country's bills, amount to only $0.01, the official exchange rate of 43,980 bolivars per one dollar.
Venezuela's new set of monetary denomination will consist of two coins, one of 0.50 cents of a bolivar ($0.00001) and the other of one bolivar ($0.00002).

March 25

Uber agrees to sell Southeast Asia business to Grab after costly battle
Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc. has agreed to sell its Southeast Asian business to bigger regional rival Grab.
Uber will take a 27.5% stake in the Southeast Asian company and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab's board.
Uber, which is preparing for a potential initial public offering in 2019, lost $4.5 billion last year and is facing fierce competition at home and in Asia, as well as a regulatory crackdown in Europe.

Govt. may exceed Rs 10 lakh cr farm credit target once again.
The Centre could exceed the farm credit target of Rs. 10 lakh crore budgeted for 2017-18 financial as around Rs 6 lakh crore has already been disbursed in the first six months.
This also indicates that in 2018-19 Budget, the government might fix a higher target of farm credit disbursal a trend which has been followed since the last several years.
In 2016-17, the government had targeted to distribute Rs. 9 lakh crore as farm credit while the actual disbursal was almost 118.42 per cent more at Rs. 10.65 lakh crore.
Though, the actual disbursal of farm credit has been exceeding the targeted limits since the last few years, but how much of this actually goes for the benefit of small and marginal farmers remains to be seen.

March 26

Economy to double to $5 trillion by 2025, no risk to inflation target: Finance ministry.
India is on track to double the size of its economy to $5 trillion by 2025, while asserting that the inflation target set by the Reserve Bank will not be breached.
The country is well poised to click a growth rate of 7-8 per cent and with focus on start-ups, MSMEs and infrastructure investment it can step on to higher growth pedestal.
India’s GDP in value terms currently stands at USD 2.5 trillion - making it the sixth largest economy in the world. With regard to inflation, its trajectory is well within the RBI’s target of 4 per cent, plus/minus 2 per cent.
The wholesale price index based inflation fell to a 7 month low of 2.48 per cent. The consumer price based retail inflation was also at 4 month low of 4.44 per cent in February.
How much amount

Government Guarantee for Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) Bonds.
Ministry of Finance has approved Government guarantee of Rs. 5000 crore in the current Financial Year for Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) bonds to be subscribed by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).
Ministry of Railways had entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LIC on 11th March 2015 by which LIC has to provide a financial assistance of Rs. 150000 crore for identified Railway projects from 2015 to 2019.
In terms of aforesaid MoU, IRFC has been raising funds from LIC by issue of bonds having a tenor of 30 years and remitting the funds to Ministry of Railways for construction of Railway projects.
The LIC funds are available to Ministry of Railways at 30 bps above 10 year benchmark yield. The above decision will further ease the flow of borrowed funds for Ministry of Railways to undertake projects.

Govt. to borrow Rs. 2.88 lakh crore in H1, which is 48% of FY19 budget goal.
The government would borrow Rs. 2.88 lakh crore in the April-September period of next fiscal, which is 47.56% of the budgeted gross borrowing. In April-September of the current fiscal, the gross borrowing was Rs. 3.72 lakh crore.
The budgeted gross borrowing through G-secs for fiscal 2018-19 was ₹6.05 lakh crore which would be used to fund the fiscal deficit of 3.3% of GDP.
The government would withdraw up to Rs. 1 lakh crore from the National Small Savings Fund - Rs. 25,000 crore more than in the current financial year - to fund the fiscal deficit. This could reduce the overall market borrowing of the government for the entire fiscal.

March 27

GSK to buy out Novartis from consumer JV for $13 billion
GlaxoSmithKline is buying Novartis out of their consumer healthcare joint venture for $13 billion, taking full control of products including Sensodyne toothpaste, Panadol headache tablets, muscle gel Voltaren, and Nicotinell patches.
GSK’s biggest move since Emma Walmsley became chief executive last year follows the British drugmaker’s decision last week to quit the race to buy Pfizer’s consumer healthcare business, endangering an auction the U.S. company hoped would bring in as much as $20 billion.
Although some pharmaceuticals groups have been keen to hold consumer care products, intense price competition online, mainly from Amazon, as well as cheaper store-brand products, have led others to doubt their stable returns longer-term. The British group’s shares jumped 4.5%, outperforming a 1.8% gain in the STOXX Europe 600 Health Care.

GST collection in February at Rs. 85,174 crore
The total collection under GST (goods and services tax) during the month of February stood at Rs. 85,174 crore.
Around 1.05 crore taxpayers have been registered under GST so far till March 25, 2018. Out of these, 18.17 lakh are composition dealers, who are required to file returns every quarter. The rest are required to file monthly returns.
Further, Rs. 12,140 crore are being transferred from IGST to CGST account and ₹ 13,424 crore from IGST to SGST account by way of settlement of funds on account of cross utilization of IGST credit for payment of CGST and SGST.
Rs. 25,564 crore are being transferred from IGST to CGST/ SGST account by way of settlement. The total collection of CGST and SGST for the month of March, 2018 (up to 26th March) is Rs. 27,085 crore and Rs. 33,880 crore, respectively, including transfers by way of settlement.

Tata Power to sell Tata Communications Stake
The board of Tata Power has approved the sale of its holding in Tata Communications and Panatone Finvest to Tata Sons and its affiliates for Rs. 2,150 crore.
Tata Power holds 4.71% and Panatone Finvest 30.1% in Tata Communications.
The move is a part of the company’s plan to monetise its non-core assets and improves the balance sheet to set the stage for next phase of growth. The estimated realisation will be about Rs. 2,150 crores and is subject to shareholders’ approval.
Shares of Tata Power rose 0.25% to close at ₹79.95 on the BSE, valuing the company at Rs. 21,625 crore.

March 28

NAFED settles debt of Rs. 478 crore
The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation of India (NAFED) has settled its debt worth Rs. 478 crore with eight lender banks.
The cooperative procures oilseeds, pulses, copra and cotton for the government under a price support scheme. The government hopes the one-time settlement will help NAFED to undertake procurement operations more smoothly and effectively.
The Federation had mired itself with a number of controversial businesses conducted with private parties when the borrowings made from banks were diverted to the private associates without proper collateral/securities.
The settlement included cash payment of Rs. 220 crore and assignment of sale rights of one of NAFED’s prime properties at Lawrence Road in New Delhi.

Singapore Airlines to invest $350 million in cabin equipment for large Dreamliners
Singapore Airlines Ltd , the world's first carrier to receive the largest version of the Dreamliner jet, it will invest $350 million to equip its initial 20 aircrafts on order with new cabin products.
Singapore Airlines is the biggest customer for the Boeing Co 787-10 aircraft with 49 on order.
It will offer new fully-flat seats, all with aisle-access in the 787-10 business class cabin. Some services to key corporate markets like Australia, Japan and South Korea have lacked that level of comfort when the airline has used its older regional fleet of Airbus SE A330s and Boeing 777s.

PE investments hit all-time high of $21 billion in 2017
Private equity investments hit an all time high of $21 billion in 2017, recording a 54% jump in value terms over last year, largely driven by big-ticket transactions. The year 2017 was a milestone year for PE investments as 735 transactions were announced.
The significant rise in PE deal values in 2017, despite a 24% decline in number of deals over 2016, signals the revival of big-ticket investments and larger stake acquisitions.
2018 is expected to surpass 2017 in terms of deal activity and overall investment sentiments. When it comes to trends in sector-wise PE investment, e-commerce witnessed the largest year-on-year jump in 2017 with $6 billion worth of investments from 33 deals.
The report further noted that 2017 also saw a surge in IPO activity with 37 issues aggregating over $10.7 billion. The top four IPOs, all in the insurance sector, accounted for 55% of overall IPO equity raised.

March 29

ICICI: lent Videocon Rs. 3,250 crore
ICICI Bank exposure to the Videocon group at Rs. 3,250 crore is less than 10% of the total loans given by a consortium of 20 banks in 2012.
Total loans extended by the lenders’ consortium to the Videocon group, which includes Videocon Industries and 12 subsidiaries is about Rs. 40,000 crore. ICICI Bank was not the lead bank in the lenders’ consortium.
It is important to note that Ms. Chanda Kochhar was not the Chairperson of this Committee. ICICI Bank board reviews the bank’s internal processes for credit approval and finds them robust.
The board also expresses and reposes full faith and confidence in its MD & CEO, Ms. Chanda Kochhar.

SEBI beefs up corporate governance norms for listed companies
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened the corporate governance norms for listed companies by accepting most of the recommendations of the Kotak Committee while also strengthening the regulations for derivatives and algorithmic trading.
At the board meet, the capital market regulator decided to reduce the maximum number of directorship from 10 to seven in a phased manner while expanding the eligibility criteria for such directors.
The regulator has decided to move towards physical settlement for all stock derivatives in a phased manner to "facilitate greater alignment of cash and derivative market''.
For mutual funds, the regulator has brought down the cap for expenses charged for each of the schemes. The maximum limit has been reduced from 20 basis points of the daily net assets of the schemes to 5 basis points.

India's JSW Steel to buy US based Acero Junction for $81 million
India's JSW Steel Ltd agreed to buy Acero Junction Holdings for $80.85 million, as it looks to expand its operations in the United States.
JSW Steel entered into a stock purchase agreement with JSM International Ltd, Acero Junction Holdings Inc and Acero Junction Inc for the acquisition.
The deal comes shortly after the steelmaker's U.S. unit signed an agreement with the Texas governor's office to invest $500 million to build out its operations in Texas, amid heightened global trade tensions following U.S President Donald Trump's decision to pursue steep import tariffs.

Toyota, Suzuki to share hybrid, other models in India
Japanese auto majors Toyota Motor Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporation have concluded a basic agreement for supplying hybrid and other vehicles to each other for the Indian market.
Suzuki will supply premium hatchback Baleno and compact SUV Vitara Brezza to Toyota, while Toyota will supply sedan Corolla to Suzuki.
Details on each model, such as the schedule of the start of supply, number of supplied units, vehicle specifications, and supply pricing, will be considered at a later stage.
They will enhance efforts to procure components locally to the extent possible toward the achievement of the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Air India sale: New owners inherit planes, prime slots and $5 billion of debt
India is selling a controlling stake in its flagship carrier along with two-thirds of the loss-making airline’s about $7.8 billion debt, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi moves ahead with the nation’s most high profile asset sale in decades.
The government will sell 76 per cent of Air India Ltd. The airline’s overseas budget carrier will be completely sold in the offer, while the state will sell a 50 percent stake in the ground handling unit separately.
A successful sale of Air India, which is surviving on taxpayer-funded bailouts, is seen as test case for Modi to burnish his credentials as a reformist attempting to steer the state away from running businesses and boost spending on health and education. The national carrier has five subsidiaries, a joint venture and a combined workforce of as many as 27,000.

March 30

Public issues raise a record Rs. 1.77 lakh crore in 2017-18
The financial year 2017-18 saw a record mobilisation of Rs. 1.77 lakh crore through public issues, which was much higher than the all-time high of Rs. 86,710 crore in 2009-10.
The total money raised in 2017-18 was 3.46 times that of the preceding financial year that saw offerings including initial public offers (IPOs), qualified institutional placements (QIPs), follow-on offers, public bonds worth Rs. 51,120 crore.
In terms of equity IPOs, 2017-18 saw 45 companies raise s. 82,109 crore, again a record in terms of the quantum of funds raised.
The largest IPO of the financial year was that of General Insurance Corporation that raised Rs. 11,257 crore. The average deal size during the period was also high at Rs. 1,825 crore.
As many as 17 IPOs had a prior PE/ VC investment with their total offer for sale component pegged at Rs. 10,831 crore, which was 13% of the total IPO raising.

Ola ‘in talks’ to buy Uber’s India arm
Ride-hailing provider Ola is in talks with Uber to acquire the latter's operations in India.
Ola secured a $2 billion funding from investors such as SoftBank Group Corp. and Tencent Holdings. India's cab-hailing market is estimated at $10 billion. Ola and its rival Uber have been investing in vehicles and technology to stay ahead.
SoftBank wants a successful IPO for Uber, the person. ''When any company or organisation goes for an IPO, what is very important is the financials of that organisation''.
It has a market share of between 60-70% and more than one million driver partners in India. Ola operates in 110 cities and clocks about 2.3 million rides every month.

Canadian pension fund CDPQ invests $20 million in Nandan Nilekani-backed fund
Canadian pension fund La Caisse de depot et placement du Québec (CDPQ) made an initial investment of $20 million in Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani-backed growth Fund.
Designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs, Fundamentum is a scale-up platform for mid-stage technology companies in India.
Fundamentum Partnership - Fund I has a target size of about $100 million. It is expected to invest an average of up to $15 million in select start-ups. The fund will focus on investments in consumer and enterprise technology businesses across retail, logistics, travel and outsourcing.
Fundamentum will combine financial and intellectual capital to scale these businesses. The investment in Fundamentum’s first growth fund (Series B) is a new strategic investment for CDPQ, enabling it to diversify its activities in India, a priority market.

SEBI Allows Physical Settlement of Stock Derivatives
Sharing of co-location facilities for algo trading and introduction of physical settlements for derivatives are the two key decisions market regulator SEBI took at its board meeting.
While physical settlement was necessary to balance cash and derivative market volumes, the need for rationalisation of co-lo facilities was felt after the National Stock Exchange fiasco.
SEBI has accepted most of the recommendations of the Uday Kotak committee, which was set-up to review corporate governance norms of listed companies.
Two decades after it first introduced equity derivatives in India, SEBI has announced the introduction of a ‘physical settlement’ for the segment.

Barclays to pay $2 billion fine for crisis-era fraud: US authorities
British banking giant Barclays has agreed to pay a $2 billion fine to resolve a fraud case involving mortgage derivatives sold in the run-up to the global financial crisis.
The loans underlying the investment vehicles were significantly less creditworthy than Barclays represented and the company intentionally misrepresented key facts about the mortgages involved.
Swiss bank UBS agreed to pay $230 million to New York state, also settling charges the bank had misrepresented the value of mortgages underlying securities sold before the crisis.
After a three-year investigation, federal prosecutors accused Barclays of a fraudulent scheme involving 36 deals in RMBS initially valued at $31 billion.

March 31

Vedanta may take up to $600 million hit from Goa iron ore unit closure
London-listed Vedanta Resources would likely record an impairment charge of up to $600 million following the closure of its iron ore business in India’s southwestern Goa state.
India’s Supreme Court quashed all iron ore mining permits and mining was ordered stopped in Goa, one of the country’s top producing states for the material used in steel.
Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources, the State’s biggest ore miner, there could be a likely impairment of $500-600 million net of taxes, or $700-$800 million gross of taxes, on this account.
The Supreme Court limited production in the State to 20 million tonnes a year. The latest ban would affect not only Vedanta but also several small unlisted companies run by local families.

CIL Q4 output projected at 184 MT
Coal India's production during the current quarter is projected at 184.10 million tonne MT. The production for the full financial year is projected at 568.02 MT, up 2.5 per cent from last year.
The frist quarter saw a negative growth 5.4 per cent at 118.84 MT as against 125.67 MT in the year-ago quarter. In the second quarter, the production was up 8.3 per cent at 113.04, it reached 152.04 MT, registering a growth of 2.9 per cent.
At the end of 2017-18, the total offtake is projected at 580.50 MT as compared to 543.32 MT in 2016-17. The dispatch to power sector is projected at 454.30 MT as against 425.42 MT. Dispatch to non-power sector is seen higher 7 per cent at 126.20 MT.
The position of CIL's coal stock was 38.611 MT as on March 1, 2018. It is expected to be at 54.83 MT on April 1.


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