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India may be removed from US Currency Monitoring list of trading partners

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WASHINGTON:India could be removed from US’ currency monitoring list of major trading partners, the Treasury Department has said, citing certain developments and steps being taken by New Delhi which address some of its major concerns. India for the first time was placed by the US in its currency monitoring list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies in April along with five other countries – China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland. The Department of Treasury maintained the same monitoring list in its latest report released on Wednesday but said if India continued with the same practices as in the last six months, it would be removed from its next bi-annual report.

“India’s circumstances have shifted markedly, as the central bank’s net sales of foreign exchange over the first six months of 2018 led net purchases over the four quarters through June 2018 to fall to $4 billion, or 0.2 per cent of the GDP,” the Treasury said in its latest semi-annual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the US.

This represented a notable change from 2017, when purchases over the first three quarters of the year pushed net purchases of foreign exchange above two per cent of the GDP, it said.

 

Recent sales have come amidst a turnaround in foreign portfolio flows, as foreign investors pulled portfolio capital out of India (and many other emerging markets) over the first half of the year, it said.

The rupee depreciated by around seven per cent against the dollar and by more than four per cent on a real effective basis in the first half of 2018, the report said.

India has a significant bilateral goods trade surplus with the US, totalling $23 billion over the four quarters through June 2018, but its current account is in deficit at 1.9 per cent of the GDP.

“As a result, India now only meets one of the three criteria from the 2015 Act. If this remains the case at the time of its next report, Treasury would remove India from the monitoring list,” the Treasury said.

Observing that India’s current account deficit widened in the four quarters through June 2018 to 1.9 per cent of the GDP, following several years of narrowing from its 2012 peak, the Treasury said the current account deficit has been driven by a large and persistent goods trade deficit, which has in turn resulted from substantial gold and petroleum imports.

The goods trade deficit has widened out in the first half to 6.4 per cent of the GDP as oil prices have risen.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects the current account deficit to be around 2.5 per cent of the GDP over the medium term as domestic demand strengthens further and favourable growth prospects support investment.

India’s goods trade surplus with the US was $23 billion for the four quarters through June 2018, it said, adding that India also had a small surplus in services trade with the US of $4 billion over the same period.

“India’s exports to the US are concentrated in sectors that reflect India’s global specialisation (notably pharmaceuticals and IT services), while US exports to India are dominated by key service trade categories, particularly travel and higher education,” the report said.

The Treasury praised India for being “exemplary” in publishing its foreign exchange market intervention.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has noted that the value of the rupee is broadly market-determined, with intervention used only during “episodes of undue volatility,” it said.


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Business

WPI inflation at 8-month low of 3.80 pc in Dec on softening fuel, food prices

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New Delhi: Inflation based on wholesale prices fell to a 8-month low of 3.80 per cent in December, 2018, on softening prices of fuel and some food items.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation stood at 4.64 per cent in November, 2018, and 3.58 per cent in December 2017. According to the government data released on Monday, deflation in food articles stood at 0.07 per cent in December, against 3.31 per cent in November.

Vegetables, too, saw deflation at 17.55 per cent in December, compared to 26.98 per cent in the previous month. Inflation in the ‘fuel and power’ basket in December slumped to 8.38 per cent, nearly half of 16.28 per cent in November.

 

This was on account of lowering of prices of petrol and diesel through December. Individually, in petrol and diesel inflation was 1.57 per cent and 8.61 per cent, respectively, and for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) it was 6.87 per cent during December.

Among food articles, potato prices became cheaper substantially with inflation at 48.68 per cent in December, as against 86.45 per cent in November.

Inflation in pulses stood at 2.11 per cent, while in ‘egg, meat and fish’ it was 4.55 per cent. Onion witnessed deflation of 63.83 per cent in December, compared to 47.60 per cent in November.

The 3.80 per cent inflation is the lowest in 8 months, and a lower inflation than this was last seen in April at 3.62 per cent. Data for retail or consumer price index-based inflation would be released later in the day.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mainly takes into account retail inflation data while formulating monetary policy. In its fifth monetary policy review for the fiscal, last month, the Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged, but held out a promise to cut them if the upside risks to inflation do not materialise.

The central bank lowered retail inflation projection to 2.7-3.2 per cent for the second half of the current fiscal, citing normal monsoon and moderate food prices.

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Air tickets, identity cards to become redundant; flyers can use facial recognition to enter airport

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New Delhi: The hassle to show air tickets and identity cards at Airport will be over as air travellers can soon enter airport with facial recognition biometric facility.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) that operates the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), has successfully conducted the trial of facial recognition technology. During the first phase of the trial, employees of GHIAL were included. The second phase of the trial is expected to be launched by the end of this month, in which GHIAL will include common air fliers. And if the second phase of the trial is successful, GHIAL will implement facial recognition technology in Hyderabad airport from March onwards.

Three phases of facial recognition technology

 

First phase: GHIAL has installed facial recognition cameras in the Hyderabad. In the first phase, the imaging of passengers will be done through these cameras which will recognise the faces of the flyers.

Second phase: There would be a centralised registration system for passengers. Each passenger’s face will be attached with his/her photo identity like passport, Aadhaar, voting id, driving licence etc. The details of passengers along with his facial mapping will be scanned and stored by GHIAL through the centralised registration system at the Airport.

Third phase: The ID proof of the passengers along with their facial mapping will be stored at the e-boarding gate of the Airport.The data centres at Airlines will also have similar information. Whenever such passengers book tickets, the data system will alert the Hyderabad Airport authorities.

The moment you book a flight ticket originating from Hyderabad airport, your details will be shared by the data centre and the information will be given to all the concerned authorities.

When you reach the Hyderabad terminal gate, face recognition technology will identify you and all your details will be shared on the screen. The security personnel at the gate will access all your information via the system.

Similarly, your details can be accessed by the security personnel at the check-in counter, security check-in. Once the formalities are done, passengers will get an online boarding pass on their mobile phone.

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Maruti all-new WagonR 2019 available for booking at Rs 11,000

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New Delhi: Country’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India on Monday said that its all-new WagonR is available for booking starting.

Customers can book the 3rd generation WagonR at authorized dealer network across the country by paying Rs 11,000. They can also book the car online.

The New WagonR is powered by the advanced K-series engine offering high fuel efficiency and an unmatched driving experience, Maruti said. The car now comes with a new 1.2 L engine option that delivers powerful and impressive performance coupled with great fuel economy. Customers will also have the choice of 1.0 L engine for the all-new WagonR.

 

Maruti Suzuki’s acclaimed two pedal technology will also be offered in the new WagonR. The Auto Gear Shift (AGS) offers. Maruti said that for the first it is going to offer the most innovative SmartPlay Studio infotainment experience in the Big New WagonR.

The car will be available in Pearl Poolside Blue, Pearl Nutmeg Brown, Magma Grey, Pearl Autumn Orange, Silky Silver and Superior White Range of variants. The Petrol: 1.0 L engine will be available in Lxi, Vxi / Vxi AGS variants while the Petrol: 1.2 L will be available in Vxi, Vxi AGS, Zxi / Zxi AGS variants.

“The new WagonR gets bigger with enhanced comfort. The car’s sturdy and masculine look with true tall boy design makes for a strong road presence. The Big New WagonR not only embodies strong looks but is also stronger inside out,” Maruti said in a release.

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