The country’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 954.6 million for the week ending February 28 to $ 294.36 billion, shows Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data released Friday.
Foreign currency assets, a key component of reserves, rose by $ 33.6 million to $266.90 billion. Gold reserves rose by $ 902.3 million to $ 20.98 billion.
For the week under review, the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) rose by $ 13 million to $ 4.47 billion, while India’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund was up $ 5.7 million to $ 2.01 billion.
U.S. stocks fluctuated, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erasing an early gain, as investors watched developments in Ukraine amid data showing hiring rose faster than forecast last month.
The S&P 500 rose less than one point to 1,877.10 at 9:58 a.m. in New York, trimming an earlier advance of 0.4 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38.05 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,459.94. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was in line with the 30-day average at this time of day.
In the Ukraine, the government said today that the results of a planned March 16 referendum on Crimea becoming part of Russia won’t stand. Ukraine, a key transit nation for east-west energy supplies, is struggling to keep hold of Crimea after pro-Russian forces seized control of the peninsula. The West has urged Russia to pull back, and began yesterday to impose sanctions.
The 175,000 gain in employment last month followed a revised 129,000 increase in January that was bigger than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 149,000 advance in February. The jobless rate unexpectedly climbed from a five-year low, rising to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent.
“This is obviously good news and it suggests the economy remains on an upward track,” Alan Gayle, a senior strategist at RidgeWorth Capital Management in Richmond, Virginia, which oversees $50 billion, said in a telephone interview. “This report is going to be very supportive for those who think the growth slowdown is temporary.”
The S&P 500 has added 0.9 percent this week as economic data from manufacturing to consumer spending surpassed estimates and investors speculated tension in Ukraine would not worsen into a wider conflict. The gauge rose 0.2 percent yesterday after jobless claims fell to a three-month low.
Today’s jobs figures showed 601,000 Americans weren’t at work because of weather during the survey week, the most since 2010, the report indicated.
“Everybody was expecting this to come in much softer than it did,” Darrell Cronk, the New York-based regional chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank, which manages $170 billion, said by phone. “I think this number will help solidify the continued Fed exit and that the economy remains on track for a recovery. The more we can add jobs and get the economy to organically grow through traditional measures is a wonderful thing.”
President Vladimir Putin rebuffed a warning from U.S. President Barack Obama over Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea, saying on Friday that Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian speakers in Ukraine.
After an hour-long telephone call, Putin said in a statement that Moscow and Washington were still far apart on the situation in the former Soviet republic, where he said the new authorities had taken “absolutely illegitimate decisions on the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.
“Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” Putin said.
The most serious east-west confrontation since the end of the Cold War – resulting from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after violent protests in Kiev – escalated on Thursday when Crimea’s parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia. The region’s government set a referendum for March 16 – in just nine days’ time.
European Union leaders and Obama denounced the referendum as illegitimate, saying it would violate Ukraine’s constitution.
The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between “the two brotherly nations”.
Before calling Putin, Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia since the start of the crisis, ordering visa bans and asset freezes against so far unidentified persons deemed responsible for threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia, whose forces have seized control of the Crimean peninsula, constitute “a threat to international peace and security”, after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying that economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the legality of a Crimean referendum on secession.
The Russian president has defended the country’s moves in Ukraine consistent with international law during a phone call with President Barack Obama.
A statement published on the Kremlin website early Friday said that during the call, Vladimir Putin condemned the newly formed Kiev government as the result of an “anti-constitutional coup” and said Russia was “unable to ignore” requests for protection from Ukraine’s Russia-leaning east and south.
Putin stressed the importance of Russian-American relations, and said he hoped they would not become “a victim of disagreement” on certain issues. According to a White House statement issued late on Thursday, Obama demanded that the Russian president end the dispute diplomatically, by withdrawing Russian forces back to their base in Crimea and bringing international monitors into Ukraine.
The crisis in Ukraine has thrown the world back to the cold war days – the US has now imposed visa and economic restrictions on Russians. President Barack Obama has signed an executive order imposing sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Crimea’s parliament has voted for the region to become a part of the Russian federation. Reports suggest that the region will hold a referendum in the next 10 days time.
Crimea’s vice-premier has said the referendum is only intended to endorse the decision of the parliament, saying Crimea is part of the Russia federation from today. Ukraine’s new prime minister has hit back at the Crimea vote saying the region will always be a part of Ukraine.
The Managing Director of a top defaulting company linked to the Rs 5,600-crore payment crisis at the now defunct National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) has been arrested, taking the number of those held in the scam to six.
Surender Gupta, Managing Director of PD Agroprocessors, was arrested on Thursday, an official of Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) said on Thursday. PD Agroprocessors is the third-biggest defaulter and owes over Rs 600 crore to the commodity spot exchange, promoted by the Jignesh Shah-led Financial Technologies. Gupta, who is Chairman and Promoter of another firm Dunar Foods, was produced before a local court, which remanded him in police custody till March 12.
Gupta is also Director of White Rice Entertainment, which is producing a film, Gang of Ghosts. “Gupta, in connivance with other NSEL officials, obtained loans without submitting proper plans to return them. He was not forthcoming during investigations. He pumped in the money he raised from NSEL into Dunar Foods,” the officer said. “We also suspect he utilised the loan money in movie making,” another police officer said.
Earlier, the EOW had arrested five accused in the scam, which came to light in July 2013. They are former NSEL CEO Anjani Sinha, two mid-level executives of the exchange Amit Mukherjee and Jay Bahukhundi; NK Proteins MD Nilesh Patel, and Lotus Refineries CMD Arun Sharma, who is also a film financier.
NK Proteins and Lotus Refineries were among the biggest NSEL defaulters. A 9,100-page chargesheet against the five accused was filed in January. However, the chargesheet did not mention the names of Shah (Promoter-Director of NSEL) and another Director Joseph Massey, who allegedly played key roles in the fraud.
Seven leading mutual funds have sought a meeting with the Securities and Exchanges Board of India (Sebi) and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to explain their concern over Suzuki’s decision to set up a 100 per cent subsidiary to implement its proposed plant in Gujarat.
LIC is one of the largest Indian shareholders in Maruti SuzukiIndia Ltd (MSIL) with a 6.93 per cent stake and its view on the issue will be crucial to the direction of the battle between the two sides.
The mutual funds have said the decision by Suzuki is detrimental to minority shareholders, as MSIL will increasingly become a trading company and will have to share its margins with its new subsidiary. They are also contemplating a second letter to the MSIL management rejecting arguments put forth by CFO Ajay Sheth last Saturday.
The seven mutual funds are Axis, DSP BlackRock, HDFC MF, Prudential ICICI, Reliance MF, SBI MF and UTI. The mutual funds had on February written to MSIL Chairman R C Bhargava.
“Yes, we have approached both Sebi and LIC to give our views on the deal, as we are sure it will have an adverse impact on minority shareholders. We have to follow a process, so we might again write to the company to reiterate our view and reject their justification,” said a source working with an MF.
The funds can seek recourse under “oppression against minority shareholders” clause with Sebi and the Company Law Board.
The European Central Bank has kept rates on hold for the fourth month in a row, despite inflation running at less than half its target.
The ECB’s governing council on Thursday voted for the central bank’s benchmark main refinancing rate to remain at a record low of 0.25 per cent, where it has been since November.
The rate paid on lenders’ deposits parked at the central bank stayed at zero.
The decision to hold firm was widely touted by economists. Though inflation, at 0.8 per cent, continues to grossly undershoot the central bank’s target of just below 2 per cent, better data on the eurozone’s economy over recent weeks had trimmed expectations of a cut.
The central bank is set to publish its latest economic forecasts later Thursday, which will reveal officials’ predictions for inflation in 2016 for the first time.
The manufacturing and services sectors in India expanded at a faster rate than China in February even as emerging market economies grew at the slowest pace since September 2013, an HSBC survey said today.
During February, the HSBC composite index for India, which maps both manufacturing and services, stood at 50.3, whereas for China it was 49.8, Brazil 50.8 and Russia 50.2. An index measure of above 50 indicates expansion.
The HSBC Emerging Markets Index (EMI), a monthly indicator derived from PMI surveys, sank to 51.1 in February from 51.4 in January, signaling the weakest growth in global emerging market output since September. The moderation in growth reflected the weakest rise in manufacturing output in five months, HSBC said.
Manufacturing output in emerging markets was weighed down by contractions in China, Russia and South Korea. Growth slowed in Mexico and remained weak in Brazil. “Emerging economies are struggling to gain traction.
The HSBC EMI lost ground for the third straight month, slipping to 51.1 in February,” HSBC Chief Economist, CEE & Sub-Saharan Africa, Murat Ulgen said. HSBC said conditions are likely to remain subdued in March, with incoming new business rising at the slowest rate in five months. In February, employment was broadly unchanged over the month and backlogs of work declined further.
The HSBC Emerging Markets Future Output Index, which tracks firms’ expectations for activity in 12 months’ time, picked up in February to an 11-month high, reflecting improved sentiment in both manufacturing and services.
The European Union on Thursday froze assets held in the 28-nation bloc by 18 Ukrainians accused of embezzlement, including ousted Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.
The freeze, decided Wednesday, targets people “identified as responsible” for misappropriating Ukrainian state funds, an EU statement said.
Later Thursday, EU leaders were to hold an emergency summit in Brussels to discuss the crisis in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, now under de-facto control of pro-Russia forces,
The sanctions, which will apply for an initial 12 months, “also contain provisions facilitating the recovery of the frozen funds,” the statement added, without offering further details.
But an EU source said member states would be able to return seized money only if Ukraine first issued judicial rulings identifying the missing funds.
All those named were cited for “embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine”.
Other than Yanukovych, who has taken refugee in Russia, the list names his son Oleksandr and 16 members of the former regime, including ministers and his attorney general.
Swiss authorities had already ordered a freeze on the assets of both Yanukovych and the multi-millionaire Oleksandr, as well as 18 other former ministers and officials from Ukraine.