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The export price for onions has been increased by $55 to $275 a tonne for September, in...

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Strong FII inflows inching towards 2009 record-level

New Delhi: Betting big on the Indian equity markets, foreign fund houses have invested over Rs71,000 crore ($15.6 billion) so far this year and analysts believe that it will soon breach the record-figure achieved in 2009, reports PTI.

In the last fortnight alone (1st-17th September), foreign institutional investors have made a net buy of whopping Rs12,442 crore ($2.67 billion) in the Indian stock market, as per the data available with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Stock brokers are optimist about the Indian growth story and believe that soon the FII investment in stock markets will cross the last year's record level.

Last year, Indian stock market attracted record inflows of Rs83,400 crore, a period when the Sensex recorded a gain of nearly 80%.

As per the SEBI data, so far in current year, FIIs have made a net investment of Rs71,824.50 crore in local stocks, while their exposure in debt instrument stands at Rs42,124.5 crore ($9.1 billion).

The low interest rate regime followed in many advanced economies to avert the recession, coupled with better economic performance of emerging markets such as India and China, are keys to attract a chunk of foreign inflows, analysts said.

"FIIs continue to pour money into Indian financial assets amid bright prospects for economic growth and corporate earnings," India Infoline Ltd vice president (research) Amar Ambani said.

"The market is sustaining the rally as inflows from FIIs is coming in relentlessly and in coming days too, this rising spree is likely to continue," Geojit BNP Paribas research head Alex Mathews said.

On the back of huge inflows from FIIs, Sensex had been on a rising-spree in recent sessions. It regained the 19,500-mark this month after a struggle of 32 months.

With such huge inflows from FIIs, marketmen believe the Sensex could reach its record high-level of 21,200 easily in coming period. The Sensex had hit its lifetime high of 21,206 as on 10 January, 2008.

At present, the 30-share benchmark of the Bombay Stock Exchange is already trading at its highest level since 17 January, 2008.

In the week gone by, the index recorded a gain of 4.2% and ended at 19,594.75 — its best close since January 17, 2008. This weekly gain of 4.2% was the best gain in a week so far in 2010.

If the trend remains the same then we can see the index touching its record level very soon," a broker said.

FIIs play a significant role in domestic equity markets and their movement (inflow and outflow) causes fluctuation in benchmark indices.

After pouring in Rs83,000 crore in local markets, these investors began exiting in early 2010 and in January they were net sellers of Rs500 crore.

But from February, the scenario started changing and they were net buyers of Rs1,216 crore. In April, FIIs were net purchasers of shares worth Rs9,361 crore, after pumping in Rs19,928 crore in March.

In June and July, FIIs made a total net investment of Rs27,125 crore.

Maintaining their bullish stance for the third month in a row, global fund houses made a net investment of Rs11,685 crore ($2.5 billion) in Indian equities in August.

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CAG drills holes in Panna/Mukta and Tapti field audit

New Delhi: Preliminary findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) show discrepancies in award of contracts related to Panna/Mukta and Tapti oil and gas fields by a consortium-led by the UK's BG Group, reports PTI.

The Audit and Accounts Department of CAG sent its preliminary findings to the oil ministry last month and has also asked the consortium of BG Group, Reliance Industries (RIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to reply on the audit observations, sources in know of the development said.

Once the BG-Reliance-ONGC consortium replies to audit objections, CAG will prepare a proper report and submit it to the oil ministry for comments. Upon receipt of comments from oil ministry, CAG will then finalise its audit report.

A spokesperson for BG Group, which is responsible for contracting in the three-way consortium, declined comments.

BG and Reliance have 30% interest each in the Panna/Mukta oil and gas fields and Tapti gas fields lying in western offshore. The remaining 40% is with ONGC.

Sources said CAG, in its preliminary observations, found that the joint venture awarded 17 contracts for drilling services without openly advertising for pre-qualification of companies during 2003-04/2004-05 and thru 2008-09.

It is mandatory for oil companies to publish/advertise invitation for parties to pre-qualify for any contract worth over $3 million.

The Panna/Mukta and Tapti joint venture awarded third party drilling services contracts to companies such as BJ Services (a Baker Hughes subsidiary), Weatherford, MI Overseas and Schlumberger without following this procedure, sources said quoting CAG's observations.

Also, the consortium procured more inventory than necessary for operations of the fields by not accounting for reusable items in the inventory stock.

CAG also stated that BG-Reliance-ONGC had blindly agreed to pay higher rates to rig and drilling service contracts after expiry of original contracts. The joint venture did not determine competitive market rates, which were actually lower these contracts, when extending these contracts.

Sources said CAG found serious lapses in execution of the New Revised Plan of Development (NRPOD) project to maintain plateau of South Tapti and development of Mid-Tapti gas fields.

The joint venture incurred an extra expenditure of $28.41 million after it failed to award contract to lowest bidder, J Ray McDermott on a turnkey basis, they said.

Panna/Mukta and Tapti field was one of the three private sector operator oil and gas fields for which oil ministry had sought a special audit. The other fields being audited are Cairn India's Rajasthan oil fields and RIL’s eastern offshore KG-D6 gas fields.

According to the CAG report, J Ray McDermott had quoted $300.77 million for doing the job but when the award of contract was delayed, it demanded a $15 million acceleration in cost and a performance incentive of another $15 million.

The joint venture rejected McDermott's quote and decided to executive the project by splitting the work into different packages, a move that eventually saw project cost climb to $428.18 million as against a total of $399.77 million estimated through the turnkey route.

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