Tackling inflation a challenge; haven't failed in the task: FM

New Delhi: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today dubbed managing high inflation as one of the biggest challenges before him, though adding that he has not failed on this front, reports PTI.

"One of my biggest challenges is to control inflation but at the same time, I should not stand in the way of higher growth trajectory. It is a difficult challenge for any finance minister", he said in an interview to India Today magazine.

Inflation for the month ended August was 8.5%, while food inflation was 16.24% for the week ended 25th September.

The minister further said the government has been able to bring down food inflation from 20% to 16%.

"I would not say I have failed. I have been able to reduce it from the peak it reached in December 2009 which it was as high as 20%. Now it has been brought down to 16% ", he added.

However, Mr Mukherjee said, "It is a matter of concern since inflation hits the poorer sections the most."

Answering questions on focus of economic policies of Congress, he said, "Aam aadmi (common man) has always been in focus but in different forms."

"When we talk inclusive growth, we talk of him when we talk of growth with equity or garibi hatao, the aam aadmi has always been at the centre but with different definitions and requirements," he added.

Referring to Goods and Services Tax (GST), Mr Mukherjee said, "There is a broad political consensus on about the necessity of GST, about the need to remove multiple points of taxation...it may take some time but it will be possible."

Mr Mukherjee admitted that there were reservations from some states who think that GST would deny them the autonomy of imposing tax "which they believe is their sovereign right...I don't think politics should be mixed with major economic decisions."

The Centre is trying to evolve a consensus on constitutional amendments to implement GST, which will eventually subsume several indirect taxes like excise, service tax, sales tax, etc.


Thursday Closing Report: A volatile period begins

The market, which seemed buoyant on global cues this morning, witnessed a jittery session resulting in the indices shaving nearly half the gains that were accrued yesterday. Institutional sell-off was seen as the major cause for today’s decline.

The domestic market opened firm this morning touching the day’s high in early trade. However, profit booking set the tone for a gradual slide, which became prominent in the post-noon session. The decline was attributed to selling in capital goods, power and banking stocks. The indices drifted lower amid volatile trading, a day ahead of the release of the monthly inflation numbers for September and food inflation data for the week ended 2nd October. However, the indices closed above the day’s low.

The Sensex settled 190.24 points (0.92%) lower at 20,497. The index touched a 33-month high of 20,854 in early trade and a low of 20,443, intraday. The Nifty ended the session at 6,177, down 56.55 points (0.91%) after touching a high-low of 6,284 and 6,177, respectively.

The overall market breadth was negative today. Five Sensex stocks ended in the green while the balance 25 declined. Of the 50 Nifty stocks, 45 stocks finished lower while five ended with gains. Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index shed 0.27% and the BSE Small-cap index lost 0.49%.

The top gainers on the Sensex were Wipro (up 2.34%), Tata Steel (up 1.97%) and Infosys Technologies (up 1.05%). The key Sensex losers in today’s trade were Reliance Communications (RCom) (down 3.43%), Larsen & Toubro (L&T) (down 3.19%) and NTPC (down 2.57%).

The sectoral gainers were led by BSE Metal (up 0.55%), BSE IT (up 0.48%) and BSE TECk (up 0.11%). BSE Capital Goods (CG) (down 1.94%), BSE Oil & Gas (down 1.54%) and BSE Power (down 1.24%) were the prominent sectoral losers.

Foreign investment in the Indian stock market crossed the magic Rs1 trillion mark ($22 billion) for the first time in history and analysts have predicted the overseas inflows will continue to increase in the coming months.

As per data available with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have made net purchases of domestic equities worth Rs1,00,574.20 crore till date this year.

Markets in Asia closed mostly higher on the policy-tightening move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and hopes of the US Federal Reserve providing additional stimulus to boost the economy. Besides, the Bank of Korea left interest rates on hold at 2.25% for the third straight month.

The Shanghai Composite gained 0.64%, Hang Seng jumped 1.68%, Jakarta Composite advanced 0.18%, Nikkei 225 surged 1.91%, Seoul Composite was up 1.26% and Taiwan Weighted added 1.34%. On the other hand, KLSE Composite was down 0.04% and Straits Times shed 0.22%.

Wall Street ended at its best level in five months on better-than-expected earnings reports and a weak dollar, which increased the appetite for riskier assets like stocks and commodities. The day's gains were mostly driven by industrials and materials stocks after China's trade surplus fell to a five-month low for September.

The Dow rose 75.68 points (0.69%) to 11,096. The S&P 500 gained 8.33 points (0.71%) to 1,178. The Nasdaq added 23.31 points (0.96%) to 2,441.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs2,103 crore worth stocks on Wednesday. Domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities worth Rs1,355 crore on the same day.

IT firm Zensar Technologies (up 0.06%) today said it has opened its sixth global delivery centre in Shanghai, China. The centre will be an integral part of the global delivery model, which already includes delivery centres in India and Europe, Zensar Technologies said in a filing to the BSE.

It will provide infrastructure management, application support and product engineering services in chosen verticals like manufacturing, healthcare and government.

Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) (up 2.79%) today said its board of directors has approved the merger of Godrej Household Products Limited (GHPL) with itself.

The company said the merger subsequent to GCPL's acquisition of 51% stake in Godrej Sara Lee (GSLL) from erstwhile partner Sara Lee Corp, will be applicable with retrospective effective from 1 April 2010. Post-acquisition, GSLL was renamed as Godrej Household Products Limited (GHPL).

Singapore Mercantile Exchange today said the Singapore branch of ICICI Bank Ltd (down 1.81%) has become its Special Clearing Member (SCM) for clearing and settling futures contracts at the bourse.

As an SCM, ICICI Bank will clear and settle trades for its regional and international customers, including any other Non-Clearing Member (NCM), broker member and trade member of the Exchange.


Everest Kanto Cylinder sets up subsidiary in Thailand

Everest Kanto Cylinder Ltd said it formed a subsidiary, EKC Industries (Thailand) Co Ltd in Thailand as that country is promoting natural gas vehicles in a big way.

On Thursday, Everest Kanto Cylinder shares gained 0.3% to Rs128 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.9% down to 20,497 points.


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