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Air India twitter account hacked, later restored

Air India’s twitter account was hacked last night by an unknown individual/group and tweet stating that all its flights have been cancelled was posted from it’s official twitter handle.

It was amply evident though that the tweet was the job of a hacker as it went on to promote a foreign carrier.

“The twitter handle has been restored. Air India has started investigation,” said an AI spokesperson.

“This is to inform all passengers that the Air India official Twitter handle @airindiain was HACKED. All Air India passengers please note that no flights have been cancelled as claimed in the tweet,” the company statement said.

Gold futures rise on positive global cues

Gold prices edged higher by 0.11 per cent to Rs 30,438 per 10 grams in futures trade as speculators raised bets amid a firm trend overseas.

At the Multi Commodity Exchange, gold for delivery in April rose by Rs 33, or 0.11 per cent, to Rs 30,438 per ten grams in business turnover of 238 lots.

Similarly, the yellow metal for delivery in June contracts edged up by Rs 13, or 0.04 per cent, to Rs 30,608 per ten grams in 2 lots.

Analysts said expanding of positions by participants in line with a firming trend in the global markets as concerns over trade tensions weighed on share markets influenced gold prices in futures trade here.

Globally, gold rose 0.16 per cent to USD 1,326.30 an ounce in Singapore.

India’s growth to touch 7.3% next fiscal, 7.5% in 2019-20: Fitch

Fitch projected India’s economic growth to rise to 7.3 per cent next fiscal and further to 7.5 per cent in 2019-20.

In its Global Economic Outlook report, the US-based agency forecast Indian economy to clock a growth rate of 6.5 per cent this fiscal, a tad lower than official estimates by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) of 6.6 per cent. The economy grew 7.1 per cent in 2016-17.

According to Fitch, the pick up in growth is likely as “the influence of one-off policy-related factor which was dragging growth has now waned.”

It said the money supply recovered to its pre-demonetisation level in mid-2017 and is now increasing steadily, similar to the previous trend.

Also, disruptions related to rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) in July 2017 have gradually diminished.

Showing signs of recovery, the Indian economy hit a five-quarter high of 7.2 per cent in the October-December period on good show in key sectors like agriculture, construction and manufacturing.

Fitch said the Budget for 2018-19 fiscal, beginning April, envisages a slower pace of fiscal consolidation and, therefore, should support the near-term growth outlook.

It contains measures that will benefit low-income earners (such as a minimum price support and free health insurance) and support rural demand. The government also plans to ramp up infrastructure outlays, in particular by state-owned enterprises, the agency said.

On inflation, Fitch said, accelerating food prices were the main cause of the pick-up in headline inflation. By contrast, fuel price increases have been contained by the government’s decision to roll back excise duties to keep pump prices stable in the face of rising oil prices.

“We expect inflation to hover a bit below 5 per cent in 2018 and 2019, in the upper band of the Reserve Bank’s target,” it said.

Fitch said it expects the Reserve Bank of India to start raising interest rates next year as growth gains further traction, while inflationary pressures should remain quite high.

The minimum support price scheme for agricultural products and increased customs duties on certain products (such as electronics, textiles and auto parts) will boost prices against a backdrop of accelerating growth.

Infosys to open tech hub in connecticut, create 1,000 jobs by 2022

India’s second largest software services firm Infosys will set up a new technology and innovation hub in Hartford, Connecticut, and hire 1,000 American workers in the state by 2022.

Last year, Infosys had announced setting up of four such hubs and hiring about 10,000 locals in the US over the next two years.

Infosys has already inaugurated its first technology and innovation hub in Indianapolis, Indiana, and has announced another such hub in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a design and innovation hub in Providence, Rhode Island.

The move was also seen as a bid to woo the Trump administration that has been critical of outsourcing firms for “unfairly” taking jobs away from the US workers.

The hub in Connecticut will have a special focus on insurance, healthcare and manufacturing, Infosys said in a regulatory filing late last night.

We are excited to announce the expansion of our presence in Connecticut and to create 1,000 technology jobs in the state, Infosys President Ravi Kumar said.

He added that the investment will further strengthen Infosys’ ability to serve clients’ needs throughout the New England region and expand the local workforce.

“Hartford’s position as the insurance capital of the world, paired with Connecticut’s world-renowned academic institutions, will place Infosys in close proximity to valued clients and accelerate the recruitment of highly-skilled local talent,” he said.

IOC share price drops more than 3%

The shares of state-owned oil and gas firm, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) slipped 3.50 per cent in Thursday’s morning trade even as the company issued bonus shares and got involved in collaborations lately.

On Thursday, the company’s shares turned ex-bonus as the government-owned oil major rewarded its shareholders with one bonus share for every share held. Investors may have indulged into a selling spree to book some profits, making use of the opportunity.

On Wednesday, IOC also collaborated with auto major Tata Motors to jointly develop Hydrogen fuel cell technology.

At 10 am on Thursday, the IOC stock was down 3.24 per cent at Rs 191.15 on the BSE. The broader market was trading flat.

 

Wholesale inflation eases to 7-month low

Wholesale inflation moderated for the third consecutive month to a seven-month low in February on the back of cooling food and non-food articles.

Data released by the commerce and industry ministry on Wednesday showed inflation, as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI), rose an annual 2.5%, slower than the previous month’s 2.8% and lower than 5.5% in the year earlier period.

Retail inflation in February slowed to 4.4% in February due to lower food prices, which calmed fears about a spike in price pressure. The WPI data showed prices of pulses contracted an annual 24.3%, while those of vegetables rose 15.4% during the month, slower than the 36.7% rise in the previous month. Onion prices remained stubborn, increasing nearly 80% in February but lower than 127% in the previous month.

“Available trends suggest a pick-up in prices of some cereals, edible oils and milk was offset by a continued correction in prices of onions and tomatoes in the current month. Moreover, average crude oil prices so far in March 2018 remain lower than the trend for the previous month. However, an unfavourable base effect for crude petroleum and natural gas, and fuel and power is likely to push up the WPI inflation in March 2018. At present, we expect the average WPI inflation to rise to 3.9% in FY2019 from around 2.9% in FY2018,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at credit rating agency ICRA.

“With both retail and wholesale inflation recording a decline in February 2018, the MPC is likely to keep the repo rate unchanged in the upcoming policy review in April 2018,” she added.

ET women’s forum to focus on empowerment

It is quite hard to pinpoint exactly when the narrative of gender equality discussions turned. But that it has turned significantly is no doubt at all.

Initially, much of these discussions revolved around why women need more opportunities and less barriers. This was for the sake of the women themselves. But now, gender equality has also become a strategic imperative. Countries and companies alike are coming to the realisation that without truly empowering women, they can never realise their full growth potential.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde recently declared that if India’s women participate in the workforce as much as men, its GDP could expand by 27%. Lagarde was part of the all women co-chairs of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

JSW Foundation chairperson Sangita Jindal wrote in a recent column, “Women are now essential to the bottom line. That alone is why Indian organisations need to be proactive in employing more women and promoting — or holding on to — the ones they already have to positions of leadership.”

It is in this context of nation building that The Economic Times will unveil the ET Women’s Forum this Friday. The day-long thinktank cum extravaganza is designed to collaboratively create an urgent, sustainable and national culture of empowering India’s half a billion women.

About 50 speakers — including Cherie Blair, Andrea Jung, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Kristina Jullum Hagen, Fawzia Koofi, M Damodaran, Rajan Anandan, Shobana Kamineni, Annette Dixon, Ekta Kapoor and Alankrita Shrivastava — will discuss ways to empower India’s women along with an audience of over 350 men and women.

NTPC mops up $400 mn via $ bonds, races past 52,000 mw capcity

Generation utility NTPC has mopped up $400 million through a 10-year dollar-denominated bond issue, even as the state-run company switched on the third 800-MW supercritical unit of Kudgi power station to race past a total generation capacity of 52,000 MW as a corporate group.

The bonds, part of the company’s plan to raise $6 billion, will carry an interest of 4.5% and listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd and India International Exchange IFSC. The offering elicited strong demand, getting oversubscribed within four hours of book-building.

Funds managers took 46% of the transaction, followed by insurance companies at 36%, public sector 12% and banks 6%. In terms of geographical distribution, Asia took the bulk of the transaction at 79%, with supplemental demand from Europe, Middle East and Africa (MEA) as well as offshore US accounts at 18% and 3 per cent, respectively.

NTPC aims to use the funds to meet requirement of capital expenditure for ongoing and new projects, coal mining plans as well as upgrade of old units. The Budget had indicated NTPC’s capital expenditure at Rs 23,000 crore for in 2018-19 against Rs 28,000 crore in 2017-18.

With the third unit of the Kudgi power station, NTPC’s own capacity stands at 45,300 MW, while the NTPC group that includes joint ventures now represents a capacity of 52,191 MW.

NTPC has 20 coal-fired, seven gas-fired, 11 solar power, two Hydel and one wind power plants. The company is currently building an additional capacity of over 20,000 MW at multiple locations in the country. It has eight power plants as subsidiaries and joint ventures.

Current enforcement mechanism no major deterrent for fraudsters: Urjit Patel

RBI Governor Urjit Patel on Wednesday sought more powers to deal with frauds at public sector banks (PSBs) saying that the current enforcement mechanism is “not perceived” to be a major deterrent for fraudsters relative to gains from such activities.

His comments come almost a month after India’s second largest lender, state-owned Punjab National Bank was allegedly defrauded of around Rs 13,000 crore by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi in connivance with some bank employees.

Referring to “very limited authority” of the central bank, Patel said the RBI cannot remove PSB directors and management, it cannot enforce mergers in PSBs nor it can trigger liquidation of state-owned banks.

Speaking at Gujarat National Law University here, he highlighted that banking regulatory powers in India are “not” ownership neutral as RBI’s regulatory powers over PSBs are “weaker than” those over the private sector banks.

“From the RBI’s standpoint, legislative changes to the Banking Regulation Act that make our banking regulatory powers fully ownership neutral – not piecemeal, but fully – is a minimum requirement,” Patel said.

He urged the government to make banking regulatory powers neutral to bank ownership and levelling the playing field between public sector and private sector banks.

Patel said investigative and formal enforcement process takes in India, perhaps for the right reasons, a fair bit of time.

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