The News International Team
02:30pm Coal India in Focus
Coal India struggled to produce and ship less than half of its daily target on the first day of a five-day worker strike that began on Tuesday, hampering government efforts to reform the country’s coal industry and ease its power crisis.
Unionized miners at the world’s top coal producer are protesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to allow private companies to mine and sell the fuel for the first time in 42 years. Modi’s ministers have said that increasing competition is key to ending India’s power shortage.
But miners fear this will lead to pay and job cuts at Coal India, which has come to be seen as an exemplar for deep-rooted inefficiency in state enterprise.
Union leaders met top Coal Ministry officials for three hours on Tuesday evening but did not reach an agreement, said S.Q. Zama, secretary general of the Indian National Mineworkers Federation.
Zama said unions would end the strike if the government assured them that private companies would not be allowed to do any commercial mining for at least the next six months and that more talks would take place before the industry was opened up.
The leaders of Coal India’s five trade unions are in New Delhi for more “political” talks, Zama said, reports PTI.
02:00pm Market Check
The market remained volatile today after a 3 percent cut in previous session. In fact, there has not been any recovery after that yesterday’s carnage. Indices trimmed losses in afternoon trade after seeing a 211 points intraday fall.
The 30-share BSE Sensex declined 17.72 points to 26969.74 and the 50-share NSE Nifty declined 4.15 points to 8123.20. About 1168 shares have advanced, 1491 shares declined, and 462 shares are unchanged on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Market experts are not too worried about the correction. Ridham Desai of Morgan Stanley expects more volatility ahead but expects earnings to pick up in the next two quarters. Geoff Lewis of JPMorgan too continues to be positive on Indian market. Arvind Sanger of Geosphere, though sounds a cautious note, says will buy into India on dips.
The biggest talking point of the today is Brent crude that fell below USD 50 a barrel for the first time since May 2009 on supply glut worries. Seth Kleinman of Citi says crude will find a bottom at these levels and that crude demand is fine, not a big worry. Brent crude currently declined 1.86 percent to USD 50.15 a barrel and US crude lost 1.42 percent to USD 47.25 a barrel.
The rupee gained strength, rising 22 paise to 63.34 a dollar on fresh selling of dollar by banks on hopes of resumption of capital inflows.
HUL extended gains in afternoon trade, up nearly 4 percent as Credit Suisse and JP Morgan upgraded the stock after a fresh upgrade from Deutsche Bank yesterday.