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Updated: Dec 14 2012, 07:42am hrs
ICICI Bank opens 101 rural branches

The largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank, said it has launched 101 gramin branches in six rural states, as it looks to increase its presence in areas where banking facilities are not available. The branches will offer basic banking services, such as savings bank account, fixed and recurring deposit, remittances, Kisan Credit Card, traditional credit cards and tractor loans, and will be open for four hours for six days in a week. Each of the gramin branch will have at least three employees and will initially not have ATMs attached to the branch. ICICI Bank now has about 400 rural branches, with 5,000 customer service points covering 10,000 villages in the country. In a conference call with reporters, Rajiv Sabharwal, executive director of ICICI Bank, said opening of each branch cost R4.5 lakh. The branches have been opened in 19 remote districts across Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

RBI to hold rates on December 18: Poll

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to keep interest rates unchanged on Tuesday, according to a new Reuters poll, with respondents split over whether it will cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR) for banks. The RBI has left rates on hold since a 50 basis point cut in April, and expectations for a further cut have been pushed from December into the first quarter of 2013 following guidance by the central bank in late October. Of 41 analysts polled, 37 expect the RBI to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 8% in December. Respondents were almost evenly divided on expectations for a cut in CRR.

Credit Agricole sees R at 52 by 2013 end

Credit Agricole on Thursday said it expected the rupee to strengthen to 52/dollar by the end of 2013, with the currency trading at relatively attractive valuations in REER terms and having priced in many of the fundamental problems it faces. Key imbalances in India's economy, including the current account deficit, will gradually diminish next year, said the brokerage.