Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co has said that plutonium was found at "low-risk levels" in five places at the facility Fukushima nuclear complex. However, Japan seems to still be in a state of denial. Its Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has said that while the plutonium levels "were not harmful to human health", the discovery could mean the reactor's containment mechanism had been breached.
The government had introduced the Nutrient-based Subsidy (NBS) scheme in April 2010 wherein it decontrolled potassic and phosphate fertilisers, but kept its control on price and movement of urea, which constitutes half of India's total fertiliser consumption
New Delhi: The fertiliser ministry on Monday said it will hold a meeting with the industry in the next 2-3 days to discuss decontrolling of urea in line with potassic and phosphate fertilisers, reports PTI.
The decision was taken at the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS), which is studying the feasibility of freeing the urea sector.
"Nothing is finalised yet (on urea decontrol). We still have to consult with stakeholders and that meeting we will have in next 2-3 days," fertiliser secretary Sutanu Behuria told reporters after the CoS meeting here.
The committee has not yet arrived at a subsidy model for urea, as it is still trying to address the issues of the stakeholders, he said.
Fertiliser companies such as DCM Sriram, Kribhco and Nagarjuna Fertilisers have expressed certain concerns, said a senior official present in the meeting.
The government had introduced the Nutrient-based Subsidy (NBS) scheme in April 2010 wherein it decontrolled potassic and phosphate fertilisers, but kept its control on price and movement of urea, which constitutes half of India's total fertiliser consumption.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee during the 2011-12 budget had said that urea-based fertiliser would be brought under the NBS scheme from April 2011.
The industry was of the view that full benefit of the NBS initiative would accrue once urea was also brought under the scheme. This would encourage entrepreneurs to invest in the sector and ensure assured supply of fertilisers.
After a meeting with the stakeholders, the CoS would finalise its report and refer it to the Group of Ministers (GoM) for its nod. The CoS is also looking into the issue of finalising new investment policy for the fertiliser sector.
Presently, urea price is fixed at Rs5,310 per tonne.
The country's urea demand was 18.19 million tonnes in 2009-10.
Speculations of lower corporate earnings pressurised global markets
The Indian stock market is likely to open on a cautious note on weakness in the global markets. Most markets in Asia were mixed in early trade on Tuesday, mainly on concerns arising from muted earnings in Japan and on the volatile global outlook. Wall Street closed lower overnight as developments in West Asia and Europe weighed down on investor sentiments. The SGX Nifty was down 14 points at 5,690 over its previous close of 5,704.
A minor contraction in the Asian markets in morning trade saw the Indian market open lower yesterday. Select buying soon lifted the indices higher, but profit booking took them to the day's lows, with the Sensex dropping to a touch below its opening level and the Nifty to 5,643. While the market witnessed a bounce-back, there was volatility associated with the futures and options contract due later in the week.
The indices crossed their psychological levels a little after 2pm, with the Sensex surging past the 19,000 mark and the Nifty breaching 5,700 levels. The last time the Sensex and Nifty touched those levels was towards the end of January. However, they could not sustain the high levels and came off the day's highs in late trade, still managing a positive closing for the fifth day in a row. The Sensex closed at 18,943, a gain of 127 points over last week's close and the Nifty was up 33 points at 5,687. The Sensex has added 1,104 points in the current rally, which began on 22nd March, while the Nifty has gained 322 points since the upmove started.
Markets in the US closed lower on Monday as earnings concerns overshadowed positive economic news. Hotel chain Marriott tumbled over 6% on speculations on weaker demand in the US. Other consumer goods companies also ended lower. Slow progress in the quake-devastated Japan also added to the woes. Discovery of plutonium particles outside the nuclear power plant north of Tokyo indicated degradation of nuclear fuel in at least one of the reactors.
In economic news, the National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in February, increased 2.1% to 90.8. Analysts expected the index to fall 1% after a 2.8% decline in January. Consumer spending rose 0.7% in February while personal incomes increased by 0.3%. However, economists are worried that if energy costs keep going up, it will cut into household budgets and leave consumers with less money to spend on other items.
The Dow fell 22.71 points (0.19%) to 12,197.88. The S&P 500 shed 3.61 points (0.27%) to 1,310.19 and the Nasdaq declined 12.38 points (0.45%) to 2,730.68.
Concerns about higher radiation levels in Japan pushed most markets in Asia lower in early trade today. Japanese investors were worried following reports that suggested that the government is considering a temporary nationalisation of Tokyo Electric Company (Tepco) to facilitate speedy reconstruction of damaged power plants. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs lowered its growth forecast for Japan this year to 0.7% from 1.3% previously.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.43%, the Hang Seng lost 0.24%, the Jakarta Composite fell 0.56%, the Nikkei 225 tanked 1.47% and the Straits Times was down 0.27%. On the other hand, the KLSE Composite gained 0.10%, the Seoul Composite added 0.08% and the Taiwan Weighted rose 0.23%.
US crude fell on Monday for a third day, as Libyan rebels regained key territory and increased efforts to resume oil exports from the OPEC country. Brent crude futures for May delivery settled down 79 cents at $114.80 a barrel while US May crude futures lost $1.42 to $103.98.
Back home, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to clarify its stand on whether it was going to accept the report of a high-powered committee, which had probed IPO scam of 2006 and the role of NSDL in it.
It further asked “SEBI to consider whether its board will reconsider the special committee’s 4th December order in respect of National Securities Depository (NSDL) and DSQ securities and to pass an appropriate resolution and place before the court.