Current Affairs : Economy
 

  • India's gold imports rose by 71.52 per cent to $3.39 billion in December because of weak global prices and higher domestic demand.
  • According to the commerce ministry's data released today, silver imports too rose by 106 per cent to $197.26 million last month as against $95.84 million in December 2016.
  • Gold imports by India, the world's second-biggest consumer of gold, stood at $3.39 billion in December 2017 as against $1.97 billion a year ago.
  • Industry experts have attributed the surge in gold imports to lower global prices which ranged between $1,250 and $1,260 per ounce coupled with a robust local demand.
  • Many traders imported more gold taking advantage of the duty-free buying, while some booked deals apprehensive that the import duty may be tweaked in the forthcoming Budget, they added.
  • The ministry's data further showed that export of gems and jewellery rose marginally by 2.38 per cent to $3.23 billion from $3.15 billion in the said period.
  • Global gold prices have however surged in the last few weeks by $100 to Rs 1,343 per ounce on the London Stock Exchange.The country imports 700-800 tonnes gold annually.

  • President Ram Nath Kovind on 14 jan inaugurated the 'Economic Democracy Conclave' at Thane, being organised by Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini with an aim to create a platform for young entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals and provide them motivation, networking and mentoring.
  • While addressing the young entrepreneurs, the President asked them to take the advantage of being around Mumbai as the city has entrepreneurial potential.
  • President also said that the government has been running many schemes under development program for everyone, whose benefits are reaching people.

  • Payment of Gratuity Amendment Bill 2017 is likely to be passed in the forthcoming Budget session, which will make formal sector workers eligible for tax free Rs 20 lakh gratuity.
  • At present formal sector workers with five or more years of service are eligible for Rs 10 lakh tax free gratuity after leaving job or at time of superannuation.
  • " The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill , 2017 will be passed in the Budget session of Parliament, expected to begin by the end of this month," a source said.
  • The source further said, "The government wants to provide tax free gratuity of Rs 20 lakh to organised sector workers at par with Central government".
  • The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in winter session of Parliament last month. Once the bill is passed by Parliament, the government will not be required to go to it again for deciding the quantum of tax free gratuity.
  • The bill seeks to allow the government to notify the period of maternity leave and gratuity that can be availed by employees under a central law.The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced by labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar in the Lok Sabha on December 18, 2017
  • The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, was enacted to provide for gratuity payment to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments.

  • Looking to bring a wave of labour reforms this year, the government will push its first labour code Wage Code Bill in the forthcoming budget session which would enable it to set benchmark minimum wage for different regions.
  • "Wage Code Bill will be the first labour code which would be pushed for passage in the budget session. Labour ministry is expecting Parliament's select committee to table the bill in the budget session beginning by the end of this month," a source said.
  • The draft Code on Wages Bill 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2017. Thereafter, it was referred to the select committee for scrutiny.
  • The bill seeks to combine Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1949, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 into one code.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment aims to combine over 44 labour laws into four broad codes in wages, industrial relations, social security, and occupational safety, health and working conditions.
  • "The other three codes are at different levels of consultations with the stakeholders. These bills would also be pushed for passage in the Parliament by the labour ministry this year," the source added.
  • The codification of labour laws will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities, leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to workers

  • A Saudi private company on 11 jan opened the first car showroom for women only just five months before a decision allowing females to drive takes effect.
  • The showroom was opened in a shopping mall in the western Red Sea port city of Jeddah to allow women the freedom to choose their own cars before they hit the road.
  • In a historic decision late last year, King Salman gave Saudi women the right to drive, abolishing an almost three-decade ban based on religious reasons.
  • Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans women drivers. The landmark royal decree has been hailed as proof of a new progressive trend in the kingdom.
  • The showroom offers a wide selection of vehicles from various makes and is staffed by women only.It also provides women with solutions to finance their purchase provided by leading banks and financial companies.
  • The company plans to open more automobiles showrooms for women in the oil-rich kingdom.
  • Saudi Arabia's cost of living has risen after the government hiked domestic gas prices and introduced value-added tax (VAT) in January.

  • After disrupting the telecom sector with its free offers and hyper-competitive tariffs, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd plans to create its own cyptocurrency, JioCoin.
  • With Mukesh Ambani’s elder son Akash Ambani leading the JioCoin project, Reliance Jio plans to build a 50-member team of young professionals to work on blockchain technology, which can also be used to develop applications such as smart contracts and supply chain management logistics.
  • “The company plans to hire 50 young professionals with average age of 25 years for Akash Ambani to lead. There are multiple applications of blockchain (for the company). The team would work on various blockchain products,” a person familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.
  • Blockchain is a digital ledger for storing data including, but not limited to, financial transactions. In simple terms, blockchain decentralizes information without it being copied.
  • The information is held on blockchain through a shared database which can be accessed on a real-time basis. This database is not stored on physical servers but on the cloud, which makes it easy to store unlimited data.
  • The most popular application of the technology has undoubtedly been cryptocurrency, and Reliance Jio also plans to create its own version called JioCoin.
  • “One (application) is cryptocurrency. We can deploy smart contracts. It can be used in supply chain management logistics. Loyalty points could altogether be based on JioCoin,” the person cited above said, adding that all of this was “in proposal stage”

  • Union Cabinet on 10 Jan gave its approval to a number of amendments in the Foreign Direct Investment Policy. These are intended to liberalize and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country. It will lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.
  • Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval to a number of amendments in FDI Policy.
  • Decisions are intended to liberalise and simplify FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business. This will also lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.
  • Boost to FDI Policy Liberalisation of FDI policy includes--100% FDI under automatic route for Single Brand Retail Trading--Foreign airlines allowed to invest up to 49 per cent under approval route in Air India --100 per cent FDI under automatic route in Construction Development
  • At present, FDI policy on Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT) allows 49 per cent FDI under automatic route, and FDI beyond 49 per cent and up to 100 per cent through Government approval route. Now government has decided to permit 100 per cent FDI under automatic route for SBRT.
  • The relaxation of norms for foreign airline investment in Air India has been given but with riders. Foreign investment in Air India including that of foreign Airline (s) shall not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly and "substantial ownership and effective control of Air India shall continue to be vested in Indian National".
  • According to the current FDI policy, foreign airlines are allowed to invest under government approval route in Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, up to the limit of 49 per cent of their paid-up capital. But the provision was not applicable to Air India.

  • The pace of the Indian economy's progress is now among the fastest in the world. While most countries are struggling with economic slowdown or stagnation, India is flying high owing to inherent strengths boosted by the govt's policy interventions.
  • The World Bank in its latest Global Economic Prospects report has said that Indian economy will grow at 7.3% in 2018
  • it will further grow at 7.5% for the next 2 years, It's author said that Indian economy has 'enormous potential'-- and that India will likely register higher growth rate than other major emerging economies in the next decade
  • India will make rapid economic progress on the strength of landmark reforms undertaken in recent years such as GST implimentation, increased digital commerce after demonetisation, increased investment, labour reforms and higher govt spending on education and health.The nation is passing through a transformative phase at this time.

  • India's growth rate in 2018 is projected to hit 7.3 per cent and 7.5 per cent in the next two years, according to the World Bank, which said the country has "enormous growth potential" compared to other emerging economies with the implementation of comprehensive reforms.
  • India is estimated to have grown at 6.7 per cent in 2017 despite initial setbacks from demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), according to the 2018 Global Economics Prospect released by the World Bank here on 9 jan.
  • "In all likelihood India is going to register higher growth rate than other major emerging market economies in the next decade. So, I wouldn't focus on the short-term numbers. I would look at the big picture for India and big picture is telling us that it has enormous potential," Ayhan Kose, Director, Development Prospects Group at the World Bank, told PTI in an interview.
  • He said in comparison with China, which is slowing, the World Bank is expecting India to gradually accelerate. "The growth numbers of the past three years were very healthy," Kose, author of the report, said.
  • India's economy is likely to grow 7.3 per cent in 2018 and then accelerate to 7.5 per cent in the next two years, the bank said.

  • In a relief for Indian techies, US authorities on 9 Jan said that the Trump administration is not considering any proposal that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the country.
  • The announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) came days after reports emerged that the Trump administration was considering tightening H-1B visa rules that could lead to deportation of 7,50,000 Indians. The reports had said it was mulling ending extensions for H-1B holders.
  • The USCIS "is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing interpretation of section certain language in Section 104 C of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) statute that states that USCIS may grant the extensions," an official said
  • This provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.
  • "Even if it were, such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead," Jonathan Withington, Chief of Media Relations at the USCIS, said in a statement.

  • China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in which India is a second largest shareholder, plans to issue its first US dollar-denominated bond with minimum worth of a USD billion by June this year.
  • With 84 members so far, the AIIB was officially established in December 2015 and opened for business in January 2016.
  • The Beijing-based AIIB is a multilateral development bank initiated by China. The bank has an authorised capital of USD 100 billion.
  • Soren Elbech, treasurer of the Beijing-based multilateral development bank, said in a statement that the earliest issuance window will be "toward the end of the first half of 2018," with time required for certain procedures, including the Board of Governors' approval of AIIB's 2017 financial statements as well as borrowing and swap documentation.
  • Elbech said the minimum size of the issuance will be one billion dollars, but as demand for the first bond issue from a triple-A multilateral institution in 25 years may be large.
  • "We anticipate having to issue a larger size." In terms of maturity of the bond, Elbech said the choice will be between three and five years depending on investor demand at the time, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
  • He said the bank plans to cap its total borrowing volume at USD three billion dollars in 2018.
  • The AIIB has received three top-notch ratings from the global credit rating agencies S&P Global Ratings, Moody's and Fitch in recognition of the bank's strong capital base and stable outlook.

  • Baba Budangiri, 250 km from Bengaluru, where coffee was first grown in India, is going for Geographical Indication (GI) of its variety of the Arabica brew.
  • On January 1, the Coffee Board filed an application for the GI tagging of Baba Budangiri Arabica and four other varieties Coorg Arabica, Wayanad Robusta, Chikmagalur Arabic and Araku Valley Arabica with the Geographical Indication Registry at Chennai.
  • Coffee Board head (coffee quality) K Basavaraj said: "We have applied for the GI marker and we are also profiling the majority variety grown in Baba Budangiri, a variety called Selection-795," Basavaraj said.
  • Selection-795 (S-795) is considered to be the natural descendant of two of the oldest African cultivars of coffee Coffea Arabica and Coffea Liberica and a third variety is called Kent. Currently, S-795 is the most prominent coffee grown at Baba Budangiri
  • Edmund Hull in his book 'Coffee Planting in Southern India and Ceylon' says that Coffea Arabica originated in Caffa in southern Abyssina and then found its way to Yemen.
  • According to John Shortt's 'A Handbook on Coffee Planting in Southern India', Baba Budan (Baba Booden), a Muslim pilgrim, brought the brew from Mocha, a port city in Yemen, in the 17th century and introduced the variety in the uninhabited hills that came to be known as Baba Budangiri

  • Under pressure from the government, State Bank of India is understood to be reviewing its minimum balance requirement which is currently Rs 3,000 in urban centers.
  • The bank is also changing the requirement from monthly average balance to quarterly average balance. The move follows reports that the bank made Rs 1,772 crore in fees by imposing penalties for nonmaintenance of minimum balance between April and November 2017.
  • According to sources, the bank is looking at bringing down the minimum balance requirement to around Rs 1,000 but is yet to take a call. SBI had originally increased the minimum balance requirement to Rs 5,000 in June.
  • However, following public backlash the bank brought down the minimum balance requirement to Rs 3,000 in metros, Rs 2,000 in semi-urban and Rs 1,000 in rural centres.
  • At that time the bank also did away with the minimum balance requirement for minors and pensioners and reduced penal charges. The penalties which ranged from Rs 25 to Rs 100 were lowered to Rs 20-50 range (excluding GST).

  • The Idea Cellular board on 4 jan.approved raising about Rs 3,250 crore from the entities under the promoter Aditya Birla Group by issuing 32.66 crore equity shares on a preferential basis
  • Idea Cellular Board has formed a panel to evaluate potential routes for raising further capital of up to Rs 3,500 crore.
  • "The Board of Directors of Idea Cellular Limited (Idea), today approved issuance of about 326.6 million equity shares, face value of Rs 10 per share, at a price of Rs 99.50 per share (in accordance with SEBI ICDR Regulations) on preferential basis," the statement said.
  • The shares will be issued to entities under Aditya Birla Group Birla TMT Holdings Private Limited, Elaine Investments Pte Ltd (Singapore), Oriana Investments Pte Ltd (Singapore), Surya Kiran Investments Pte Ltd (Singapore), the statement said."The aggregate capital infusion will be of Rs 32,500 million," the statement said.
  • The issue is expected to complete by early February, 2018, subject to regulatory approvals, post which the shareholding of Promoter group in Idea will increase to about 47.2 per cent from existing level of around 42.4 per cent.
  • "The Aditya Birla Group remains committed towards the telecom business. The group is in the process of creating a large digital infrastructure...At a time when the telecom industry is going through a challenging environment, this equity infusion by the Group in Idea is another step towards reinforcing the group's commitment," Idea Cellular Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said

  • India has imposed antidumping duty on as many as 98 products, as on December 27 last year, imported from China, Parliament was informed on 3 jan.
  • The products on which the duty was imposed include flax fabrics, vitamin C, certain fibres and chemicals, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry C R Chaudhary said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.
  • He also said trade deficit with China stood at USD 36.73 billion during April-October this fiscal.
  • Increasing trade deficit with China can be attributed primarily to the fact that Chinese exports to India rely strongly on manufactured items to meet the demand of fast expanding sectors like telecom and power," he said.
  • Countries initiate antidumping probes to determine if the domestic industry has been hurt by a surge in below-cost imports.
  • As a counter measure, they impose duties under the multilateral WTO regime.

  • State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has made a significant oil and gas discovery to the west of its prime Mumbai High fields in the Arabian Sea, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on 1 Jan.
  • In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, he said the discovery was made in the well WO-24-3 (WO-24-C) drilled west of Mumbai High fields.
  • Though a holiday was declared for Parliament, replies to questions were posted on the Lok Sabha website."Based on the data generated during drilling, 9 objects/zones were identified and on testing all the objects flowed oil/gas," he said.
  • The discovery has indicated potential in-place reserves of about 29.74 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas, he said.
  • "The 9th object on testing flowed oil at the rate of 3,310 barrels per day and gas at the rate of 17,071 cubic meter per day," the minister said. "This multi-layered oil and gas accumulation in this well opened up new area for exploration/development."
  • Mumbai High, India's biggest oil field, currently produces 205,000 barrels of oil per day (just over 10 million tonnes per annum) and the new find would add to that production in less than two years' time.
  • ONGC is carrying out a further appraisal of the discovery and has intimated upstream regulator the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).
  • The new find, which comes almost 50 years after ONGC began production in Mumbai High, will help the company maintain production levels from the basin for a longer time than currently estimated.

  • State Bank of India has reduced its Base Rate - an older lending benchmark - by 30 basis points to 8.65%. The bank has however not made any changes in its current benchmark - the marginal cost of lending rate (MCLR).
  • The reduction in the Base Rate will benefit those borrowers who had raised floating rate loans, including home loans, before April 2016.
  • While a large number of home loan borrowers had refinanced their mortgages to take advantage of the lower rates offered under the MCLR regime, there are still close to half the older borrowers whose loans are linked to the Base Rate.
  • With this reduction, SBI's base rate is lowest among lenders. The advantage for SBI is with this reduction its older borrowers now do not have the same incentive to get their loans refinanced from other borrowers.
  • For SBI it ranges from 7.70% for overnight borrowing to 8.10 for three years. The bank's cheapest home loans are currently available at 8.35% and are linked to one-year MCLR.
  • There is a likelihood that the MCLR will also be replaced by an external benchmark similar to Libor in global markets. In October 2017 an RBI panel had suggested that banks link lending rates to an external benchmark to hasten policy transmission.

  • Activity in the eight core sectors of the economy accelerated to a 13-month high of 6.7% in November, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Monday, with growth being propelled by the steel and cement sectors.
  • The index of core industries had grown by 5% in October. In November, the cement sector grew at a record high of 17.3% compared with a contraction of 1.34% in October.
  • The steel sector grew 16.6% in November, the highest growth the sector has seen since October 2016.
  • It had grown 8.44% in October 2017. “This does not point to a recovery in construction, but more towards demand created by public sector investment, particularly in roads,” D.K. Srivastava, chief policy adviser in EY India, said.
  • ‘Time lag’-“A tangible trend is not there in the private sector, but this usually follows activity in the public sector, so it will take some time.” The coal sector slowed for the third consecutive month, contracting by 0.23% in November.
  • The sector had grown 15.4% in August. The crude oil sector grew marginally in November, by 0.22%, climbing from a contraction of 0.42% in October.
  • Growth in the natural gas sector slowed in November to 2.4% compared with 2.9% in October. At the same time, growth in the refinery products sector quickened to 8.15% in November from 7.49% in October.

  • Ruling out income tax exemption for cooperative banks, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 29 Dec said they were no different from commercial banks and were, therefore, required to be treated at par with them.
  • "Most of these banks are providing standard banking facilities like opening of letters of credit, bill discounting and collection, lockers and safe deposit vaults, bank guarantees.
  • "Many of these deal in foreign exchange and have also opened ATM kiosks. These banks are thus no different from commercial banks and therefore are required to be treated at par with them," Jaitley said in response to a question in the Lok Sabha.
  • He said that cooperative banks function like any other commercial bank and the principle of mutuality, which was central to granting exemption, did not apply "because their area of operations extends even to non-members".
  • "Income-tax is a tax on profits and there is no rationale for exempting profit-making cooperative banks from payment of income-tax," he said.

  • Dec 29 State-run gas utility GAIL India today said it has placed orders for another 400-km of pipeline of the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga natural gas pipeline project that will take the fuel to eastern India.
  • Line pipe orders for about 400-km for pipeline from Dobhi in Bihar to Durgapur in West Bengal has been placed, the company said in a statement.
  • With these awards, pipe supply orders for 2,100 km of the Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project have been placed. Also, 1,700 km of line laying orders have been placed.
  • The prestigious 2,655 km long JHBDPL project, also known as the 'Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga' project will originate at Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh, where main trunk pipeline from the west coast currently ends, to Haldia in West Bengal and Dhamra in Odisha.
  • It will pass through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha."GAIL till date has committed over Rs 6,500 crore for the project," the statement said.
  • The project, it said, will usher Industrial development in East India by supplying environmentally clean natural gas to fertiliser and power plant, refineries, steel plants and other industries
  • The project will also provide clean energy to households and transportation in the cities en-route the pipeline.GAIL said city gas network, laying activity in Varanasi and Bhubaneswar, has already commenced and the same in other cities like Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Cuttack and Kolkata will start by next month.

  • Suggesting an "open road policy" like the "open sky policy" where all bus permits would be made national permits, a parliamentary panel has recommended to both central and state governments for a "one nation, one permit and one tax" regime.
  • A 24-member select committee of the Rajya Sabha looked into the motor vehicles amendment bill.
  • "It was submitted before the committee that if a bus has to ply in five southern states then it has to pay permit fees of Rs 42 lakh every year...The ministry of road transport and highways informed the committee that if the states agree for one nation, one permit, one tax then the revenues of the states will increase.
  • This will also reduce the chances of one operator taking a few permits and running large number of buses," the panel said in its report submitted to the Rajya Sabha last week.
  • "The committee appreciates the idea of one nation, one permit, one tax especially if it increases the revenue of the states. The committee, therefore, calls upon the governments both central and states to work out modalities to bring the idea of one nation, one permit, one tax to fruition," the report said.
  • The select committee on motor vehicles amendment bill has also suggested that long distance buses should have toilets inbuilt in buses.
  • "The committee recommends that the long distance buses should invariably have inbuilt toilets. The committee further recommends that the concerned ministry should take initiative to implement the recommendation of the committee," the report said.
  • The Committee feels that this will reduce arbitrariness and corruption by the enforcement officials," the Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe-headed committee said.
  • It noted that according to Transparency International, every year Rs 10,000 crore in bribes is collected from truck owners/drivers by various RTOs in the country.

  • The governments of India and Tamil Nadu on 26 Dec signed an agreement with the World Bank for the multilateral lender to provide a $318 million loan for modernisation of irrigation projects in Tamil Nadu, improve market opportunities for small and marginal farmers and their adoption of climate resilient techniques.
  • According to an official statement here, around 5 lakh farmers, of which a majority are small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved and modernized tank irrigation systems
  • "About 500,000 farmers, of which a majority are small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved and modernised tank irrigation systems," a Finance Ministry statement said.
  • Under the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation project, about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams across 66 sub-basins will be rehabilitated and modernised to deliver bulk water to irrigation systems in the state, it said.
  • Tamil Nadu is a water stressed state that continues to experience water shortages which are expected to exacerbate in future, the statement added
  • "More than 160,000 hectares of currently partially irrigated lands will come into full irrigation under this project," the statement cited Department of Economic Affairs Joint Secretary Sameer Kumar Khare as saying at the loan signing event here.

  • India is set to overtake the United Kingdom and France to become the world’s fifth largest economy next year, a report said on 26 Dec.
  • Currently ranked seventh, India will move up to fifth place in 2018 and vault to third spot by 2032, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a London-based consultancy, said in its annual rankings.
  • The Indian economy hit a three-year low in the first quarter of the current financial year, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s snap decision in November 2016 to scrap high-value banknotes and following a tax overhaul.
  • Growth slumped to 5.7% for the three months ending June but recovered slightly to 6.3% for the quarter ending September.
  • “Despite temporary setbacks... India’s economy has still caught up with that of France and the U.K. and in 2018 will have overtaken them both to become the world’s fifth largest economy in dollar terms,” said CEBR deputy chairman Douglas McWilliams. Cheap energy and a digital revolution will drive economic growth globally, it said.

  • The equity markets saw an encouraging day of trading as both Sensex and Nifty breached psychological marks to finish at closing highs.
  • The market's rally came after Reliance Communications (RCom) chairman Anil Ambani's announcement that the debt-ridden company has achieved full resolution and is expected to reduce its debt of Rs 45,000 crore (as of October 30) to Rs 6,000 crore.
  • Post the announcement, Reliance Group shares surged emphatically. The shares of RCom zoomed 41.02 per cent to close at Rs 23 on BSE. On NSE, the stock ended 41.10 per cent higher.
  • At market closing, 30-share BSE Sensex finished on 34,010.61, up by 70.31 points while the broader 50-share NSE Nifty closed on 10,531.50, gaining 38.50 points.
  • The markets had opened on a positive note in the morning with the BSE index breaching the 34,000-mark for the first time. However, it could not hold on to the gains and slipped soon after, which was followed by a rangebound spell of trading for most of the day.
  • In the last hour of trading, Ambani's announcement gave the market an impetus which pushed it above the landmarks.

  • China and Pakistan will look at extending their $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on 26 Dec, part of China's ambitious Belt and Road plan linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond.
  • China has tried to position itself as a helpful party to promote talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both uneasy neighbours ever since Pakistan's independence in 1947.
  • Their ties have been poisoned in recent years by Afghan accusations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban insurgents fighting the US-backed Kabul in order to limit the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.Pakistan denies that and says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan.
  • Speaking after the first trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wang said China hoped the economic corridor could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.
  • Afghanistan has urgent need to develop and improve people's lives and hopes it can join inter-connectivity initiatives, Wang told reporters, as he announced that Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to mend their strained relations.
  • "So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan," he added.

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