Building blocks out of dirt

Contaminated sediments can be converted into 'safe' construction materials, says this study.

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Range-bound opening likely: Tuesday Market Preview

Wall Street closed almost unchanged overnight while the markets in Asia were mixed in early trade today following the release of inflation data by China

The domestic market is likely to witness the a range-bound opening today as the Asian markets are mixed in early trade today while Wall Street closed almost unchanged overnight on speculations that the recent rally might have reached a top. The SGX Nifty was nine points down at 5,446 against its previous close of 5,455.

Adding to the gains that accrued on Friday, yesterday the market started the day on a strong note, tracking its Asian peers, which were trading higher as tensions eased in the Middle East. Inching northwards in morning trade, the market got a leg-up following the marginal easing of the wholesale price index (WPI) inflation for January. The key indices were range-bound in afternoon trade, but buying support propelled them upwards, ensuring a close near the day's highs. The Sensex was up 474 points at 18,202 and the Nifty ended 146 points higher at 5,456. This is the second highest daily gain on the Sensex (2.67%) and the Nifty (2.75%) since 11 May 2010. 

The Nifty was able to break the resistance of 5,370. It managed to cross the 10-day moving average, as well, confirming a short-term uptrend. Above this level, the market has to cross many hurdles to be in the bull market orbit again. Nifty faces resistance at 5,480 and 5,555. If these levels are crossed in the next three days, the market will move up substantially towards 5,700 and 5,800.

Markets in the US settled almost unchanged on Monday on speculations that the recent rally might have reached a top. Strengthening crude prices supported energy stocks. Brent crude for April delivery rose $2.14 a barrel, or 2.12%, to $103.08, the highest close since 26 September 2008. Exxon Mobil gained $2.09, or 2.5%, to $84.91, while Chevron rose 1.22, or 1.3%, to 96.95. On the other hand, Wal-Mart Stores fell 89 cents, or 1.6%, to 54.80, after J.P. Morgan Chase downgraded the retailer’s stock-investment rating to “neutral” from “overweight”.

US president Barack Obama on Monday proposed a federal budget that he said would reduce the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years. Congress must approve the plan, and Republicans, who are in the majority in the House, said it did not curb spending enough.

Mr Obama’s budget would provide $8 billion for investment in clean energy, but big pharma companies might take a hit from generic competition under two proposals in the plan.

The Dow shed 5.07 points (0.04%) to 12,268.19. The S&P 500 gained 3.17 points (0.24%) to 1,332.32 while the Nasdaq added 7.74 points (0.28%) to 2,817.18.

Markets in Asia were mixed in early trade on Tuesday as China reported a less-than-expected rise in its consumer price index (CPI) in January. CPI for January rose 4.9% year-on-year, from 4.6% in December. Producer-price inflation moved up to 6.6% last month from 5.9% in the previous month.

The Shanghai Composite gained 0.48%, the Jakarta Composite rose 0.74%, the Nikkei 225 was flat, the Seoul Composite advanced 0.13% and the Taiwan Weighted added 0.14%. On the other hand, the Hang Seng fell 0.12% and the Straits Times declined 0.25%.

Back home, the government is mulling bringing on board eminent bankers and former regulators to revamp its entire financial sector norms and suggest ways to strengthen its oversight system for checking frauds and irregularities. The high-profile group, to be tasked with reviewing and updating the entire gamut of financial sector regulations, would also include people from legal fraternity and might be chaired by a former Supreme Court judge, sources said.
The government is giving final touches to the proposal for setting up the panel, to be called Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), which was announced by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in his last budget speech.


Onion farmers end 10-day old strike; expect govt to lift export ban

With onion prices having dropped considerably over the past few days, onion growers have been holding back stocks hoping for a better price through exports

Onion growers from Nashik in western Maharashtra, one of the principal onion-growing areas, have called off their 10-day strike in anticipation that the central government will lift the ban on export of the onions soon.

The onion farmers from the region were on strike at the Lasalgaon onion market, Asia's biggest onion market over the past 10 days to demand that the ban on export of onions be lifted. The export brings better returns for farmers than what they earn from selling their produce at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) market where wholesale prices have dropped recently.

The Press Trust of India has reported that onion growers from the Nashik region are holding their stocks in anticipation that the government will lift the export ban and they will be able to earn handsome returns. Over the past fortnight, the prices of onions crashed to Rs4-10 per kg in the wholesale market.

"Farmers are hoping that the government will lift the export ban on onions, which will get them fair prices, hence the strike was called off. They are also holding their produce as they are anticipating exports will open up," said RP Gupta, director of National Horticulture Research Development Foundation (NHRDF), which monitors onion prices.

A trader at the Lasalgaon market told Moneylife over the telephone, "The situation and supply of onions was tight due to the strike, which has now been called off."

The government banned shipment of onions abroad in December last year to rein in domestic prices that had soared to Rs70-85 a kg in the retail market. Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar have urged the Centre to lift the export ban completely.

"The government is giving its attention at the highest level, to what has been said by the Maharashtra chief minister and union agriculture minister," commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had said in Delhi last week.

According to Mr Gupta, "The wholesale prices of the onions at Lasalgaon APMC market today was at about Rs417 per quintal (minimum) and Rs1,114 per quintal (maximum). The model onion prices were around Rs1,000 per quintal." (Nearly 80% of the onion produce is rated in the 'model onion' category.) "Around 8,320 quintals reached the market today by 1.30pm, as compared to 14,000-15,000 quintals that generally arrives at the market daily," he said.


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