ECONOMY - 2017 MARCH

March 1

SEBI to tighten algo trading rules.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) plans to further tighten the regulations for algorithmic trading to minimise instances of misuse of such systems that can be used to execute complex trading strategies at a very high speed.
According to SEBI chairman U.K. Sinha while India was one of the few countries in the world to regulate algorithmic trading - popularly called algo trading - the market watchdog is looking to further strengthen the norms so that instances of flash crashes that have happened overseas, and also in India a few times, could be minimised.
Algorithmic trading refers to the use of software programmes to execute trading strategies at a much faster pace. On the National Stock Exchange (NSE), algo trades accounted for close to 16 per cent of all trades. On the BSE, it was 8.56 per cent in January.

CBDT signs 10 more unilateral APAs with taxpayers.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has signed 10 more unilateral advance pricing agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers as it looks to reduce litigation by providing certainty in transfer pricing.
The 10 APAs signed sectors like telecom, pharma, banking and finance, steel, retail and information technology. Two of these 10 agreements are Bilateral APAs with the United Kingdom and Japan. Seven of these agreements have rollback provisions in them.
With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 140. This includes 10 Bilateral APAs and 130 Unilateral APAs. In the current financial year, a total of 76 APAs (7 Bilateral APAs and 61 Unilateral APAs) have already been entered into.
The international transactions covered in these agreements include payment of royalty fee, trading in goods, IT-enabled services, software development services, marketing support services, clinical research services, and payment of interest on ECBs.

Core sector growth slows down to 3.4 per cent in January.
Core sector growth slipped to a five month low in January but remained comfortably in the positive zone. Contraction in the output of refinery products, fertiliser and cement pulled down the index that tracks growth in eight infrastructure sectors.
Data showed the core sector slowed to 3.4 per cent in the month compared with 5.7 per cent in the year-ago period. The eight infrastructure sectors of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity that make up the index have a 38 per cent weight in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
Core sector growth slipped in January 2017 relative to the previous month, as the spike in steel expansion eased to some extent. Additionally, cement, electricity and refinery products recorded some loss of momentum.

March 2

Cognizant buys Japanese firm Brilliant Service.
Cognizant Technology Solutions has acquired Brilliant Service, a Japan-based intelligent products and solutions company.
This will expand its digital transformation portfolio and capabilities to enable clients to build connected and collaborative businesses.
Head-quartered in Osaka, Brilliant specialises in digital strategy, product design and engineering, the Internet of Things, and enterprise mobility.
It helps companies build connected businesses by leveraging innovative smart device solutions. Its clients include many of Japan’s top telecommunications, manufacturing and consumer goods companies.
As part of the acquisition, a team of 70 employees with extensive digital solutions experience and insights in Japanese market will join the US-based software company.

Rs. 16,097 crore Foreign Exchange Earned Through Tourism in January 2017.
Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the month of January 2017 were Rs. 16,097 crore as compared to Rs. 13,669 crore in January 2016 and Rs. 12,100 crore in January 2015.
The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms during January 2017 over January 2016 was 17.8 per cent as compared to the growth of 13.0 per cent in January 2016 over January 2015.
FEEs during the month of January 2017 were Rs. 16,097 crore as compared to Rs. 13,669 crore in January 2016 and Rs. 12,100 crore in January 2015.
The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms during January 2017 over January 2016 was 17.8 per cent as compared to the growth of 13.0 per cent in January 2016 over January 2015.

March 3

Rs. 70,000 crore black money detected so far: Justice Pasayat.
Black money worth Rs. 70,000 crore has been unearthed through different schemes of the government, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed SIT on black money, Justice Arijit Pasayat.
The sixth interim report on it will be submitted to the Supreme Court in April. More than Rs. 16,000 crore of the Rs. 70,000 crore was detected after probe launched into global leaks about Indians stashing funds abroad.
Justice Pasayat held a meeting with officers of several government agencies dealing with economic and financial affairs in Cuttack.
The SIT made several recommendations in the past two years through its interim reports to check generation of black money.

Jindal Stainless, DRDO sign deal on high nitrogen steel.
The DRDO and Jindal Stainless (Hisar) Ltd (JSHL) inked a licence deal for manufacturing High Nitrogen Steel, which has potential application in armoured vehicles, including infantry combat vehicles, the Main Battle Tank, the Future Ready Combat Vehicles (FRCV), as well as aviation and naval systems.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman S. Christopher.
The DMRL is the lead DRDO laboratory for researching complex metals and materials required for modern sophisticated warfare weapons systems.

Altico Capital extends Rs. 370 crore credit line to Sheth group.
Global firm Clearwater Capital Partners-backed Altico Capital has agreed to extend a fresh credit line of up to Rs. 370 crore to Sheth group.
A Mumbai-based realtor with projects in the financial capital’s tony locations and Dubai, signalling renewed interest in real estate activities which are expected to recover from demonetisation impact and pick up pace amid economic optimism.
The loan would be in the form of (nonconvertible) debentures/ bonds in two to three tranches, of which Altico has already disbursed nearly half of the sum. The loan has a tenor of about 15 years with interest rates in the range of 17-17.50 per cent.
The developer will be utilising the funds mainly for the construction of a residentialv project-Project Zuri-in Thane with a development potential of 0.6 million sq ft which will be part of large lay out.

March 4

India's forex reserves rise by $63.7 million to $ 362.793 billion.
India's forex reserves increased by USD 63.7 million to USD 362.79 billion for the week ended February 24 due to surge in currency assets.
Total reserves had declined by USD 56.8 million to USD 362.73 billion in the previous reporting week.
Foreign currency assets (FCAs), a major component of the overall reserves, increased by USD 63.4 million to USD 339.783 billion in the reporting week.
Gold reserves remained unchanged during the week at USD 19.248 billion.
The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund rose by a marginal USD 100,000 to USD 1.444 billion; while India's reserve position with the Fund, too, increased by USD 0.2 million to USD 2.318 billion.

Bitcoin is now worth more than an ounce of gold for the first time ever.
One unit of so-called digital gold is now worth more than an ounce of the real thing.
The price of a single bitcoin US:BTCUSD rose to an all-time high of $1,251., surpassing the price of a single ounce of gold, according to CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index.
Bitcoin traded on certain Chinese exchanges briefly overtook gold in early February. But this is the first time in the digital currency’s eight-year history that it has done so according to most widely used bitcoin-price benchmarks.
The reasons behind Bitcoin's price surge - after its horrendous slump in 2014 - aren't very clear, but one possibility is the market's positive expectations with regards to the U.S. SEC approving the Winklevoss brothers' bitcoin ETF, which would make trading Bitcoin in the U.S. much easier.

Govt approves Rs. 756 crore scheme to treat cataract patients.
With an aim to free India from cataract by 2022, the government has approved a Rs. 756 crore scheme to treat over 700 lakh such patients in the next five years.
Big relief to cataract patients: Modi govt approves scheme of Rs. 756 crore for the treatment of 786 lakh cataract patients in 5 years.
The scheme would render Rs. 2,000 as financial assistance for each operation, including cost of lenses. In addition to it, a mobile application will be developed to bring the government, private doctors, clinics and NGOs together for monitoring the endeavour.
The Health Ministry sources plan to put a stop to blindness among people due to cataract and that giving it a time frame of five years would lead to a "focused approach''.
"This has been a part of the national blindness control programme. However, this particular plan is being drawn up which will make it more focused''.

March 5

Flipkart to hire 20-30 per cent more this year.
E-commerce major Flipkart is looking to hire 20-30 per cent more people in 2017 compared to last year even as rival Snapdeal hands out pink slips to its employees.
The Bengaluru-based firm, which is locked in an intense battle with the US-based Amazon for leadership in the Indian market, will hire most laterals this year.
According to sources, Flipkart hired about 1,500 people last year.
Besides, it hired about 10,000 temporary staffers, mostly in logistics, ahead of festive sales to ensure it can meet the huge jump in demand.
According to research firm RedSeer, the Indian e-tailing industry expanded by a merely 12 per cent in 2016 to clock revenues of USD 14.5 billion compared to a whopping 180 per cent growth in 2015.

IRDAI proposes up to 50 per cent hike in motor insurance premium.
Regulator IRDAI has proposed up to 50 per cent increase in insurance premium for cars, motor cycles as well commercial vehicles from April 1.
However, there is no proposal to increase the third party motor insurance premium for small cars (up to 1,000 cc) from Rs. 2,055 currently.
The hike proposed in mid-segment cars (1,000 - 1,500 cc) as well as bigger cars and SUVs is 50 per cent. The proposal is to increase premium to Rs. 3,355 for cars up to 1,000 cc and Rs. 9,246 for bigger ones.
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irdai) has released exposure draft on premium rates for motor third party insurance covers for the financial year 2017-18 and invited stakeholders comments till March 18.
Similarly, an up to 50 per cent hike in premium rates has been proposed for different categories of goods carrying vehicles.
Irdai also proposes to increase premium rates for e-rickshaw.

China sets 2017 GDP growth target at around 6.5 per cent.
China has set its GDP growth target at around 6.5 per cent for 2017, compared with a target range of 6.5-7 per cent for 2016,
"[China will] pursue better results in actual economic work'', Xinhua news agency quoted the report, The report will be delivered by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening ceremony of the annual session of China's top legislature, the National People's Congress.
The projected target is in line with both economic principles and realities, the report reads, adding that it will help stabilise market expectations and facilitate the country's structural adjustments.
It will also contribute to achieving the goal of finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
An important reason for stressing the need to maintain steady growth is to ensure employment and improve people's lives.

To support women founded startups, Facebook launches SheLeadsTech.
Social networking site Facebook launched a new initiative, SheLeadsTech, to support women-founded or co-founded startups and it will also be expanding its SheMeansBusiness program that supports women-led small businesses.
SheLeadsTech will give women-founded or co-founded start-ups access to a year-long program that provides tools, mentorship and resources.
The announcement which came ahead of Women's Day aim to bring women on board India's digital revolution in a bigger way.
Technology is an enabler for entrepreneurship. It is small and medium business that will create growth if India has to grow along with jobs in the next few years.

March 6

Centre gives nod to sell three SAIL plants.
The Centre has approved outright sale of state-owned SAIL's three special steel units, including the Salem and Alloy Steel plants and Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant.
The 'Maharatna' PSU is scouting for transaction advisers from professional consulting firms, investment bankers and financial institutions to provide advisory services and manage the disinvestment process.
The transaction adviser will advise SAIL on the modalities and timing of the strategic disinvestment of the three steel plants and prepare a detailed operational scheme to successfully implement the process, indicating tentative timelines for each activity.
The firm will also finalise the process of strategic sale as to whether it will be done through bidding or auction and assist SAIL in fixing the range of the fair reserve price, considering the valuation of the divesting plants.

TA Associates, LeapFrog lead Rs. 500 crore funding in Fincare.
A group of marquee financial investors, including TA Associates and Leapfrog have agreed to invest Rs. 500 crore in Fincare, the parent company for DishaMicrofin, as the banking and financial services industry continues to attract long term capital from high profile investors.
The issue involves both primary and secondary infusion and the proceeds would be used for its banking services expansion, The Company is set to launch a small bank in the first quarter of next financial year.
This investment is testament to the scale of the opportunity for financial inclusion india, and underscores the ability of Fincare products to drive significant revenue expansion alongside social impact for india’s infusion will enable to continue to build the infrastructure required to accelerate our growth, in line with our mission to facilitate a lifetime of progress at the base of the pyramid through financial and social inclusion.

March 7

India's GDP to grow by 7.1 per cent in FY17 and 7.7 per cent in next two years: Fitch.
Fitch Ratings expects India's GDP, after taking into account the imact of demonetisation, to grow by 7.1 per cent for FY16-17, before picking up to 7.7 per cent in both FY17-18 and FY18-19.
The global rating agency observed that gradual implementation of the structural reform agenda is expected to contribute to higher growth, as will higher real disposable income, supported by an almost 24 per cent hike in civil servants' wages at the state level.
Referring to official data which showed that year-on-year GDP growth slowed only marginally in 4Q16, to 7 per cent from 7.4 per cent in the previous quarter.

New trade mark rules, 2017 notified.
The Trade Mark Rules, 2017 have been notified and have come into effect from 6th March, 2017. These Rules, which replace the erstwhile Trade Mark Rules 2002, will streamline and simplify the processing of Trade Mark applications.
Some salient features of the revamped Rules are as follows:
Number of Trade Mark (TM) Forms has been reduced from 74 to 8.
To promote e-filing of TM applications, the fee for online filing has been kept at 10 per cent lower than that for physical filing.
Based on stakeholders feedback, the fees for Individuals, Start-ups and Small Enterprises have been reduced from that proposed in the draft Rules – i.e. only Rs. 4,500 as against Rs. 8,000 for e-filing of TM applications proposed at the draft stage.
Modalities for determination of well-known trademarks have been laid out for the first time.
The provisions relating to expedited processing of an application for registration of a trade mark have been extended right upto registration stage (hitherto, it was only upto examination stage).
Over all fees have been rationalized by reducing the number of entries in Schedule I from 88 to just 23.

India announces new licensing policy to boost oil output.
India announced an open acreage licensing policy for oil and gas exploration, allowing bidders to carve out areas where they want to drill as the energy- hungry country looks at greater foreign investment to boost output.
The world's third-largest oil consumer will conduct auction of oil and gas blocks under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) twice a year, with the first round being held in July this year.
OALP auction will be held under the overhauled exploration licensing policy allows pricing and marketing freedom to operators and shifts to a revenue sharing model.
The July auction will be India’s first major exploration licensing round since 2010, although it had recently awarded 31 small discovered fields mainly to state-owned and local firms under the liberalised Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP).

Tech Mahindra to buy CJS Solutions Group for $110 million.
Software services firm Tech Mahindra Ltd has signed a definitive agreement to acquire CJS Solutions Group LLC, a US-based healthcare information technology consulting company that does business as The HCI Group.
The deal values CJS Solutions at an enterprise value of $110 million.
Tech Mahindra will make an upfront payment of $89.5 million for purchase of an 84.7 per cent stake in the firm. The balance stake of 15.3 per cent will be acquired over a period of three years.
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the HCI Group works with global tier-I healthcare service providers, primarily in the US and UK. It focuses on providing end-to-end implementation of electronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) software, training and support services.

March 8

CBDT signs advance pricing agreement with Japanese firm.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has signed yet another bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) with a subsidiary of a Japanese firm.
With this new agreement, the CBDT has entered into a total of 141 APAs with various companies.
In the financial year 2016-17 alone, the CBDT has entered into a total of 77 unilateral and bilateral APAs. In 2015-16, it signed a total of 55 unilateral and bilateral APAs.
Certainty in tax treatment for Sogo Soshas has been a long standing demand of the Japanese industry. The bilateral signing of APAs in this sector provides tax certainty up to nine years in each of these cases.

Now, you can transfer PF money to NPS without getting taxed.
Over eight crore members of the Employees' Provident Fund can now transfer their retirement savings to the National Pension System which comes under the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).
The proposal came after the two years of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's promise for such alternative in the Union Budget for 2015-16.
With the NPS gaining momentum vis-a-vis other retirement products and a number of queries being raised on the transfer of amounts from recognized Provident/ Superannuation Funds to NPS, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has clarified the process through a circular.

March 9

EPFO extends submission of digital life certificate through Jeevan Pramaan Patra by March 31.
In a relief to pensioners, retirement fund body, the Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), has extended the last date of submission of digital life certificate through Jeevan Pramaan Patra by one month up to March 31, 2017 as against February 28, 2017, after many pensioners failed to submit Aadhaar authenticated Jeevan Pramaan as life certificate for continuation of drawal of pension.
Members and pensioners of the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995 are required to furnish Aadhaar number by March 31, 2017. "In case a member has not been allotted Aadhaar number, a copy of Aadhaar enrolment ID slip is required to be attached for settlement of claim under EPS, 1995, namely for pension processing and monthly pension payments''.
Adding that Aadhaar number, however, is not required in case a member of pension scheme having less than 10 years of service chooses to withdraw by making an application in Form 10-C.

Google acquires Kaggle in boost to data play.
Technology giant Google has announced the acquisition of Kaggle, a start-up that hosts a number of data scientists, for an undisclosed amount at the Cloud Next 2017 conference.
Founded in 2010, Kaggle is home to the world’s largest community of data scientists and machine-learning enthusiasts.
Kaggle and Google Cloud will continue to support machine learning training and deployment services while offering the community the ability to store and query large datasets.
More than 8 lakh data experts use Kaggle to explore, analyse and understand the latest updates in machine learning and data analytics.

March 10

Carlyle exits Edelweiss, sells entire 8.2 per cent stake for about Rs. 870 crore.
Private equity major Carlyle Group's First Carlyle Venture Mauritius sold its entire 8.2 per cent stake in Edelweiss Financial Services for about Rs. 870 crore at an average price of Rs. 127.37, through bulk deal.
The fund, which bought Edelweiss shares between 2011 and 2014, made more than three times its investment. Goldman Sachs, GMO Emerging Markets Fund and NatWest Bank partly bought the shares.
Shares of Edelweiss ended up 0.1 per cent at Rs. 134.20 on the BSE. Carlyle had first picked up about 4 per cent stake in Edelweiss in 2011 for Rs. 86 crore and gradually raised it.

Nokia to help Tata Power to detect faults in Delhi.
Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TATA Power-DDL) has become the first Indian power utility to deploy tele-protection services over its entire network following a deal with Nokia.
The enhanced system will allow Tata Power-DDL to receive nearly instant updates of any fault in its infrastructure and reroute power through alternative lines to minimise the disruption to the end consumer.
''The system connects all grid stations and ensures there is tele-protection and in case there is a fault, then it can be addressed immediately''. ''The consumer should never have to purchase digisets or inverters''.

Govt unveils draft security rules for e-wallet firms.
The Centre has released a set of draft guidelines for digital wallet companies as part of its efforts to promote electronic payments while ensuring the security of transactions.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued the draft Information Technology (Security of Prepaid Payment Instruments) Rules 2017 for public consultation, and will take suggestions until March 20.
The draft rules underline security parameters that digital wallet companies, such as Paytm, FreeCharge and Mobikwik, will have to follow. They also stipulate standards for data protection and customer grievance redressal.
Every prepaid payment instrument (PPI), or digital wallet, has been asked to develop a security policy based on the rules and standards set by the government. ''Every e-PPI issuer shall review the security measures at least once a year, and after any major security incident or breach or before a major change to its infrastructure or procedures''.

March 11

Note ban effect eases as industrial output rises 2.7 per cent in January.
Two months after demonetisation was rolled out by the government, industrial output in January rose 2.7 per cent, pushed up by a growth in capital goods production as well as a rise in the manufacturing segment.
Industrial output had missed growth by a sliver in the previous month of December, falling 0.1 per cent as compared to a year earlier, driven down by a contraction in consumer and capital goods production attributed to the demonetization drive.
The major push to the index was provided by the capital goods which rose by 10.7 per cent. Capital goods had declined by 3 per cent in the previous month of December, after a spurt of 15 per cent in November. The sector is considered highly volatile in IIP.

Indian-led startup raises Rs. 33 crore to build salad-making robots.
US-based food robotics startup Chowbotics, led by IIT Madras graduate Deepak Sekar, has raised $5 million (Rs. 33 crore) for its salad-making robot 'Sally'.
Techstars Ventures, Foundry Group, Galvanize Ventures and Geekdom Fund participated in the round.
Sally lets users select from over 20 ingredients, displays the calorie count for selected ingredients and dispenses measured quantities into a bowl.
Chowbotics, a San Jose-based startup that seeks to bring robotics to the food industry. The company's core product is a robot named Sally that can create more than 1,000 salad options for restaurants and other commercial uses.
Sally is set to be used in pilot projects at Mama Mia's restaurant in Campbell and the co-working space Galvanize in San Francisco as well as a corporate cafeteria in Texas.

Railways, UNEP sign LOI on environ initiatives.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to formalise joint cooperation in the area of environmental conservation at Rail Bhavan.
Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain graced the occasion. Railway Board, Chairman A.K. Mital, Member (Rolling Stock), Ravindra Gupta, other Railway Board members and senior officials were present on the occasion. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UNEP was also present.
Representatives of the Indian Railways and the UNEP signed and exchanged Letters of Intent for exploring the opportunity and developing a joint cooperation mechanism in the field of environment and sustainability.
The area focused for joint activity will be of collaboration in formulating specific roadmap for achieving 20 per cent reduction in water consumption at railway establishments. The development of a Draft action plan for establishing waste management and sustainable public procurement for green technology.

March 12

FPIs infuse Rs. 10,288 crore in capital markets so far this month.
Foreign investors pumped in over Rs. 10,000 crore into the Indian capital markets this month so far.
The latest net inflow comes following a net investment of Rs. 15,862 crore in the capital markets - equity and debt - last month. Prior to that, FPIs had pulled out over Rs. 80,000 crore during October-January.
According to depository data, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) infused Rs. 9,628 crore in equities during March 1-10 and another Rs. 660 crore in the debt segment, translating into a combined inflow of Rs. 10,288 crore ($1.54 billion).

Non-life insurers' February premium up 33 per cent at Rs. 10,287.74 crore.
Non-life insurance companies' total premium grew 33.4 per cent to Rs. 10,287.74 crore in February this year.
Their gross premium stood at Rs. 7,710.81 crore in the same month a year ago.
Of the total premium collected in February 2017, public sector companies cornered Rs. 5,289.09 crore, up 34.9 per cent against the year-ago month.
Private sector companies garnered Rs. 4,998.65 crore, up 31.9 per cent from a year ago, data from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Rs. 4,998.65 crore, up 31.9 per cent from a year ago, data from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) showed.
While, specialised PSU insurers' underwritten premium during the month rose by 124 per cent to Rs. 890.22 crore.

Tata signs pact with Volkswagen, Skoda.
Tata Motors, as part of the turnaround strategy of its passenger vehicles business, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Volkswagen Group and Skoda for a long-term partnership and to explore strategic alliance opportunities for joint development of products in India.
The agreement was signed by Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD of Tata Motors, Matthias Mueller, CEO of Volkswagen AG and Bernhard Maier, CEO of Skoda Auto at Geneva.
The MoU spells out the scope and objectives to reach an agreement on the modalities and terms of a long-term cooperation in identified areas of partnership.
Skoda Auto will take the lead on behalf of the Volkswagen Group to drive forward work towards development of vehicle concepts in the economy segment.

March 13

Idea Cellular to offer free incoming calls on domestic roaming.
Telecom operator Idea Cellular announced free incoming calls on domestic roaming and unveiled international roaming value packs that, it claimed, would prevent "bill shocks" to those travelling abroad.
"Effective April 1, 2017, Ideas 200 million customers will enjoy free incoming calls while roaming on companies 2G, 3G and 4G networks across 400,000 towns and villages in the country.
Idea customers will be able to make outgoing calls, SMS freely at affordable rates while roaming anywhere in India. Mobile data tariffs and data pack benefits of home circle will be available while roaming within India at no extra charge.
The facility of free incoming calls on domestic roaming will be extended to both prepaid and postpaid customers.
For international travelers, the company is offering international roaming value packs with free bundled usage of up to 400 outgoing minutes, 100 SMSes per day, 3GB bundled data and unlimited incoming calls for Rs. 2,499 for Asia, and Rs. 5,999 for Europe for 30 days validity.

Hyundai signs 3 billion euro deal for Iran oil project.
Hyundai has signed a deal worth three billion euros (USD 3.2 billion) to invest in a major Iranian oil project.
Hyundai Engineering plans to invest 3.1 billion euros in the second phase of the Kangan oil production and refinery project in southwest Iran.
The agreement marks one of the biggest investments since a nuclear accord with world powers lifted global sanctions on Iran.
The South Korean firm will have nine months to secure financing for the project - a potential obstacle given the continued reluctance of international banks to engage with Iran.

Intel to buy driverless technology firm Mobileye for $15.3 billion.
U.S. chip giant Intel has agreed to buy Israeli driverless technology firm Mobileye for $15.3 billion, the largest ever acquisition of an Israeli high-tech company.
The $63.54 per share cash deal is the world's biggest purchase of a company solely focused on the autonomous driving sector. Mobileye accounts for 70 per cent of the global market for advanced driver-assistance and anti-collision systems.
The two companies are already collaborating with German automaker BMW on a project to put a fleet of around 40 self-driving test vehicles on the road in the second half of this year.
For a decade, Mobileye has relied on Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics to produce chips which the Israeli company sells to many of the world's top automakers for its current, third-generation of driver-assistance systems.

March 14

Freecharge gets Rs. 30 crore funding from parent Jasper Infotech.
Jasper Infotech, which owns and opera Infotech, which owns and operates digital payments platform FreeCharge, has pumped in an additional Rs. 30 crore into the latter, according to documents filed with the registrar of companies.
The latest capital infusion comes a little over two months after Jasper, which also owns and operates online marketplace Snapdeal.com, put in Rs. 390 crore in the Bangalore-based mobile wallet provider, which it acquired for $400-450 million in a cash-and-stock deal in mid-2015.
However, Jasper Infotech, which has been on the road for almost 18 months to raise money for FreeCharge, has found it difficult to rope in investors--strategic or financial-to back its payments unit.
While Rs. 30 crore may seemingly be a marginal amount, the timing of the latest cash infusion is likely to highlight further scrutiny on FreeCharge's current cash burn, and whether Jasper will have to continue supporting FreeCharge with regular infusions of capital going forward.

Wholesale Price Index inflation spikes to 6.55 per cent in February on surge in food rates.
Inflation based on wholesale prices shot up to 39 month high of 6.55 per cent in February because of costlier food and fuel items.
The Wholesale Price Index based inflation, reflecting the annual rate of price rise, in January was at 5.25 per cent.
According to the official data released, food prices witnessed a sharp rise by 2.69 per cent in February as compared to a deceleration by 0.56 per cent in the previous month.
This was primarily because of sharp rise in rates of cereals, rice and fruits.
The fuel basket also surged by 21.02 per cent from 18.14 per cent in January.
The government also revised December inflation rate to 3.68 per cent from the previous provisional reporting of 3.39 per cent.

March 15

Retail inflation rises to 3.65 per cent in February on costlier food items.
Retail inflation rose to 4-month high of 3.65 per cent in February mainly due to surge in price of food items like fruits, sugar and confectionery.
Measured in terms of Consumer Price Index (CPI), the inflation had dipped to a multi-year low of 3.17 per cent in January this year on account of cash crunch following demonetisation. It was 5.26 per cent in February last year.
According to the CPI data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the consumer food prices index (CFPI) rose by 2.01 per cent in February from 0.61 per cent in January. The CFPI was 5.3 per cent in February 2016.
Inflation in fruits was higher at 8.33 per cent, fuel and light at 3.9 per cent in February. The rate of price rise in meat and fish was 3.5 per cent in February.
Prices of sugar and confectionery items rose by 18.83 per cent in February while inflation in milk and milk product increased by 4.22 per cent.

India's contribution to UN increases to Rs. 244 crore.
India's contribution to the United Nations rose 55 per cent to Rs. 244 crore in 2015-16 compared with the previous fiscal.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Lok Sabha that the government had also made voluntary contributions to the tune of Rs. 22 crore to international organisations, including UN agencies, in the last financial year.
The country contributed Rs. 244 crore to the UN last fiscal compared with Rs. 157 crore in 2014-15.
For the period 2016-18, India's Scale of Assessment for the UN's Regular and Peacekeeping budgets has been fixed at 0.737 per cent and 0.1474 per cent, respectively.
Each UN member is required to contribute to the organisation's Regular and Peacekeeping budgets. These obligatory contributions are calculated based on a member's relative 'capacity to pay'.

Chennai Port Trust signs MoU with Puducherry govt.
The Chennai Port Trust and the Puducherry government have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for handling EXIM cargo originating from Puducherry Port hinterland. This is expected to reduce cost of logistics and ease road congestion.
The MoU was signed by chairman of Chennai Port Trust and Puducherry chief secretary in New Delhi in the presence of Union minister for shipping, road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, Puducherry chief minister V. Narayansamy and others.
The Chennai Port Trust will assist the Puducherry Port in handling its export cargo. The cargo originating from the Puducherry Port hinterland will be transported through sea mode to the Chennai Port for shipping to overseas destinations through mainline and feeder vessels.
Similarly, the import cargo destined to Puducherry hinterland will be unloaded at the Chennai Port and will be moved in small coastal vessels to the Puducherry Port, thus reducing total logistics costs, besides easing road congestion.

BHEL's first 800-MW supercritical plant becomes operational.
Power equipment maker BHEL has commenced commercial operations of its first 800-MW unit, a supercritical thermal plant.
It also marks the company's foray as a developer into the field of power generation. Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) and BHEL are the main equity partners of RPCL, the owner and operator of this power plant.
BHEL has completed this latest supercritical project on a turnkey basis.
The company has supplied and executed 4,010 MW of coal-based sets for KPCL and its joint ventures, which account for 95 per cent of the utility’s coal-based installed capacity.
BHEL is also executing KPCL's first gas-based combined cycle power project of 370-MW capacity involving a fuel-efficient advanced-class gas turbine at Yelahanka, Bengaluru.

Tata Steel, Wipro in world's most ethical companies' list.
Two Indian companies, Tata Steel and Wipro, have been named in the list of world's most ethical companies by American think tank Ethisphere Institute.
These companies also consider the impact of their actions on their employees, investors, customers and other key stakeholders and leverage values and a culture of integrity as the underpinnings to the decisions they make each day.
Wipro is one of the two information technology companies named in the list, the other being Xerox Corporation. Tata Steel is also one of the two companies named in the metals, minerals and mining space. US-based Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc is the other company in this segment.
Companies we've honored as World's Most Ethical take a novel response to the shift in societal expectations, constant redefinition of laws and regulations, and the geo-political climate.
The list was dominated by US-based companies as around 98 of the 124 companies were from that country.


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