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Standard & Poor’s ups India rating
New Delhi, January 30
For the first time in 14 years, India’s sovereign rating has been enhanced by Standard and Poor’s (S&P) to ‘investment grade’ to ‘speculative category’ as a result of its strong economic prospects.

Microsoft unveils Windows Vista
Mumbai, January 30
Global IT giant Microsoft today introduced the retail version of Windows Vista and 2007 office system with an aim to reach 18 million customers in a month.




A copy of the limited Bill Gates Signature edition of new Windows operating system Vista is displayed at a release party in a CompUSA store at Houston on Monday. — AFP photo 

A copy of the limited Bill Gates Signature edition of new Windows operating system Vista is displayed at a release party in a CompUSA store at Houston on Monday.

Yunus: SEZ policy sustainable
New Delhi, January 30
Amid mounting protests over the acquisition of fertile land for several SEZ proposals in the country, Bangladesh’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus said today that with farmers' support the SEZ policy could become sustainable in the long-term.



A model displays a creation by Lebanese designer Abed Mahfouz at a fashion show in Rome on Tuesday
A model displays a creation by Lebanese designer Abed Mahfouz at a fashion show in Rome on Tuesday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

Hyundai cars to cost more from Feb 1
New Delhi, January 30
A day after country's largest car manufacturer, Maruti Udyog Ltd said it will hike prices of its products by up to Rs 12,000 next month, rivals Hyundai also followed suit today by saying it will revise prices upwards by 1-1.5 per cent.

IOC to seek sops for Cairn crude
New Delhi, January 30
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) plans to seek "heavy discounts" from Cairn India for buying its Rajasthan crude oil to make processing of waxy crude at either Panipat or Gujarat refinery economically viable.

ADB bans 37 Cos for graft
Manila, January 30
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said today it had banned 37 companies from dealing with it for up to 10 years for violating the bank's anti-corruption code.

AI-Indian merger likely by February-end
Mumbai, January 30
The much-awaited merger of Air-India and Indian is expected to be cleared by the Union Cabinet by end of February, with the Committee of Secretaries submitting its recommendations to the Group of Ministers (GoM).

Corporate Results
Tata Steel Q3 net up at Rs 1,063.75 cr 

Mumbai, January 30
Ahead of entering an auction to acquire Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, Tata Steel said today that its net profit for the October-December quarter jumped to Rs 1,063.75 crore, up 41.12 per cent from the year-ago period.

FDs preferred to stocks, says survey
New Delhi, January 30
While the stock market is booming it is equity and fixed deposit schemes that lure urban, metro and rural investors as these assure instant liquidity to investors after their maturity.

Volvo to invest $500 m in Bangalore
Mumbai, January 30
Luxury bus-maker, Volvo, plans to set up its new 1,000-unit capacity facility in Bangalore at an investment of $500 million.

Markets closed
Mumbai, January 30
Trading in Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), National Stock Exchange, forex and call money markets remained officially closed today on account of the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and Moharrum, brokers said. — UNI

 

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Standard & Poor’s ups India rating
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
For the first time in 14 years, India’s sovereign rating has been enhanced by Standard and Poor’s (S&P) to ‘investment grade’ to ‘speculative category’ as a result of its strong economic prospects.

“The upgrade to investment grade reflects the country’s strong economic prospects and external balance sheet, and its deep capital market, which supports a weak, but improving, fiscal position,” the rating agency said today.

Technically, the ratings stand improved to “BBB-/A-3” from “BB+/B”.

“India’s economic prospects remain strong and are rising gradually, with GDP trend growth likely to average more than 7.5 per cent in the medium term,” the agency said.

“Gradual reforms and consistent monetary and fiscal policy stances have also sustained macroeconomic stability. This has led to strong growth prospects and attracted foreign and non-resident Indian capital,” it said.

“India’s strong institutions have also provided for relative stability in policy, politics, and business environments against volatility usually associated with lower income levels,” it said.

Moreover, the agency pointed out that India’s external balance sheet was strong due to reserve accumulation and prudent debt management.

On the flip side, the agency said the ratings on India remained constrained by a weak fiscal profile, especially its high government debt burden and deficit, still one of the worst among all rated sovereigns.

Together with India's sovereign credit rating, the global agency also put seven of the country's banks and five public sector units to investment grade from non-investment category.

The banks are SBI, ICICI Bank, IDBI, Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, EXIM Bank and UTI Bank. The companies, which got a raise in their ratings, are PFC, Indian Railways Finance Corporation, NTPC, NHPC and IOC.

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India’s economic prospects remain strong and are rising gradually, with GDP trend growth likely to average more than 7.5 per cent in the medium term

 

 

Microsoft unveils Windows Vista

Mumbai, January 30
Global IT giant Microsoft today introduced the retail version of Windows Vista and 2007 office system with an aim to reach 18 million customers in a month.

Available in four consumer editions, Windows Vista will be sold through 1,500 outlets in India and is priced comparably with its last offering Windows XP, Microsoft India Chairman Ravi Venkatesan told a news conference here.

The genuine Windows Vista loaded PCs in India will retail at a starting price of Rs 22,000 while Microsoft 2007 Office consumer edition starts at Rs 6,000.

The four editions are Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows Vista Starter. The Microsoft 2007 Office is available in two editions of Office Home & Student 2007 and Office Basic 2007.

The differentiation in the latest operating system is on four counts of search, security, connectivity and ease of usage, Microsoft India Managing Director Neelam Dhawan said.

The company has already sold nearly nine lakh licensed editions to corporates. — PTI 

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Yunus: SEZ policy sustainable
Tribune News Service & UNI

New Delhi, January 30
Amid mounting protests over the acquisition of fertile land for several SEZ proposals in the country, Bangladesh’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus said today that with farmers' support the SEZ policy could become sustainable in the long-term.

Quashing doubts of policy failure created by the protests, Prof Yunus said, “SEZ policy is definitely sustainable for India. There is a limit to development that agriculture can achieve. For a jump in growth, industrialisation is necessary. You have to make a choice between agriculture and industrialisation.”

Asserting the need for a legal framework and regulatory body to promote “social business”, Mr Yunus asked the Indian industry to get into micro-finance activities.

“Micro-finance is nothing but small loans extended to entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas, to help them set up businesses and earn a decent income…There is a need for a legal framework and regulatory body that would ensure smooth running of the sector, as micro-finance in India is still at a nascent stage,” Mr Yunus told a conference organised by the Ficci.

He also mooted a “social stock market” to list companies that are engaged in businesses in the social sector.

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Hyundai cars to cost more from Feb 1

New Delhi, January 30
A day after country's largest car manufacturer, Maruti Udyog Ltd said it will hike prices of its products by up to Rs 12,000 next month, rivals Hyundai also followed suit today by saying it will revise prices upwards by 1-1.5 per cent.

The price hike will include the recently launched Sonata Embera Diesel and the mid-sized sedan Verna — the introductory price for which was revised upwards earlier this month between Rs 3,500 and Rs 10,000.

While the Sonata Embera Diesel has been tagged at an introductory price of Rs 14.75 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) Hyundai had said at the time of its launch that it would be revised later.

Verna is currently available at a price range of Rs 6.25 lakh and Rs 7.45 lakh and premium hatchback Getz is priced around Rs 4.6 lakh, while the flagship model Santro costs around Rs 3.45 lakh.— PTI

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IOC to seek sops for Cairn crude

New Delhi, January 30
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) plans to seek "heavy discounts" from Cairn India for buying its Rajasthan crude oil to make processing of waxy crude at either Panipat or Gujarat refinery economically viable.

"Cairn's Rajasthan crude oil can be currently processed at our Panipat and Barauni refinery. Our Gujarat refinery will also acquire capability to process such a crude oil by 2009," said IOC Director (Refineries) B.N. Bankapur.

But, processing the Rajasthan crude that has a very high pour point and viscousity with 70-75 per cent heavy ends can only be economically viable only if "heavy discounts are extended," he said.

"The Rajasthan crude can be processed at refineries which have coker. Currently, our 12 million tonnes a year Panipat refinery in Haryana and Barauni refinery in Bihar have coker and we are installing one at Gujarat refinery by 2009," he said.

Mr Bankapur said IOC can take the crude at a port in Gujarat, up to which Cairn and its partner ONGC will have to construct a pipeline, and ship it across to Haldia from where it can be pumped to Barauni.

"IOC (which originally was the government-appointed nominee for buying Cairn crude) withdrew from buying Rajasthan crude because it did not make economic sense to process such a crude. It is a risky proposition and unless huge discounts are given no one will be willing to take such risks," he said.— PTI

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ADB bans 37 Cos for graft

Manila, January 30
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said today it had banned 37 companies from dealing with it for up to 10 years for violating the bank's anti-corruption code.

The Manila-based lender said its Integrity Oversight Committee found 37 firms and 32 individuals had violated the policy in 2006.

It banned 34 firms for periods ranging from one to seven years and three firms for 10 years from competing for ADB contracts.

Fourteen individuals were banned indefinitely and 17 for periods ranging from one to seven years while one person was reprimanded, the ADB said. — AFP

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AI-Indian merger likely by February-end

Mumbai, January 30
The much-awaited merger of Air-India and Indian is expected to be cleared by the Union Cabinet by end of February, with the Committee of Secretaries submitting its recommendations to the Group of Ministers (GoM).

The GoM, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, is likely to meet shortly to give its finishing touches to the recommendations before sending it for Cabinet approval, a top aviation industry source said.

"It will also be one of Asia's largest with a fleet strength of more than 100 aircraft," the source said.

When contacted, Air-India's Chairman and Managing Director, Mr V Thulasidas, said once Cabinet approval was received, the two carriers would undertake legal steps necessary for the merger "which should be completed within next 3-4 months".

But complete operational and manpower integration will take as many as 12-18 months. Total integration of the two carriers would be completed by end-2008. — PTI

AI Express gets new plane

Low-cost carrier Air-India Express has inducted a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, taking its fleet strength to 12.

The fifth owned aircraft, which joined the fleet on Friday, would operate on the Gulf and Singapore routes, Air-India sources said.

 

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Corporate Results
Tata Steel Q3 net up at Rs 1,063.75 cr 

Mumbai, January 30
Ahead of entering an auction to acquire Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, Tata Steel said today that its net profit for the October-December quarter jumped to Rs 1,063.75 crore, up 41.12 per cent from the year-ago period.

The Board of Tata Steel, which had submitted a bid for Corus during the quarter under review, posted a total income of Rs 4,568.72 crore for the third quarter, up 22.18 per cent from Rs 3,739.28 crore in the same period in 2005.

The Board, at its meeting attended by Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata and Tata Steel Managing Director B Muthuraman, is believed to have discussed the strategy for the Corus auction.

The group has reported a consolidated profit of Rs 1,054.61 crore in the quarter under review as compared to Rs 824.76 crore in the corresponding period in previous fiscal.

Total income of the group rose to Rs 6,072.28 crore for the third quarter while it was Rs 5,082.38 crore in the same period of previous fiscal.

ONGC Q3 net profit up 20 pc at Rs 4,668 cr

The ONGC today reported a 20.07 per cent increase in net profit after tax at Rs 4,668.31 crore for the third quarter this fiscal as compared to Rs 3,887.76 crore in the year-ago period.

The total income (net of excise) of India's largest oil explorer rose by 24.78 per cent at Rs 16,269.01 crore in the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as against Rs 13,038.01 crore recorded in the corresponding period in 2005, the ONGC said.

Radico Khaitan net up 22 pc

Liquor manufacturer Radico Khaitan Ltd has reported a 22.33 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 39.55 crore for the third quarter ended December as compared to Rs 32.33 crore in the same period a year ago.

The company's turnover registered a growth of 31 per cent at Rs 1,133.76 crore in the third quarter from Rs 867.72 crore as compared to the corresponding period in previous fiscal.

Radico Khaitan Chairman and Managing Director Lalit Khaitan said the EPS for the nine- month period ended December 31 grew by 22.3 per cent at Rs 4.10 compared to Rs 3.35 for corresponding period previous fiscal.

Bajaj Electricals

Bajaj Electricals has registered a net profit of Rs 9.95 crore as compared to Rs 4.63 crore last year for the third quarter ending December 31, 2006, showing a growth of 115 per cent.

Profit before tax for the quarter has grown to Rs 16.15 crore as compared to Rs 10.12 crore for the same quarter last year, showing an increase of 60 per cent. Net sales for the quarter grew by 20.5 per cent from Rs 235.07 crore to Rs 283.30 crore.

Sales for the nine months ended December grew by 28 per cent to Rs 706.28 crore from Rs 552.37 crore.

Reliance Cap Q3 net up

Reliance Capital Ltd (RCL) has reported a 11.68 per cent increase in profit after tax at Rs 72.57 crore for the third quarter this fiscal compared to Rs 64.98 crore in the year-ago period.

The total income rose 46.38 per cent to Rs 121.24 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, as against Rs 82.82 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2005-06, RCL said.

The company recorded a 37 per cent jump in consolidated net profit at Rs 92.17 crore for the third quarter. The consolidated total income rose by 190 per cent to Rs 436 crore.

Punj Lloyd Q3 net Rs 48.3 cr

Engineering project construction company Punj Lloyd has reported a net profit of Rs 108 crore for the nine-month period ended December 31.

The consolidated net income for the period under review stood at Rs 3,486.1 crore.

For the third quarter ended December 31, Punj Lloyd reported a consolidated income of Rs 1,463.5 crore and net profit of Rs 48.3 crore. — Agencies, TNS

 

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FDs preferred to stocks, says survey
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
While the stock market is booming it is equity and fixed deposit schemes that lure urban, metro and rural investors as these assure instant liquidity to investors after their maturity.

Businessmen, professionals, salaried personnel and agriculturists park their surpluses in equity-linked insurance and fixed deposit schemes, according to an Assocham study.

As per the recent RBI data, credit has risen by 30 per cent, deposit is up by 23 per cent on a year-on-year basis. Some banks are even offering up to 8.5 per cent on one to three-year deposits. Expecting a credit surge in the last quarter, banks are trying very hard to mobilise deposits, say industry sources.

In Rural India, investors were more inclined towards investing in fixed deposits (36.33 per cent) while in the urban and metro segments, 24.81 per cent and 21.86 per cent, respectively, chose equity-linked insurance schemes over other investment tools.

Despite a boom in the stock market , most of the people opted for a traditional mode of investment like fixed deposits.

On an average, 24.9 per cent people went for fixed deposits, 21.3 per cent for equity-linked insurance schemes, 15.95 per cent for mutual funds, 15.08 per cent for real estate, 12.84 per cent for the stock market, 7.88 per cent for gold and silver and 2.04 per cent for other schemes.

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Volvo to invest $500 m in Bangalore

Mumbai, January 30
Luxury bus-maker, Volvo, plans to set up its new 1,000-unit capacity facility in Bangalore at an investment of $500 million.

"We would set up our new facility in Bangalore with an investment of $500 million to manufacture bus-bodies with a capacity of 1,000 units per annum," South-East Asia Head and Vice-President, Volvo Buses, Mr Jan Vandooren, said here today.

This new facility will be developed with its joint venture partner, Jaico, and Volvo will hold 70 per cent stake, he added. — PTI

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