February WPI eases to nine-month low of 4.68%

Wholesale prices-based inflation eased to a nine-month low of 4.68 per cent in February, helped mainly by moderating food prices.
NEW DELHI: Wholesale prices-based inflation eased to a nine-month low of 4.68 per cent in February, helped mainly by moderating food prices. 

The wholesale price index's (WPI) annual rise compared with a 4.99 per cent jump forecast by economists in a Reuters poll. In January, wholesale prices, long seen as the country's main inflation measure, rose 5.05 per cent. 

Source-economic times

Gold falls on profit-selling, silver remains higher

Gold prices fell by Rs. 220 to Rs. 30,800 per ten grams in the national capital on Thursday on emergence of profit-selling at prevailing higher levels.

However, silver gained for the third day by adding Rs. 200 to Rs. 46,900 per kg on sustained buying by industrial units and coin manufacturers.

Traders said profit-selling by stockists at prevailing higher levels against sluggish demand mainly pulled down gold prices.

Rising equities lured investors to park their funds for quick gains and that reduced the gold demand, they said.

On the domestic front, gold of 99.9 and 99.5 per cent purity plunged by Rs. 220 each to Rs. 30,800 and Rs. 30,600 per ten grams, respectively. It had shot up by Rs. 320 on Wednesday.

Sovereign fell by Rs. 50 to Rs. 25,350 per piece of eight grams.

On the other hand, silver ready advanced by Rs. 200 to Rs. 46,900 per kg and weekly-based delivery by Rs. 240 to Rs. 46,690 per kg. It had gained Rs. 770 in last two days.

Silver coins also spurted by Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 87,000 for buying and Rs. 88,000 for selling of 100 pieces.

Economic data likely to point to slow growth, high inflation

Consumer inflation and industrial output data on Wednesday will likely offer little evidence of a respite from high inflation and weak economic growth before a general election that begins next month.

Asia's third-largest economy has been struggling to recover from a stagflation-type situation where economic growth has been stuck below 5 per cent for the past seven quarters while prices continue to rise at a fast clip.

Data for retail inflation and industrial output, due later on Wednesday, will likely show the same trend, according to a Reuters polls of economists.

Retail inflation is expected to ease further to a 25-month low of 8.35 percent in February from 8.79 percent in January on moderating vegetable prices. But industrial output is forecast to post a fourth straight fall in January, the longest phase of contraction that Indian factories have suffered in more than five years.

India's merchandise exports fell for the first time in eight months in February, signalling the country may miss its annual overseas sales target for the second straight year, data released on Tuesday showed.


Cooling prices will offer some relief to the Congress party, which is trailing in opinion polls ahead of the polls that begin on April 7. It is still widely expected to go down to defeat, in part for its failure to control inflation and revive the economy.

Moreover, hail and heavy rains in the past two weeks have damaged crops, which could see food prices spike again.

"The lingering inflation risks call for central bank vigilance to keep it in check," Leif Eskesen, chief economist for India and ASEAN, wrote in a note last week.

Purchasing managers indexes are already pointing to underlying inflationary risks as rising input costs last month, thanks to higher raw material prices and wage increases, forced firms to pass on them to their clients.

This is likely to keep core retail inflation elevated. It has been stuck at around 8 per cent for the past three months, a level new Reserve Bank of India (RBI) chief Raghuram Rajan deems uncomfortably high.

Retail inflation has been averaging around 10 per cent for the past two years, way above a target of 4 percent recently proposed by an RBI panel.

In an attempt to quell price pressures, Rajan has raised interest rates three times since September, even though economic growth is languishing at around a decade-low of 4.5 per cent. The central bank is next due to review rates on April 1.

His inflation fight has raised concerns about a potential clash with the traditionally more growth-oriented government, which has been insisting on a balance between price stability and growth.

Rajan, however, calls price stability a necessary condition to promote growth and has rejected views of a trade-off between the two.

Elevated prices and a slowing economy have pressured household budgets and company profits, hitting consumer demand as well as corporate investments.

Industrial production probably shrank 0.6 per cent on year in January, its fourth contraction in a row. It has fallen 0.1 per cent year-on-year between April and December, dragged down by weak investment and consumer demand.

With investment growth on track to hit an 11-year low, some economists say India's growth potential has fallen to around 6.5 per cent from about 9 per cent seen before the 2008 global downturn.

Contracting industrial output and an investment slump pulled down economic growth to a worse-than-expected 4.7 per cent in the quarter to December. And the outlook for the current quarter is not bright, either, as firms are wary of committing fresh investments before the election outcome is known.

This leaves election spending, estimated to be as high as 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), as the main hope for a growth uptick.

"Election spending will certainly have a positive impact on consumption demand, which has been weak and is one of the principal reasons for the growth slowdown," said Madan Sabnavis, Chief economist at CARE ratings.

Idea launches 3G-enabled smartphone Ultra II with 5.5-inch screen for Rs 12,500

Idea launches 3G-enabled smartphone Ultra II with 5.5-inch screen for Rs 12,500
New Delhi: India’s third largest private telecom operator Idea launched a 3G-enabled smartphone, ULTRA II with a 5.5-inch screen, at a price of Rs 12,500 focusing on driving data penetration in the country through sale of 3G devices.

Idea also launched an entry level 3G smartphone, Idea !d 1000, aimed at first time smartphone buyers and is priced at Rs 5,400, it said in a release. The handsets will be available in the market from next week.

“Lack of availability of affordable 3G smartphones with high-end features is the deterrent to mobile data growth in India. Idea has tried to bridge this gap by offering the best value for money 3G devices, in addition to our superior 3G products, services, and network coverage,” Idea Cellular CMO Sashi Shankar said.

The firm has witnessed a consistent growth in data uptake in its 3G markets where its branded 3G smartphones have been selling, for the past two years, he added.

“This has encouraged us to further expand our devices portfolio with the launch of our first 5.5-inch screen 3G smartphone, ULTRA II, and the entry-level !d 1000, which will help us target consumers at both ends of the spectrum,” he said.

The 5.5-inch Ultra II runs of Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and is powered by a 1.3 Ghz quad-core processor. The handset sports a 8 megapixel rear camera with HDR and a 2 MP front camera with LED flash, it said in a statement. It comes with 1GB RAM and 4 GB of internal memory (of which 2GB is available for user), and is expandable up to 32 GB via micro SD card.

It has a 2500 mAh powerful battery and comes with an ultimate power saver mode for 75 percent extra saving on battery time. The ULTRA II is available in white and electric graphite and is priced at Rs 12,500. The phone will be available at Idea’s major 3G markets — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra & Goa, MP & Chhattisgarh, Haryana, UP West, and UP East.

Idea !d 1000, which features a 3.5-inch screen, is powered by a 1 GHz dual core processor and runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.2 OS. This dual-SIM handset also has a built-in social networking app. It carries a 2MP camera and an internal memory of 4GB, expandable to 32 GB. The smartphone will be available across Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra & Goa, MP & Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, UP West and UP East.

“With the launch of two new devices, Idea’s portfolio of 3G smartphones has gone to 15 and the company has already sold over 6.5 lakh devices,” Idea said.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee: World wide web needs bill of rights

The inventor of the world wide web has marked the 25th anniversary of his creation by calling for a 'Magna Carta' bill of rights to protect its users.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC Breakfast the issue could be compared to the importance of human rights.

He has been an outspoken critic of government surveillance following a series of leaks from ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Sir Tim called on people to take action and protest against surveillance.

'Communal decision'

He told BBC Breakfast the online community has now reached a crossroads.

"It's time for us to make a big communal decision," he said. "In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go?

"Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance?

"Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it's so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?"
Looking at the world's first web page shows how much has changed online
The NeXT cube machine on which Sir Tim designed the world wide web
Sir Tim took part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games

Sir Tim said the internet should be a "neutral" medium that can be used without feeling "somebody's looking over our shoulder".

He called for vigilance against surveillance by its users, adding: "The people of the world have to be constantly aware, constantly looking out for it - constantly making sure through action, protest, that it doesn't happen."

Sir Tim has previously warned that surveillance could threaten the democratic nature of the web.

He has also spoken out in support of Mr Snowden, saying his actions were "in the public interest".

The idea that the world wide web would end up playing such a huge role in people's lives would have seemed "crazy" 25 years ago, said Sir Tim.

He admitted that the web represented "humanity connected", involving both the "wonderful" and the "ghastly".

But he added: "I don't have a lot of sympathy with people who say: 'There's so much rubbish on the web.'

"Well, if there's so much rubbish, if it's rubbish, don't read it. Go read something else."

The web we want campaign has been set up by Sir Tim's World Wide Web Foundation to coincide with the 25th anniversary and aims to protect human rights

Sensex bounces back, rallies over 100 points ahead of CPI, IIP data

The Sensex bounced back after a weak start today and gained over 100 points, led by gains in defensives like pharma, FMCG and technology sectors.

MUMBAI: The S&P BSE Sensex bounced back after a weak start today and gained over 100 points, led by gains in defensives like pharmaceuticals, FMCG and technology sectors. Investors are likely to take cues from the IIP and CPI data for direction, say analysts. 

"The market will pay close attention to the January IIP and Feb CPI data. Asian stocks are down. A stronger yen has sent the Japanese market into the red. Oil has weakened. 

SpiceJet enters $4.4-bn deal with Boeing to buy 42 aircraft

The India Aviation 2014 got off to a colourful start with the first major deal announced at the event in Hyderabad on Wednesday, March 12. Spicejet is to order 42 737 Max 8 aircrafts. "It is worth $ 4.4 billion...It is a big deal," is how a visibly happy Dinish A Keskar, senior vice president sales (Asia Pacific and India) described it to Business Today. "The delivery of these aircrafts is going to start from 2018. In this business unless you plan for your fleet well in advance you will be left in the lurch because when you need capacity places are not available," says S L Narayanan, CFO of the Sun Group, which controls SpiceJet.

He says, right now we have a fleet of 57 aircrafts 42 Boeings and 15 Q 400s and some in them will end their lease. "Our fleet plan provides for growth of about 5 to 6 per cent capacity expansion year on year progressively over the next several years." On the reason for choosing these aircrafts, he said, "we have been with Boeing right through and this 189-seater aircraft is a very fuel efficient aircraft. They are also the optimum size for us in terms of meeting our requirements," he said.

Asked about what he felt about the negative news around Boeing's Dreamliners, he said, it did not fit into the requirements for Spicejet as these were very large aircrafts but on the issues around the Dreamliner, he said, whatever the issues, Boeing seems to have fixed them and airlines are flying these aircrafts today.

On the timing of the deal, he said, "We need to plan in advance because some of the planes will also be going off after the end of the lease." On the issues before the airline industry, he said: "Most of our problems are linked to heavy taxes. Some moderation in taxes will be necessary because the industry is facing extremely tough times. Once the GDP growth picks up the growth there will be good growth in aviation as he says, normally going by empirical data people say that GDP times two is the usual air travel growth. When GDP grows at 8 per cent air travel grows at 15- 16 per cent. Right now the growth has fallen because GDP has also fallen."

Remaining hopeful, he said: "Who would have thought even 10 years ago that air travel market will double in India. Every product category has gone through that evolution."

The India Aviation 2014 is a five day event, with the last two days, open to general public to view the aircrafts displayed there. The event is organized by the ministry of Civil Aviation jointly with the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event is being inaugurated by Ajit Singh, Union minister for Civil Aviation.

Aadhaar implementation a threat to nation’s security: Lekhi

The HinduBJP national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi and Ananth Kumar, MP, interacting with college students in Bangalore on Tuesday. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

‘Some of its aspects may be reviewed if BJP comes to power’

Terming the manner in which the Aadhaar project is being implemented as dangerous to the country’s security, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday indicated that it may review some of its aspects if it comes to power.

Speaking to presspersons here on the sidelines of an interaction with college students on election issues, BJP national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi also sought a CBI probe into various aspects of the Aadhaar project, including the manner in which finances had been allocated for it.

When asked if the BJP would scrap the project if it comes to power, Ms. Lekhi said, “Aadhaar needs a re-look to see if anything has gone wrong and to know who stores and shares the biometric data of citizens.”

Attack on Nilekani

Earlier, at the interaction, she launched an attack on Unique Identification Authority of India chairman and Infosys cofounder Nandan Nilekani, who is taking on BJP’s five-time MP Ananth Kumar in Bangalore South on the Congress ticket. She said Aadhaar was a project for which one had to be condemned rather than appreciated.

“I will be ashamed to take credit for such a project,” she said.

Without taking Mr. Nilekani’s name, Ms. Lekhi alleged that the Aadhaar project was dangerous and also posed a threat to the country’s security as it regularised the stay of illegal immigrants from other countries by granting citizenship to them at the cost of the welfare of genuine residents.

‘Norms violated’
Aadhaar project had violated the Parliamentary norms and the direction issued by the Supreme Court to ensure that it was not made mandatory for offering services and foreign citizens were not enrolled under it, she said.

She also accused the UPA government of ignoring the country’s security interests by providing political positions to some of those who allegedly had links with Maoists.
Source..The Hindu

In Mumbai, Arvind Kejriwal's 'aam aadmi' travel by auto, local train

Mumbai: Arvind Kejriwal, who landed in Mumbai this morning, caught an autorickshaw from the airport to travel the 5-km distance to the Andheri station in the western suburbs of Mumbai. 

His roadshow passed through the constituency of AAP candidate Mayank Gandhi, who is pitted against sitting Congress MP Gurudas Kamath. Mr Gandhi traveled in the auto with Mr Kejriwal. 

At Andheri the 45-year-old Mr Kejriwal will hop on to the over-crowded "lifeline of Mumbai" and reach Churchgate station in south Mumbai where a private fund-raising meeting will be held. Following this he will embark on another road show traveling through the Mumbai South and Mumbai North East constituencies from where former banker Meera Sanyal and activist Medha Patkar will respectively contest. 

As he crisscrosses the city on public transport, the Mumbai Police is providing Mr Kejriwal with Z category security, which includes cover by police personnel and an escort car. AAP sources say Mr Kejriwal is determined to reject that offer, but the city police is equally determined to provide adequate protection. 

On a road show in Gujarat last week, Mr Kejriwal's car was attacked and its windshield was broken by protestors who, the AAP alleged were BJP workers. 

Mumbai, AAP sources say, is critical to the party as it's from the Maximum City where huge funds are expected. Also after Delhi, AAP hopes to make an impact in the urban centers around Mumbai in not just the Lok Sabha elections, but also the assembly elections scheduled to take place later this year. 

But like in Gujarat, political fireworks are expected at his next destination: Nagpur in Vidarbha. Nagpur, where the RSS is headquartered, is where former BJP president and senior leader Nitin Gadkari is to make his Lok Sabha elections debut, as is AAP candidate Anjali Damania. Mr Gadkari is expected to win.

Mr Kejriwal is also scheduled to hold a fund-raising dinner at a luxury hotel in Nagpur at a price of Rs.10,000 per person on March 13.

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