Govt to consider lifting ban on sugar futures

New Delhi: The government will consider lifting ban on sugar futures trading in the first week of September after assessing production situation of the sweetener, reports PTI quoting agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

Trading in sugar futures was banned in May 2009 and the suspension is valid till September 2010.

"I will get to know the sugar production situation in September. I will take a view on it (lifting ban on sugar futures) in the first week of September," Mr Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of a National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation (NCCF) function here.

Mr Pawar was replying to a query that whether the government will consider removing ban on sugar futures in view of sharp fall in prices.

Retail sugar prices, at present, are ruling sharply lower by 40% at Rs30 a kg compared to Rs48 a kg in mid-January in Delhi.

Sugar production in India, the world's second largest producer and the biggest consumer, is estimated to touch 18.8 million tonnes in the ongoing 2009-10 season, nearly three million tonnes more than the earlier projection.

In 2010-11, sugar output is expected at 25.5 million tonnes, higher than the annual demand of 23 million tonnes.

The sugar season runs from October to September.

The country has imported about 6 million tonnes of sugar since early last year as sugar output in 2008-09 and 2009-10 crop year was lower than the domestic demand.

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NHAI spent Rs53,000 crore on road projects in last three years

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has spent over Rs53,202 crore on road projects during the last three financial years, reports PTI.

The NHAI incurred an expenditure of Rs17,490.48 crore, Rs17,756.37 crore and Rs17,955.57 crore in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-2010, respectively, on 256 highways projects, minister of state for highways R P N Singh informed the Rajya Sabha.

"Out of the 256 projects, 82 projects have been completed during the last three years and the balance work is under implementation," the minister said.

In reply to another question, the minister informed the house that the NHAI has restructured 47 schemes under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP), mainly to increase their viability.

Mr Singh also said that the award of contracts for building 23,744 km roads under the NHDP by 2010-11 has been approved by the ministry.

"So far, contracts for a total length of 5,822 km have been awarded under Work Plans I and II," he said.

The road transport and highways ministry has plans to build 35,000 km of highways in five years.
 

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Thursday’s Market Preview: Flat opening likely

The market is likely to open flat-to-positive on supportive global cues. Wall Street settled on a positive note as sales forecast from Target Corp eased worries about consumer demand. Markets in Asia were on a sound footing as speculations that a rise in consumer demand in the US would boost exporters. However, the SGX Nifty was down 7 points at 5,485.

The market witnessed a firm opening on Wednesday on the back of supportive global cues. The upmove was aided by stocks from the healthcare, auto and fast moving consumer goods sectors. There was some selling pressure and the indices gave up some of their gains by noon. The weak opening of the European markets pulled the market further down but later value-picking in select scrips resulted in the indices closing off their intraday highs. The Sensex ended 208 points (1.1%) higher at 18,257. The Nifty was up 65 points (1.2%) at 5,479, conquering the psychological level of 5,400 once again.

The US market ended higher on Wednesday as sales forecast from Target Corp eased worries about consumer demand. However, volumes remained low at the end of the earnings season. The Dow was up 9 points (0.09%) at 10,415. The S&P 500 was up 1 point (0.1%) at 1,094. The Nasdaq was up 6 points (0.3& at 2,215.

Markets in Asia were on a sound footing as speculations that a rise in consumer demand in the US would boost exporters. Shanghai Composite was up 0.08%, Hang Seng was up 0.3%, Jakarta Composite was up 0.3%, KLSE Composite was up 0.1%, Nikkei was up 1%, Straits Times was up 0.2% and Seoul Composite was up 0.8%. On the other hand, Taiwan Weighted was down 0.2%. The SGX Nifty was down 7 points at 5,485.

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday proposed to double the investment limit for retail investors to Rs2 lakh in public issues, a move that will enable individuals to aggressively participate in primary issues of companies. The current limit of Rs1 lakh for retail investors was fixed over five years ago in March, 2005.

Giving justification for its proposal, SEBI said the limit for retail investors needed to be enhanced in view of the increase in inflation rate from 4% in 2005 to around 12% currently and rise in the BSE Sensex from 8,000 points to about 18,000 points during the same period.

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