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Mentha oil futures extend gain on rising demand

NEW DELHI: Continuing its winning streak for the third day in a row, mentha oil price advanced by 1.17 per cent to Rs 1,660 per kg in futures trading as speculators engaged in enlarging their positions, tracking a firm trend in spot market on strong demand.

Besides, tight stocks position on fall in arrivals from the major producing belts of Chandausi fuelled the uptrend.

At the Multi Commodity Exchange, mentha oil for delivery in February shot up by Rs 19.20, or 1.17 per cent, to Rs 1,660 per kg in business turnover of 94 lots.

Likewise, the oil for delivery in January contracts gained Rs 17.70, or 1.09 per cent, to Rs 1,639.90 per kg in 220 lots.

Marketmen said raising of bets by speculators on the back of strong demand from consuming industries in the spot market kept mentha oil prices higher in futures trade.

How India searched for homes in 2017

In a year that was marked with a series of policy changes to bring in more transparency, real estate remained a desirable asset for Indians as more than 15 lakh actively searched to buy property in 2017, revealed a Magicbricks Report titled “How India searched for Homes in 2017”. According to the report, Maharashtra occupied the top spot with seven of its localities outshining to be the most preferred localities around the country. New Delhi remains a winner when it comes to rented properties while Navi Mumbai and Hyderabad are high on the buying meter.

Govt notifies 7.75 pc bond scheme for retail investors

New Delhi, Jan 4 () The government has notified a new 7.75 per cent taxable bond scheme to replace the earlier 8 per cent scheme for retail investors.

These bonds with seven-year maturity would open for subscription from January 10, a finance Ministry statement said.

“7.75 per cent Savings Bonds Scheme notified. Would replace 8 per cent Scheme. Will be effective from 10th January. This sequenced notifications and gap of a week was necessary to avoid overlap in cheques realisations,” Economic Affairs Secretary S C Garg said in a tweet.

The interest would be payable half-yearly and the cumulative value of Rs 1,000 at the end of seven years will be Rs 1,703.

These taxable bonds to be issued at par are meant for individual other than Non-Resident Indians, it said, adding these are not tradeable in the secondary market and are not eligible as collateral for loans from banking institutions, non-banking financial companies or financial institutions.

In 2003, the government came out with bonds offering 8 per cent interest to encourage retail investors to invest. The bond was open for subscription from April 21, 2003, and had a fixed tenure of six years. There was no upper limit for investment.

Although the Finance Ministry did not give reason for reduction in the rate of such bonds, it is believed that it is in line with the falling interest rate scenario.

These non-transferable bonds will be exempt from wealth- tax under the Wealth Tax Act, 1957, the Finance Ministry statement said.

India’s services sector returns to growth in Dec: PMI

The Indian services sector returned to marginal growth in December as new orders broadly stabilised, says a monthly survey.

Even as there was a turnaround, business activity growth in December was slight and remained well below the average recorded for the survey history as a whole.

The seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index improved to 50.9 in December from 48.5 in November, signalling a renewed increase in business activity.

In PMI lexicon, a print above 50 means expansion and a score below that denotes contraction.

“India’s service economy showed signs of recovery as it returned to marginal expansion in December. That said, it remained on a weak growth trajectory amid reports that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was still hindering efforts to secure new clients,” said Aashna Dodhia, Economist at IHS Markit, and the author of the report.

Meanwhile, production growth at Indian manufacturers quickened to the fastest in five years in December and accordingly, the headline seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index rose from 50.3 in November to 53.0 in December, the highest since October 2016.

“Still, the best overall performance of the economy was recorded since October 2016, endorsing the standpoint that the economy is recovering from the implementation of the twin shocks of demonetisation and GST,” Dodhia said.

In terms of job creation both sectors — manufacturing and services — outstripped historical averages signalling a continued revival of the labour market.

On the prices front, GST continued to exert upward pressure on manufacturers’ cost burdens in December.

Overall, input cost inflation quickened to the sharpest since April and subsequently, firms raised their average selling prices at the fastest pace in 10 months, the report said.

Audi reports a muted 2% rise in volume in 2017 at 7,876 units

Mumbai, Jan 3 () Luxury carmaker Audi India reported a muted 2 per cent volume growth selling 7,876 units in 2017 despite the German giant rolling out 10 models, including the Q3, A5 Cabriolet and the S5 among others.

Interestingly, this is for the first time in the past three years that the Volkswagen group company has announced its sales numbers, where it was the market leader between 2012 and 2014, as the rival compatriot Mercedes-Benz unseated it in 2015.

“We delivered 7, 876 cars in the domestic market in 2017,” Audi India said in a release. Incidentally, 2017 also marked 10 years of its presence here.

“With 7,876 deliveries to customers in 2017, we have increased our sales by 2 per cent while earning a profitable growth for our dealer partners,” Audi India head Rahil Ansari said in the statement.

In comparison to the rivals the numbers pale as Merc, the country’s largest luxury carmaker, reported its best-ever volume growth with a 20 per cent jump at 11,869 units during the first nine months of 2017, which was 90 per cent of its 2016 volume, while the No 2 player, BMW recorded 17 percent spike in sales at 7,138.

The year saw 10 launches from Audi, including the A3 sedan, A3 Cabriolet, Q3, A4 TDI, Q7 40 TFSI, A5, A5 Cabriolet and the S5 among others.

“We are now looking forward to the launch the new generation Q5 this month. Apart from this, we promise to bring some more exhilarating cars this year, when we will rollout some of our most exhilarating products,” Ansari added.


Goa govt asks its departments to limit spending in Jan-March

Panaji, Jan 3 – In a step towards rationalisation of expenditure during the last three months of FY18, the Goa government has directed its departments not to spend more than 12 per cent of their budgetary estimates between January and March.

Finance Secretary Daulat Hawaldar issued a memorandum on January 1 to all departments, asking them to adhere to the guidelines mentioned in it which are aimed at rationalisation of expenditure for the fiscal 2017-18.

The departments should curtail their expenditure to less than 12 per cent of the budgetary estimates between January and March 2018, he said in the memorandum.

Each department should be limiting its expenditure to 7 per cent of the budget estimates. In no case should it exceed the prescribed limit (12 per cent), Hawaldar said.

The finance department has recommended that “except under the flagship schemes of the government or centrally sponsored schemes”, the expenditure may be reduced by 40 per cent till the end of the current financial year.

“It has been brought to the notice of the government that the departments have the tendency of indulging in bulk purchases at the fag-end of the financial year in order to incur expenditure of unspent budgetary provisions allotted for the given financial year,” the memorandum has said.

“Most of the time these provisions exceed the requirements, leading to wasteful expenditure by the departments,” it said.

Nalco lines up 3 projects, invests rs 25,000 crore

Bhubaneswar, Jan 3 () Upbeat over a 94 per cent jump in net profit, National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO), has lined up projects with an investment of about Rs 25,000 crore, three of which will be inaugurated on Friday.

The aluminium major will dedicate three major projects readied at a total cost of about Rs 660 crore, to the nation, during its upcoming foundation day celebrations, CMD of the Navaratna company, T K Chand told reporters .

Union Minister for Mines Narendra Singh Tomar and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan would inaugurate the South Block Bauxite mines, Panchpatmalli, 18.5 MW power unit at alumina refinery, Damanjodi and “first of its kind” Nanotechnology-based defluoridation plant at Angul on January 5, he said.

While Panchpatmalli south block bauxite mines with a project cost of Rs 600 crore has a capacity of 3.15 million tonnes per year, the power unit readied at a cost of Rs 43 crore would reduce dependence on grid besides augmenting generation capacity, the CMD said.

Describing the Nanotechnology-based defluoridation plant built at a cost of Rs 16.69 crore as unique, he said it makes NALCO the first company to adopt and commercialise the Emrion technology, globally and plans to extend use of the technology in various drinking water projects in fluoride endemic areas.

Stating that NALCO was working on a new business model to expand its aluminium, alumina and power capacities, Chand said the alumina refinery at Damanjodi is all set to go for an expansion with an investment of over Rs 5,540 crore.

The project, aimed at increasing the capacity of the alumina refinery by one million tonne, is likely to be commissioned by 2020, he said.

Setting a target to join the club of million tonne producers of aluminium by 2020, NALCO is gearing up to undertake brownfield expansion of its smelter at Angul with an investment of around Rs 12,000 crore, the CMD said, adding, the expansion would raise production capacity of the smelter by 6 lakh tonne per annum.

Efforts are also being made for early commissioning of Utkal D & E coal blocks involving a project cost of Rs 534 crore, the CMD said.

With an emphasis on value addition, NALCO is setting up an alloy wire rod plant with an investment of around Rs 131 crore, he said, adding, that an aluminium park is being set up at Angul at an investment of Rs 100 crore to promote ancillary industries.

Similarly, a 2.7 lakh tonne per annum capacity caustic soda plant is being set up in Gujarat involving a project cost of Rs 1,999 crore, while the required steps have been initiated for setting up 2 X 660 MW power plants in Odisha, he said.

Chand said that NALCO has achieved 100 per cent capacity utilisation of bauxite mines as also 100 per cent normative capacity of alumina refinery while speaking about the performance of the company in 2017.

The company reported a 94 per cent growth in net profits in the second quarter of 2017-18 at Rs 235 crore, as against Rs 121 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal, the NALCO CMD said.

Similarly, revenues jumped to Rs 4,179 crore in first half 2017-18 from Rs 3,224 crore in the previous year, he said.

Post implementation of GST, NALCO’s net gain was around Rs 100 crore due to rationalisation of taxes, which the company has passed on to customers in terms of Rs 3,000 discount per ton of aluminium, he said.

Disruptive moves on H-1B visa detrimental for India, US: Nasscom

NEW DELHI: Any disruptive move on the visa front will be detrimental for both India and the US, with reports suggesting that Washington may be mulling new rules to prevent H-1B visa extensions, software body Nasscom has said.

Estimates show that such a move could lead to deportation of over one million H-1B visa holders in the US — many of them Indians — who are waiting for their green cards.

“It is not only about the Indian IT industry but about all Indians who use H-1B visas… Given that there is a real problem of shortage of skilled professionals in the US, any disruptive move will be detrimental for both India and the US,” Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar told PTI.

He was reacting to reports suggesting that the US Department of Homeland Security is considering new regulations, which will prevent H-1B visa extensions during pendency of green card approvals.

In other words, if this materialises, the move would prevent foreign workers in the US from keeping their H-1B work visas, while their green card application is under processing.

This is being seen as part of US President Donald Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ campaign that seeks to bring back jobs to the country.

“It is one more step in a series of steps seen over the last one year. While each one individually may have a small impact, cumulatively the impact becomes very significant,” Chandrashekhar said.

Meanwhile, Mahindra Group chief Anand Mahindra sought to soothe frayed nerves in a tweet that read “If that happens, then I say ‘Swagatam, Welcome Home.’ You’re coming back in time to help India Rise”.

According to Nasscom, the use of visas by Indian IT firms has fallen by 50 per cent in the last two years and that the number now stands below 10,000 (of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued annually).

To brace against the impact, Indians IT firms have also been ramping up local recruitment and training manpower in the US.

Greyhound Research Chief Analyst, Founder and CEO Sanchit Vir Gogia said changes in the H-1B visa arrangement will add immense cost pressures on Indian IT companies.

“The average margin hit for an IT services provider will be in the range of 5-10 per cent year-on-year, depending on the total base of employees currently on H-1B, the existing compensation and need for onsite in near-term,” he said.

He added that a hit beyond this threshold will force these firms to “either re-negotiate contracts with existing clients or else the street will act ruthlessly and these firms stand to lose potential ground on market capitalisation”.

Besides, such an announcement can also impact the GDP and the overall business and economic growth of the US.

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