Union Cabinet Press conference HIGHLIGHTS: Govt hikes MSP for rabi crops; mulls BSNL, MTNL merger

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Updated:Oct 23, 2019 6:53:12 pm

Union Cabinet Press Conference HIGHLIGHTS: In a major announcement for farmers ahead of Diwali, the government on Wednesday hiked the minimum support price (MSP) of rabi or winter crops. The government is also mulling a merger of BSNL, MTNL as a part of the revival plan.

Minimum support price, MSP. Rabi crops 2019-20 MSP, Rabi season 2019-20 MSP, Wheat MSP, gram MSP, lentils MSP, Kusam MSP, Barley MSP, Mustard MSP, Diwali Gift to indian farmers, modi Govt, एमएसपी, चना एमएसपी, गेहूं एमएसपी, मसूर एमएसपी, न्‍यूनतम समर्थन मूल्‍य, मोदी सरकार, भारतीय किसान, रबी सीजन 2019-20 एमएसपी, दिवालीThe CCEA has approved Rs 85 per quintal hike in wheat MSP to Rs 1,925 per quintal for the 2019-20 rabi crop.

Union Cabinet Press Conference HIGHLIGHTS: In a major announcement for farmers ahead of Diwali, the government on Wednesday hiked the minimum support price (MSP) of rabi or winter crops. The MSP rise has been announced by the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the year 2019-20. The hike is based on the recommendations laid down by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The union cabinet on Wednesday also approved a revival plan for BSNL and MTNL. In good news for lakhs of BSNL employees and their family members, the public sector national telecom operator – Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited Wednesday paid the salary for the month of September, ultimately, paving the way for Diwali celebrations. It’s a big relief for nearly 1.6 lakh BSNL employees and officials that have been staring at an uncertain future for quite some time. As a part of the revival process, the government is also mulling a merger between BSNL and MTNL. It has also been decided to raise Rs 15,000 crore sovereign bonds and monetisation of Rs 38,000 crore assets in the coming four years, “MTNL, BSNL are neither being closed nor divested,”  IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The revival plan will also include 4G spectrum and support for voluntary retirement schemes (VRS). We bring to you live updates.

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Highlights

    16:50 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Govt eyes doubling Khadi and Village Industries turnover; seeks improved design, adoption of goods

    Even as the country is battling economic slowdown due to poor demand, the government is bullish on the growth of Khadi and Village Industries (KVI) that recently reported turnover of nearly Rs 75,000 crore for FY19. “Today we have a good turnover in handloom, handicrafts, and village industries,” said MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari adding that “we plan to double it” while boosting employment potential. Gadkari’s comments come amid the government’s increased focus on promoting KVI products to help MSMEs in the sector grow along with generating more jobs.

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    16:31 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Government mulls BSNL- MTNL merger

    In good news for lakhs of BSNL employees and their family members, the public sector national telecom operator – Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited Wednesday paid the salary for the month of September, ultimately, paving the way for Diwali celebrations. It’s a big relief for nearly 1.6 lakh BSNL employees and officials that have been staring at an uncertain future for quite some time. This was the second instance in the history of BSNL when the company was not able to pay the salary on time that heightened the concerns BSNL staff, forcing them to threaten a one-day symbolic hunger strike last Friday.

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    16:28 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    MSP for masoor dal also increased

    To encourage cultivation of pulses, the support price of masoor has been increased by Rs 325 to Rs 4,800 per quintal for this year from Rs 4,475 per quintal last year. Similarly, the MSP of gram has been hiked by Rs 255 to Rs 4,875 per quintal for this year from Rs 4,620 per quintal last year.

    16:27 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    VRS to employees to revive BSNL, MTNL

    Rs 15,000 cr sovereign bonds, Rs 38,000 cr assets monetisation and VRS to employees to revive BSNL, MTNL, said Telecom Minister RS Prasad.

    16:24 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    BSNL and MTNL to be merged

    Assets worth Rs 38,000 crore to be monetised in 4 years in BSNL and MTNL. Both firms will be merged together.

    16:22 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    New marketing license for fuel retail policy

    Cabinet approves revised guidelines for the grant of marketing license for fuel retail policy. Oil Ministry had constituted a committee in October 2018 for deliberation of existing fuel retail guidelines.

    16:21 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Govt to resuscitate BSNL, MTNL

    The government brings in Rs 15,000 crore bonds and 4G to resuscitate BSNL and MTNL.

    15:46 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    BSNL, MTNL revival plan approved by govt; check what it includes

    The union cabinet on Wednesday approved a revival plan for fiscally strapped BSNL and MTNL, CNBC TV-18 reported citing NewsRise. The revival plan will also include 4G spectrum and support for voluntary retirement schemes (VRS). The two distressed telecom firms have been incurring losses and have been facing problems in clearing staff salaries in the recent past. BSNL’s loss is estimated to be around Rs 14,000 crore with a revenue fall of Rs 19,308 crore during FY19. In 2017-18, the provisional loss of BSNL was Rs 7,993 crore and is estimated to swell to Rs 14,202 crore in 2018-19, according to information presented in Parliament. The number of employees in BSNL stood at about 1,65,179.

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    15:13 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Cabinet approves revival plan for BSNL, MTNL; hike in MSP for farmers

    The union cabinet on Wednesday approved a revival plan for BSNL and MTNL. The loss-making public sector telecom giant BSNL has agreed to pay salary for the month of September to its nearly 1.58 lakh employees. Reacting to a report by Financial Express Online, BSNL CMD PK Purwar told a news agency last week that the PSU will pay salary to its employees before Diwali. He said the BSNL’s salary bill was Rs 850 crore a month, whereas the company revenue inflow was Rs 1,600 crore a month.

    15:02 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    IMF sees Indian economic growth rebounding to 7 per cent next fiscal

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees Indian economic growth rebounding to around 7 per cent in the next financial year, supported by measures like monetary policy stimulus and corporate income tax cuts. “We see the Indian economy rebounding from our projected 6.1 per cent growth this fiscal year to something like 7 per cent in the next fiscal year (2020). We see the factors that will support growth, including monetary policy stimulus, working their way through the pipeline,” Jonathan Ostry, Deputy Director, Asia Pacific Department at the IMF, told reporters.

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    14:23 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Risk of contagion in financial sector rising: S&P Global Ratings

    Indian financial sector is facing rising risk of contagion and failure of any large finance company will adversely impact economic growth, S&P Global Ratings said in a report on Wednesday. According to the report, a bank failure could disrupt interbank market, payments, hurt credit availability and adversely affect economic growth. “India’s finance companies are among the country’s largest borrowers. A substantial part of this funding comes from banks. The failure of any large non-banking financial company or housing finance company may deliver a solvency shock to lenders,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Geeta Chugh. Moreover, the failure of a large finance company may have other consequences, such as draining the credit available to the sector.

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    14:15 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    World’s most expensive chocolate in India: Where you can buy this Rs 4.3 lakh Truffle

    World’s most expensive chocolate has been launched in India for a premium price point of Rs 4.3 lakh per kg. Brought in the country by multinational FMCG conglomerate ITC, the Trinity – Truffles Extraordinaire is being sold under the company’s Fabelle range of premium confectionery and the product has also made it to the Guinness World Records, ITC announced on Tuesday. The offering will be encased in a hand-made wooden box and will have 15 truffle pieces each, weighing approximately 15 grams per piece. The made-on-order box of chocolate is retailing for Rs 1 lakh, all taxes included. ITC has said that the luxury offering will be limited edition range and can be purchased from ITC’s Fabelle boutiques in metro cities including Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai.

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    14:08 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Investments via P-notes fall for fourth month in a row, stand at Rs 76,611 crore

    Dropping for the fourth consecutive month, investments through participatory notes (P-notes) in the Indian capital market stood at Rs 76,611 crore at the end of September. P-notes are issued by registered foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to overseas investors who wish to be part of the Indian stock market without registering themselves directly after going through a due diligence process. Investments through P-notes have been continuously declining since June, according to the latest data from markets regulator Sebi. The total value of P-note investments in the Indian markets — equity, debt, and derivatives — declined to Rs 76,611 crore till September-end, from Rs 79,088 crore at August-end, showed the data.

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    14:04 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Bank employees can’t go on flash strikes now; govt makes new rule for public utility sector

    The government has said that being in the public utility sector, the bank employees cannot just go on a flash strike. The cabinet added that the banks will have to give notice at least 14 days before the strike, CNBC-TV18 reported citing The Ministry of Finance. The government announced this after banking operations across India were partially hit yesterday as employees of two unions sat on a 24-hour bank strike from the morning and another bank officers’ union extended full support to them. The unions were protesting against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to merge ten public sector banks into four bigger banks.

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    13:54 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    HDFC Life Q2 net profit rises

    HDFC Life Q2 net profit rises 7.6% at Rs 308.7 crore as against Rs 287 crore and net premium income up 10% at Rs 7,453.7 crore as against Rs 6,777.6 crore on a yearly basis. HDFC Life value of new business in Q2 rose 24.3% at Rs 448 crore as against Rs 360.5 crore (YoY).

    13:51 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Govt says bank employees cannot just go on a flash strike.

    The government has said that being in the public utility sector, the bank employees cannot just go on a flash strike. The cabinet added that the banks will have to give notice at least 14 days before the strike. The government announced this after banking operations across India were partially hit yesterday as employees of two unions sat on a 24-hour bank strike from the morning and another bank officers’ union extended full support to them. The unions were protesting against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to merge ten public sector banks into four bigger banks.

    13:43 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Cabinet approves hike in minimum support price (MSP) for winter-sown crops.

    The cabinet also approved a hike in minimum support price (MSP) for winter-sown crops.

    13:28 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Cabinet approves relaxed norms for setting up fuel pumps

    The union cabinet on Wednesday relaxed norms for setting up fuel pumps. in the meeting headed by PM Narendra Modi, NewsRise reported.

    13:00 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    How India’s oldest Mutual Fund scheme has turned Rs 82,000 into Rs 1 crore

    India’s oldest Mutual Fund (MF) scheme, UTI Mastershare Unit Scheme, has completed its 33 years of wealth creation journey on October 15, 2019 and is going strong. Launched in October 15, 1986, this large-cap fund has generated a consistent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.627 per cent, thus converting less than Rs 1 lakh (precisely Rs 82,988) invested on the date of inception to Rs 1 crore on its 33rd anniversary day. So, in absolute terms, the fund has generated 120.5 times returns since its inception and Rs 1 lakh invested at its inception on October 15, 1986 is now valued at Rs 1.2 crore as of October 15, 2019.

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    12:44 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    FMCG cos are top 10 TV advertisers amid festive season; HUL leads the pack

    Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies including Hindustan Unilever, RB and Procter & Gamble have ramped up their advertising spends in the festive season and according to BARC data, all of the 10 top advertisers on television medium last week were FMCG companies. While HUL, the parent company of brands such as Lifebuoy, Surf Excel, Dove etc was the largest advertiser with over 1.5 lakh insertions in the week ending 11 October alone, Dettol-fame Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd followed shortly, according to the latest data by Broadcast Audience Research Council Data (BARC). The latest findings are very much in line with last year where eight of 10 top advertisers were FMCG companies, BARC data from the corresponding period from last year showed. 

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    12:41 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Modi govt accepts 7th Pay Commission recommendation for assured promotion of employees

    The Union government has accepted the Modified Assured Career Progression Scheme (MACPS) as recommended by the 7th Pay Commission for Central Government Employees. The pay panel had recommended that MACPS will continue to be administered at 10, 20 and 30 years as before. It had said that in the new Pay matrix, the employees will move to the immediate next Level in the hierarchy. Further, the panel had recommended that the scheme will be available to all posts, including Group “A” posts, whether isolated or not. However, Organised Group “A” Services were excluded from the scheme. In other words, the 7th Pay Commission had recommended to continue to apply MACPS to all employees up to Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) level, except members of Organised Group ‘A’ Services.

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    12:39 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Yes Bank shares extend gains after reports of bank taking over Rs 6,000 crore residential project on default of loan

    YES Bank share price gained nearly 10% intraday to Rs 56.5 on the BSE amid media reports that the bank was set to take over an estimated Rs 6,000-crore residential project from the developer Sumer Radius Realty, over non-payment of dues worth more than Rs 479 crore. Notably, Yes Bank shares registered 7th consecutive day of gain on Wednesday. Yes Bank share price jumped more than 3% to hit the day's high at Rs 53.50 on BSE. 

    12:29 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    INX media case: P Chidambaram moves Delhi High Court seeking bail

    Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday moved the Delhi High Court seeking bail in the INX Media money laundering case. Chidambaram, who was on Tuesday granted bail from Supreme Court in the INX media corruption case, continues to be in ED custody since October 17. He was arrested by the CBI on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case. The case was registered on May 15, 2017 alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister.

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    12:22 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Asian Paints volume growth mainly on the back of lower-end products

    According to brokerages, Asian Paints volumes grew 13-14% in the September quarter mostly driven by low-end products, including distemper and putty. 'Even as domestic decoratives business reported double-digit volume growth, the core paints category rose just ~3% in our view,' research house Morgan Stanley said in a report on 22 October. 'We believe that the company has allowed mix dilution of 5-6% by pushing low-end putty throughput from newly added distributors,' UBS noted. 

    12:18 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Asian Paints says introduced many bottom of pyramid products to gain market share

    Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Asian Paint, KBS Anand believes there is tremendous potential to grow at the lower end, says that volume growth has come by due to lower-end products at the cost of margins. The firm awaits improvement post Diwali. 'Cetral, Western and Eastern states were affected by rains in the quarter. We have introduced lot of bottom of pyramid products to gain market share,' he told in an interview to CNBC TV18.

    12:16 (IST)23 Oct 2019

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    12:08 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Centre appoints Tuhin Kanta Pandey as DIPAM secretary

    The Centre on Tuesday appointed Tuhin Kanta Pandey, IAS (Odisha cadre,1987 batch) as the secretary of department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM) following early repatriation of Anil Kumar Khachi to his parent cadre Himachal on ‘personal grounds’.Khachi is now a front-runner for the chief secretary post in Himachal Pradesh government, sources told FE. He had taken charge of DIPAM less than two months ago after the Modi government appointed the then DIPAM secretary Atanu Chakraborty as the economic affairs secretary. Among the 10 secretary-level appointments, S N Sahai, the current special secretary in the power ministry, would replace power secretary Subhash Chandra Garg upon his retirement on October 31.

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    11:55 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Amid stock market volatility, this sector may offer good value to investors

    Even as the stock markets see volatility, FMCG or consumer durables segment provides a good value to the retail investors, says a veteran fund manager. The sector looks all the more attractive in the ongoing slowdown as the recovery is expected to be visible here going forward, Dheeraj Singh, Head of Investments, Taurus AMC told Ashish Pandey of Financial Express Online in an interview. It would take a couple of more quarters for the recovery to set in, he added. Adding, he said that it’s important that an investor builds a portfolio comprising quality stocks that would provide healthy risk-adjusted returns even after accounting for short term volatilities.

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    11:51 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Analyst corner: Reliance Jio stable, remain cautious on Airtel, Vodafone Idea: Jefferies

    Telecom industry added 11 million broadband (BB) subscribers in August, recovering from the July lows of 9 million. Jio added 8.5 million users, flat month-on-month though September at 7 million was lower. Bharti saw an uptick and added 3.2 million users vs 0.4 million (July). Vodafone-Idea added just 0.4 million BB users in August. With Jio still below its RMS and subscriber target and VodaIdea BS stretched, we expect focus for Jio to remain on user addition and pricing increases to take another 9-12 months.

    Read full Jefferies report

    11:49 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    SoftBank set to take control of WeWork with $1.7 billion payout for ousted CEO

    Former CEO of troubled co-working startup WeWork Adam Neumann will get nearly $1.7 billion from SoftBank to detach himself from the company and relinquish his voting rights as the Japanese investor got approval from the company’s board to take control of it, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. As part of the deal, the Japanese investor will pay $1 billion to Neumann for his shares along with $185 million consulting fees and another $500 million in credit to help him pay JPMorgan loans.

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    11:46 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Diwali stocks: These 2 auto bluechips are good bet for investors

    Amid ongoing volatility in the stock markets, investors seek to invest in stocks with attractive returns ahead of Diwali. While Sensex returned about 11 percent since last Diwali, the Nifty has given nearly 10.40 per cent in the same period. Several brokerages have come out with stock picks for investors ahead of Diwali. The latest report by Religare Broking says that with improving demand ahead of the festive season and easing liquidity conditions, the automobile industry is expected to perform well going ahead. Mahindra & Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki are the top two auto stocks that are a good bet for the investors, the brokerage said.

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    11:43 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Infosys could have diclosed about whistle-blower complaints to investors, stock exchanges: Amit Tandon, IIAS

    "There should be no issue with a virtual non-Bangalore-based CEO. But, Infosys could have spoken to stock exchanges, investors after Sep 22. They had an audit meeting on October 10th. Why not disclose it earlier? The client acquisitions happen for a reason. There is no hard regualtion relating to whistle-blower complaints by SEBI.  But, if you want to find fault, one of the areas would be that it could have been disclosed to the investors earlier,"  Amit Tandon, MD IIAS told CNBC TV18. 

    11:37 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    PM Modi likely to visit Saudi Arabia on October 29 for investment summit

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Saudi Arabia on a day-long visit on October 29 to participate in an annual investment forum to be held there, official sources said on Tuesday. Modi’s visit comes months after Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman paid a visit to India in February. Modi will attend the third edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII), an annual investment forum being held on October 29-31. Saudi Arabia had said last month that it is looking at investing USD 100 billion in India in areas of petrochemicals, infrastructure and mining among others, considering the country’s growth potential.

    11:29 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Bharti Infratel set to miss Oct 24 deadline to complete deal with Indus Towers

    Bharti Infratel will announce the next course of action regarding its merger with Indus Towers in the next couple of days, as the company is set to miss the October 24 deadline to complete the deal. As per Bharti Infratel chairman Akhil Gupta, the company has received most of the government approvals except for the one pertaining to the foreign direct investment (FDI) and as a result of that, the merger cannot be completed by October 24. “The board has, therefore, authorised a committee of directors to explore and evaluate all possible options to secure the best interest of the company and shareholders under the current circumstances,” Gupta said during a post-earnings investors call.

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    11:25 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Piling up: Air India debt rises Rs 5,000 crore in H1

    The total debt and liabilities of Air India (AI) have risen to over Rs 45,500 crore at  September end, up Rs 5,000 crore from the level seen after the April takeover of its Rs 29,464-crore debt by the Centre through a special purpose vehicle, sources told FE. The increase over the first half of this fiscal is largely due to short-term loans, an official source said. At the end of last financial year, the state-run airline’s debt had stood around Rs 70,000 crore. The Centre was planning to make the ailing Air India virtually debt-free by taking over an additional Rs 20,000 crore from its books before offering its entire stake along with asset-backed loans of Rs 20,000 crore to the prospective bidders.

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    11:24 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee meets PM Modi, backs bureaucratic reforms

    Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and indicated his support for the government’s efforts to reform bureaucracy by making it more responsive to views of the people on the ground. Talking to media after the meeting, Banerjee said the Prime Minister also joked about how the media was trying to extract “anti-Modi” remarks out of him. Banerjee’s wife Esther Duflo, a French-American economist and co-recipient of the Nobel prize in economics was not present in the meeting.

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    11:21 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    NBFC crisis far from over; however, there is one silver lining

    A health check on India’s shadow banks shows the crisis in the industry is far from over. Indicators from liquidity to share performance show weakness, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Sept. 30. In recent weeks, another financier defaulted, it got harder for investors to cut losses in the sector’s debt and a mortgage lender altered financing plans due to waning appetite for shadow bank bonds. Banking system liquidity stayed lower last month, the premium that investors demand to hold shadow lender bonds over sovereign notes remained elevated and a custom gauge of shares of 20 financial firms and other companies impacted by the crisis was stagnant. One silver lining: difficulty accessing the bond market has prompted total outstanding debt at 50 such borrowers to hold at lower levels than earlier this year.

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    11:16 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Gold prices could hit Rs 41,500 in next 1 year: Motilal Oswal

    "We expect that positive momentum for gold could continue further, but the pace of rally could get measured as uncertainties related to trade war is taking back seat. Brexit related uncertainty could take a pause as the deadline could be extended to January 2020. But we are of the view that this slowdown in major economies could push central banks to remain dovish for an extended period and that could continue to support gold prices. Elevated prices will remain a point of concern, but with a fair monsoon and festive season approaching it will be important to see the movement in domestic gold prices. India has also added gold to its reserves and with a dovish outlook on the economy gold could continue to outperform. We expect that ease off in trade war could lead to some correction in prices, but until ₹35,500 is held, we remain bullish and expect it move higher to test previous highs of ₹39,500 followed by ₹41,500 over the next 12 months," Kishore Narne, Head- Commodities & Currency, Motilal Oswal Financial Services Limited (MOFSL) said.

    11:13 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    Haryana Assembly election 2019: Re-polling in 5 booths after ‘shortcomings’ noticed; voting underway

    Re-polling was underway in five polling booths in as many assembly constituencies of Haryana on Wednesday. Some “shortcomings” had been noticed after which re-polling was ordered in these booths, state’s joint chief electoral officer Dr Inder Jeet had said on Tuesday. The re-polling is being held in booth number 71 of Uchana Kalan Assembly constituency in Jind district, 161 of Beri constituency in Jhajjar district, 28 of Narnaul Assembly constituency in Narnaul district, 18 of Kosli in district Rewari and booth number 113 of Prithla in Faridabad district, officials said.

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    11:11 (IST)23 Oct 2019
    PAN Card address change: Mere mentioning in Income Tax Return (ITR) not enough, rules Supreme Court

    Has your address mentioned in the PAN database changed? It is important to get the address in PAN database updated. If this is not done, the Income Tax Assessing Officer would be right in sending notice under Section 143 (2) of the Income Tax Act 1961 on the old address and you cannot escape by claiming you didn’t receive the notice on your new address, according to a latest Supreme Court judgement. There is no need to panic for those who don’t have any discrepancies in their ITR. Notice under Section 143 (2) is sent to the assessee when the Income Tax department finds any minor or major discrepancies in the ITR. These discrepancies may include under-reporting or over-reporting of losses.

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