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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Free Fall ahead as as Fed minutes hint at tapering!Sensex falls over 400 points as foreign buying slows!Rupee falls again!

Free Fall ahead as  as Fed minutes hint at tapering!Sensex falls over 400 points as foreign buying slows!Rupee falls again!

The annual headline inflation is expected to moderate to near 5 percent as there was reasonable price stability in some major commodities, the finance minister said on Thursday.

P. Chidambaram made the comment in a lecture at the National University of Singapore.

India's wholesale price index based headline inflation rose to an eight-month high in October at 7 percent, driven by costlier fuel and manufactured goods, raising the prospect of a fresh interest rate hike.

Chidambaram also said the fiscal deficit target of 4.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2012/13 would not be breached under any circumstances, even as many private economists say the deficit could cross the 5 percent mark.

Rupee falls most in a week; RBI prevents sharper fall

Tourists walk past a currency exchange shop at a shopping arcade in New Delhi August 20, 2013.


(Reuters) - The rupee faltered for a second consecutive day on Thursday to its lowest against the dollar in a week after Federal Reserve minutes hinted at stimulus tapering, sparking concerns about a renewed period of volatility in the currency.

Data showing foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have slowed their purchases in domestic shares further added to the weak sentiment. India is seen as being particularly vulnerable to foreign selling because of its current account deficit.

Traders also worry the rupee could be hit as a large part of the dollar demand by state-run oil companies, which was diverted to a special window by the RBI in August, has returned to markets recently.

"FII (foreign institutional investor) inflow fatigue is high given the year-end, weighing on INR," said Suresh Kumar Ramanathan, head of regional interest rate and FX strategy at CIMB Investment Bank, Kuala Lampur.

Ramanathan expects rupee to hit 62/dlr by year end, but any risk of a tapering could push it towards 65.00.

The partially convertible rupee closed at 62.93/94 per dollar, compared to 62.57/58 on Wednesday. It weakened as much as 63 during the day, its lowest since November 14.

Fed tapering concerns were sparked after minutes from its October meeting released on Wednesday signalled the central bank could start scaling back the asset purchases at one of their next few meetings provided this was warranted by economic growth.

The previous spell of Fed tapering fears had sent the rupee to a record low of 68.85 in late August.

Traders also cited regulatory and exchange data showing foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bought shares worth 800 million rupees on Wednesday, compared with more than 10 billion rupees each on Monday and Tuesday.

In the offshore non-deliverable forwards, the one-month contract was at 63.43, while the three-month was at 64.53.

(Editing by Sunil Nair)

Fitch: India faces difficult transition after rupee decline

A boy sells prayer beads as he sits outside a currency exchange shop in New Delhi August 21, 2013.


HONG KONG, November 20 (Fitch) - The sharp depreciation of the rupee in mid-2013 highlights India's difficult transition following an extended period of low growth, high inflation and a widening in the current account deficit.

Fitch Ratings says in a report published today that the spillover effects of a weaker rupee have not significantly hurt India's creditworthiness, and hence would not trigger any rating action as this point.

The economy has not lost much momentum, with both agriculture and exports remaining resilient and providing a cushion. Fitch therefore expects the economy to recover with real GDP forecast to rise 4.8% and 5.8% in FY14 (financial year ending March 2014) and FY15, respectively, compared with a 5.0% rise in FY13.

The modest economic recovery, however, will continue to undermine India's banking sector, which is facing a combination of weakening asset quality, eroding profit and declining capital. Nonetheless, these factors are likely to have only a moderate effect on the banking sector's ability to supply credit to the economy.

Inflation has risen only moderately, despite higher import prices stemming from the weaker rupee. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also signalled that it has started to place a greater focus on capping CPI.

The current account deficit is narrowing, following measures to curb gold imports, a weaker exchange rate, and softer domestic demand. Fitch forecasts the current account deficit to decline to 3.1% of GDP in FY14 (versus 4.8% in FY13). This fall, however, will not be enough to shield India from further pressures related to the eventual start of Fed tapering.

India's budget remains under pressure as the central government's (CG) fiscal deficit in the first six months of FY14 stood at 76% of the full-year target. The authorities have indicated that they are still committed to lowering the fiscal deficit to 4.8% of GDP (versus 4.9% in FY13). To achieve this, the CG is likely to clamp down heavily on expenditures in 2H FY14.

The ability to implement fiscal consolidation and continue with the overall economic adjustment process would support India's sovereign credit ratings. Fitch, however, acknowledges that the authorities' resolve to implement both tighter fiscal and monetary policies may be tested as the general election, which must be held by May 2014, approaches.

(The statement was released by the rating agency)

Link to Fitch Ratings' Report: India: Repurcussions from the Emerging-Markets Sell-off

Fed tapering unease rattles world shares


LONDON Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:21pm IST

Foam figures of bulls are seen in front of the German share price index DAX board at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, October 25, 2013.


(Reuters) - Renewed talk of an early cutback in the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus sent the dollar back above 100 yen on Thursday while driving government bonds yields higher and world shares lower.

Surprisingly weak data from China and the euro zone added to the downbeat tone, outweighing confirmation by the Bank of Japan that its massive stimulus will continue and signals that the European Central Bank was considering easing its policy further.

Minutes of the last Fed policy meeting released on Wednesday showed officials felt they could begin scaling back the bank's massive bond purchase programme at one of their next few meetings if economic conditions warranted it.

Many in the markets took that to mean the programme could be trimmed earlier than consensus forecasts, which had been pointing to March.

"I think December is now more likely (for Fed tapering) than was previously the case," said Simon Smith, chief economist at FXPro, adding this was largely due to the Fed having made clear tapering did not necessarily mean rate hikes would follow.

That shift in perceptions caused a big spike in U.S. bonds yields, boosting demand for the dollar which hit a four-month high of 100.83 yen, up 0.8 percent on the day.

German 10-year bond yields rose 6 basis points to 1.77 percent, tracking the rise in U.S. Treasury note yields, which reached 2.8 percent on Wednesday.

The dollar gains and prospects that the flow of Fed dollars could soon slow also had a major impact on gold, which saw its biggest drop in seven weeks on Wednesday to settle near $1,249 an ounce.


Share markets - which have recovered to pre-financial crisis levels this year largely thanks to the loose monetary policies adopted by the Fed and other major central banks - lost ground broadly.

An exception was Japan, where the Nikkei index rose as exporters gained from the weaker yen.

MSCI's global benchmark index, which tracks price moves across 45 countries, shed 0.4 percent, putting it on course for its biggest weekly loss since August.

"Having got hooked on both indefinite QE and low interest rates, investors are becoming increasingly restless and inclined to taking profits," said Alastair Winter, chief economist at Daniel Stewart.

But some analysts said the Fed minutes, from a meeting held there weeks ago, had not settled the debate over the central bank's next move, which could limit further moves in prices of riskier assets.

"Our house view is that there is 25 percent chance in December, 25 percent in January and 50 percent in March," Nick Xanders, who heads up European equity strategy at BTIG said.

Europe's broadest share index, the FTSEurofirst 300, was down 0.4 percent with banks, which are most acutely exposed to the benefits offered by monetary stimulus, among the biggest fallers.

Mining stocks dropped further still, shedding 1 percent as the sector took an added hit from data showing activity in China's vast factory sector grew at a slower pace than expected in November.

Unexpectedly weak surveys of business activity in France and the whole 17-nation euro area piled on the gloom, though these were partially offset by data showing Germany's manufacturing and services sectors performed better than forecast.

"Output, outside France and Germany, did rise for the fourth month in a row, suggesting the region is returning to growth - but the concern is that the rate of increase we saw in November did slide to the weakest we've seen in those four months," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at survey compiler Markit.


In the oil market, uncertainty over whether world powers will be able to strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme added to the concerns about an early Fed tapering, sending Brent crude futures below $108 a barrel

"The issue of tapering is back to the fore after yesterday's Fed minutes," said Victor Shum, vice-president of energy consultancy IHS Energy Insight. "Talks between Iran and world powers are erasing some geopolitical risk, but the situation in Libya is putting a floor under prices."

Brent crude fell 12 cents to $107.94 a barrel by 0915 GMT, while U.S. oil shed 17 cents to $93.62.

(Additional reporting by Marius Zaharia, Toni Vorobyova and Manash Goswami; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Google aims to get 50 million Indian women online by 2015

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Google India plans to get 50 million women in India using the Internet within one year through a new initiative that aims to bridge the gender digital divide by providing women with easier access to technology, the company said.


Cyclone Helen approaches southern coast

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A cyclone is expected to strike Andhra Pradesh within the next 24 hours, Indian Meteorological Department's (IMD) warned on Thursday, advising authorities to suspend fishing operations and evacuate villagers living along the coast.

1:59pm IST

Nokia asks Delhi High Court to release factory seized in tax dispute

HELSINKI - Nokia has asked the Delhi High Court to help release its Indian factory after its seizure by the local tax authorities, the Finnish firm said on Thursday as it seeks to resolve the tax dispute ahead of the sale of its mobile phone business to Microsoft .

Business 3:45pm IST

U.S. drone kills senior militant in Pakistani seminary

PESHAWAR, Pakistan/KABUL - A suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Pakistan killed a senior member of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network early on Thursday, Pakistani and Afghan sources said.

South Asia, World, 5:27pm IST

Gold rush in space? Asteroid miners prepare, but eye water first

LONDON - Mining in space is moving from science fiction to commercial reality but metals magnates on this planet need not fear a mountain of extraterrestrial supply - the aim is to fuel human voyages deeper into the galaxy.

World 4:41pm IST

Nepal election in shambles as Maoists claim fraud, reject result

KATHMANDU - Nepal's powerful Maoist leader and former guerrilla chief Prachanda said on Thursday he did not accept the results of an election his party appeared to be losing, throwing the Himalayan nation into a fresh political crisis.

South Asia 4:36pm IST

Bangladesh approves wage hike for garment factory workers

DHAKA - Garment workers in Bangladesh will get a 77 percent pay increase from December as the government tries to end a wave of strikes that have roiled the world's second largest clothing exporter in recent months.

South Asia, World 4:22pm IST

Brilliant Broad silences Brisbane boos

BRISBANE - England paceman Stuart Broad ignored the jeers, chants and catcalls of a hostile Gabba crowd to take five wickets and leave Australia clinging on at 273 for eight on the first day of the first Ashes test on Thursday.

3:24pm IST

Karzai says Afghanistan needs U.S. security deal, but little trust

KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a meeting of tribal elders and political leaders on Thursday they should support a security pact with the United States, but acknowledged there was little trust between the two nations.

World, South Asia 3:19pm IST

Afghanistan, U.S. reach draft security agreement

KABUL/WASHINGTON - The United States and Afghanistan reached a draft agreement on Wednesday laying out the terms under which U.S. troops may stay beyond 2014, one day before Afghan elders are to debate the issue.

1 OF 2. The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building is pictured next to a traffic signal in Mumbai August 16, 2013.


(Reuters) - The BSE Sensex fell nearly 2 percent on Thursday as blue-chip shares slumped for a second straight day on fears the pace of foreign investor buying is slowing down. The Nifty closed more than 2 percent lower, marking its biggest single-day percentage fall in nearly two months.

Waning risk appetite from foreign investors is reviving concerns about India's vulnerability when the Federal Reserve begins to taper its monetary stimulus given the country's dependence on overseas flows to bridge its current account deficit.

A new reminder came on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed's October meeting signalled a tapering could start soon, which along with China's downbeat manufacturing data, hit other shares in the region.

Foreign investors have pumped a net $6 billion into cash shares since late August, helping the benchmark BSE index .BSESN hit a record high on November 3.

"Volatility would only increase from here onwards as we head towards derivatives expiry amid weak global cues. We need at least 6 to 8 billion rupees of FII buying in the cash market everyday to sustain at these levels," said Vivek Mahajan, head of research, Aditya Birla Money.

The broader Nifty closed down 2.02 percent, or 123.85 points, at 5,999.05, marking its biggest single-day fall since September 23 and closing below the key 6,000 level.

The BSE Sensex ended lower 1.97 percent, or 406.08 points, at 20,229.05, marking its lowest close in a week.

Foreign investors bought shares worth 800 million rupees on Wednesday, compared with nearly 10 billion rupees each on Monday and Tuesday. They sold stock futures worth 6.5 billion rupees over the previous two sessions.

Among index stocks with high foreign ownership, ITC Ltd (ITC.NS) fell 2.4 percent and Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC.NS) dropped 3.2 percent.

Among other blue-chip companies, Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS) fell 1.7 percent, Larsen & Toubro Ltd (LART.NS) lost 2.9 percent and ICICI Bank Ltd (ICBK.NS) ended down 1.8 percent.

Infosys Ltd (INFY.NS) fell 1.7 percent, adding to its 1.2 percent loss on Wednesday after hitting the highest level in nearly three years on Tuesday.

However, among stocks that gained, Dabur India Ltd (DABU.NS) rose 2 percent as dealers cited attractive valuations after recent underperformance.

(Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

Rupee falls as Fed minutes hint at tapering

A man watches television inside his currency exchange shop in New Delhi August 30, 2013.


Reuters Market Eye - The rupee falls to 62.85/86 versus its previous close of 62.57/58, after earlier hitting a session high of 62.97.

Losses track global gains in dollar after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's October policy meeting suggested the central bank could soon move to taper monetary stimulus.

The RBI spotted intervening in early trade after the rupee fell in line with other Asian currencies. Traders warn continued weakness could spark more intervention from the central bank.

(Reporting by Archana Narayanan)

Fed officials felt taper may happen at next few meetings -minutes


WASHINGTON Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:28am IST

United States money printing plates are seen at the Museum of American Finance in New York October 15, 2010.


(Reuters) - Federal Reserve officials felt they could decide to start scaling back the U.S. central bank's massive asset-purchase program at one of its next few meetings provided this was warranted by economic growth.

Minutes of the Fed's October 29-30 policy meeting, released on Wednesday, also showed officials discussed how to distinguish between asset buying and forward interest rates guidance, including how to enhance rate guidance once they start to taper bond purchases.

Some suggested reducing the interest paid to banks on excess reserves held at the Fed would help to hammer home its intention to keep interest rates low.

Some thought reducing the unemployment threshold on when the Fed would start to consider raising rates might help. But that suggestion appeared to have been countered by other officials who worried that changing the threshold would undermine Fed credibility.

"Many members stressed the data-dependent nature of the current asset-purchase program," according to the minutes. "Some pointed out that, if economic conditions warranted, the Committee could decide to slow the pace of purchases at one of its next few meetings."

Policymakers of the Federal Open Market Committee are next scheduled to gather on December 17-18.

U.S. stocks .SPX and crude oil prices turned lower on the news of the minutes, while yields on U.S. Treasury bonds went up.

Economists said the tone of the debate among officials last month highlighted their desire to shift the focus of their policy action from bond buying toward forward guidance, aimed at holding down rate-hike expectations.

"The minutes of the October FOMC meeting added to the sense that Fed policymakers are laying the groundwork for relying more heavily on forward guidance and less on asset purchases as the main tool of policy," wrote Barclays economist Peter Newland in New York.

Officials voted to keep buying bonds at an $85 billion monthly pace at the October meeting and many economists think they will delay scaling back purchases until January or March.

The Fed has held interest rates near zero since late 2008 and quadrupled its balance sheet to $3.9 trillion through three massive rounds of bond buying to stimulate the economy by keeping interest rates low.

That said, St. Louis Fed chief James Bullard said earlier on Wednesday that he would not rule out action at their meeting in December [ID:nL2N0J516J], noting cumulative gains in the labor market since last year.

His comment echoed a remark by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday, who also said the central bank could keep interest rates near zero until "well after" unemployment falls under 6.5 percent.

The Fed has promised to hold rates near zero until unemployment hits 6.5 percent, provided the outlook for inflation stays under 2.5 percent. But Bernanke said the Fed could be patient in waiting to start raising rates. The U.S. jobless rate was 7.3 percent in October.

Back in October, officials had discussed using exactly the sort of public statement deployed by Bernanke: "either to improve clarity or to add to policy accommodation, perhaps in conjunction with a reduction in the pace of asset purchases as part of a rebalancing of the Committee's tools."

Officials also held an unscheduled video conference call on October 16 to discuss contingency plans should the U.S. Treasury become temporarily unable to meet debt obligations due to a budget battle in Washington over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

There was also a discussion of making a mention in October's statement that the 16-day partial government shutdown made it harder to assess economic conditions. But officials, who did not expect it to have much broad economic impact, decided not to do so because that would have overemphasized its importance for policy. (Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

Govt slaps $792 m addl fine on Reliance

The notice has been slapped for producing less than targeted natural gas from its offshore KG-D6 block


New Delhi: The government has slapped an additional penalty of $792 million on Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) for producing less than targeted natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 block.

A notice disallowing $792 million out of the cost already incurred on the Bay of Bengal fields was sent to RIL on November 14, an oil ministry official said here.

With this, a total of $1.797 billion penalty in form of cost being disallowed has been levied on RIL for producing less than targeted output during the past three years.

The company has till date spent $10.76 billion on the block, which it can contractually recover from sale of oil and gas. It is obliged to share the profits with the government only after recouping those expenses.

The official said the cost has been disallowed as RIL and its partners BP plc of UK and Canada's Niko Resources did not drill the committed number of wells, which led to output dropping by over 80 per cent from the main Dhirubhai—1 and 3 (D1&D3) gas fields in the KG—D6 block.

D1&D3 fields have in the first fours years of production (2009—10 to 2012—13) produced a total of 1.853 trillion cubic feet of gas, 1.196 Tcf short of 3.049 Tcf that RIL had committed to produce in the 2006 development plan.

But for the first year, the output has lagged the targets in all subsequent years, which has led to a huge chunk of facilities built lying unutilised, the official said.

RIL had built facilities to handle 80 million standard cubic metres per day of gas from D1&D3 but the present output is just 8.78 mscmd.

As per the production sharing contract, RIL and its partners BP Plc and Niko Resources are allowed to deduct all of the capital and operating expenses from sale of gas before sharing profits with the government.

Creation of excess or unutilised infrastructure impacts government's profit share and this is being sought to be corrected by disallowing part of the cost.

According to the approved field development plan, the output should have reached 80 mscmd last fiscal.

The government had previously issued a notice to RIL disallowing $1.005 billion in cost for shortfall in production during 2010—11 and 2011—12 ($457 million for 2010—11 and the rest $548 million for 2011—12).

RIL to repair wells to increase KG-D6 gas output

The company had closed half of the 18 producing wells at Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas fields which led to 85 per cent drop in output


New Delhi: Reliance Industries will repair a third of the wells shut at its main gas field in the eastern offshore KG-D6 block to boost output in the first quarter of 2014. RIL closed half of the 18 producing wells at the Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas fields in the KG-DWN-98/3, or KG-D6 block, due to sand and water flooding, leading to an 85 per cent output drop at 9.4 million standard cubic meters a day.

The company is mobilising a drilling rig for the D1&D3 fields "to commence a three-well workover programme that is expected to increase the volumes from this field in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year (ending March 31, 2013)," said Niko Resources, a minority partner in the KG-D6 block.

Workover is the process of performing major maintenance or remedial treatment on an oil or gas well. Niko, which holds a 10 per cent interest in the KG-D6 block, said in its second-quarter earnings statement that the workovers will "contribute" to an increase in gas production. BP Plc of UK holds the remaining 30 per cent in KG-D6. RIL, the operator of the block with a 60 per cent stake, produced 12.26 mmscmd from the D1&D3 gas fields and the MA oil and gas field in the block in the Bay of Bengal in the week ended October 27, according to a status report of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).

RIL had also shut two of the six wells at the MA field due to high water and sand ingress. The DGH report said the D1&D3 fields produced 9.39 mmscmd of gas, while the remainder came from the MA field. The KG-D6 fields, which began gas production in April 2009, hit a peak output of 69.43 mmscmd in March 2010 before water and sand ingress shut down well after well. D1&D3, the largest of the 18 gas discoveries in the KG-D6 block, produced 66.35 mmscmd, while 3.07 mmscmd was the output from the MA field, the only oil discovery on the block. Besides the fall in output from D1&D3, gas production from the MA field, which had hit a peak of 6.78 mmscmd in January 2012, has dropped.

Niko said a development well, MA-8, has been spud at the MA field. "The well is expected to be on-stream in December." The well and the workovers will help reverse the drop in output at KG-D6.

Sources said the workovers had been stuck for almost two years as the Oil Ministry and the DGH refused to approve their budgets. They were cleared only after Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily intervened. The DGH report said 12 mmscmd of the last reported output at KG-D6 was sold to urea manufacturing plants and no sale was made to power plants. The remaining production was consumed by the pipeline that transports the KG-D6 gas, it said.



The Hindu

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Weaker rupee impact is not significant: Fitch Ratings

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - The rupee faltered for a second consecutive day on Thursday to its lowest against the dollar in a week after Federal Reserve minutes hinted at stimulus tapering, sparking concerns about a renewed period of volatility in the currency.


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Dabur India shares gain 2.5 per cent; dealers say valuations attractive


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Etihad plane makes mayday call, lands safely

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Cipla ups stake in Ugandan firm, acquires 14.5% for $15 million


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Indian gold premiums jump; lower prices spur some buying elsewhere

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Laxmi Jain hikes stake in Jai Corp Ltd to 7.99%

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