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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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B U S I N E S S

Ban PNs, says CPM
Alleges defiance of regulatory institutions by FIIs
New Delhi, October 19
A day after finance minister P Chidambaram assured the Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) that the government did not propose to impose complete ban on Participatory Notes (PNs), UPA’s key Left ally, CPM, today demanded blanket ban on the offshore derivatives instrument.

Inflation dips to 3.07 pc
Softening of monetary policy unlikely
New Delhi, October 19
Inflation dipped to five-year low at 3.07 per cent for the week ending October 6, 0.19 per cent lower than the previous week’s 3.26 per cent, due to decline in prices of some food articles and manufactured items.

India tops in remittances from migrants
Washington, October 19
With Indians at the top, migrants working in industrialised countries sent home more than $300 billion in 2006 nearly three times the $104 billion given in foreign aid to developing countries.

13 SEZs get approval
New Delhi, October 19
The Board of Approval (BoA) of special economic zones (SEZs) today recommended grant of 10 formal and in-principle approvals to three proposals in seven states.


EARLIER STORIES

 

Ban Participatory Notes, demands CPM
New Delhi, October 19
A day after finance minister P Chidambaram assured the Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) that the government did not propose to impose complete ban on Participatory Notes (PNs), UPA’s key Left ally, CPM, today demanded blanket ban on the offshore derivatives instrument.

Azim Premji Corporate Results
Wipro’s net up by 18 per cent, IT margins decline
Bangalore, October 19
Wipro Ltd today said its profit after tax for the July-September quarter jumped 18 per cent to Rs 824 crore but reported lower margins from IT services and products as a result of an appreciating rupee.

RIL can’t be forced to sell subsidised gas: HC
New Delhi, October 19
The Bombay High Court has ruled that Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries (RIL) cannot be forced to sell gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields to firms run by his brother Anil at subsidised rates and incur losses.

An artwork entitled "Floating Hexagon" by Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian is pictured at Sotheby’s auction house in central London on Friday. Sotheby's will hold an "Arts of the Islamic World" auction of art, carpets, textiles and more on October 24, with many items dating back to the Middle Ages.
An artwork entitled "Floating Hexagon" by Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian is pictured at Sotheby’s auction house in central London on Friday. Sotheby's will hold an "Arts of the Islamic World" auction of art, carpets, textiles and more on October 24, with many items dating back to the Middle Ages. — AFP

Coal distribution policy announced
New Delhi, October 19
The government today announced a new coal distribution policy, according top priority to power and fertiliser sectors that would get as much quantity required at pre-determined prices.

Spectrum Award
Govt accepts TRAI’s proposals
New Delhi, October 19
The government today approved increase in subscribers base, recommended by telecom regulator TRAI, as a basis for further allocation of spectrum, a decision that may badly hit the existing GSM players like Bharti, Vodafone Essar and Idea.

Now, Bihar on Reliance radar
Patna, October 19
The world’s fifth richest man and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani today spelt out his plan favouring a long-term business engagement in Bihar in accordance with his company’s aggressive nationwide expansion plan.

MFs can’t shift depositors’ money at their own: SC
New Delhi, October 19
The Supreme Court has ruled that mutual funds cannot transfer depositors’ money without their consent to the Income Tax Department for alleged default in payment of taxes.

Hooda explores biz tie-ups in Canada
Chandigarh, October 19
Haryana and Ontario province of Canada have explored the possibility of working together in the field of automobile and IT industries as both have commonalities in these fields. This was revealed in a statement issued by the state government here today.

Kotak Insurance to expand
Yamunanagar, October 19
Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Ltd would be one of the fastest insurance companies to achieve ‘break-even’ because of its low operational costs and lower policies lapses.

FIIs’ feedback on PN norms
Mumbai, October 19
Capital market regulator SEBI today said stakeholders have started giving their feedback on its proposal to check overseas investments in the stock market, an issue that created a panic at the bourses.

Crude oil above $90
Singapore, October 19
Crude oil surpassed $90 a barrel for the first time and is set for the biggest weekly gain since March after the dollar traded near a record low against the euro, enhancing the appeal of commodities as an investment.

 

 

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Ban PNs, says CPM
Alleges defiance of regulatory institutions by FIIs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
A day after finance minister P Chidambaram assured the Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) that the government did not propose to impose complete ban on Participatory Notes (PNs), UPA’s key Left ally, CPM, today demanded blanket ban on the offshore derivatives instrument.

Indian stock markets have witnessed sharp fall in the past couple of days due to massive pull out of funds by FIIs following SEBI’s proposals to put a cap on PNs. The CPM is of the firm opinion that PNs should be prohibited, as has been recommended by the RBI, the party’s Politburo said here.

“Massive pull-out of funds, which induced a huge fall in the market, reflected defiance of regulatory institutions by the FIIs,” it said.

Asking the government to move towards insulating the financial system from speculative capital inflows, the party said financial markets globally are already witnessing turmoil following the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the USA.

Financial entities that are unwilling to meet the disclosure norms should not be allowed to participate in the Indian capital markets, the Politburo said. The government should realise that the surge in FII inflows, encouraged by rupee appreciation and interest rate hikes can eventually have serious implications, it said.

As per the SEBI proposals, derivatives-based PNs should be wound up within 18 months. It has also proposed to lay curbs on derivatives-based on assets under management of FIIs.

Terming the SEBI’s discussion paper as reflective of tentative attitude of the government in regulating financial entities, the CPM said the apex bank has for long voicing its apprehensions over PNs.

Mumbai (PTI): Capital market regulator SEBI today said stakeholders have started giving their feedback on its proposal to check overseas investments in the stock market, an issue that created a panic at the bourses.

“Feedback from market participants on PNs (participatory notes) is coming in and we will evaluate all the feedback,” SEBI whole time member G Anantharaman said here today.

Finance minister P Chidambaram had sought to calm the foreign investors by assuring them that the SEBI would hear them ahead of taking a decision on the proposals relating to offshore derivative instruments by October 25.

“The proposed initiative is aimed at streamlining and rationalising PNs policy and it is in the interest of the market,” Anantharaman said.

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Inflation dips to 3.07 pc
Softening of monetary policy unlikely
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
Inflation dipped to five-year low at 3.07 per cent for the week ending October 6, 0.19 per cent lower than the previous week’s 3.26 per cent, due to decline in prices of some food articles and manufactured items.

Despite the inflation rate remaining well below the RBI’s target level of 4 to 4.5 per cent in the short term, analysts feel that the Central Bank is unlikely to soften its monetary policy and in all probability maintain a status quo in its October 30 quarterly review.

The annual inflation rate was 5.36 per cent during the corresponding week of the previous year. It was the lowest annual rise since October 19, 2002, when the index rose 3.01 per cent, according to official data released here today.

“Excessive liquidity due to copious capital inflow and surging global crude oil prices would be a deterrent for softening monetary policy, though there are high expectations of rate cut due to considerable fall in inflation rate,” Lehman Brothers chief economist Asia Robert Subbaraman told The Tribune here.

Subbaraman, who was here to release Lehman Brothers’ report “India: Everything to play for”, said given the excess liquidity situation the Central Bank cannot afford to lower interest rates, though it is bound to come down over the next five years.

“In fact, depending on the liquidity situation, the RBI may go for another 50 basis points hike in the cash reserve ratio (CRR) in December,” he said.

Punjab National Bank executive director K Raghuraman felt that the RBI is likely to maintain a status quo. “Hike in CRR is not going to help anymore to suck excess liquidity from the system…Therefore, I feel that the RBI will maintain a status quo and closely monitor the situation further before any further stringent measure,” he said.

The wholesale price index (WPI) for all commodities for the week ended October 6, 2007 declined by 0.2 per cent to 214.7 from 215.1 for the previous week.

The index for primary food articles declined by 0.9 per cent to 223.8 from 225.8 for the previous week due to lower prices of fruits and vegetables (4 per cent), bajra and maize (2 per cent each) and moong, fish-marine and eggs (1 per cent each).

The index for the non-food articles group declined by 0.4 per cent to 210.9 from 211.7 for the previous week due to lower prices of raw cotton (2 per cent).

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India tops in remittances from migrants

Washington, October 19
With Indians at the top, migrants working in industrialised countries sent home more than $300 billion in 2006 nearly three times the $104 billion given in foreign aid to developing countries.

India with $24.5 billion took in more remittance than any other nation. It was followed by Mexico ($24.2 billion), China ($21 billion), the Philippines ($14.6 billion) and Russia ($13.7 billion), according to a new UN study.

“This figure, which is a conservative estimate, shows that the seemingly small sums sent home by migrant workers when added together dwarf official development assistance,” said Kevin Cleaver, assistant president of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which co-authored the study with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Asia received the largest share of the remittances - more than $114 billion - followed by Latin America and the Caribbean with $68 billion, Eastern Europe with $51 billion, Africa with $39 billion and the Near East with $29 billion, according to the report released in Washington on Thursday.

The report released ahead of the International Forum on Remittances 2007, co-hosted by IFAD and IDB, also found that the remittances sent home regularly by some 150 million migrants exceeded foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries, which last year totaled around $167 billion.

The sheer volume of the transfers has implications for international development as official development assistance and foreign direct investment together provided only $271 billion last year.

“This is a real paradigm shift because of the amounts and because it’s in private hands,” said Cleaver. “I bet you the aid architecture is going to change direction in the next 10 years.

“This is a global phenomenon. ...This is a globalisation of labour markets,” he said. — IANS

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13 SEZs get approval
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
The Board of Approval (BoA) of special economic zones (SEZs) today recommended grant of 10 formal and in-principle approvals to three proposals in seven states. Prominent among those recommended for formal approvals are IT/ITeS SEZ by TCS in West Bengal, bio-technology park SEZ by Saloni Business Park Pvt Ltd at Maharashtra, IT/ITeS SEZ by Rakindo Kovai Township at Tamil Nadu, IT SEZ by Malwa IT Park Ltd at Madhya Pradesh and Free Trade Warehousing Zone SEZ by Jafza Chennai Business Parks Pvt Ltd at Tamil Nadu.

In-principle approvals were accorded for setting up of multi-product SEZ by Privilege Power and Infrastructure Pvt Limited at Maharashtra, electronics and electrical products SEZ by Sriperumbudur Ventures Pvt Ltd at Tamil Nadu and multi-product SEZ by Sengadu Projects Pvt Ltd at Tamil Nadu.

Commerce secretary G K Pillai, who chaired the BoA, told newspersons that the decision on SEZ proposals of DLF and Unitech Hitech was deferred since the promoters did not have land in possession.

Pillai informed that formal approvals have been granted for setting up of 395 SEZs so far.

Out of these, 156 SEZs have been notified and investment of Rs 50,906 crore has taken place in these notified zones providing direct employment to over 72,168 persons.

Navi Mumbai SEZ

Meanwhile, the government today cleared seven co-developers in Mukesh Ambani-promoted Navi Mumbai SEZs, thus endorsing fresh investment through private equity players by a key partner of the Reliance Industries chairman.

The intricately structured SEZ was first divided into four zones —one multi-product and three for IT and ITeS.

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Ban Participatory Notes, demands CPM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
A day after finance minister P Chidambaram assured the Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) that the government did not propose to impose complete ban on Participatory Notes (PNs), UPA’s key Left ally, CPM, today demanded blanket ban on the offshore derivatives instrument.

Indian stock markets have witnessed sharp fall in the past couple of days due to massive pull out of funds by FIIs following SEBI’s proposals to put a cap on PNs.

The CPM is of the firm opinion that PNs should be prohibited, as has been recommended by the RBI, the party’s Politburo said here.

“Massive pull-out of funds, which induced a huge fall in the market, reflected defiance of regulatory institutions by the FIIs,” it said.

Asking the government to move towards insulating the financial system from speculative capital inflows, the party said financial markets globally are already witnessing turmoil following the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the USA.

Financial entities that are unwilling to meet the disclosure norms should not be allowed to participate in the Indian capital markets, the Politburo said.

The government should realise that the surge in FII inflows, encouraged by rupee appreciation and interest rate hikes can eventually have serious implications, it said.

As per the SEBI proposals, derivatives-based PNs should be wound up within 18 months. It has also proposed to lay curbs on derivatives-based on assets under management of FIIs.

Terming the SEBI’s discussion paper as reflective of tentative attitude of the government in regulating financial entities, the CPM said the apex bank has for long voicing its apprehensions over PNs.

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Corporate Results
Wipro’s net up by 18 per cent, IT margins decline

Bangalore, October 19
Wipro Ltd today said its profit after tax for the July-September quarter jumped 18 per cent to Rs 824 crore but reported lower margins from IT services and products as a result of an appreciating rupee.

Revenues grew to Rs 4,785 crore, up by 35 per cent from the year-ago period, the company’s chairman Azim Premji said, announcing the consolidated financial summary for the quarter ended September 30.

The company did experience the impact of an appreciating rupee, but measures like better utilisation, increased productivity and quality mix had helped in muting the impact, Wipro executive president and CFO Suresh Senapaty said.

Operating margins from IT services declined to 22 per cent in the quarter under review from 26 per cent in the year-ago period.

ICICI nets Rs 1,003 cr

ICICI bank today posted a 33 per cent rise in its net profit at Rs 1,003 crore for the quarter ended September 30 against Rs 755 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

The net interest income of the bank rose by 34 per cent to Rs 1,786 crore in the quarter under review as against Rs 1,334 crore in the same period a year ago.

Bajaj Auto net up

Bajaj Auto today posted a 27.79 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 366.46 crore for the quarter ended September 30, compared to Rs 286.77 crore for the same period last fiscal.

The net income of the company increased marginally to Rs 2,583.34 crore for the quarter under review against Rs 2,538.86 crore for the corresponding period last year.

The net income also increased at Rs 2,578.4 crore for the September quarter compared to Rs 2,509.51 crore for the same quarter last fiscal.

Unichem Lab sales up

Unichem Laboratories recorded higher gross sales of Rs 153.1 crore during financial year 2008 as compared to Rs 149.2 crore for the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

The company’s net income from operations was at Rs 150.2 crore in financial year 2008 as against Rs 143.3 crore.

Unichem’s net profit after tax stood lower at Rs 21.3 crore in financial year 2008 as against Rs 25.7 crore for the same quarter last year.

GE Shipping

Great Eastern Shipping today posted 45.57 per cent surge in net profit at Rs 342.79 crore for the quarter ended September 30, against Rs 235.48 crore for the same period last fiscal.

The total income increased by 36.36 per cent at Rs 806.16 crore for the quarter under review compared to Rs 591.19 crore for the corresponding period a year ago. The board have approved allotment of interim dividend of Rs 4 per share to the equity shareholders of the company.

Asian Paints profit up

Asian Paints has posted a 37.63 per cent rise in its net profit at Rs 113.86 crore for the quarter ended September 30, against Rs 82.73 crore in the same period last year.

The total income for the quarter ended September 30 rose to Rs 1,159.62 crore, up by 15.34 per cent from Rs 1,007.86 crore in the same period a year ago.

Total income of the firm also rose to Rs 916.91 crore for the said quarter as compared to Rs 794.95 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal. — Agencies

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RIL can’t be forced to sell subsidised gas: HC

New Delhi, October 19
The Bombay High Court has ruled that Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries (RIL) cannot be forced to sell gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields to firms run by his brother Anil at subsidised rates and incur losses.

Justice Anoop V Mohta delivering the final verdict in the gas supply row between RIL and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd asked the two companies to decide on a new gas price as the rate of $2.34 per mBtu agreed in the family demerger agreement had already been rejected by the government.

"The respondents (RIL) cannot be directed to sell or supply gas at subsidised rate and to incur losses," he said.

The government had recently approved a market-determined price of $4.20 per mBtu for gas from KG-D6.

Upholding the government's right to decide on gas price, the court said the government's entitlement to profit petroleum from the total production will be reduced if gas is sold at sub-market price or if gas is undervalued.

RIL "cannot be compelled to commit such breaches to face the risk of termination of the contract (for KG-D6) itself." The court, however, thrashed RIL's contention on family demerger agreement and upheld the pact for splitting the Dhirubhai Ambani empire.

Under the demerger agreement, RIL is to supply RNRL 28 mmscmd of gas and an additional 12 mmscmd in case RIL's deal with NTPC fails.

It said the gas supply agreements between RIL and RNRL, entered into in January 2006 with Mukesh Ambani presiding over both RIL and demerged RNRL, was breach of demerger scheme and asked the two to renegotiate the same within four months.

The court's restrain on RIL from selling gas meant for RNRL to third party would continue for the period. The memorandum of understanding between Anil and Mukesh prior to the splitting of Reliance empire would be "binding" on both as well as their companies, the court held.

RIL, it said, should provide gas to power projects of companies (RNRL and Reliance Energy) that were formed because of the split. "But this should be definitely based on the suitable arrangement and agreements."

The order said the terms mentioned in the MoU and Gas Sales Master Agreement need to be suitable for both the parties subject to the government's policies and national, international practices in supply of gas. — PTI

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Coal distribution policy announced

New Delhi, October 19
The government today announced a new coal distribution policy, according top priority to power and fertiliser sectors that would get as much quantity required at pre-determined prices.

“Since power and fertiliser sectors are operating in a price regulatory regime, coal - to the extent of 100 per cent of the normative requirement of the units in these two sectors - will be made by the coal companies.... but only under the fuel supply agreement,” an official release said.

All other consumers, with requirement of 4,200 million tons per annum of coal, would be provided 75 per cent of their normative requirement. The present system of classification of consumers into core and non-core sectors has been done away with.

The government has also changed the concept of granting coal linkages to the project developers and introduced the feature of letter of assurance (LoA).

“Such LoA will be converted into the fuel supply agreement after specific milestones are achieved by the project promoters in a period of two years in case of power plants and one year in case of other consumers,” it said.

Consumers granted LoA would have to furnish a bank guarantee equivalent to five per cent of their annual requirement of coal, which will be forfeited if the suggested milestones were not achieved within the stipulated period.

Sale of coal through e-auction, which was banned by the Supreme Court late last year, has also been included in the new policy. — PTI

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Spectrum Award
Govt accepts TRAI’s proposals

New Delhi, October 19
The government today approved increase in subscribers base, recommended by telecom regulator TRAI, as a basis for further allocation of spectrum, a decision that may badly hit the existing GSM players like Bharti, Vodafone Essar and Idea.

The government has accepted the TRAI's recommendations of enhanced subscriber-linked criterion for frequency allocation and has set up a committee in Telecom Engineering Centre to "further" study and submit a report, Department of Telecom said.

DoT has also said that there would be no cap on number of players in each circle in order to ensure rapid expansion of telecom services, both in urban and rural areas, aimed at providing equal opportunities and level-playing field to all players.

DoT has also said that spectrum enhancement charges would be levied in addition to annual charges based on revenue share to licensees getting beyond 10 MHz for GSM and 5 MHz for CDMA players.

RCom, HFCL get nod for GSM

Mumbai: Reliance Communications (RCom) along with HFCLand Shyam Telcom received approvals to offer GSM services in their respective circles of operation from the DoT.

Reliance Communications today paid Rs 1,651 crore to the Department of Telecom towards fee for the spectrum.

When contacted, company spokesperson confirmed and told PTI, "We have paid the requisite fees," but declined to elaborate on company's roll out plans.

COAI to challenge

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the association of GSM players like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar, Idea and others, has strongly protested DoT's decision and has decided to challenge it in the telecom tribunal (TDSAT). — PTI

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Now, Bihar on Reliance radar
Tribune News Service

Patna, October 19
The world’s fifth richest man and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani today spelt out his plan favouring a long-term business engagement in Bihar in accordance with his company’s aggressive nationwide expansion plan.

Mukesh spent nearly four hours in the state capital today as a guest of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in his first ever bid to familiarise himself with the hidden potentials of this economically backward state.

Nitish recently met Mukesh at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence in Delhi, where RIL chairman reportedly showed keen interest to visit Bihar after he was apprised of the initiatives taken by the new dispensation to bring the state out from the clutches of underdevelopment.

Talking to the mediapersons, Mukesh admitted that a faster growth of Bihar was the need of the hour to put India firmly on global map.

Claiming that the primary focus of RIL was rural Bihar, Mukesh said he was considering a long-term engagement here.

Besides its retail foray, Reliance Fresh, RIL reportedly also has big plans for entering dairy sector - an area where Bihar has a huge potential.

Pointing out that it was his first ever initiative to identify RIL’s areas of interest in the state, Ambani was of the view that a mutual point of agreement could catapult the state’s desire to cruise on the fast lane of development and at the same time give fillip to the company’s aggressive expansion plans.

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MFs can’t shift depositors’ money at their own: SC

New Delhi, October 19
The Supreme Court has ruled that mutual funds cannot transfer depositors’ money without their consent to the Income Tax Department for alleged default in payment of taxes.

A Bench, headed by Justice S B Sinha, while dismissing an appeal filed by the Unit Trust of India, said the transfer of money by the MF in absence of any right of option exercised by the alleged defaulter assessee to the Revenue Department was illegal.

According to the court, Section 226(3) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, can not be interpreted to mean that the UTI was fully authorised to dispose of the units on its own without any notice to the units holder.

The action on part of the UTI was not valid, it said, adding “...it not only acted hastily but also illegally.”

“It is wholly incorrect to contend that the scheme itself provided that the repurchase was allowed from September 1, 2001, even without the consent of respondent (investor). It was for the respondent to give his option,” it stated.

The judgement came on cross appeals filed by both UTI as well as the investor challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court ruling that held the investor was entitled to the redemption value of all the units after five years. — PTI

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Hooda explores biz tie-ups in Canada
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
Haryana and Ontario province of Canada have explored the possibility of working together in the field of automobile and IT industries as both have commonalities in these fields. This was revealed in a statement issued by the state government here today. The statement further said a high-powered Haryana government and CII delegation led by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda reached Toronto, Canada, on its last leg of tour to the American continent. These possibilities were explored in a business roundtable and a reception, which was organised by the India Business Council and the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) at Toronto.

The meeting was largely attended by more than 200 enthusiast NRIs, predominately of the Haryana origin. The efforts of the Chief Minister for making Haryana a number one state in the country were highly appreciated. The high commissioner of India in Canada and the counsel general of India at Toronto were also present.

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Kotak Insurance to expand
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, October 19
Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Ltd would be one of the fastest insurance companies to achieve ‘break-even’ because of its low operational costs and lower policies lapses.

According to senior vice-president of the company Yog Raj Sharma, they would be opening 160 branches in the country by the year-end. The company was banking on customers from the five states — Punjab, Haryana, Gujurat, Maharasthra and Kerala.

He said they were planning to increase strength of life advisers to 40,000 from the current 25,000 during the financial year.

He was here to inaugurate eighth branch office of the company in the state. The company would be recruiting 150 life advisers in Yamunangar. The company has 97 branches at 65 locations.

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FIIs’ feedback on PN norms

Mumbai, October 19
Capital market regulator SEBI today said stakeholders have started giving their feedback on its proposal to check overseas investments in the stock market, an issue that created a panic at the bourses.

“Feedback from market participants on PNs (participatory notes) is coming in and we will evaluate all the feedback,” SEBI whole time member G Anantharaman said here today.

Finance minister P Chidambaram had sought to calm the foreign investors by assuring them that the SEBI would hear them ahead of taking a decision on the proposals relating to offshore derivative instruments by October 25.

“The proposed initiative is aimed at streamlining and rationalising PNs policy and it is in the interest of the market,” Anantharaman said. — PTI

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Crude oil above $90

Singapore, October 19
Crude oil surpassed $90 a barrel for the first time and is set for the biggest weekly gain since March after the dollar traded near a record low against the euro, enhancing the appeal of commodities as an investment.

Crude oil for November delivery reached $90.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest price since trading began in 1983. The contract has risen 7 per cent this week.

Investors purchased oil on speculation the Federal Reserve will cut borrowing costs to bolster the US economy when the bank next meets on October 31. — Bloomberg

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