Saturday, May 09, 2009

News Update for 09-05-2009:-
Japan confirmed its first cases of swine flu Saturday in three people who recently returned from Canada, even as the disease's spread appeared to slow in the rest of the world.Health and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe said the three Japanese were quarantined upon arrival in Tokyo after testing positive in preliminary checks performed on all travelers flying from countries hit by the virus.

Corus, a unit of Tata Steel, announced that some big buyers of slab had terminated an offtake agreement for its Teesside Cast Products (TCP) plant, putting under cloud the future of the plant. The world’s sixth-largest steelmaker said it might have to mothball TCP, in northeast England, which employs 1,920 people.

State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest bank, may review interest rates on deposits by May-end. "We will review interest rates at May-end. In general, there seems to be a trend of softening interest rates on the deposit side," said Chairman and Managing Director O P Bhatt on the sidelines of the inauguration of an inward remittance cell in Kolkata on Friday.

Singapore-based lender DBS Bank today sold off its entire stake in HDFC Bank, while Deutsche Securities Mauritius picked up 3.78 million shares in the country’s second largest private sector bank. “We have divested our 2.7 per cent stake in HDFC, a portfolio investment, as we believe that this is an opportune time to divest the shares,” a DBS spokesperson said. Sources said that the sale did not reflect diminished interest in India and DBS would go ahead with its plans for the country.

Crisil has downgraded its rating on Reliance Infrastructure’s long-term debt on concerns of business restructuring and the resultant restriction in cash flow. The Indian subsidiary of credit rating firm Standard and Poor’s, Crisil, has lowered the rating to AA+/Negative from AAA, while the company’s rating on the short-term debt reaffirmed at ‘P1+’.

Billionaire Warren Buffett's investment firm Berkshire Hathaway said it lost $1.5 billion in the first quarter amid market turmoil as the value of its assets fell by $6.1 billion. The investment company controlled by Buffett, the world's second richest person, took a hit from its insurance holdings and a loss as it sold a big stake in oil giant ConocoPhillips.

Larsen & Toubro (L&T) will sell its 11.5% stake in the Aditya Birla group company UltraTech Cement by December. Pegged at around Rs 800 crore at Friday's market price, the sale proceeds will prop up L&T's bottomline in 2009-10. The company will also realise a further Rs 100 crore of other income from the sale of its ready-mix concrete assets in 2009-10. It had sold that business to Lafarge in 2008 for Rs 1,480 crore, and around Rs 100 crore has been pending from this transaction.

Indian professionals aspiring to go to the US to work may now find it more difficult to get H-1B visas with Washington deciding on stricter screening following complaints of misuse of the facility. Acting on the complaints, the US has adopted “fraud prevention tactics” to prevent such misuse. “We’ve added fraud prevention tactics. We’ve begun looking at other more standard fraud investigatory techniques that weren’t being used in H-1B that we are now going to employ. It includes things like sites visits and worksites visits,” Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said.

Few passengers may have taken to the skies in April, making it the third straight month that airlines have witnessed traffic declining on a year-on-year basis, as the industry struggles to cut costs and shed excess capacity. Air passenger traffic in the domestic sector may have fallen by 8% in April 2009 compared with last year, according to market experts and travel industry officials. The official figures for the month will be released by the civil aviation ministry next week.

State-run Union Bank of India, in joint venture with Belgium-based company, plans to enter the mutual funds business by December this year and hopes to receive the market regulator Sebi's approval to set up the firm by June 30, a top bank official said. "The bank expects to receive the Sebi nod for JV by December. We would be able to enter the market with our first product by December this year," Union Bank General Manager Personal Banking & Operations S Govindan said here.

Inflationary pressure is very high in India, says Reddy
The monetary and fiscal packages announced by RBI and the government, according to him, are “on track”, but the challenge before the authorities is unwinding the packages in due course.

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