India considering setting up urea plant in the Gulf

New Delhi: The government is considering putting up a fertiliser plant in the gas-rich Gulf region to bridge the demand-supply gap, reports PTI.

"Various proposals are under consideration in the Middle East for exploring the possibility of putting up an ammonia-urea fertiliser plant in countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait", minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Srikant Kumar Jena said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

A fertiliser-deficit nation, India generally imports one-third of its total fertiliser requirement for a year. It will have to import more than 11.6 million tonnes of fertiliser to meet its domestic demand for the current kharif season, ending September, which includes 30 lakh tonnes of urea. Domestic urea production caters only 70% of the total requirement.

India had produced 21.1 million tonnes urea, 4.2 million tonnes DAP and 8 lakh tonnes complex fertilisers in 2009-10.

"The government is continuously following-up the issue of availability of gas with the competent authorities in the respective nations", Mr Jena said.

The minister, however, added that so far no country in the Gulf region has given confirmation about supply of gas at affordable price.

Failed to attract the desired investment in the sector, the government had announced New Investment Policy, 2008.

Following that, investments worth Rs24,000 crore were committed by six fertiliser firms, but could not be carried forward as the units were seeking firm gas allocation at a pre-determined price or insulation from additional liability due to price rise.


Govt plans to divest stake in ONGC, IOC; may raise Rs21,000 crore

New Delhi: The government plans to sell 5% of its stake in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and 10% in Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to raise about Rs21,000 crore this fiscal, reports PTI oil secretary quoting S Sundareshan.

"We have received a note from Department of Disinvestment (DoD) that says they have approval of the finance ministry for divestment of government stake in ONGC and IOC," he told PTI.

The proposal, he said, is for sale of 5% or 10.6 crore equity shares in ONGC through a follow-on public offer (FPO) which at today's trading price of Rs1,233.25 would fetch the government Rs13,189 crore.

In IOC, DoD has proposed to sell 10% of government equity through an FPO.

"Simultaneously, IOC also proposes to sell 10% of the expanded equity capital (through an FPO) to raise funds for its expansion plans," he said.

Post stake sale, the government's shareholding in ONGC will come down to 69.14% from 74.14% currently. In IOC, the twin divestment and stake sale would reduce the government holding from 78.92% to 64.57%.

"We are not preparing any Cabinet note. It is the Department of Disinvestment which will do that. We only have to seek approval (for the stake sale) from the (oil) minister (Murli Deora)," Mr Sundareshan said.

According to the road map being prepared, IOC would be the first to be disinvested. It will first sell 10% or 24.27 crore equity shares that at today's stock price of Rs363.90 would fetch the company Rs8,835 crore to help it part-finance its capital expenditure programme of Rs75,000 crore.

This would be followed sale of 10% government holding amounting to 19 crore shares to raise Rs7,000 crore.

IOC has written to the oil ministry expressing its interest in raising money from the market for its capital investment requirement.

The nation's largest oil marketing firm wants to take advantage of the recent government decision to free fuel prices by tapping the capital markets.

The government had in June decontrolled petrol price that resulted in a Rs3.50 per litre hike in rates in Delhi. Also, diesel prices were hiked by Rs2 per litre, domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by Rs35 per cylinder and Rs3 a litre on kerosene.

Despite the June move, IOC currently loses Rs2.76 a litre on diesel, Rs170.57 per cylinder on LPG and Rs15.41 a litre on kerosene and is estimated to lose Rs31,770 crore in revenues this fiscal.


Friday Closing Report: The bias is to the downside; watch 18,000

It was another day of late selling that spooked the domestic market. The indices opened weak on dour economic news from the US-the world's largest economy. The benchmarks recovered quickly and were trading in the green till the post-lunch session. The Sensex and the Nifty touched their intraday highs of 18,244 and 5,472, respectively buoyed by a strong opening by influential European markets. But later, the market succumbed to selling pressure from heavyweights that saw the indices ending off the low point of the day.

The Sensex ended at 18,144, down 28 points (0.1%), off its intraday low of 18,118. The Nifty settled at 5,439, down 7 points (0.1%).

The overall market breadth was negative today. Out of the 30 Sensex stocks, 22 ended in the red and eight were in the green. Of the 50 stocks that make up the Nifty, 30 declined, 19 advanced while one returned unchanged. The broader indices, once again, ended in the positive terrain. The BSE Mid-cap index was up 0.1% and the BSE Mid-cap index was up 0.24%.

The top Sensex gainers were Tata Motors (up 3.9%), ITC (up 1.8%), HDFC (up 1.4%), Jindal Steel and ACC (up 1% each). The laggards were led by Hero Honda (down 1.4%), Tata Steel and TCS (down 1.3% each), DLF and State Bank of India (SBI) (down 1% each).

The top BSE sectoral gainers included consumer durables (CD) (up 1%), fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) (up 0.7%) and auto (up 0.4%). The sectoral losers were bankex (down 0.6%), information technology (IT) (down 0.5%) and public sector undertaking (PSU) 0.4%.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said its ability to conduct the monetary policy freely has again come under threat due to the influence of the government's fiscal policies.

"Like in most countries, in India too, fiscal stimulus was part of the crisis response and monetary policy had to acquiesce in elevated government borrowing. Going forward, the challenge for the government is to continue the fiscal consolidation and for the Reserve Bank to regain the space to conduct monetary policy free of fiscal compulsions," RBI governor D Subbarao said on Thursday.

Asian markets closed mixed today as investors preferred to stay on the sidelines ahead of the US non-farm payroll data due to be released later today. Russia's ban on wheat exports pulled up agriculture-related stocks in the region. The Shanghai Composite was up 1.4%, Hang Seng was up 0.6%, Jakarta Composite was up 0.5% and Taiwan Weighted was up 0.3%. On the other hand, KLSE Composite was down 0.1%, Nikkei 225 was down 0.1% and Straits Times was down 0.4%.

The US has said it is exploring all options, including legal tools, to force India to open up its agriculture market, especially the dairy sector.

US Trade Representative, Ron Kirk who has been to India twice and soon would be travelling to New Delhi, said that he has raised this issue of opening up of the agricultural market, in particular those of dairy products, at the highest level.

US markets ended lower on Thursday, weighed down by disappointing economic news that fuelled concerns about the pace of the economic recovery. Weekly jobless claims data revealed initial claims for jobless benefits rose to 479,000, the highest level since early April. Besides, sales at 30 retail chains rose 3%, less than the 3.2% average forecast by analysts. The Dow fell 5 points (0.05%) to 10,674.98. The S&P 500 fell 1 point (0.1%) to 1,125.81. The Nasdaq fell 10 points (0.4%) to 2,293.06.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the equities segment to the tune of Rs73 crore on Thursday. Domestic institutional investors were net sellers of Rs187 crore on the same day.

Raymond Ltd (up 0.3%), the largest integrated manufacturer of worsted fabric in the world, has reduced its net loss to Rs24.88 crore in the first quarter of the current financial year as compared to the loss of Rs31.60 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. Total income of the company reported a marginal increase to Rs244.26 crore as compared to Rs239.94 crore in the same period of the previous year.

Telecom service provider Aircel recorded the highest growth of 37.2% among operators in 2009-10, while Bharti Airtel (down 0.7%) retained its leading position, according to a survey by journal 'Voice and Data'.

Bharti Airtel retained its leading position among telecom service providers and posted a growth of 5% to end 2009-10 fiscal with revenues of Rs38,800 crore, the survey said.

Turnkey engineering major BGR Energy Systems Ltd (up 1.8%) has inked joint venture (JV) agreements with Hitachi Ltd, Japan, and Germany-based Hitachi Power Europe GmbH, a Hitachi subsidiary.

The first JV with the Japanese company is for design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of supercritical steam turbines and generators for thermal power plants while the second one with Hitachi's German arm, would be for supercritical steam generators for thermal power plants.


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