Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nifty ends above 5300; IDFC, BPCL, Kotak Bank up

Indices ended near day’s highs on Wednesday as optimistic foreign institutions continued to pour funds in frontline stocks despite rocky world markets. FMCG, oil & gas and auto led the rally while IT stocks ended marginally lower.

Market opened lower extending overnight losses on concerns of global economic crisis which pinned down major US and Asian indices. However, sustained buying activity in Reliance Industries helped the benchmarks to stay aloft in the green as the session progressed. Bounce back in Europe later in the day helped indices to end above psychological resistance levels.

According to analysts, India’s growth story is encouraging the FIIs with investments even in uncertain times. Indian markets may fall sharply in line with others incase of a global market meltdown but will recover quickly.

“Our GDP growth is expected to be better than China. The monsoon so far has been better and is likely to boost the economy. India and Brazil are two stars in gloomy world markets.

Depending on the headwinds from global markets, we may see a sharp correction but we’ll fall to recover faster than others,” said Vinit Bolinjkar, head of research, Ventura Securities.

Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex closed at 17700.90, up 166.81 points or 0.95 per cent. The index touched intraday low of 17373.78 and high of 17725.04.

National Stock Exchange’s Nifty ended at 5312.50 up 56.35 points or 1.13 per cent. The broader index hit a low of 5210 and high of 5320.35 in today’s trade.

BSE Midcap Index was up 0.46 per cent and BSE Smallcap Index was up 0.44 per cent.

Amongst the sectoral indices, BSE FMCG Index moved 1.90 per cent higher, BSE Oil&gas Index gained 1.62 per cent up and BSE Auto Index moved 1.07 per cent higher.

IDFC (4.41%), Idea (4.28%), BPCL (4.27%), Kotak Bank (3.70%), and ITC (3.12%) were amongst the top Sensex gainers.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group said it has agreed to buy a 4.5 per cent stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank for $296 million, as Japan's No 3 bank steps up efforts to expand its overseas operations.

Bharti Airtel (-1.28%), GAIL (-1.26%), Wipro (-1.19%), TCS (-0.24%) and Tata Power (-0.23%) were the major index losers.

Market breadth was positive on the NSE with 1731 advances against 1407 declines.

Taliban suicide bombers launch attack on Afghanistan super base

Taliban fighters launched a brazen early morning attack on a main American air field in eastern Afghanistan in the latest audacious assault on a coalition super base.

Militants detonated a car bomb at a gate to the base in Jalalabad and then tried to storm in using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades provoking a half-hour gun battle.

Nato-led forces said the attack had failed to penetrate the base perimeter and a foreign and Afghan soldier had received only minor wounds.

Airport authorities said eight attackers died. A Taliban spokesman who gave his name as Zabiullah Mujahid said the movement had carried out the attack with six suicide attackers.

Jalalabad airfield is one of the largest bases in eastern Afghanistan and regularly comes under rocket attack. However, today's ground assault is believed to be the largest attack in some time.

An upswing in violence this summer has seen 101 coalition forces killed this month, making June their deadliest month of the war so far.

It comes just a day after US Gen David Petraeus warned of a "tough fight" against the Taliban in the coming months.

Gen Petraeus, who was made Nato commander in Afghanistan following the sacking of Stanley McChrystal for insubordination, is due to visit the country at the weekend.

Bagram and Kandahar airfields, the two largest bases in Afghanistan, both suffered rare frontal assaults in May, though both attacks were easily repelled.

A military spokesman said: "The airfield's perimeter was not breached, and several insurgents were killed during the attack." "While designed to garner media attention, this attack only temporarily disrupted operations as our forces successfully repelled the attack," said Capt Jane Campbell.

Also in eastern Afghanistan, a force of 600 United States and Afghan soldiers battled a large force of militants in the remote mountainous province of Kunar for a third day.

Earlier this week the coalition was reported to have killed up to 150 militants in heavy fighting to clear the district of Marawara, where a large force of Haqqani fighters had gathered.

The fighting was described as "one of the most intense battles of the past year".

The attack in Kunar was directed against insurgents believed responsible for the roadside bombing that killed five American service members in the area on June 7.

Monday, June 28, 2010

PIECE of the Mary Rose is to be taken into space

During a gala dinner on board HMS Warrior, the Atlantis space shuttle crew, who are visiting Portsmouth, were presented with a wooden ball bearing from the Tudor warship which was used to hoist the yards carrying the sails up the mast.

It was fundamental to the propulsion to the warship.

It will be taken back to Houston where it will hopefully be taken on a space mission.

John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: 'It is really tremendous to have the opportunity to present this little piece of the Mary Rose to the visiting shuttle crew to take back to Houston, in the hope that it will be taken into space on a future mission.

'The Mary Rose was as revolutionary in technological advances 500 years as the space shuttle.

'Both have helped pioneer exploration and advanced the sciences.'

Also on board HMS Warrior last night was astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

The purpose of the gala dinner was to raise money to send a child from Portsmouth to one of the NASA centres in Florida.

The Atlantis space crew were today rocketing around the city in a whirlwind tour to meet thousands of youngsters.

Apple Iphone 4 supply for UK gets worse

THREE WEEKS from the date of a fanbois' order seems to be the Apple online store's latest shipment delay minimum while the London Regents Street Apple Store has run out of stock and staff there tell The INQUIRER that they don't have a date for a delivery.

Continuing the supply troubles that the fruit themed company has had, the official launch date for the shiny new toy was 24 June, but even before then the UK Apple online store had July dates for shipment. Supply problems have also impacted mobile network operators wanting to offer the handset, as the launch date came and went and the companies were unable to stock any. Apple has said that delays are due to an unexpected volume of orders, with 600,000 handsets having been pre-ordered on the first day.

Fanbois queued around the block all day last Thursday to buy the Iphone 4 from the London Regents Street outlet and it sold out. The store's staff told The INQUIRER that customers will now have to register their email to go on a "priority list" and that they will be informed when a handset is available. Apple media relations was not available for comment on the online or retail supply situation.

The US company S3 Graphics has initiated legal action against Apple through the US International Trade Commission. If the ITC concludes that Apple has infringed S3 Graphics patents as the company claims then Steve Jobs' Iphones could be stopped from reaching the US market until any actual infringement is resolved.

Swine flu cases spurt in Kerala

Kerala recorded the highest number of swine flu cases last week at 266 followed by Maharashtra at 36, officials in the ministry of health said Monday.

With the monsoon approaching most parts of the country, authorities remained worried as rains accelerate the spread of the virus.

A total of 345 new cases and 17 deaths were reported from across the country last week.

According to officials, swine flu cases in Kerala are so far concentrated in two districts -- Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.

The virus claimed seven lives in the state this week. Health ministry officials say swine flu vaccines and Tamiflu have been dispatched in sufficient quantities to Kerala.

The second largest number of infections were reported from Maharashtra which had 36 new cases of swine flu this week.

Seven deaths have been reported from Maharashtra while Andhra Pradesh has reported two. No deaths were reported from Karnataka, another badly-affected state.

No fresh case has been reported from Delhi this week.

Germany's delight and England's hangover

The celebrations finally subsided in the fading light of Sunday and Germans woke up Monday to realize that the 4-1 World Cup beating of England wasn't a dream but reality.

'Jungs (boys) We love You,' screamed the front page headline of the Bild tabloid in English, and telling the team 'it was delightful to watch you.'

The B.Z. daily in Berlin celebrated 'the match of all matches,' while Kicker sports magazine wrote 'That was super' and said 'what a match, what a win!'

In England, by contrast, the collective nightmare could not be cushioned by the controversy around Frank Lampard's shot off the cross bar which clearly fell behind the goalline, but was not given.

Had it counted, England would have recovered from 2-0 down to 2-2 within a few minutes and the game may have been different. But everyone agreed that they had been comprehensively outplayed by the young, speedy Germans in England's biggest World Cup defeat ever.

'The truth was, it was an utter irrelevance. England were ruthlessly demolished,' said the Daily Telegraph.

'What 20,000 ever-loyal England fans gathered in Bloemfontein witnessed yesterday was not defeat. It was humiliation. There wasn't even the usual straw of the penalty shoot-out to cling to. England were hammered without recourse to spot kicks, suffering their worst defeat in World Cup finals.'

The Sun said that 'England's abysmal players shamed the shirt' and were among those saying it was for manager Fabio Capello to go. 'Awful England were robbed of a goal, then stripped of their pride as the Germans exposed their stumbling defence in a shambolic World Cup exit yesterday,' said The Sun.

'It was embarrassing to watch as Mesut Oezil and Bastian Schweinsteiger made monkeys of Lampard, Barry and the rest.'

The Guardian said: 'England's representatives were caught flat-footed time and again by players who moved between them like white- clad dancers.'

The Daily Mail said: 'The future looks bright for Germany, it hardly bears thinking about for England.'

England's ageing stars like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard may have seen their last World Cup, the young Germans around Oezil, two-goal hero

Thomas Mueller and Schweinsteiger thrilled their home country with quality football a German team has rarely shown in the past.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung named the team 'the most promising of the Old Continent' in what has been the worst World Cup for Europe ever.

Kicker struck a similar note, naming the team of Joachim Loew 'the trump card for Europe.' And the millions of Germans who wildly celebrated the huge win Sunday remain hugely optimistic ahead of the quarter-final date with Lionel Messi's and Diego Maradona's Argentina Saturday.

'The fourth star (for a World Cup title) is within reach for Joachim Loew and his boys,' said Kicker.

In an online poll by Bild, 77 per cent of some 46,000 Germans who responded believe that 'everything is possible now.' Only 23 per cent said by mid-morning Monday that Argentina's class and experience would prevail.

Sensex moves higher; ONGC, RCom, M&M, RIL, Wipro up

MUMBAI: Indian markets were outperforming Asian peers as buying momentum continued in oil&gas space after the government hiked fuel prices. All the sectoral indices were in the green with capital goods and power stocks providing support.

“Earlier the worry was whether the government would decontrol fuel prices. Now the worry is whether such a step will flare up inflation and invite an intra-cycle rate hike from the RBI. Whether the central bank will oblige or not only time will tell. The RBI is scheduled to meet on July 27 for the first quarter review.

Whatever the worries, the market has enough reasons to open cautious and more or less remain that way for the day. Shares of oil companies could extend Friday’s rally after the Government freed petrol prices and promised to deregulate diesel prices too. With opposition parties raising a hue and cry, one has to see if there is any rollback in fuel prices.

The market will consolidate in a sideways fashion given the near-term uncertainties - over both local as well as global. FIIs turned net sellers on Friday. Fund flows will have a bearing in determining the market’s mood. Progress in monsoon and quarterly earnings will also play a role in shaping the overall sentiment,” said India Infoline report.

At 10:25 am, Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex was at 17678.90, up 104.37 points or 0.59 per cent. The index touched a high of 17701.21 and low of 17571.85 in early trade.

National Stock Exchange’s nifty was at 5298.75, up 29.70 points or 0.56 per cent. The broader index hit intra-day high of 5308.05 and low of 5270.75.

BSE Midcap Index was up 0.53 per cent and BSE Smallcap Index moved 1 per cent higher.

Amongst the sectoral indices, BSE Oil&gas Index gained 1.81 per cent, BSE Capital Goods Index moved 0.80 per cent and BSE Power Index advanced 0.68 per cent.

ONGC (3.49%), Reliance Communications (2.99%), Mahindra & Mahindra (1.68%), Wipro (1.49%) and RIL (1.44%) were the top Sensex gainers.

Reliance Communications on Sunday announced a deal that would see its tower business combine with smaller rival GTL Infrastructure to create what it claimed would be the world’s largest independent telecom tower company with an enterprise value of Rs 50,000 crore and 80,000 towers. The GTL Infra-RCOM deal is one of the biggest domestic M&A deals.

State-owned Mexican oil company Pemex and India’s Reliance Industries may soon forge a partnership to develop a large-capacity greenfield refinery in Mexico. The 300,000-barrels-a-day refinery will largely meet the domestic energy requirements of Mexico.

Mahindra Group is planning to invest Rs. 2.5 billion in the aerospace business. Anand Mahindra, Managing Director and Vice Chairman of the Mahindra group made this announcement in Bangalore while inaugurating the newly built Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) plant.

Losers included HDFC Bank (-0.73%), Maruti Suzuki (-0.72%), Jindal Steel (-0.65%), Hero Honda (-0.53%) and ACC (-0.41%).

Cement prices are expected to soften by 8-10% from Thursday across the country, the third successive fall since May, by companies struggling to cope with lower demand for the key building material. According to dealers, cement prices are likely to be pegged at around Rs 200-220 per 50-kg bag from July 1, against the current market rate of Rs 235.

Market breadth was positive on the BSE with 1716 gainers and 720 declines.

Asian markets were mixed. Nikkei 225 was down 0.50 per cent and Shanghai Composite declined 0.61 per cent. Taiwan Weighted gained 0.47 per cent and Seoul Composite moved 0.14 per cent higher.

Australian cabinet shuffle for 'stability' says new PM

The Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has announced a new cabinet which focuses on stability.

Key posts at the treasury, finance ministry and resources ministry remain unchanged.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith also keeps his job but takes on the trade portfolio as well.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was not made a minister but Ms Gillard said he could be if her Labor party wins the next elections.

The new Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan remains treasurer and Martin Ferguson stays on as resources minister.

The two posts are central to the challenging issue of a proposed 40% tax on mining, something seen as contributing to Mr Rudd's sudden downfall last week.

"The premium that I have put in these new ministerial arrangements is on stability," Ms Gillard told reporters.

"If the government is re-elected, I will be very delighted to welcome Kevin Rudd into the cabinet in a senior position," she said.

Former Trade Minister Simon Crean was appointed to take over the new prime minister's former portfolios of education, employment, workplace relations and social inclusion.

Surveys taken since Ms Gillard took the prime ministership last week show a jump in popularity for the Labor party, which could call an election any time from next month.

G20 summit backs UK Budget, says David Cameron

World leaders at the G20 summit in Canada have backed the UK's "tough but fair" Budget, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister said his measures to slash spending and rein in Britain's deficit were endorsed in a communique.

Leaders of the world's major economies ended the meeting in Toronto by reaffirming an earlier commitment to halve their deficits by 2013.

Their final agreement allows countries to adopt differing economic policies to match their own priorities.

It also lets individual nations decide for themselves how to deal with the banks.

'Tough and courageous'

The communique acknowledged that countries with large budget deficits, like the UK, needed to "accelerate the pace of consolidation".

It stated: "It is clear that consolidation will need to begin in advanced economies in 2011 and earlier for countries experiencing significant fiscal challenges.

"There is also a risk that the failure to implement consolidation where necessary would undermine confidence and hamper growth."

In a reference to England's exit from the football World Cup, Mr Cameron told a press conference that it had been a "busy weekend... one which has brought many positive outcomes for Britain, if not on the football field then here at the summit".

He said the talks were designed to co-ordinate growth across the world.

"For some people, particularly countries like Britain with the biggest budget deficit in the G20, that action has to be fiscally consolidated, it has to be sorting out our debts and our deficit so we get confidence in our economy," he said.

"What the G20 has agreed is that this is not an alternative to growth, this is part of the global growth package.

"It's important that the countries with the biggest budget deficits accelerate that action... that is specific backing for the budget we have introduced."

He also said he did not expect the plans to be universally popular, and it was "tough and courageous... but necessary".

Mr Cameron came first face-to-face with US President Barack Obama at the summit for the first time since becoming prime minister.

He said: "I hope you will know what I mean when I say I thought the special relationship took off during the time we spent together."

He then played down suggestions that the US had clashed with Europe over the global economic recovery plans.

"It's a mistake to think this summit has been about a different approach between the Americans and Europeans," he said.

Chancellor George Osborne was also positive about the summit, saying there had been a "change of tone".

"People have understood the impact of the sovereign debt crisis and the necessity of countries to prove not just to international investors but to their own domestic populations that they have got serious, credible plans to live within their means," he said.

Last week the UK coalition government's first Budget announced a two-year pay freeze for public sector workers earning over £21,000 and substantial welfare savings including a three-year freeze in child benefit, a cap on housing benefit and a reduction in tax credits for families earning more than £40,000.

Mr Osborne also said the main rate of VAT would rise from 17.5% to 20% from next January, but he raised the personal income tax allowance by £1,000.

Police fire at Kashmir protesters

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have fired at stone-throwing protesters who had taken to the streets of Sopore in defiance of a curfew.

The demonstrators are protesting against the deaths of six civilians in firing by security forces in June.

The state government has criticised the security forces for being "trigger happy" and urged restraint.

Hundreds of thousands of troops are based in Kashmir to fight a two-decade-old insurgency against Indian rule.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Muslim-majority Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan both claim sovereignty and have fought two wars.

The firing on Monday morning took place in the northern town of Sopore, 50km (30 miles) from Srinagar city.

Thousands of people came out to join the funeral procession of Bilal Ahmed, 22, who was killed in firing by the paramilitary CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) on Sunday night.

Police opened fire as the protesters marched towards the police station.

Reports say that some people have been wounded.

The separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) has called for a march from Srinagar to Sopore.

A procession has already started from the Rajouri Kadal area in the old city of Srinagar and the authorities have put up barricades on the roads leading to Sopore.

Six civilians have been killed in firing by police and paramilitaries in Srinagar and Sopore in June. At least four of the deaths have been blamed on the CRPF.

The state authorities have criticised the federal forces for "excessive use of force" against the protesters.

On Sunday night, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah spoke to India's Home Minister P Chidambaram and expressed his concern over the killings.

Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar told a press conference on Sunday night that the CRPF had ignored the chief minister's clear instructions to exercise restraint while dealing with protesters.

Mr Sagar said the killing of Bilal Ahmed had "no justification at all".

N-tech to be used for peaceful purposes only: PM to Canada

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday assured that the nuclear technology and material supplied to India under civil atomic energy pacts will only be used for peaceful purposes.

"There is absolutely no scope whatsoever of the nuclear materials or nuclear equipment in India being used for unintended purposes," Singh said at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.

"We did engage in extensive negotiations to deal with those issues and the Indian side was very forthcoming with the safeguards we require to have absolute confidence in those kinds of matters," Harper said on his part.

The press conference was held immediately after the two countries inked a civilian nuclear energy pact, on the lines India has with eight other nations, including the US, France and Russia.

Alluding to the sanctions imposed by Ottawa after the nuclear tests conducted by New Delhi in 1974, the Canadian prime minister said in the contemporary world his country could not act as though it was living in an era that existed 30 years ago.

"We are living in very different realities today. India is a country - a very important country - a country that will be even more important in the future that shares with us key values."

He said New Delhi and Ottawa today shared common interests and also faced common threats. Canada, he added, was keen that India, which urgently needs energy, develops its nuclear industry and wanted to be a part of the initiative.

The two countries also signed the following bilateral pacts:

* On higher education to encourage the development of synergies between Canadian and Indian post-secondary institutions.
* On earth sciences and mining to foster improved dialogue on mining and related activities, including bilateral investment.
* On cultural cooperation to facilitate bilateral initiatives and help showcase Canadian cultural content in India, and Indian cultural content in Canada.

The two leaders also welcomed the conclusion of the report of the joint study group on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and hoped to finalise the pact by late October.

Friday, June 25, 2010

1st Test vs Australia from Oct. 2

Guwahati will host one of the five ODIs against New Zealand in November-December. The first Test against Australia is from October 2 in Mohali.


Against Australia

Sept. 27-29: Three-day practice match at Mohali; Oct. 2-6: 1st Test at Mohali; Oct. 10-14: 2nd Test at Bangalore; Oct. 19: 1st ODI at Kochi; Oct. 22: 2nd ODI in Goa; Oct. 24: 3rd ODI at Visakhapatnam

Against New Zealand

Nov. 4-8: 1st Test at Ahmedabad; Nov. 12-16: 2nd Test at Kanpur; Nov. 20-24: 3rd Test at Mumbai; ODI venues: Bangalore, Mohali, Chennai, Guwahati and Hyderabad (schedule of matches to be decided later).

Twilight franchise is growing up, says Robert Pattinson

In the series' third installment, 'Eclipse' a dark tone pervades and limbs fly from bodies in a climactic battle involving vampires and werewolves. The love triangle between lead characters Edward, Bella and Jacob burns with even greater intensity.

In terms of the violence, I guess that makes it a little bit more grown-up," said Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward.

"It's just a more accessible story line. Being torn between two lovers doesn't really happen when you're eight. It's more grown-up in that respect."

Kristen Stewart, whose character Bella must choose between the two magical beings, compares the emotional trauma of making that choice to the violence of battle.

"I think there's always one person that loves the other person more. And that's so heartbreaking. In this case, you add another person," Stewart said. "And it's interesting because she actually loves them both. And so you're going to have to absolutely slaughter one of them, no matter what."

Taylor Lautner's werewolf Jacob does get in one big kiss in the film directed by David Slade, and forces Bella to confess her love for him. Lautner smiles at the opportunity his character is given.

"It was different. It was weird, just that Jacob actually got to kiss Bella. It was good," he said. "I mean, it was kind of the ultimate movie kiss. Because we were on top of this mountain. There was a beautiful background. The camera is circling around us. And there we are kissing."

Pattinson shot down the suggestion that 'Twilight' author Stephenie Meyer's Mormon values are integrated into the book and movie series. His character will not have sex with Bella, even though she wants to, until they are married.

Pattinson said fans are not responding to the chastity of the characters but to the anticipation and longing that accompanies it.

"If they said at the beginning of the saga, like Edward and Bella: 'Listen, we're never going to have sex. That's just how it is. I don't have genitals,' I don't think it'd be half as successful," he concluded, laughing.

All Panchayats In India To Get Broadband Access By 2012

Every Panchayats in India would have access to broadband service by 2012, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Sachin Pilot said.

The Minister said this when he came to flag off a special train to promote the Commonwealth Games across the country. He stressed that, now was the time that IT should reach remote areas of the country and efforts are on to provide the facility in rural areas.

Earlier, he had said that, penetrating internet facility to every single Panchayat would bring changes in the functioning of government.

Metros and some important cities have larger access to broadband whereas rural areas as of now have only limited access. Providing more connectivity to the rural areas, would help in bringing more companies to small towns and villages.

About the Commonwealth Games, Pilot said it was a matter of pride for Delhi to host the Commonwealth Games and exhorted the people to help the government make Games the best ever.

Pioneer deal adds twice the punch to RIL's shale gas plans

After picking up 40 per cent interest in the Marcellus shale gas acreage of Atlas Energy in April, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Thursday announced a $1.3-billion (Rs 6,000 crore) acquisition of 45 per cent interest in the Eagle Ford shale acreage of Pioneer Natural Resources. This is its second acquisition in two months in US shale gas assets, the former nearer the east coast and the latter in Texas.

Though RIL was already present in the unconventional gas business in India through its interest in coal bed methane, it is quickly building a portfolio of new age and unconventional hydrocarbon resources abroad with the two acquisitions.

Pioneer has about 310,000 acres of shale gas plays in the Eagle Ford region. Being the operator, it had the controlling 84 per cent interest; its partner, Newpek LLC, has 16 per cent. Both companies will now offload 45 per cent of their respective working interests in the acreage to RIL.

The deal has been done through a RIL subsidiary, Reliance Eagle Upstream. Under the new arrangement, Reliance will have 45 per cent share in the acreage, Pioneer 46 per cent, with Newpek holding the remaining 9 per cent. Reliance has agreed to upfront pay $266 million in cash to Pioneer and to also pay an additional $879 million to carry Pioneer's share of future drilling costs over the next four to six years.

As part of the deal, Reliance will also be paying Newpek approximately $210 million for buying its stake. It will also share Newpek’s future drilling costs, by paying it $173 million over the same four to six-year timeframe.

The shale gas business in the US was primarily dominated by small companies. However, over the past year, it has seen a spate of acquisitions by big companies. Royal Dutch Shell acquired East Resources’ shale gas interest in the US for $4.7 billion this May, while Exxon Mobil bought XTO for $30 billion last year. Similar acquisitions were made by Statoil and BG.

Manisha Girotra, managing director and chairman of UBS, one of RIL’s financial advisors in the deal, said: “In the shale gas space, the way to go forward is through a string-of-pearls acquisitions — a multiple of small to relatively midsize buys, as that’s what is available. This (Eagle Ford) is one of the biggest assets in the US... And, a JV (joint venture) route is a clever way to keep the management team intact and imbibe their existing expertise.”

RIL executives said all the discovered oil and gas assets in conventional sand formations were already taken up by global players. So, while RIL will focus on new discoveries, like the one it did in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin in 2001, the focus will increase towards shale and other unconventional energy sources. Power, with fixed annuity return, will also play a significant role in RIL’s energy portfolio.

“RIL is clearly building its economies of scale in shale gas,” said Vandana Hari, Asia news director at Platts, the energy watch agency. “Its part of a bigger strategy. They have heft in India but now want to grow overseas… And, shale is the hydrocarbon story of the decade. If you move in early in the most developed market and build scale, then you have tremendous early mover advantage.”

Shale gas is natural gas stored in organic-rich sedimentary rocks. It is considered an unconventional source, as the gas may be attached to organic matter. The gas is contained in difficult-to produce reservoirs that require special completion, stimulation or production techniques to achieve economic production. It accounts for between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of US gas production but is expected to quadruple in coming years, triggering a scramble among producers, large and small, for access to resources.

“For a late starter of gas exploration like RIL, the opportunities are limited. The prolific gas fields are already taken. Shale is a new opportunity that RIL will not like to miss out on,” said Anish De, CEO Asia of Mercados Energy Markets International, an oil and gas consulting company.

There are other reasons, too, for this subtle but significant review in strategy. RIL insiders said after the big-bang discovery of KG-D6, success has been moderate. The risk perception towards traditional exploration and production activities has gone up. “There have been cases of dry wells across the east coast. Its part of the risk that every player faces. That also means there is no guarantee of 100 per cent strike rate for anybody, including RIL,” said a company official, on condition of anonymity.

“Adding to that, the BP incident has reminded the whole world of the perils of offshore oil and gas drilling,” added Hari.

In comparison, shale is safer, has better longevity but traditionally has low productivity, as most reservoirs have low permeability. However, with horizontal drilling tactics and by creating artificial fractures by the “hydrofracing” technique, the surface area can be increased and by applying low to medium pressure, gas can be “oozed” out. “Traditionally, recovery from one area is low, depending on the tightness of shale and its porosity,” said an RIL executive. “But new techniques are coming into force every day. This is the future.”

“Low operating costs, significant liquid content (70 per cent of the acreage lies within the condensate window) and excellent access to services in the region combine to make the Eagle Ford one of the most economically attractive unconventional resource plays in North America,” RIL said in a statement.

The deal is also a shift in RIL’s acquisition strategy. Instead of outright buyouts, it is going in for partnerships with existing players like Atlas and Pioneer for joint acreage development. Many analysts feel this is the best way to pick up expertise and get training. “RIL has money, but it needs to learn the dynamics of the shale business. In a developed market like the US, a local player brings a lot to the table. But who is stopping them from hiking their business interests in the same acreage in future? There can be buyouts from RIL, once they master the shale exploration business,” said a Hong Kong-based energy analyst with a foreign brokerage firm.

RIL executives said a new core team to proceed with its shale business is already taking shape, with Walter van de Vijver, a former Shell executive, leading the charge in both the US and the Netherlands. Some of the executives from the Indian operations will also get trained in this new skill set.

Shale gas can be used the same way as natural gas. Which is why RIL will also participate with Pioneer in the development of midstream assets in the Eagle Ford Shale, as a 49.9 per cent partner and will be paying $46 million. The midstream business will initially consist of central gathering facilities to separate condensate production from produced gas and to treat the produced gas. Developing this midstream business, as against contracting with a third party, will provide enhanced control and efficiencies for the marketing of the joint venture’s upstream production and the potential to attract third party business.

UPDATE 2-Canada makes 3rd security-related arrest before summit

Toronto police arrested a man near the G20 meeting site on Thursday whose car contained a chainsaw, crossbow and fuel containers, but officials said later the case did not appear to be tied to the summit.

The 53-year-old man was pulled over just a block from where tall steel fences have been erected to protect leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies who meet on Saturday and Sunday in Canada's most populous city.

The battered silver sedan had a large crate strapped to its roof. Also found in the car was the man's dog.

"We do not believe it is G20-related," G8/G20 spokeswoman Catherine Martin said on Thursday night.

Toronto Police Constable Hugh Smith told local television the suspect had "no reasonable explanation for the weapons that we observed that were in physical plain view."

It was the third security-related arrest in recent days before the G20 and G8 summits. Canada is spending C$1 billion on security, deploying thousands of police from across the country to protect two summit sites surrounded by 10-foot-high (3-metre) steel fences set in concrete.

Earlier this week, police arrested a man and his wife in an upscale neighborhood in north Toronto on explosive and firearms charges.

The Integrated Security Unit, which is overseeing security for the summits, did not say what, if any, direct threat the two may have posed, but said there was "no risk to public safety at this time."

On Friday and Saturday, leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet in Huntsville, Ontario, about two hours' drive north of Toronto. The G20 will then gather in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday.

The summits will focus on the global economic crisis and are expected to attract thousands of protesters who plan to press anti-poverty and pro-environment agendas.

Police hope to avoid clashes like the 1999 "Battle of Seattle" that disrupted trade talks in that city, and protests during the Summit of the Americas in Canada in 2001 that police used tear gas to disperse.

Police have already arrested a number of protesters this week in Toronto, although marches have generally been peaceful.

Thousands of protesters demonstrating for aboriginal rights marched through the heart of downtown Toronto on Thursday, flanked by police on bikes and followed by others on horseback.

"No tar sands on sovereign Native land," the group chanted in reference to the oil sands projects in the western Canadian province of Alberta. (Additional reporting by Allan Dowd and David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Gas victims protest new relief norms

The victims of Bhopal gas tragedy gathered near Jantar Mantar in central Delhi on Thursday to protest against the government’s new compensation package. The protesters say that only a few people will get the relief as per the government’s policy, leaving out thousands of other victims.

The demonstration was organized by several NGOs in the wake of the recommendations submitted to the Prime Minister on Monday by a specially constituted group of ministers (GoM), headed by the Union home minister, P Chidambaram.

‘‘GoM has recommended that the relief amount be increased. But that is to be given to less than seven per cent of the affected people. About 6,00,000 people were affected. They do talk about extraditing Warren Anderson, but are not showing any signs of holding the representatives of Union Carbide Corporation responsible,’’ said an activist, Satinath Sarangi, who represents the NGO, Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

Decades after the incident, survivors are still fighting a battle for justice, though some, like the 74-year-old Sardar Khan, are jaded with time, and only ask for help and support from the state

Thursday, June 24, 2010

England bowlers please Strauss in win over Australia

The visitors were 21-0 after two overs but eventually managed only 239-7, a total England had little trouble chasing on a good Cardiff wicket.

Strauss said: "They got off to a pretty fast start but the bowlers reacted and we dragged it back really well.

"We got them four down pretty early on and got them on the back foot again."

Strauss, whose 51 from 56 balls gave England a strong start to the run chase, added: "When you have new batsmen at the crease you have an opportunity to put them under pressure. We did that and we were happy at the halfway mark.

"Chasing, we had a bit of a wobble at the end, but it's another good performance."

Another win in Manchester on Sunday would give England victory in the series with two games left to play and Strauss is determined that the hosts maintain their level of performance.

"We have to make sure we don't rest on our laurels now. The key for us is not to pat ourselves on the back too much," he stated.

England were thrashed 6-1 by Australia in last year's one-day series between the countries, an experience Strauss admitted was "an eye-opener".

"We had to find a way of being better," he added. "We are trying to be aggressive and fearless, but it is also important that we are calculated. It is very important to learn from your mistakes."

Stuart Broad picked up man-of-the-match plaudits for a haul of 4-44 which featured his 100th ODI wicket on his 24th birthday and made him the youngest Englishman to achieve the landmark.

The Notts fast bowler commented: "We performed well as a team and have started the series fantastically well but we have to stand up at Old Trafford on Sunday.

"There is normally a bit of bounce and it's the sort of wicket bowlers look forward to, and England enjoy playing there on the whole."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting admitted his side had been disappointing with the bat, giving them little hope of defending their total, and was critical of his own performance after only scoring 13.

"We have a couple of injuries among our bowlers, but we have to play accordingly and it could have been different if we had batted well," he said.

"It was pretty much a mirror-image of the last game. We just didn't bat well again after winning the toss.

"We got off to a reasonable start, then four quick wickets again, and all of a sudden we find ourselves behind in the game - which is exactly what we did in the first match.

"We have to address that, obviously. I and the guys at the top need to be consistent run scorers, and we haven't done that in the first two games.

"We're going to have a chat about the way we're playing, and we have to fix it in the next two days before Manchester."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

'Gaza is Israel's responsibility'

Mubarak accuses Israel of trying to make Egypt responsible for Gaza.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday dismissed Israel's recent lifting of restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

"Israel is trying to shirk its responsibility to Gaza and throw it at Egypt," he said in a Cairo address.

Mubarak said that Egypt, on the other hand, was "investing all of [its] efforts in stopping the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip."

Mubarak, who was speaking to members of parliament from the ruling party, said that Israel was trying to shift responsibility for the Gaza strip to Egypt and

to "perpetuate internal Palestinian divisions" and split Gaza from the West Bank.

According to Mubarak, Israel is using the Palestinian divisions to avoid peace negotiations with the Palestinians. He said that Egypt was working for

reconciliation between the Palestinian factions and for the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Nifty ends flat ahead of June series F&O expiry

MUMBAI: Indices ended a choppy session on a flat-to-positive note Wednesday, as traders squared positions ahead of June F&O expiry. Poor run from global indices also played spoilsport. Meanwhile, buying activity was seen in second tier stocks.

According to analysts, there is some upside left in the market and Nifty is likely to touch 5480 levels next month.

“Some short covering was seen in Nifty futures and the expiry is likely to be close to 5400 levels. We are expecting some profit booking next week which can pull the Nifty down to 5200 levels. Technically, the overall bias is positive and Nifty can scale 5480 levels in the month of July,” said Arun Mewawalla, Senior Derivative & Technical Analyst, Quantum Securities.

Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex closed at 17755.94, up 6.25 points or 0.04 per cent. The 30-share index touched intraday low of 17629.19 and high of 17782.41.

National Stock Exchange’s Nifty ended at 5323.15, up 6.60 points or 0.12 per cent. The broader index touched a low of 5288.15 and high of 5333.30 in today’s trade.

The BSE Midcap Index was up 0.84 per cent and BSE Smallcap Index moved higher by 0.70 per cent.

Amongst the sectoral indices, BSE Realty Index advanced 1.43 per cent, BSE Healthcare Index moved 1.42 per cent higher and BSE IT Index edged 0.73 per cent up.

Maruti Suzuki (3.18%), Unitech (2.96%), Sun Pharma (2.18%), ACC (2.12%) and Suzlon Energy (2.04%) were the top Nifty gainers.

Losers included L&T (-3.19%), HCL Tech (-1.86%), Sterlite Industries (-1.48%), NTPC (-1.43%) and Reliance Power (-1.38%).

Market breadth was positive on the BSE with 1901 advances against 1191 declines.

European markets were in the negative terrain while US futures suggested a firm start. At 4:45 pm IST, Dow Jones futures was up 0.44 per cent, Nasdaq gained 0.44 per cent and S&P 500 moved 0.46 per cent higher.

World Cup 2010: How England can qualify

After a stuttering start, it is D-Day for England's World Cup hopes.

Many fans were left scratching their heads following Friday's dreary 0-0 draw against Algeria which leaves their team facing the unthinkable - early elimination from the World Cup.

However, there is hope. England's destiny is in their own hands ahead of their final Group C match against Slovenia at Port Elizabeth on Wednesday at 1500 BST.

BBC Sport takes a look at the permutations ahead of England's vital match and the equally-important game between the USA and Algeria in Pretoria.


The dour performance against Algeria is forgotten and a nation rejoices (or something like that) as England keep their World Cup hopes alive. England would qualify as Group C winners with five points and secure a meeting with the runners-up from Group D (possibly Germany). If USA draw, Slovenia advance as runners-up. If USA lose, goal difference would determine whether Slovenia (currently +1) or Algeria (-1) go through in second place.


Fabio Capello can breathe easily in this instance too as England book their place in the last 16. England and USA would finish level on five points and goal difference would determine who progresses as Group C winners. If goal difference remains level, as is the case at the moment, goals scored (currently England 1, USA 3) would decide who finishes top.


In this scenario, England need a high scoring draw on Wednesday. Slovenia would go through as group winners, with England and USA finishing level on three points. Goals scored would decide who progresses. There is the possibility for drama even greater than that of a penalty shoot-out - if both sides are totally even then lots will be drawn to decide who goes through and who is out.


England head for the departures gate and will probably not take much solace from the fact that they will be unbeaten and be home in time to watch the tennis at Wimbledon. Should USA win then they would finish level with Slovenia on five points and progress, should Bob Bradley's men lose then Algeria, with four points, would take the runners-up spot.


Doomsday. England are eliminated and finish the group with two points. The post-mortem begins.

Angry French fans cheer for South Africa

Disgusted but no longer surprised by their team's dismal World Cup performance, many French fans cheered South Africa's goals as "Les Bleus" were dumped out of the competition.

"We must be the only country in the world pleased to see its team lose," said a 20-year-old student in a bar in central Paris after watching the French squad's humiliating 2-1 defeat.

That anger was echoed across France as football supporters digested their country's dramatic fall from the soaring heights of World Cup triumph in 1998 to the dismal depths of 2010.

The team came into the match in turmoil after a bust-up following the expulsion of star striker Nicolas Anelka from the squad for a foul-mouthed outburst at coach Raymond Domenech.

"It's pathetic, unacceptable, we'll never forgive them," said Marie-Helene, who was among 5,000 supporters who watched the match on a giant screen at Trocadero square, just across the river from the Eiffel tower.

The crowd at Trocadero stood at the start of the game to sing the Marseillaise national anthem, but quickly the mood of football despair that has reigned in France returned.

Coach Domenech, widely blamed for France's lengthy fall from grace, was booed every time his face appeared on the giant screen. Domenech managed to guide France to the 2006 World Cup finals -- where they were beaten by Italy -- but his prickly public persona grates with fans and media alike.

He is roundly scorned on Internet sites such as YouTube and Dailymotion, where video parodies focus on the nasty insult he got from Anelka. Social networking sites like Facebook carried scores of pages that expressed outrage or scorn for the French squad.

Around 14,000 people joined the "Make 'Les Bleus' walk back home from South Africa" group on Facebook. Politicians were also quick to get the boot in after yesterday's defeat.

Watch for Nikhil Dwivedi's watch

Of late we have been seeing Nikhil Dwivedi flaunting a cool new branded watch. And it is a rather special watch, too. Not because it is an expensive designer piece but because of the reason and giver. Nikhil, who was seen with Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan in Mani Ratnam's Raavan, was gifted the watch by none other than the original hunk of Bollywood, Salman Khan.

Salman's gesture was owing to the fact that Nikhil walked the ramp in Dubai for his NGO Being Human. After the show, to express his appreciation that Nikhil was part of the event along with Ritiesh Deshmukh, Salman gifted them both a branded watch each.

This watches have been designed, customized and especially branded for Being Human. The designers for this show were Wendell Rodrigues and Salman's sister Alvira Khan. Well, Nikhil walked the ramp for a cause and needless to say he was quite touched by Salman's sweet gesture.

13 mln Downloads Done from Airtel App Central

Ever since Bharti Airtel launched its App Central in February, subscribers have been on a downloading spree. A solid testament to this fact is that there has been a record download of 13 million in just four months, which roughly translates to 1.2 download every second, according to a report on

While making this announcement, Atul BindalBindal, President-Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel said, "Four months since it opened Airtel App Central continues its triumphant march, transforming into Smartphones the basic devices of an increasing number of Airtel mobile customers across the country. Airtel customers have identified our Easy Single-ClickSingle-Click Purchase Mechanism as the most popular aspect of the Store. With over 32 percent of downloads paid for, App Central is also emerging as the preferred destination for existing and upcoming developers in India and the world over"

There are currently over 71,000 apps in the Airtel App Central, which is the highest in India according to the operator. These are divided into 25 different categories including social networking, games, news, business, sports, travel, education and health. Also, more than 780 devices are supported at present as against 550 supported initially during the launch of the store. Now, while this may be very far off from the achievements of Apple's App Store, every small step counts and also it will be like comparing apples to oranges.

Need to have simpler financial products: CB Bhave

Need to get incentive structure for financial products right, said CB Bhave, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) at a Confederation of Indian Industries' Mutual Fund Summit 2011. He said the need of the hour is to have simplerfinancial products.

According to him, the government needs to examine the role of Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) and Sebi. "AMFI must explore a self-regulatory role for the mutual fund industry. It can give a policy paper onmutual funds to Sebi, government."

He sees the need to address short-term money flows into mutual funds. "We feel the MF industry is becoming a shock absorber due to the short-term money."

Obama pledges to consult with Cameron amid Afghan row

US President Barack Obama has told PM David Cameron he will "consult closely" with him over Afghanistan amid a row about the top US general.

Downing Street said the pair discussed the case of Gen Stanley McChrystal during a scheduled phone call.

Gen McChrystal has been summoned to Washington over an article in which he criticised senior US officials.

Downing Street said both leaders remained "fully supportive of the current strategy" in Afghanistan.

The White House said Mr Obama was angered by the profile in Rolling Stone magazine in which Gen McChrystal criticised the US ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, Vice-President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser James Jones and the special US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

President Obama said Gen McChrystal had shown "poor judgement".

In a phone call on Tuesday, Mr Obama raised the issued with Mr Cameron, Downing Street said.

A Downing Street spokesman said the general's future was "a matter for Nato and the US administration.

"The prime minister and the president agreed that they both remained fully supportive of the current strategy in Afghanistan.

"The president said he would continue to consult closely with the prime minister."
Lack of clarity

The issue of divisions between the White House and the general had significance beyond the US, said former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

"They have a direct relevance to both strategy and its implementation in Afghanistan.

"Britain is subordinate to the US in the Afghan operation and any suggestion of a lack of clarity in the Nato mission is deeply damaging."

US officials have so far declined to say that Gen McChrystal's job is safe.

Afzal Guru to be hanged; no favour for mercy plea

The central Home Ministry has written to the President of India that Afzal Guru's is a fit case for death sentence, in response to the mercy plea filed by his wife Tabassum. The Centre said the nature of the crime is heinous and the convict in the Parliament House attack deserves no mercy.

A ministry note says: "Mercy petition filed by Tabassum, wife of the Parliament House attack convict Afzal Guru, should be rejected. Nature of the crime committed is heinous and he deserves no mercy."

However, eminent jurist Shanti Bhushan termed the Centre's move unfortunate, saying Guru was only a conspirator of the attack, and did not carry out the attack.

"This is very unfortunate. The government is bowing down to the Opposition pressure. Death penalty is for the person who actually does the act. He was only a conspirator, so the SC should not have given him death sentence. It is an additional punishment to be on the death row for five years," said Shanti Bhushan.

The petition for mercy to Guru did not find favour from the Home ministry following recommendation of the Delhi LG Tejendra Khanna. The case has been dragging on for nine years.

Five terrorists had attacked the parliament on December 13, 2001 leaving seven security personnel dead. Sopore resident Mohammed Afzal Guru was charged with plotting the attack a few days later.

On December 18, 2002, the Delhi High Court awarded death sentence to Guru following which he moved the Supreme court. But the apex court upheld the death sentence on August 4, 2005.

Guru's hanging was fixed for October 20, 2006 but his wife Tabassum had filed a mercy petition and as a result his execution was stayed. As per procedure, the then President APJ Kalam sought the Home Ministry's views on the plea.

The Home Ministry in turn sent the Afzal file to the Delhi government seeking advice where it was held up for four years. The state government acted only after 16 reminders. Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna sought clarifications on the Afzal Guru mercy petition last month on May 18, 2010.

Two weeks ago, the Delhi government Lt Governor sent back Afzal file to the Home Ministry, saying it supported Afzal's death sentence but that there was a need to examine the law and order implications of implementing the SC verdict.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Australian Alcohol Guidelines Confusing Pregnant Women

Inconsistent guidelines for low alcohol intake or abstinence during pregnancy are confusing for pregnant women and have little effect on women’s alcohol intake during pregnancy, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Ms Jennifer Powers, statistician at the University of Newcastle, NSW, and co-authors analysed data collected by the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health from women aged 22-33 years who were pregnant before October 2001, when guidelines recommended zero alcohol, or who were first pregnant after October 2001, when guidelines recommended low alcohol intake.

They found that women’s alcohol intake prior to pregnancy was the strongest determinant of alcohol intake during pregnancy, whereas guidelines for low alcohol intake or abstinence had little effect.

“Relative to women who did not drink before pregnancy, women who drank any amount of alcohol before pregnancy were about five times less likely to drink no alcohol during pregnancy,” Ms Powers said.

“Women who drank moderate or high amounts of alcohol before pregnancy were 1.5 times less likely to drink low amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.”

The study also found that about 80 per cent of women consumed alcohol during pregnancy under zero and low alcohol guidelines.

Ms Powers said the inconsistency of Australian alcohol guidelines was confusing for pregnant women and health practitioners, and there was an overwhelming need for research to clearly establish the risks associated with different levels of alcohol intake during pregnancy.

“The effects of low to moderate alcohol intake on the unborn child are unclear, which leaves most pregnant women in a “no-person’s-land” where guidelines are not backed up by clear consequences and the guidelines themselves are poorly communicated,” she said.

G-Fone 777 Dual SIM touchscreen Launched

G-Fone has announced the launch of its latest dual-SIM touchscreen handset in India. The phone, known as the 777 comes with a largish 3.2 -inch touchscreen display capable of WQVGA resolution.

The phone can take in two cards in GSM+GSM format. It supports expandable memory using microSD cards up to 8GB. The phone supports various video and audio formats. This is apart from support for email and document viewers. This makes it a decently spec-ed office phone.

It comes preloaded with Opera Mini browser as well as Nimbuzz and Snaptu for social networking abilities.

On the multimedia front, the phone has a 3-megapixel camera with support for video recording. The company has also thrown in an FM radio with support for recording. The 777 will retail for Rs. 5299 in India making it a decent entry-level multimedia handset.

The phone is on sale across the country as of now.

Hong Kong, Shanghai stocks jump as China unleashes yuan

Hong Kong and Shanghai shares jumped around 3 percent on Monday as China scrapped its currency peg and allowed the yuan to rise, boosting confidence in the global economic recovery.

Many analysts see the yuan appreciating further in coming days, with stronger purchasing power in the world's third-largest economy making China an even more compelling international investment theme. Global stocks also rose as the currency move boosted shares of companies exporting goods and raw materials to China.

"China is joining the rest of the world in supporting global demand," said Todd Martin, Asia equity strategist at Societe Generale. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 3.1 percent to 20,912.18 points, with the China Enterprises Index of mainland Chinese firms ending 4.4 percent higher, its sharpest gain in over a year.

Hong Kong's equity market represents the largest pool of offshore yuan-based assets available to global investors, and will continue to benefit if Beijing allows further yuan gains, analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note. China's key stock index, the Shanghai Composite, closed 2.9 percent, shrugging off a timid open as the yuan firmed.

The yuan rose as much as 0.43 percent in the spot market at one point, its biggest one-day gain since its revaluation in 2005. Beijing had kept the currency pegged to the US dollar for nearly two years to help its exporters weather the global downturn.

Its announcement at the weekend that it would unshackle the currency was seen as a sign that Chinese leaders believe China's economic recovery, and the global rebound, are now on more solid footing despite worries about Europe's sovereign debt crisis.

Gains in Hong Kong and Shanghai markets were broad based, with jumps in shares of Chinese airlines, automakers and other sectors seen as immediate winners from yuan appreciation, which will make purchases of fuel or parts from overseas more affordable. Financial stocks in Hong Kong rose 3 percent, with insurance companies and banks leading gains as their substantial yuan-denominated assets were seen becoming more valuable.

Ping An Insurance rose 6.5 percent, while Bank of Communications was up 6.3 percent. Property stocks also moved higher on hopes that Beijing's decision to allow greater currency flexibility now will delay any interest rate hikes or more aggressive policy action by the central bank to keep the economy from overheating.

Sun Hung Kai Properties climbed 4.3 percent. Even shares of firms seen as vulnerable to a stronger yuan were caught in the updraft, with commodity producers such as Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) rising 5 percent. Chalco and its peers could be hardest hit over the long term as they face dollar-denominated prices for their output, while their costs are in yuan.

Highlighting the return of investor confidence, turnover on the Hong Kong stock exchange jumped to more than HK$90 billion, almost twice than the average seen in June so far. Analysts say the next strong technical resistance for the Hang Seng lies at its 200-day moving average, currently at 21,115.90, before which the 50-percent retracement of selloff from November 2009 at around 21,036 will be closely watched.


In Shanghai, airlines were the major gainers, as investors anticipated a reduction in dollar-based costs for aircraft and jet fuel, while banks and property shares also rose in active trade. China Southern Airlines ended up 8.2 percent while Hainan Airlines was among the day's biggest gainers, jumping nearly its 10 percent daily limit.

But the market, one of the world's worst-performing this year with a drop of 21 percent, still faces several negative factors including nagging worries about a further crackdown on surging property prices and a massive initial public offering by Agricultural Bank of China next month which will bring a heavy supply of new shares.

"China's macro economic environment is still uncertain. There is caution still as to what policies will be implemented," said Cao Xuefeng, analyst at Western Securities. He expected the yuan move to have a positive impact on stocks initially, but like other market watchers said it was unlikely the currency would be allowed to appreciate sharply in the near term.

Cheng Yi, an analyst at Xiangcai Securities, added: "Before the Agbank listing there will still be a lot of uncertainties." "Also, volume is still not heavy today, which indicates the rebound will not continue for very long." Turnover in Shanghai rose to 81 billion yuan ($11.87 billion), a one-and-a-half week high, from Friday's 72 billion yuan, while winning shares overwhelmed losers 858 to 45.

Gaza decision to ensure security

PM says move negates Hamas propaganda, warns against next flotillas.

The decision to ease the civilian restrictions on the Gaza Strip enables Israel to focus on security-related issues, including the smuggling of weapons into

Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during an address to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC) on Monday.

“The cabinet decision to lift the civilian blockade on Gaza and tighten the security blockade is the right decision for Israel, because it negates Hamas propaganda’s main claim,” the prime minister said.

He added that the move would enable Israel and its “friends around the world” to “address our significant demands in the security department.”

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself by preventing Hamas and Hizbullah – through which, he said, Iran “tries to keep Israel in its hold” – from acquiring weapons with which to attack Israel. “The cabinet decision is aimed at this, at tightening the security blockade,” he said.

The prime minister then warned that Israel was about to contend with more flotillas aiming to break the blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, asserting that Iran and Hizbullah were behind the latest such initiatives.

Also on Monday, Netanyahu told ministers and MKs that his security personnel had forbidden him from driving on Highway 443, a section of which was recently opened to Palestinian traffic.

BSF team trapped by Pak Rangers in J&K

Ahead of the Home Minister P Chidambaram's visit to Islamabad, there is tension on the international border in Jammu's R S Pura sector, where Pakistan Rangers have been firing at Indian posts.

The firing has been going on intermittently since 4 AM today. A Border Security Force (BSF) ambush party has been pinned down by Pakistani Rangers for more than 12 hours now.

The BSF is not able to rescue it due to firing from Pakistan side. The Pakistani Rangers are firing from three directions.

The BSF has taken the matter with the Pakistani Rangers in a flag meeting.

Meanwhile, in Sopore one policeman has been injured in a terrorist attack.

FIFA World Cup Live: Portugal V North Korea

Simao was the second man from Portugal to score against the hapless North Korean outfit. His 53rd minute effort marked what may be the end of the Asian minnows in the World Cup.

Raul Meireles had made his presence felt in the 29th minute with a superb goal as he latched on to a gorgeous through ball by Tiago and finished clinically past Myong-Guk.

The crucial game in Group G between Portugal and North Korea started amongst much fanfare, buzzing with the jam packed stadium. Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz started with Eduardo in goal, Miguel, Carvalho, Alves, Coentrao in defence, Mendes, Meireles and Tiago in midfield, with Ronaldo, Almeida and Simao leading the frontline.

North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun, on the other hand, lined up with a very tight, very compact 5-3-1-1 formation. Jong Tae Se will lead the attack with Yong-Jo behind him; In-Guk, Nam Choi, Yong Hak in midfield, with Jun-Il, Kwang-Chon, Chol JIn, Yun Nam and Jyong Hyok in defence.

Portugal: Eduardo, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pedro Mendes, Simao, Miguel, Raul Meireles, Hugo Almeida, Tiago, Fabio Coentrao. (That means Liedson, Ferreira and Danny all drop to the bench. Ruben Amorim is injured and Deco is also out.)

North Korea: Ri Myong Guk, Cha Jong Hyok, Ri Jun Il, Pak Nam Chol, Ri Kwang Chon, Ji Yun Nam, Jong Tae Se, Hong Yong Jo, Mun In Guk, An Yong Hak.

(That means this lineup is unchaged from their first clash against Brazil.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dilshan leads S. Lanka's charge against Bangladesh

Tillakaratne Dilshan smashed 71 off 51 balls to lift Sri Lanka to 312-4 in the Asia Cup one-day international against Bangladesh on Friday.

Dilshan and Upul Tharanga set the ball rolling with an opening stand of 111 by the 16th over after the defending champions won the toss and elected to bat in the day-night match.

Tharanga (54) and skipper Kumar Sangakkara (52) hit half-centuries to build on Dilshan's aggressive knock which included 11 boundaries and a six.

Mahela Jayawardene chipped in with 43 during a third-wicket stand of 69 with Sangakkara.

Angelo Mathews (42 not out) and Chamara Kapugedera (37 not out) hammered 73 runs in the last 10 overs to help Sri Lanka notch up the highest total ever at the Rangiri stadium.

Sri Lanka, who won their first match against Pakistan, will almost certainly assure themselves of playing the final on June 24 if they beat Bangladesh.

Bangladesh are in a must-win situation after losing to India.

The real hero of Raavan

What is the difference between a genius and film-maker Mani Ratnam?

"He is truly a genius," says Tamil actor Vikram. "But he doesn't know it."

The 54-year-old film-maker has made more than 24 films, directing most of them in more than two decades.

"But here is a man who is treating Raavan like his first film. It is a do or die situation for him," Vikram, who plays a man whose wife is abducted by a Ravan-like character in the Hindi version of the film, says of the director.

In the Tamil version, which is also dubbed into Telugu, Vikram's role is reversed and he plays the bad guy.

The three versions of the film are being released worldwide on Friday, playing on more than 2,200 screens. In North America, the Telugu version will be shown on more than 30 screens while the Tamil and Hindi versions will be on at least 100 screens.

Before he worked with Ratnam, Vikram said his thought in his college days was something like this: "'If I do a film with Mani Ratnam I can retire.'"

Ratnam, whose films have been shown at many film festivals including Toronto in the Masters section, is getting a special award at the Venice International Film Festival.

Vikram joined his Raavan co-stars Abhishek Bachchan, wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Mani Ratnam recently in a tele-conference organised by the film's distributor in India, Dubai and America.

There were many light-hearted moments in the conference. When a journalist asked Abhishek and Aishwarya if they rate each other's performance, he replied "let the critics do the work."

At one point in the conference when he was teasing Aishwarya, she said in Tamil, poda (get lost). "You poda," he shot back.

Ratnam -- who has worked with Shah Rukh Khan (Dil Se), Abhishek (3 films) and a number of leading Tamil artists including Madhavan and Revathy -- says with proper casting, 50 percent of his job is done.

He also looks, while casting, the work done by a particular artist in the recent past and offers the artist "drastically different" roles. He has also created career-defining roles for many would-be stars including Anil Kapoor in the 1983 Kannada film Pallav Anu Pallavi.

"What you learn from Mani Ratnam, you carry it with you all your life," Kapoor says.
Abhishek praises the film-maker for giving him career-defining roles. "You could be a fool to say 'No' when he comes with a film like Raavan," he adds.

"I used to call him Mani Sir," Aishwarya says recalling her debut film Iruvar (Tamil) which Ratnam directed in 1997. "By the time we were working together on Guru (about 9 years later), he said, 'Call me Mani'."

On a lighter note, she said the first word she spoke at the Iruvar shooting was 'pesare' (speaking). "I've not stopped speaking since then." She also said that Ratnam not only projects his artists making sure they give solid performances, he is also concerned for them when they are doing difficult

physical scenes. He makes sure all the safety nets are in place, she adds.

Working in a Tamil film after many years was not easy on her, she confessed, especially the Hindi version of Raavan was often shot first, immediately followed by Tamil. She would get confused at times and look at Ratnam with what-have-I-got-myself-into kind of look, only to be amused by a similar expression on his face.

Though in the early years of his career, Ratnam dubbed films like Bombay from Tamil into Hindi, and Raavanan from Tamil into Telugu, he doesn't really like dubbing. Never mind how good the dubbing is, "it will still remain a dubbed film," he says. "the dialogue (in the dubbed language) is written to suit the lips."

Apart from the Tamil version of Raavan, she is also acting in Enthiran, a big budget film starring Rajnikanth, which is directed by Shankar who cast her in Jeans around the time Iruvar was shot.

Because of her work in Raavanan, she said she got more confidence working in a Tamil film after more than 15 years. Her confidence was boosted as the

Raavanan shoot continued. Now, instead of asking for the scene details the previous day, she would now wait for the day of the shoot. "Now I jump into the deep end and swim," she continues.

Working with Ratnam was also "frustrating," she said with a chuckle. "At the end of each scene, you feel so fulfilled," she explained. "You feel you have done good work. It spoils you because you want more. He whets your appetite, he fuels the hunger (for a good performance).

She is amazed at the commitment the cast and crew has for Mani Ratnam. Everyone works extra hard for him never mind how tough the terrain is or how difficult the weather is because they have faith in his vision, she says.

So when someone asks her who is the hero in the film, Abhishek or Vikram, she says: "the entire unit is the hero of the film."

French media lambast Les Bleus

Reaction in France to the national team's 2-0 defeat to Mexico on Thursday night which virtually ends their World Cup hopes has been predictably scathing.

L'Equipe, the country's biggest sports daily, ran with the headline 'LesImposteurs'. Adding: "The ineffectiveness of the team contradicts all the speeches held by (coach) Raymond Domenech and the players on their strength of character and their capacity to react.

"This morning, France contemplates a field of ruins: its national team. The 'Je-m'en-foutisme' ('I don't give a damn-ism') is their flag, the only banner this team can carry together.

"Let's mock Raymond Domenech, so full of himself, overcome by his players' egos. Laugh about these major players Franck Ribery, William Gallas, Nicolas

Anelka, who believe themselves so superior, and their arrogance. Supported by a federation who should wear a headless chicken as a symbol, they deserve indifference."

France were "wiped clean" by their "Aztec conquerors", according to Liberation, while Le Figaro reflects captain Patrice Evra's withering assessment that France are "a small team, very affected by defeat".

Le Parisien went with the simple "France humiliated by Mexico", while Provence opted for "Shame on the Blues".

Also unsurprising was the schadenfreude emanating from Ireland. The Republic lost a play-off to reach South Africa after striker Thierry Henry's handball led to the decisive goal which put France through.

"Supporters of the Boys in Green will have savoured France's defeat to Mexico last night, a result that leaves Raymond Domenech's side staring at the prospect of saying an early 'au revoir' to the 2010 World Cup," said the Irish Examiner.

"Few will shed any tears at their current plight. To add to the delight of those of a bitter disposition, there was more than a hint of controversy about the second half goal that put Mexico on the road to victory last night.

"Few will sympathise though, as it seems that what goes round does indeed occasionally come round."

Toshiba Launches New Range Of Laptops Under SATELLITE and SATELLITE PRO Brands

Toshiba India has launched a range of laptops under the brand SATELLITE and SATELLITE PRO.

Toshiba introduces its new range of stylish and sleek laptops at affordable prices. The new versions come in different vibrant colours including Maroon, Brown, Blue, Carbon, Black and Red.

The T215 model comes with 11.6 inches screen, Windows 7 Home Premium, built-in webcam and has up to 2GB of DDR3 RAM.

With the introduction of this new range of laptops, the company aims to expand and strengthen its presence in India.

“Toshiba PC Division is focused on the Indian market and intends to fortify its presence and product portfolio in the country. The strategy to expand our product lineup with these new models will now offer the customer a range of over 21 models to choose from. We understand that the Indian customer not only seeks affordable quality but also a variety that can be enabled only through design and technology. At Toshiba, we remain committed to Leading with Innovation to meet our consumer’s needs,” said, Sivakumar. N, General Manager, TIPL (PC Division).

Toshiba’s Satellite Pro model includes T110, U500, L510, L450, L500 and L550. Toshiba T215 has been priced at $470 while T235 model comes at $550.

US, Russian astronauts arrive at space station

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying two US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut arrived on Thursday at the orbiting International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz lifted off on Tuesday from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan with Americans Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin aboard.

The 2221 GMT docking occurred over Argentina. It was the combined 100th flight to the ISS by US space shuttles and Russian Soyuz capsules.

The astronauts are to be part of the ISS crew for five and a half months, joining Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko and American Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

The crew are to conduct several spacewalks during their time in space, which will also likely see the last two visits by US space shuttles. The final shuttle flight is scheduled for November.

Once the heavy-lifting space shuttle is retired, all astronauts will reach the ISS aboard Soyuz spacecraft.

The Obama administration has cancelled plans to develop a next-generation spacecraft to replace the shuttle, instead opting to support the development of commercial spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the station.

Ram Vilas Paswan, Rajiv Pratap Rudy win Rajya Sabha seats from Bihar

Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy and RJD’s Ram Kripal Yadav have won Rajya Sabha seats from Bihar today.

Earlier on Thursday, polling began to elect five Rajya Sabha members from the state amid fear of cross-voting because of the presence of an independent candidate.

Both the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the opposition led by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are hopeful of winning three and two seats respectively.

More than two dozen legislators voted in the first hour of polling that began at 9 am. The Bihar Assembly has 243 legislators.