Wednesday, April 15, 2009

News Update 15-Apr-2009:-
India’s monsoon, critical to the nation’s $240 billion agricultural economy, is likely to be near normal this year, encouraging planting and helping to counter the slowest economic growth in six years. The state-run India Meteorological Department will probably predict average rain when it releases its annual monsoon forecast on April 17, said two government officials familiar with the situation who declined to be identified because the information isn’t yet public. The outlook is among the nation’s most widely watched indicator because its 235 million farmers represent about 20 percent of the $1.2 trillion economy.

Economic think-tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has said that the demand for steel has improved and the trend will continue in the current fiscal. “The ongoing government funded infrastructure projects during the peak constructio n season, a slight revival in the automobile industry and a sharp 40-45 per cent correction in steel prices from the peak level of July 2008 spurred the demand for the commodity,'' the CMIE said in its monthly review of the Indian economy.

Steel Authority of India posted a 4 per cent rise in sales volume in March from a year earlier, Steel Secretary Pramod Kumar Rastogi said on Wednesday.

Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma Limited has entered into an agreement with Dr Reddy's Laboratories Limited for the development, manufacture and supply of a basket of value-added generic oncology drugs. The products selected under this collaboration include currently selling oral and injectable innovator products, which have multi-million dollar sales across the globe. One of the products is Paclitaxel, which is a generic version of Abraxane, Natco stated in a press release.

To restructure projects that failed to attract bidders, the National Highways Authority of India plans to invite fresh bids for 38 highways proposals in the next quarter. "NHAI is restructuring these 38 projects to make them lucrative for bidders in the wake of the global economic slowdown. The projects after re-designing are likely to be valued between Rs 45,000 crore and Rs 50,000 crore," an official told PTI.

Mumbai based information technology service provider 3i Infotech said that it had repurchased a part of its foreign currency convertible bonds. The company in a note to Bombay Stock Exchange said that it bought back $17 million worth of bonds out of $100 million bonds and 1 million Euro bonds out of 30 million bonds due in 2012. Both are zero coupon bonds said the company in the note.

Reliance Communications (RCom) has added around 11.3 million new subscribers in the January-March quarter, increasing its total subscriber base to 72.6 million by the March end.

Larsen & Toubro (L&T), India's largest engineering and construction company, said it had signed an agreement with Russian company Atomstroyexport (ASE) for co-operation on nuclear power reactors.

India’s largest lender State Bank of India today said that it is considering a cut in its Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) in light of soft interest rate regime. State Bank of India had reduced its BPLR Rate by 75 basis points from 13.00 per cent to 12.25 effective from January 01, 2009. It has also launched special home loan scheme with an eight per cent interest rate which remains fixed for one year.The priority sector customers are enjoying cheaper credit so also companies who get credit at market linked rates, he added.

Software services major Infosys Technologies today said its cash and cash equivalents stood at over $2 billion at the end of last fiscal in spite of credit crisis worldwide. "The cash and cash equivalents, including investments in liquid mutual funds and certificate of deposits, as on March 31, 2009 were Rs 10,993 crore," a company statement said.

Annual inflation rate is forecast to have turned negative for the first time in early April due to weak economic activity and last year's surge in prices, a Reuters poll showed. The median forecast of 12 analysts is for a fall of 0.18 per cent in the wholesale price index in the 12 months to April 4, down from a 0.26 per cent rise the previous week.

Reliance Communications said on Wednesday it will launch a tender offer to buyback foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs) at a discount, subject to central bank approval. The company said in a statement $950 million of FCCB bonds were outstanding from $1 billion issue set to mature in 2012. It said it had already repurchased $40 million of the bonds.

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