21:39 That's all for today, readers. Thanks for staying on with our coverage of the day's action. Your enthusiasm encourages us to better our coverage every day. Do come back tomorrow for more news, views and insights.
21:27 NEET mandatory for medical courses in foreign varsities too
The health ministry today made the national eligibility-cum-entrance test (NEET) mandatory for even those who wish to pursue medical courses in foreign universities.
NEET was introduced in 2016 for admission to government and private medical colleges in India.
"It has come to notice that medical institutions/ universities of foreign countries admit Indian students without proper assessment or screening of the students' academic ability to cope up with medical education with the result that many students fail to qualify the screening test.
"In this regard, the proposal of Medical Council of India (MCI) to amend the Screening Test Regulations, 2002, making it mandatory to qualify NEET to pursue foreign medical course has been approved by this ministry," according to an official statement.
According to a senior health ministry official, a mere 12-15 per cent of the graduates who come back after studying abroad manage to clear the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE).
21:24 Commonwealth starts secret talks on who will succeed Queen Elizabeth II
Senior Commonwealth officials are holding secret talks here to decide who will succeed 91-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, media reports said on Tuesday.
The Queen was proclaimed Head of the Commonwealth at her coronation in 1953, when she was the head of state in seven of the organisation's eight members.
A high-level group of Commonwealth officials on Tuesday held a day-long summit here and, according to insiders, were poised to discuss who should replace the monarch after her death.
The meeting's agenda, seen by BBC, includes consideration of wider governance, which sources told the broadcaster was code for the succession.
The post of the head of the Commonwealth is not a hereditary position that will pass automatically to the Prince of Wales, currently Prince Charles, 69, when the monarch dies.
21:15 Monitoring P&W engine glitches to ensure safety, says DGCA
Aviation regulator DGCA today said it is monitoring engine glitches in the Pratt and Whitney- powered Airbus A320 Neo aircraft to ensure that safety is not compromised at any time.
IndiGo has grounded three A320 neo aircraft due to engine problems.
The DGCA move follows a directive from European aviation safety regulator EASA after instances of the engine's in- flight shutdowns and rejected take-offs involving A320 neo family planes.
"It is to reiterate that DGCA is continuously monitoring these operations to ensure that safety is not compromised at any stage and A320neo aircraft in the fleet of Indian operators are being operated safely," according to a statement from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
20:42 Over 3.4 lakh imported DES distributed in India in 2017: NPPA
Drug eluting stents (DES) with landed cost between Rs 15,001 and Rs 20,000 accounted for 45 percent of total sales of the imported medical device in India in 2017, according to national drug pricing regulator.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) also said contrary to the hype of stents imported from China garnering major portion of sales, the country accounted for a meagre one per cent of the total stents distributed in India last year.
Out of a total of 4,04,144 drug eluting stents imported last year, a total of 3,41,229 units were distributed, the NPPA said in a tweet.
Of these, the NPPA said 1,51,898 units priced between Rs 15,001 and Rs 20,000 were distributed, accounting for 45 percent of the total sales.
20:18 SA vs IND Match Update | Sharma stars with 115 as middle order fails as India sets SA 275 to chase. Catch the latest match updates here
20:03 Centre forcing states to reduce projected demand under MGNREGA: Supreme Court
The Centre is "forcing" states to slash their projected demand for funds under the rural employment guarantee scheme due to which states were unable to provide employment to people, an NGO today alleged in the Supreme Court.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and N V Ramana was told by advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, that the Centre cannot cap the funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which provides for 100 days of employment per family per year.
"Today, more than half of the state governments are controlled by the party which runs the central government. That is why the Centre is asking these states not to make a fuss about it (funds). The Centre is saying that if you (states) will make a fuss about it, we will cut the budget," he told the bench.
He said budgetary constraints could come into effect only if employment has crossed the limit of 100 days per annum per family and the government cannot limit the funds till then.
"The Centre is forcing states to reduce the projected demand," he claimed, adding that the average employment provided under the Act has come down to 40-45 days against the stipulated 100 days annually.
D Raja of the CPI said that the statement has been made in response to what BJP & RSS are saying. Because it is BJP & RSS combined which is questioning the patriotism of Muslims. Religion should not be made a criteria to brand people as nationalist or anti-nationalist:
19:25 Government proposes permitting premature closure of PPF account
The government proposes to allow premature closure of Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts and permit opening of small savings accounts in the name of minor, the finance ministry said today.
The legislative changes proposed in the Finance Bill 2018 are aimed at adding flexibility in operation of the account under Small Savings Schemes (SSS), it said.
Dismissing concerns expressed in the certain section of media, the ministry said that all existing protections have been retained while consolidating PPF Act under the proposed Government Savings Promotion Act. (PTI)
19:10 SA vs IND Match Update | Rohit Sharma has scored his 17th ODI century. India 203/3 in 36 overs at Port Elizabeth while batting first.
18:56 Rahul Gandhi thanks Karnataka for 'affection and warmth'
After winding up his four-day campaign in poll-bound Karnataka, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today thanked the state for the "warmth and affection" it extended to him during the visit.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi posted a video showing highlights of the campaign 'Jana Ashirwada Yatre', during which he held rallies, interacted with farmers and visited temples and a dargah.
"Thank you Karnataka for your warmth and affection!" he tweeted. (PTI)
18:32 Defence Ministry's nod for procuring 7.40 lakh assault rifles
The Defence Ministry today cleared a proposal to buy 7.40 lakh assault rifles at a cost of Rs 12,280 crore for the three services, officials said.
The defence ministry will also procure light machine guns worth Rs 1,819 crore, they said. (PTI)
18:14 Hike partners Ola for taxi-booking through its app
Users of mobile application Hike will now be able to book Ola cabs, autos directly from their messaging app and pay through the Hike Wallet or in cash.
The home-grown messenger Hike on Tuesday announced a partnership with taxi-hailing app Ola to bring cab and auto booking facility on the Hike app.
Hike users can use Ola cab booking services through their Hike app from February 14.
17:47 South Africa’s ruling party ANC has said it has decided that President Jacob Zuma must leave office, according to AP.
17:36 YSRCP Chief Jaganmohan Reddy has said that Members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to his party will resign if Andhra Pradesh is not given special status by April 5.
17:26 The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed Central Pollution Control Board to collect and analyse samples of Yamuna water in Delhi.
17:12 London City Airport reopens after World War 2 bomb removed from Thames
London's City Airport reopened and was operating as usual on Tuesday, the airport said, after a World War Two bomb which was found nearby was safely removed from the River Thames.
All flights to and from the airport were cancelled on Monday after the half-tonne ordnance was found at the nearby George V Dock in east London, and a 200-metre exclusion zone was also put in place. (Reuters)
16:53 India's tour of South Africa | JP Duminy will captain a South Africa Twenty20 squad with three new caps to take on India in three matches later this month, Cricket South Africa has announced.
16:33 Fortis inks pact to acquire portfolio of RHT Health Trust
Fortis Healthcare today said it has entered into definitive agreements with Singh Brothers-promoted RHT Health Trust (RHT) to acquire entire portfolio of assets of the Singapore-listed entity for an enterprise value of Rs 4,650 crore. (PTI)16:11 India saw 15,529 cases of failed male sterilisation since 2009, reveals RTI
While male sterilisation is being encouraged as a population control measure, there have been many cases of failed vasectomy and at all India level, nearly 199 failed cases of male sterilisation were reported in 2017, reveals data collected from several replies received under Right to Information (RTI) Act.
As per the data collected from the Union Ministry of Health by RTI activist Chetan Kothari, of these 199 failed cases, 5 were reported from urban areas and 194 from rural areas. They included 155 cases handled by public hospitals and 44 by private hospitals. The maximum failed cases were reported from Rajasthan.
In all, over 15,529 cases of failed male sterilisation were reported in the country since 2009. The break up is: 2017 (199), 2016 (200), 2015 (203), 2014 (611), 2013 (1,163), 2012 (1,550 ), 2011 (964), 2010 (792), 2009 (1,530), 2008 (8,317 ). The maximum were reported from Odisha (7,821), followed by Karnataka (887), Bihar(665) and Andhra Pradesh (551).15:58 MFs seeks level playing field after tax DDT, LTCG imposition
The mutual fund (MF) industry has sought level playing field vis-a-vis the unit linked insurance plans (ULIP) after the imposition of the dividend distribution tax (DDT) and long-term capital gains tax (LTCG) in the budget, an official of the industry body Amfi said.
Association of Mutual Funds in India (Amfi) has already sent representations to the Finance Ministry and capital market regulator Sebi in the regard, the official said. "Earlier, the mutual funds were subject to securities transaction tax (STT) only. Now, this budget has imposed DDT and LTCG on mutual funds. It would have been better if LTCG was not there," Chief Executive of AMFI NS Venkatesh said.
He said Amfi has asked for a level playing field vis-a-vis the ULIPs as these were almost similar instruments like MFs and there were no such taxes on them. "We have sent representations to both the Finance Ministry and SEBI to reconsider the tax impositions. Hope something will be done when the Finance Bill gets passed," he said. Venkatesh said there had not been any impact on the tax imposition on the MF industry so far and the flow to the assets under management (AUM) were normal like before.15:52 After waiver, crop loan disbursement in Maha plummets to 41% from 72%
The loan waiver has hit crop loan disbursements by banks in the state, data from the state-level bankers committee (SLBC) till the end of January shows. In 2016-17 till the end of January, the state’s banks achieved 72% of their crop loan target. But during the same 10-month span in 2017-18, they have achieved just 41% of their target, reports The Times of India.
In absolute terms, disbursal has fallen by Rs 15,004 crore. In 2016-17, banks lent Rs 37,099 crore till the end of January. By 2017-18, the figure fell to Rs 22,095 crore. The reason, bankers said, is that recoveries from farmers have been hit since they are waiting for the waiver payout. Unless defaults are cleared, banks do not extend fresh loans. The new sowing season begins in June.15:42 High-end bikes to get cheaper as govt slashes import duty
Imported motorcycles from high-end brands, including Harley Davidson and Triumph, are set to get cheaper as the government slashed customs duty to 50%, reports PTI. Earlier, import of motorcycles with engine capacity of 800cc or less used to attract 60% duty, while those with capacity of 800cc or more attracted 75% duty. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), through a notification on February 12, has slashed the duty on both these variants of motorcycles imported as completely build units (CBU) to 50%.15:37 Two terrorists killed in Srinagar encounter
Mopping up operations were under way at a building in Srinagar's Karan Nagar area with security forces killing two terrorists, officials said. The encounter between militants and security forces, which began on Monday after ultras tried to attack a CRPF camp, resumed this morning after an overnight lull, reports PTI.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain militants were not immediately known. Security forces had launched a final assault on the terrorists hiding in an under construction building in Karan Nagar area this morning, officials said. The incident came two days after Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists attacked an Army camp in Sunjuwan area of Jammu, killing seven people, including six Army soldiers.15:16 IB tells officers to be ‘more careful & very discreet’ on Hindutva outfits
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has asked its field units to be ‘more careful’ and ‘very discreet’ while dealing with matters related to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and non-Sangh Hindu organisations, reports The Times of India.
“In the aftermath of developments relating to Pravin Togadia, the units are requested to be more careful while dealing with matters related to VHP/BD and non-Sangh Hindu organisation/outfits. Any inquiries related to these organisations shall be conducted in a very discreet manner,” said the letter circulated by the IB to its field operatives.15:08 Citi India bans use of debit/credit cards to buy bitcoins
Citi India has banned use of its debit and credit cards for purchase of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies following concerns expressed by the Reserve Bank over virtual currencies, reports PTI. Citi India in a message to its customers said it has banned usage of its debit and credit cards for purchase or trading of virtual currencies.15:03 Justice Khanwilkar recuses from hearing Bofors case in SC
Justice AM Khanwilkar of the Supreme Court recused himself from hearing the politically sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors payoff case, reports PTI. Justice Khanwilkar, who was the part of a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, did not give any reason for opting himself out of hearing the matter. The bench, which also comprised Justice DY Chandrachud, said a new bench would be constituted for hearing the matter on March 28.14:53 Extraordinary growth in US shale oil could soon force Opec to take action, IEA says
The relentless rise of US shale growth could soon spark another dramatic change of policy from leading oil producers, according to the latest monthly report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). "U.S. producers are enjoying a second wave of growth so extraordinary that in 2018 their increase in liquids production could equal global demand growth," the IEA said.
"This is a sobering thought for other producers currently sitting on shut-in production capacity and facing a renewed challenge to their market share," the Paris-based organisation added. In November 2014, the so-called US shale revolution prompted Opec to announce a new strategy geared towards improving its market share. Market conditions in early 2018 seem to be reminiscent of that first wave of US shale growth, prompting the IEA to warn history could be repeating itself, reports CNBC.14:37 RCom convenes meeting of holders of USD 300-mn bonds on Mar 6
Debt-ridden telecom firm Reliance Communications said it has called a meeting on March 6 of the holders of its $300 million senior secured bonds for considering certain proposals, relating to asset monetisation. The transaction is subject to requisite consents and approvals as may be required, it said. The company had issued $300 million worth senior secured notes, secured at 6.5% and due in 2020. The meeting would be held at London on March 6, 2018.14:35 OVL to hold 4%, IOC 3% in Abu Dhabi oilfield
ONGC Videsh, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat PetroResources (BPRL) will split the 10% stake in a giant offshore oilfield in Abu Dhabi in a 4:3:3 ratio. The three firms had on Saturday signed a contract to pick up a combined 10% stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co's (ADNOC) Lower Zakum concession, Offshore Abu Dhabi, for $600 million.
OVL will take 40% of the stake, that is, 4% in the entire oilfield. The remaining 60% would be equally split between IOC and BPRL (3% apiece), officials said. While OVL is the overseas investment arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), BPRL is a unit of state-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL).14:28 Canara Bank to raise Rs 4,500cr to meet cap needs
Public sector Canara Bank will raise up to Rs 4,500 crore through issuance of shares to investors, including FIIs, QIBs or NRIs. The bank, in a regulatory filing, said it will place the proposal at the proposed extraordinary general meeting scheduled on March 1 for getting approval for "raising of capital of up to Rs 1,000 crore in addition to Rs 3,500 crore approved by the shareholders of the bank, thus aggregating in all up to Rs 4,500 crore from investors other than the government".
The bank said the proceeds will be utilised to meet the capital requirements of the bank and grow its assets, primarily loans and investment portfolio due to growth of the Indian economy and for other general corporate purposes including meeting the expenses of the issue.14:24 Bank of Baroda to exit South Africa by March-end
State-owned Bank of Baroda has decided to exit by March-end its South Africa operations after 21 years amid a probe into alleged compliance lapses by the bank there. The bank in a regulatory filing said that it is exiting operations in South Africa as part of its strategic plan for rationalisation of overseas branches. The business of the bank in South Africa is not very significant and the exit will not have any major impact on its financials, it said in a filing.14:18 Critics of Aadhaar project say they have been harassed, put under surveillance
Researchers and journalists who have identified loopholes in India’s massive national identity card project have said they have been slapped with criminal cases or harassed by government agencies because of their work. Last month, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) filed a criminal case against the Tribune for publishing a story that said access to the card’s database could be bought for Rs 500. Reuters spoke to eight additional researchers, activists and journalists who have complained of being harassed after writing about Aadhaar. They said UIDAI and other government agencies were extremely sensitive to criticism of the Aadhaar programme.14:11 Trump has a tweet for everything, but none yet for Olympics
President Donald Trump has a tweet for just about everything, but he's got nothing so far for Team USA a few days into the 2018 Olympic Games, reports AP. Since the competition began on Friday, Trump has tweeted about the massive budget deal he signed into law, his desire to have more Republican legislators in Congress and offered condolences for two Ohio police officers who were killed in the line of duty.
He tweeted about jobless claims dropping, his decision to block release of a Democratic memo on the Russia investigation and the downfall of a top aide accused of domestic abuse. Missing from the series? Any mention of Team USA or words of encouragement for the athletes competing in the games that opened Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.14:09 NTPC bags order to supply 300MW electricity to Bangladesh
NTPC, India's biggest electricity producer, said it has won a tender to supply 300MW of electricity to Bangladesh for 15 years. Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) had invited tenders for supply of 500MW power from India for short-term (June 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019) and long-term (January 1, 2020 to May 31, 2033).14:02 Motherson Sumi Systems Q3 net profit at Rs 561.71cr
Auto component major Motherson Sumi Systems reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 561.71 crore in the third quarter ended December 2017. The company had posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 547.32 crore in the year-ago period.
Consolidated total revenue from operations during the period under review stood at Rs 14,397.85 crore. It was Rs 10,784.19 crore in the year-ago period. The figures are not comparable due to the acquisition of Finland's wiring harness major PKC Group in March last year, the company said.13:57 Fortis seeks 15-day extension to declare Q2, Q3 results
Fortis Healthcare, India's second-largest hospital chain, has sought a 15-day extension to declare earnings for the second and third quarter of the current financial year citing statutory auditors' inability to complete the audit before the stipulated board meeting. The board of Fortis Healthcare was to consider financial results for July-September and October-December 2017 quarters at its meeting today. In a regulatory filing, the company said the board meeting will go as scheduled and would consider the resignation of promoters - Malvinder Mohan Singh and Shivinder Mohan Singh - from the board.13:47 BSE SME platform to see 100 IPOs in 2018
Spurred by investor interest, as many as 100 small and medium enterprises (SME) are expected to list on the BSE's platform this year, BSE SME Head Ajay Thakur told PTI. Last year, around 55 SME companies had tapped the IPO route and got listed on the exchange's platform. "The IPO pipeline is good, which shows the confidence among the companies. We are expecting around 100 SME IPOs in 2018," Thakur said.13:38 Max Life set to buy 51% stake in IDBI Federal Life for Rs 3K cr, says report
Max Life Insurance Co has emerged as the leading candidate to buy out or pick up a majority stake in IDBI Federal Life Insurance Co, reports Mint. IDBI Federal Life is valued around Rs 6,000 crore, sources said, adding that Max is more likely to buy a 51% stake in the firm.
“All options are being looked at,” sources said. “If a foreign insurer comes, it can’t pick up more than 49%, which will mean that the existing foreign partner will have to go and the existing domestic partners will have to dilute part of their stakes. If an Indian insurer comes, it will have the option to pick up the entire stake in the company.”13:25 HC upholds DIAL order on Indigo, Spicejet shifting ops to T-2
The Delhi High Court upheld its single judge order accepting DIAL's decision to partially shift Indigo and SpiceJet operations from IGI airport's terminal T-1 to T-2, reports PTI. A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Rekha Palli, however, directed Indigo and SpiceJet to approach Delhi International Airport (DIAL) within one week.
The airport regulator shall in another week decide when the airlines have to shift their operations. The bench also said that if the airlines failed to approach DIAL, the airport regulator was free to send them a communication about shifting of their services.
The high court's decision came on Indigo and SpiceJet's plea challenging its single judge order of December 20 last year, upholding DIAL's decision to partially shift the operations of private carriers Indigo, GoAir and SpiceJet from Terminal-1 (T-1) to Terminal-2 (T-2) at the IGI Airport.13:02 Puravankara looking to create up to Rs 2,000 cr realty fund
Realty firm Puravankara plans to set up a real estate fund of up to Rs 2,000 crore to develop affordable housing projects, primarily in key markets of Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Buoyed by healthy sales bookings of over Rs 1,100 crore till December in the current fiscal, the company has lined up launch of 15 new projects by March next year entailing an investment of about Rs 3,200 crore in construction, spread over the next five years.12:52 Voltas, Blue Star Q3 – All set to tackle the heat
As India gets ready to face the scorching summer heat, air conditioner (AC) companies are gearing up for the seasonally strong quarters ahead. With disposable incomes rising and government’s push towards pan-India electrification evident, white good manufacturers have quite a few tailwinds to look forward to.
In this context, the quarterly numbers of Voltas and Blue Star, two of India’s most popular AC companies, beckon attention. Read the full story here 12:33 Inflation peaking off; RBI may cut rates by 25 bps in Aug: BofA-ML
Inflation is peaking off and the Reserve Bank of India is expected to cut rates by 25 bps in August if monsoon is normal. According to global financial services major Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA-ML), inflation risks are overdone. January inflation stood at 5.1%, a shade below December's 5.2%, and BofA-ML is tracking February inflation at 4.7% with tomato/onion prices slipping.12:14 Pakistan 'will pay' for Kashmir army camp attack, says govt
India warned Pakistan that it would “pay for this misadventure” following a deadly attack by militants on an army camp in Jammu & Kashmir that has stoked tensions between the nuclear armed rivals, reports Reuters. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters on Monday said the Indian army has ample evidence to prove that “the handlers of the terrorists were back in Pakistan.”12:07 5 dead, 15 injured in fire on ship at Cochin Shipyard
A fire broke out on a ship under repair at the Cochin Shipyard Limited premises, killing five people and injuring 15 others, a CSL spokesperson said. Eleven persons trapped inside the ship were evacuated and rushed to various hospitals in the city, the spokesperson said.12:03 PFC Q3 net profit dips 18% at Rs 1,604cr
State-run Power Finance Corporation’s (PFC) standalone net profit dipped 17.7% at Rs 1,604.43 crore for the quarter ended December 2017. The company's standalone net profit was Rs 1,949.91 crore in the quarter ended on December 2016, PFC said in a BSE filing.
Total income of the company was down at Rs 6,320.59 crore in the quarter from Rs 7,063.08 crore a year-ago. Its standalone net profit in April-December was Rs 4,919.62 crore compared to Rs 5535.88 crore in same period year ago. The company's gross non-performing assets as on December was Rs 14,978.78 crore.11:58 Sunjuwan attack: Body of another soldier recovered; toll rises to 10
The body of another soldier was today recovered from the encounter site inside the Sunjuwan Military camp in Jammu, taking the death toll in the terror attack to 10, including six Army personnel and three terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
The body of the Army jawan was recovered during the clearance operation at the camp last night, Jammu-based Army Public Relation Officer Lt Col Devender Anand told PTI. A group of heavily-armed men struck the sprawling camp of the 36 brigade of the Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry before dawn on February 10, killing six people including five soldiers.11:49 NPPA cuts stent prices by over 7%
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has cut prices of some stents by about 7.6%, in the latest setback for India’s $5 billion medical device industry. Prices of Drug Releasing Stents -- small wire-mesh structures used to treat blocked arteries -- have been slashed to Rs 27,890 from Rs 30,180.
Last year, India set a price cap for stents by slashing prices that patients pay for some devices by about 75%, a major escalation in a showdown between large medical device makers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.11:42 11 CMs facing criminal cases, Maharashtra's Devendra Fadnavis tops list
The Association for Democratic Reform (ADR) has released its report on India’s 31 Chief Ministers, which includes the criminal cases registered against each of them. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had the highest number of criminal cases, 22, registered against him with three “serious criminal cases”, reports CNN-News18.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had only one case each registered against their names. Out of India’s 31 chief ministers, 11 have criminal cases registered against them and only eight have “serious” criminal cases.11:35 EPFO may retain 8.65% interest rate for FY18
Retirement fund body EPFO is expected to keep interest rate unchanged at 8.65% on provident funds for its about 5 crore members for FY18 at its trustees' meet on February 21, 2018, sources told PTI. The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has already sold exchange traded funds (ETF) worth Rs 2,886 crore earlier this month to bridge the gap to maintain 8.65% for this fiscal, they said.
The EPFO had announced 8.65% rate of interest on deposits for 2016-17, a tad lower than 8.8% in 2015-16. It has earned a return of around 16% at Rs 1,054 crore which would be sufficient to provide 8.65% rate of interest this fiscal, sources said.11:22 ArcelorMittal, Russia's VTB Group bid for Essar Steel
ArcelorMittal and a consortium led by Russia's VTB Group submitted bids to takeover Essar Steel under an insolvency process, but Vedanta Resources, JSW and Tata Steel shunned the bidding that may have touched Rs 35,000-40,000 crore. While ArcerlorMittal may take along Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp for the takeover, VTB used a Mauritius-based investment vehicle Numetal, where Rewant Ruia – Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia's son - held 25% stake.11:10 Opec chief says he has Putin's word that Russia won't flood the market with oil
Russia has pledged not to abandon a deal with Opec to keep a lid on oil supplies, even as crude prices rise, Opec Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said. A stronger-than-anticipated rally has raised concerns that Russian oil giants will seek an exit from Opec's agreement with Moscow and other producers to limit their output, reports CNBC.
Oil prices have rebounded nearly 60% since June, with Brent crude rising to three-year highs above $71 a barrel, prior to a pullback last week that wiped out its gains for 2018. Those worries have been compounded by rising US crude exports that threaten to loosen Russia and Saudi Arabia's grip on key overseas markets at a time of strong economic growth and rising demand for petroleum products.
However, Barkindo says President Vladimir Putin and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak have assured him Russia won't blink. "I have heard and received assurances both from Alexander Novak and President Putin that they will remain committed to Opec, non-Opec collaboration and the Declaration of Cooperation," he said.11:03 Idea Cellular raises Rs 3,250cr from promoter group
Idea Cellular said it has raised Rs 3,250 crore by allotting over 32.6 crore shares to the promoter group companies. "Idea Cellular completed the allotment of 326,633,165 equity shares to the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) entities, at an issue price of Rs 99.50 per share (including premium of Rs 89.50 per share) aggregating to Rs 3,250 crore," Idea said in a statement.
The preferential allotment follows the board’s approval on January 4 for a total capital raise of up to Rs 6,750 crore, which includes raising of Rs 3,250 crore via a preferential allotment to the promoter group. It would raise another Rs 3,500 crore through a further preferential allotment, qualified institutional placement, rights issue or such other route that the company's board determines. As a result of this preferential allotment, the aggregate shareholding of the promoter group in Idea has increased from 42.4% to 47.2%.10:36 GIC Re logs in a solid set of numbers with Rs 673cr net
State-owned reinsurance major GIC Re posted a Rs 672.76 crore net profit for the quarter to December driven by better combined ratio which improved to 101.1% and better returns from investment. The reinsurer had reported a net loss of Rs 400.99 crore in the same quarter last year.
This is the first earnings announcement by the company after its listing on October 25, 2017 after a Rs 11,176-crore initial public offer, making it the biggest public offering in seven years and the third largest after Coal India and Reliance Power. But on debut day the GIC Re counter slumped close to 15 days slumped after its issue price was fixed at Rs 912.
Incurred claims ratio improved to 90% during the reporting quarter, against 100.1% in the same period last year. The overall claims stood at Rs 6,000 crore. Investment income grew by over 35% to Rs 1,195.59 crore from Rs 883.94 crore a year-ago. Gross premium also grew by over 8% to Rs 8,869.98 crore from Rs 8,205.53 crore.10:23 Britannia Industries Q3 net up 19.6% to Rs 263.65cr
FMCG major Britannia Industries post market hours on Monday reported a 19.6% increase in its consolidated net profit at Rs 263.65 crore for the third quarter ended December 2017. The company had posted a net profit of Rs 220.44 crore in the October-December period a year ago. Total income from operation was up 8.81% to Rs 2,603.42 crore during the period as against Rs 2,392.49 crore in the corresponding quarter of last fiscal.10:14 GAIL Q3 net up 28% YoY on higher margins
GAIL India reported a 28% rise in the December quarter net profit on better margins from gas marketing and transportation business. The net profit in the October-December quarter of the current fiscal was Rs 1,262.22 crore, higher than Rs 982.92 crore in the same period of last fiscal. The company announced its result post market hours on Monday.
The company said in a statement here that its board also approved the issuance of one bonus share for existing three equity shares. It said the profit was higher "mainly due to the better performance by liquid hydrocarbon, gas marketing and transmission segments". The company's revenue was up 17% at Rs 14,717 crore, gross margin was up 14% at Rs 2,273 crore.10:02 Bank of India Q3 net loss at Rs 2,341cr
State-owned Bank of India post market hours on Monday reported a net loss of Rs 2,341.1 crore during the third quarter ended December 31 as provisioning for bad loans rose 72% due to high NPA ratio. The bank had registered a net profit of Rs 101.72 crore in the October-December period of 2016-17.
Total income was Rs 10,376.03 crore in the reported period. It was Rs 11,594 crore in the year-ago period. The bank had to make a provision of Rs 4,373.06 crore for bad loans. The figure stood at Rs 2,546.20 crore in the same quarter of FY17. Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) grew to 16.93% of the gross loans by end of December 2017 from 13.38% from end-December 2016. Net NPAs were 10.29% against 7.09%.09:52 Inflation eases marginally to 5.07% in Jan
Retail inflation declined to 5.07% in January due to easing prices of vegetables, fruits and fuel components, data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed. Based on Consumer price index (CPI), the inflation was at 5.21% in December - a 17-month high, and 3.17% in January last year.
The rate of price rise for consumer foods eased to 4.7% in January from 4.96% in December. Inflation in the vegetable basket slowed to 26.97% as against 29.13% in December. Prices of fruits too rose at a lower pace of 6.24% last month, as against 6.63% recorded in the preceding month. For the fuel and light segment, inflation was 7.73% last month compared to 7.9% in December.09:45 Manufacturing, capital goods push IIP growth to 7.1% in Dec
Industrial output grew by 7.1% in December, maintaining the recovery momentum, on the back of robust performance by manufacturing as well as higher offtake of capital goods and non-durable consumer goods. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had grown at 2.4% in December 2016, as per data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The IIP growth for November, 2017 was revised upwards to 8.8% from provisional estimates of 8.4% released last month. The IIP growth in December was mainly on account of uptick in manufacturing sector which constitutes 77.63% of the index. It grew by 8.4% during the month as compared to just 0.6% in December 2016.
The capital goods, a barometer of investments, showed a sharp increase in output by 16.4% in December 2017 as against a decline of 6.2% year ago. The consumer non-durables, which are mainly fast moving consumer goods, too showed an increase of 16.5% as against contraction of 0.2%.09:36 Trump releases $4 trillion budget plan, proposes $336m aid to Pak
US President Donald Trump unveiled a $4 trillion annual budget for the fiscal 2019 beginning October 1, proposing $256 million in civilian assistance and $80 million in military aid to Pakistan, reports PTI. The proposal of aid to Pakistan comes weeks after Trump administration suspended nearly $2 billion in security assistance to Islamabad due to its inability to take action against terrorist groups operating from its soil.
The White House has said it would consider lifting the freeze if it sees action by Pakistan against terrorist groups. The budgetary proposal says that the military aid depends on Pakistan taking action against terrorist safe havens. "The budget requests $256 million for Pakistan in economic and other assistance to help increase stability, promote economic growth and create opportunities for US businesses," said the annual budgetary proposals sent by the White House to the Congress.
09:26 India’s stocks, bonds and currency markets are closed today on account of Maha Shivratri. Trading will resume on Wednesday.08:38 South Africa's ANC decides to remove Zuma as head of state
South Africa’s African National Congress party executive committee has decided to “recall” or remove President Jacob Zuma as head of state, a senior ANC source told Reuters, after a 13-hour meeting of the party’s top leadership. Since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected party leader in December, Zuma has faced mounting calls from his party to end his scandal-plagued second term due to run out mid-2019. The party’s executive committee has the authority to order Zuma to step down as head of state, although there is domestic media speculation that he might yet refuse.08:32 Trump Jr's wife hospitalised after suspicious powder scare
US President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law Vanessa Trump was taken to a New York hospital on Monday after she opened a piece of mail containing an unidentified white powder that was later determined to be non-hazardous, officials told Reuters. Vanessa Trump, the wife of the president’s eldest son Donald Jr, was hospitalised after she complained of nausea following her exposure, New York officials said. Two other people who were present were also taken to the hospital.08:14 US to push for 'reciprocal tax' on trade partners, says Trump
US President Donald Trump said he would push for a “reciprocal tax” against countries, including US allies, that levy tariffs on American products, but officials did not provide details on how such a tax would be structured or what goods it would apply to, reports Reuters.
“We cannot continue to let people come into our country and rob us blind and charge us tremendous tariffs and taxes and we charge them nothing,” Trump said. The United States loses “vast amounts of money with China and Japan and South Korea and so many other countries... It’s a little tough for them because they’ve gotten away with murder for 25 years. But we’re going to be changing policy,” he said.
Trump said his administration will impose a “reciprocal tax” to charge other countries - “some of them are so-called allies but they’re not allies on trade.” He did not specify how such a tax would be structured, or whether he meant that US tariff rates should be raised to equal to those charged by other major trading partners.
Administration officials were not immediately able to elaborate on the president’s comments. Trump cited motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson as an example of the problem of unfair trade. Harley is building a factory in Thailand, partly because its US-built bikes face a 60% tariff there.08:05 Trump unveils massive $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan
US President Donald Trump unveiled a massive $1.5 trillion plan to modernise America's infrastructure including $200 billion in federal funding, reports PTI. Describing it as a most comprehensive infrastructure bill in the history of the US, Trump said the plan addresses more than traditional infrastructure - like roads, bridges and airports - such as drinking and wastewater systems, waterways, water resources, energy, rural infrastructure, public lands, veterans' hospitals and Brownfield and Superfund sites.
According to the plan, new investments will be made in rural America which has been left behind for too long, decision making authority will be returned to State and local governments, regulatory barriers that needlessly get in the way of infrastructure projects will be removed, permitting for infrastructure projects will be streamlined and shortened.
Noting that $200 billion in Federal funds will spur at least $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investments, the White House said federal infrastructure spending will promote State, local and private investments and maximise the value of every taxpayer dollar. Of the $200 billion, $100 billion will create an Incentives Programme to spur additional dedicated funds from States, localities and the private sector.
$20 billion will be dedicated to the Transformative Projects Programme. $20 billion will be allocated to expanding infrastructure financing programmes. Of the $20 billion, $14 billion will go to expanding a number of existing credit programmes: TIFIA, WIFIA, RRIF and rural utility lending.07:53 Wall Street bounces back after tumultuous week
Wall Street’s three major indexes rebounded on Monday with broad-based gains as investors regained some confidence after US equities’ biggest weekly drop in two years, but strategists stopped short of calling an end to the market pullback, reports Reuters. The announcement of President Donald Trump’s budget, including an infrastructure spending plan, helped sectors such as S&P materials and industrials. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 410.37 points, or 1.7%, to 24,601.27, the S&P 500 gained 36.45 points, or 1.39%, to 2,656 and the Nasdaq Composite added 107.47 points, or 1.56%, to 6,981.96.07:30 RBI announces new bad loan resolution framework
The Reserve Bank of India came out with a revised framework for expeditious resolution of bad loans, harmonising the existing guidelines with the norms specified in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). The new guidelines have specified framework for early identification and reporting of stressed assets.
Among other things, the RBI has decided to do away with the Joint Lenders' Forum (JLF) as an institutional mechanism for resolution of stressed accounts also stands discontinued. The notification further said all accounts, including those where any of the schemes have been invoked but not yet implemented, will be governed by the revised framework.
As per the revised guidelines, the banks will be required to identify incipient stress in loan accounts, immediately on default, by classifying stressed assets as special mention accounts (SMA) depending upon the period of default. All lenders will be required to put in place Board-approved policies for resolution of stressed assets under this framework, including the timelines for resolution, it said, adding: "As soon as there is a default in the borrower entity's account with any lender, all lenders - singly or jointly - shall initiate steps to cure the default."
The resolution plan (RP) may involve any actions/plans/reorganisation including, but not limited to, regularisation of the account by payment of all over dues by the borrower entity, sale of the exposures to other entities / investors, change in ownership, or restructuring.
The revised framework has also laid down timelines for resolution of stressed assets. If a resolution plan in respect of large accounts is not implemented as per the timelines specified, lenders will be required to file insolvency application, singly or jointly, under the IBC, 2016, within 15 days from the expiry of the specified timeline.07:10 Asian stocks off two-month lows as Wall Street extends rebound
Asian stocks pulled further away from two-month lows on Tuesday, lifted by Wall Street’s extended rebound from last week’s steep fall, reports Reuters. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.3% after sliding to its lowest level since December 11 on Friday.
Australian stocks rose 0.2% and South Korea's KOSPI climbed 0.9%. Japan's Nikkei added 0.75%. The SGX Nifty is trading at 10,549.5 up 23 points or 0.22%. Wall Street’s three major indexes rose for the second day on Monday as investors regained some confidence after US equities had their biggest weekly drop in two years. Still, caution lingered in the broader markets following the US-led tumble in risk assets last week.
Asian stocks pulled further away from two-month lows on Tuesday, lifted by Wall Street’s extended rebound from last week’s steep fall, reports Reuters. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.3% after sliding to its lowest level since December 11 on Friday.
Australian stocks rose 0.2% and South Korea's KOSPI
climbed 0.9%. Japan's Nikkei added 0.75%. The SGX
Nifty is trading at 10,549.5 up 23 points or 0.22%. Wall Street’s three major indexes rose for the second day on Monday as investors regained some confidence after US equities had their biggest weekly drop in two years. Still, caution lingered in the broader markets following the US-led tumble in risk assets last week.