India's gold demand drops 9 pc to 690.4 tonnes in 2019 on record prices: WGC

India's gold demand drops 9 pc to 690.4 tonnes in 2019 on record prices: WGC

India's gold demand fell nine per cent to 690.4 tonnes in 2019 from the previous calendar year as record domestic prices and economic slowdown dented retail purchase, the World Gold Council (WGC) said on Thursday.

However, in 2020, gold demand in India -- the world's second biggest consumer after China -- could increase to 700-800 tonnes on hopes of increased acceptance of high price level and likely economic reforms boosting consumer confidence.

The domestic gold price finished 2019 just above Rs 39,000 per ten grams, almost 24 per cent higher than at the end of 2018, WGC said in its latest report.

"As policy measures unfold, broader economic growth accelerates and local prices of the past six months become more acceptable among households, India's gold demand will be in the range of 700-800 tonnes in 2020," Somasundaram PR, Managing Director of WGC's India operations, told PTI.


The WGC expects policy-led and industry-led initiatives to bring a marked shift in making the industry more transparent and organised this year, he said.

Already, the government has made hallmarking (quality certification) mandatory on January 15, 2020 with a transition period of one year for the trade to sell or change its existing non-hallmarked inventory. This is an overdue reform and a positive step towards making the Indian gold more trustworthy, he said.

"These and other changes to follow are significantly positive for the long-term sustainability of demand, especially for the compliant and the organised sector," Somasundaram said.


However, short-term challenges remain as large sections of the industry compete on low margins and fear tax uncertainty, leaving little incentive for long term investments and modern trade practices, he said.

"India's average long-term gold demand is likely around 850 tonnes given its affinity to gold and economic and social context," he added.

In 2019, the WGC said India's gold demand in volume terms declined to 690.4 tonnes from 760.4 tonnes in 2018, out of which jewellery demand fell nine per cent to 544.6 tonnes from 598 tonnes, while bar and coins demand also dropped 10 per cent to 145.8 tonnes from 162.4 tonnes in the said period.

However in value terms, the country's gold demand rose three per cent to Rs 2,17,770 crore in 2019 from Rs 2,11,860 crore in the previous year.

"Dhanteras - the first day of Diwali (the Festival of Light) which fell on October 25, 2019 - failed to bring cheer to gold demand in Q4 as the higher domestic gold price and weak economic sentiment curtailed gold sales," the WGC said.

Festival demand received some support from advance wedding purchases and a dip in the gold price ahead of the November wedding season released some pent-up wedding-related demand, but volumes were nevertheless soft compared with 2018, it said, and added, the slowdown was less pronounced among the more organised national and regional chain stores.

India's gold import including through grey channels, the WGC said it declined by 14 per cent to 646.8 tonnes in 2019 from 755.7 tonnes in 2018. Imports through grey market stood at 115-120 tonnes in 2019.

"Imports remained lower due to softening of local demand and 37 per cent increase in recycled gold to 119 tonnes in 2019," Somasundaram said.

"We do believe imports may not rise as fast as demand this year. But do expect custom duty on gold to be reduced to 10 per cent from 12.5 per cent at present." Two-thirds of India's gold demand comes from rural areas, where jewellery is a traditional store of wealth.


Investment matters: How much would your Rs 10,000 be worth on January 14, 2020, if you invested a year ago in stock market, silver or gold?

Investment matters: How much would your Rs 10,000 be worth on January 14, 2020, if you invested a year ago in stock market, silver or gold?

Newton’s 3rd law of motion states that ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. Last week, gold reacted to the Iranian missiles slamming into US military basis in Iraq by sky rocketing over the $1,600 per ounce mark, albeit briefly. However, a similar action on Sunday that saw Iranian mortar shells showering on a US military base in Baghdad evoked almost no reaction from gold. In fact, gold declined to end the day at $1,549.9 per ounce (London pm fix) on 13-1-2020. The global markets seemed to have regained its risk taking appetite, thereby resulting in stock market rallies that impacted gold. There seemed to be no uncertainty over the signing of the US-China trade deal as well at the moment. In late evening trading in New York, gold went lower than the London pm fix. Early morning trade on the 14th too seems to have taken gold much lower in the international markets.

In Mumbai, gold is likely to open at a much lower price on Tuesday. After opening marginally higher than Friday’s closing on Monday morning, gold ended lower at Rs.39,795 per 10 gms, barely above the January 1st opening of Rs.39,115 per 10 gms. The yellow metal would look at fresh cues from global markets and hope that after Makar Sankrat on January 15th there is demand for gold. Otherwise, gold could move sideways with not much volatility in the price. Silver too followed gold and ended after a marginal rise in the morning session before closing lower at Rs,46,265 per kg on Monday.

Gold (Rs.per 10 gms) am pm

Jan 7 40488 40537

Jan 8 41253 40851

Jan 9 40046 39881

Jan 10 39798 39760

Jan 13 39829 39797

Silver (Rs. Per kg) am pm

Jan 6 48080 47995

Jan 7 47195 47145

Jan 8 48395 47795

Jan 9 46335 46375

Jan 10 46125 46180

Jan 13 46370 46265

Investment matters: How much would your Rs 10,000 be worth on January 14, 2020, if you invested a year ago in stock market, silver or gold?

Petrol and Diesel prices continue to surge amid tension in Middle East

Petrol and Diesel prices continue to surge amid tension in Middle East

The petrol and diesel prices continued to surge on Saturday as the price of petrol rose by 10-11 paise and that of diesel by 15-16 paise across all major cities.

According to the Indian Oil website, the petrol costs Rs 75.45 a litre in Delhi, Rs 81.04 per litre in Mumbai, Rs 78.04 a litre in Kolkata and Rs 78.39 a litre in Chennai after the revised rates were implemented on Saturday morning.

Similarly, diesel prices also saw an increase across all major cities.

Diesel now costs Rs 68.40 a litre in Delhi, Rs 71.72 a litre in Mumbai, Rs 70.76 per litre in Kolkata and Rs 72.28 a litre in Chennai after the increase on Saturday morning.

The oil prices jumped by $3 a barrel on Friday after a US airstrike killed a top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, escalating major tension in the Middle East.

The retail prices of petrol and diesel are dependent on the global crude oil prices and the rupee-US dollar exchange rate as India imports 80 per cent of its crude requirements.

Domestic petrol and diesel prices are reviewed by oil marketing companies on a daily basis. Price revisions are implemented at the fuel stations with effect from 6 a.m.


The New Rice War: China eats into big African markets secured by India

The New Rice War: China eats into big African markets secured by India

New Delhi: As the buyer becomes the seller, India, the largest exporter of rice in the world, has a new competitor in the global market. From the key policy makers in Udyog Bhawan to the top millers exporting rice, everyone is cautiously watching China, which offloading tonnes of rice in African markets usually secured by India.

"We are aware that China, hitherto a buyer (of rice), is increasing its export of white rice at a very competitive price. But let's see how the situation develops in terms of overall volume of exports," said an official in the Export Division(Agriculture) of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

In the past six months, China has released over 3 million tonnes of white rice from government-owned warehouses. A bulk of these consignments were reportedly shipped to African countries.

"We (India) export non-basmati rice for $400 per tonne approximately...but China is offering rice at considerably lower prices," said Lakshya Agarwal, a prominent rice exporter of Uttrakhand.

As per market sources, China is exporting non-basmati rice at rates ranging from $300 to $320 per tonne. "The difference between Indian and Chinese rates are quite significant. In the long run, it can have an impact on our exports," Agarwal added.

For decades, India has been world's largest exporter of rice followed by Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan. While India continues to secure the top berth, its exports of non-basmati rice are shrinking rapidly.

For example, in 2019 (April to November), India exported non-basmati rice worth Rs 9,028.34 crore against Rs 14,059.51 crore in the same period of the previous year.

The Commerce Ministry data reveals that non-basmati exports have fallen to 35.78 percent in early eight months of the current financial year, compared to the corresponding period a year ago.

Sources in the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said that China has meticulously planned offloading its old stock of rice in the African market.

"Actually Chinese eat sticky rice which has a rich taste when it is fresh. The flavour is not the same in the old stock of rice.. that's why there is always a demand for fresh rice in China.

The moment the fresh rice floods the market, the government releases its old stock at very low rates," the source said "The old stock of rice is being exported in African countries."

The Chinese strategy has ultimately disrupted the global market of rice exports wherein India feels the pinch, being the largest exporter.

Meanwhile, a senior official of Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that to tackle the Chinese competition globally, a lobby of rice exporters had suggested that the government should release excess stock of non-basmati rice from the warehouses of the Food Corporation of India into the open market.

However, the government seems unwilling to release the stock, as it has to run the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) for the poor.

To this, an executive of Delhi-based top rice export company said: "If the government cannot afford to release its stock from FCI warehouses, than it can at least grant some export incentive to non-basmati exporters in wake of face stiff competition from China and other global players."


Turkish jet firm says employee falsified Ghosn records

Turkish jet firm says employee falsified Ghosn records

Tokyo: A Turkish airline company whose jets were used to fly former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon said an employee falsified records and that Ghosn's name did not appear on any documentation related to the flights.

Ghosn earlier this week jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon rather than face trial on financial misconduct charges in a dramatic escape that has confounded and embarrassed authorities.

How he was able to flee Japan, avoiding the tight surveillance he was under while free on 1.5 billion yen (USD 14 million) bail, is still a mystery, though Lebanese authorities have said he entered the country legally on a French passport.

Ghosn's daring escape spanned three continents and involved private planes, multiple passports and international intrigue.

Turkey detained seven people Thursday as part of an investigation into how he passed through the country, and they were appearing in court Friday.

The private DHA news agency reported that those detained were four pilots, a cargo company manager and two airport workers.

Also Friday, Istanbul-based MNG Jet said it had filed a criminal complaint in Turkey concerning the illegal use of its jet charter services.

It did not say who the complaint was against, but it said one company employee, who was under investigation by the Turkish authorities, admitted to falsifying records and "confirmed that he acted in his individual capacity" without MNG Jet's knowledge.

The company said it had leased two separate private jets: one private jet from Dubai to Osaka , Japan, and Osaka to Istanbul and another private jet from Istanbul to Beirut.

"The two leases were seemingly not connected to each other. The name of Mr Ghosn did not appear in the official documentation of any of the flights," MNG Jet said in a statement. The statement did not say who the jets were leased to.


Ashok Piramal group realty co: Missed debt repayment as tax dept delayed rent

Ashok Piramal group realty co: Missed debt repayment as tax dept delayed rent

Mumbai: Ashok Piramal Group realty firm Peninsula Land, which delayed debt repayment of Rs 2.35 crore to SBI, has blamed the government for not paying rent on time for commercial property leased by tax departments that resulted in missing the due date.

In a regulatory filing, the company said that it could not make the repayment of Rs 2.35 crore to SBI as the government's tax departments failed to make timely payment of the rent towards the property leased out to them.

“The debt and interest against this facility are serviced by an arrangement whereby the monthly rent received from the government goes towards the discharge of the dues under the said facility. Lately, there have been delays in the payment of rent by the government which, in turn, resulted in delay in payment to SBI on the due date," the company said.

Peninsula Land has obtained a lease rental discounting facility (LRD) from the SBI against the rent receivable from the government's tax departments, including the Income Tax and GST departments, in respect of a commercial property leased out.

The company has borrowed secured term loan from SBI with the principal being of Rs 177.72 crore and having a total tenure of 143 months at an interest rate of 9.95% per annum.

" the month of December 2019 alone, the company has paid an amount of Rs 265 crore towards repayment of debt and interest obligations. Hence there is no question of defaulting for an amount as small as Rs 2.35 crore," the company said.

At present, the company's total debt including short-term and long-term facilities stand at Rs 1,630.65 crore and it owes Rs 999.74 crore to banks and financial institutions.

Currently, Peninsula has a portfolio of nearly eight million sqft in Mumbai and has projects in Pune, Nashik, Lonavala, Bangalore and Goa.


Infosys likely to lay off 10% of its mid to senior-level workforce

Infosys likely to lay off 10% of its mid to senior-level workforce

Infosys may lay-off its mid-level and senior-level executives, following the whistleblower’s controversy. The company is looking forward to letting go 10% of its employees, around 2,200 people. The move will primarily7 affect the JL6 band (job level 6), which includes senior managers.

Infosys has approximately 30,092 employees in their JL6, JL7 and JL8 bands. According to sources, the company will lose 2-5% of its workforce from the JL3, JL4, JL5 and lower levels. The count might come up to 4000 to 10,000 people.

Infosys has almost 86,558 employees and 1.1 lakh employees at the mid and associative levels. 2-5% of the title holders, including senior executives in the ranks of assistant vice presidents, vice presidents, senior vice presidents and executive vice presidents will be asked to leave.

Infosys has often shied away from talking openly about its lay-offs. However, in the past two quarters, the company has not resisted the urge to comment on their lay-offs.

COO Pravin Rao said that the involuntary lay-off was higher in the June quarter compared to earlier quarters.


Workers can now generate Universal Account Number (UAN) from EPFO portal directly

Workers can now generate Universal Account Number (UAN) from EPFO portal directly

New Delhi: Retirement fund body EPFO has launched a facility for formal sector workers to obtain universal account number online without depending on their employers.

At present, workers are required to apply through their employers to get the universal account number (UAN), which enables them to avoid filing PF transfer claims on changing jobs. The UAN remains the same throughout the life of a worker.

Now, any worker can obtain UAN directly on EPFO website which enrolls them for PF, pension and life insurance benefits and a worker will not have to depend on his or her employer for getting the UAN.

Besides, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) also launched a facility for its over 65 lakh pensioners to download their pension-related documents like pension payment order (PPO) on DigiLocker.

The EPFO has integrated with DigiLocker of National e-Governance Division (NeGD) to create depository of electronic PPOs which is accessible to individual pensioners. This is a move towards paperless system by the EPFO.

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar launched the two facilities during the 67th foundation day celebrations of the retirement body here.

He also launched e-Inspection, which is a digital interface of the EPFO with employers.

The E-Inspection Form would be available in user login of employers not filing ECR which enables them to inform either closure of business or unpaid dues with proposal for payment. It will nudge employers for compliant behaviour and prevent harassment.

On this occasion, the minister said that he is getting a lot representations related to the Employees Pension Scheme 1995 and would ensure that workers rights are protected.

The EPFO has over 6 crore subscribers. It manages a corpus of over Rs 12.7 lakh crore.


Mukesh Ambani raises stake in Reliance Industries by 2.71% to 48.87%

Mukesh Ambani raises stake in Reliance Industries by 2.71% to 48.87%

New Delhi: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani has raised promoter stake in flagship Reliance Industries by 2.71 per cent to 48.87 per cent, according to regulatory filing by the company.

Reliance Services and Holdings Ltd, controlled by promoter group firm Petroleum Trust, acquired 17.18 crore shares or 2.71 per cent stake in Reliance on September 13, it said.

The acquisition was pursuant to a scheme of arrangement not directly involving Reliance, the filing said without giving details.

Ambani and his private firms held 47.29 per cent stake as on June 30, 2019 in India's second-most valuable company.

As on June 30, FIIs held 24.4 per cent stake in the firm, mutual funds had 4.56 per cent and insurance companies 7.1 per cent. The remaining share was with public.

Earlier in July, Reliance had announced a composite scheme of amalgamation by merging Reliance Holding USA into Reliance Energy Generation and Distribution and the latter with the company itself.


Government scraps 5 pc import duty on open cell TV panel

Government scraps 5 pc import duty on open cell TV panel

New Delhi: In a bid to boost domestic manufacturing, the government has removed 5 per cent custom duty imposed on import of open cell TV panel, which are used in the manufacturing of LED TVs.

The move would also help to reduce the price of TV panel by around three per cent. In a late night notification on Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance said "open cell, (15.6 inch and above), for use in the manufacture of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) TV panel", would attract nil duty.

Besides, the government has also waived custom duty on import of Chip on Film, Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) and Cell (glass board/ substrate), which are used to manufacture open cell TV panels.

Earlier, on June 30, 2017, the government had imposed a custom duty of 5 per cent on import of such panel.

Several TV makers including the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association had opposed it and had requested the government to waive it. Open cell panel is an important part of TV manufacturing and cover more than half cost of the unit.