14 JUNE 2008

GENERAL

1)In order to mop up a little additional revenue and contain the rising demand for petroleum products, the government on Friday imposed additional taxes of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 on high-end cars, multi-utility vehicles and sports utility vehicles.

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ECONOMY
 
2)INFLATION rose to a seven year high of 8.75% in the last week of May, as compared to 8.24% in the previous week.  This is the fastest rise in inflation since February 2001.  However, the worst is yet to come. The latest figure does not reflect the recent increase in auto fuel prices announced on June 4.  Economists apprehend that another increase in the rate at which banks borrow from the central bank may be in the offing even as inflation may surge past the double digit mark in about a week’s time.

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CORPORATE / INDUSTRY
 
 3)IT’S advantage Essar in the company’s battle with Severstal to  acquire the US steel maker Esmark.  The Esmark board on Friday rejected the Russian firm Severstal’s bid citing it as “inadequate and inferior.” The rejection came two days after Essar improved its previous offer by $2 to $19 a share for the entire equity of Esmark.
                                                                 
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4)JSW Steel Ltd, part of the Rs 8,000-crore O.P Jindal Group, is planning to invest Rs 80,000 crore to add a 20 million tonnes capa- city.  With this, it plans to emerge as a 32 million tonnes a year capacity steel major by 2020, a company official said on Thursday.

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5)Deccan Cements Ltd(DCL) has embarked upon an expansion plan for increasing its manufacturing capacity from the current 6.5 lakh tonnes a year to two million tonnes with an investment of Rs 432 crore. A part of the investment, around Rs 78 crore, is also being utilised for setting up an 18-MW thermal power plant.

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6)Pipe manufacturer PSL Ltd has bagged a Rs 123-crore order from BPCL for supply of carbon steel bare line pipes of varying diameters and thickness for a total length of 262 km.  The order, for the Bina Kota Pipe Line Project, is likely to be executed in the current financial year, PSL informed the Bombay Stock Exchange on Friday.

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MONEY & BANKING

7)The rupee lost over 11 paise to close at 42.94/95 against the dollar on Friday on weak equity markets and some dollar buying by oil refiners.  At the forex market, the domestic currency resumed slightly lower at 42.83/85 against yesterday’s close of 42.8250/8350.  Later, it moved down further to settle the day at 42.94/95.  Forex dealers said the rupee weakened as the trend in most equity markets in Asia was sluggish. Some dollar buying by oil refiners weighed against the rupee, they added.

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8)INDIA’S biggest bank on Friday left interest rates unchanged despite the central bank raising its key lending rate, saying liqui- dity was comfortable and there was a “tremendous responsibility to absorb costs.”  State Bank of India would “wait and watch” before changing its benchmark prime lending rate(PLR), chairman OP Bhatt said on the sidelines of a banking conference at the Indian School of Business(ISB) in Hyderabad.

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9)THERE is a dim ray of hope for depositors of Mumbai-based South Indian Co-operative Bank, which had been under moratorium for almost four years.  Saraswat Cooperative Bank(SCB) has made a fresh application to the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) to acquire the ailing bank, but with some conditions.  Sources said that SCB has asked for financial support from the government to acquire the bank.

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MARKETS

10)Key equity indices traded in a narrow range, swinging alternately between positive and negative terrains, but as news of inflation trickled in, the bourses headed south to end the day in the red on Friday.  The inflation numbers measured in terms of the whole- sale price index (WPI) jumped to a seven-year high of 8.75% for the week ended May 31 from 8.24% a week earlier, stoking the al- ready-prevailing negative sentiments in the markets. Amid high volatility, the BSE Sensex closed the day almost on a flat note but with a negative bias on Friday at 15,189.62 points, posting a loss of 60.58 points or 0.40%.  The broader NSE Nifty lost  22.25 points or 0.49% to end at 4,517.10 points.

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11)Mumbai-based Lok Housing and Construction jumped 5.6 per cent to Rs 106.50 a share today ahead of a board meeting to consider  fund-raising options from both foreign and local markets, includ- ing an institutional placement.

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12)Hind Rectifiers rose 20 per cent to close at Rs 149.69 a share after the company said its board would meet on June 24 to consider the issue of bonus shares.  A total of 6,806 shares changed hands on the BSE Shares of the company touched a high of Rs 149.7 and a low of Rs 124.8 today.

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IPO

13)Goodearth Maritime Ltd expects to come out with its initial public offering sometime before the end of 2008 to raise funds to finance its upcoming $800-million shipyard at Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu.

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BONUS ISSUE

14)GAIL (India) Ltd, the country’s monopoly natural gas distributor, said it would consider giving free shares to stakeholders.  GAIL’s board of directors will meet on June 23 to discuss the plan, the New Delhi-based company said in a release to the Bombay Stock  Exchange on Friday.

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COMMODITIES

15)Gold weakened in Europe on Friday after the euro slipped to a one-month low against the dollar in the wake of an Irish vote on EU reform.  Gold slipped to $863.10/864.10 an ounce at 0947 GMT, from $867.55/869.55 late in New York on Thursday.

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16)NICKEL prices surged by over 5% across the globe on Thursday after Australian smelter BHP Billiton said it would close its operations for four months for repairs.  This is expected to reduce sup-   plies by 28,000 tonnes and could possibly offset the expected sur- plus in the metal this year, analyst said.

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17)Precious metals, gold and silver, dropped further for the fourth con- secutive day on Friday on the local bullion market due to persistent offerings from stockists in spite of higher global advices.  Lack of industrial demand also affected the price of silver.  Standard gold (99.5) dropped by Rs 65 per 10 gm to Rs 12,005 from the previous closing level of Rs 12,070.  Pure gold(99.9 purity) also fell to Rs 12,065 from Rs 12,130.  Silver ready(.999 fineness) slipped by Rs 185 per kg to Rs 23,720 from Rs 23,905.

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REAL ESTATE

18)Property prices in Mumbai are likely to fall by 10-15% over the  next six to nine months on the back of lacklusture sales. Leading real estate sector players attribute the impending fall to rise in interest rates, escalation of cost, credit squeeze by banks, bearish capital market and weak sentiments globally leading to poor offtake of properties.

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19)MAN Industries India Limited, part of the well-diversified UK based $1 billion MAN Group and India’s leading manufacturer of large diameter line pipes and coating systems, is planning to diversify  into the real estate sector.  With the move, the company’s subsidiary, MAN Infraprojects Limited plans to develop seven projects in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Indore at an investment of Rs 1,000 crore in the  next three years.

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

20)THE Indian IT market is expected to grow by 18% in 2008 to reach $38 billion clocking second highest growth rate after China, which will touch $138 billion with a growth rate of 20%, according to a  report by Forrester. The State Of APAC Enterprise Technology  Adoption:2008 report calls this double-digit growth as a welcome news for technology vendors, who see slackness in the US and European markets, and advises them to now recognise India as a consumer of IT than just a supplier.

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INTERNATIONAL

21)Crude steadied above $136 a barrel on Friday after volatile trading in the previous session spurred by threats to supplies from Nigeria, the world’s eighth-largest oil producer.  US crude oil was 32 cents down at 136.32 a barrel by 0915 GMT, within sight of last week’s record $139.12.  It recouped a $4 fall on Thursday, ending 36 cents higher at $136.74 a barrel, after concerns emerged about a possible strike in Africa’s top oil producer.

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22)Microsoft’s four-month-long courtship of Yahoo has finally thrown Yahoo into the arms of their biggest common rival, Google. The Google and Yahoo said on Thursday that they had reached an agreement under which Google would deliver ads next to some of Yahoo’s search results and on some of its Web sites in the US and Canada. The non-exclusive deal is aimed at giving a lift to Yahoo’s finances, and the company said it would generate an additional $250-450 million in operating cash flow in the first year.

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