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Sensex Trading in the Red; TCS Among Top Losers
Tue, 31 Jan 01:30 pm

After opening the day on a negative note, the Indian share markets have continued the downward trend and are currently trading below the dotted line. With the exception of stocks in the FMCG sector all sectoral indices are trading on a negative note. Stocks in the IT sector and the pharma sector are leading the losses.

The BSE Sensex is trading down 170 points (down 0.6%) and the NSE Nifty is trading down 64 points (down 0.7%). Meanwhile, the BSE Mid Cap index is trading down by 0.7%, while the BSE Small Cap index is trading down by 0.8%. The rupee is trading at 67.86 to the US$.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced that it will end curbs on cash withdrawals for current account holders from 1 February 2017 onwards.

ATM withdrawal restrictions will also be eased from 1 February. A savings account holder may now withdraw up to Rs 24,000 at one go from ATMs. Earlier, the limit on such accounts was Rs 10,000 per day, with a weekly cap of Rs 24,000.

The overall limit on savings accounts will, however, continue. The cap for savings account holders is Rs 24,000 per week. The limits on savings bank accounts will continue and are under consideration for withdrawal in the near future, RBI said.

RBI also said banks may, at their discretion, have their own operating limits as was the case before November 8, when note ban was imposed.

After the demonetization announcement on 8 November, the government had placed limits on cash withdrawals. RBI had progressively raised the cash withdrawal limits at ATMs from Rs 2,000 on 9 November to Rs 10,000 per card a day as of 16 January.

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Customers holding a current or overdraft or cash credit accounts were allowed to withdraw up to Rs 50,000 in a week. The central bank had also enhanced the limit on withdrawal from current accounts, overdraft and cash credit accounts to Rs 1,00,000 per week. Presently, the limit on current account withdrawals stands removed.

The demonetisation move was initially made with the primary objective of curbing black money and the circulation of fake currency. Fake i.e. counterfeit currency was responsible for innumerable illegal activities in India. It is certainly good that demonetisation has put the brakes on it.

However, no one seemed to have an estimate about the size of this problem. The numbers show that fake currency is a tiny fraction of the total banknotes in circulation.

Fake Currency: Mountain or a Molehill

Data released by the home ministry in an answer to a Lok Sabha question, shows that government agencies seized counterfeit currency worth Rs 1,551 million between 1 January 2013 and 30 September 2016. This is a mere 0.01% of the amount of currency demonetised. It is even lower if we consider the total currency in circulation of about Rs 17 trillion as on 30 September 2016.

This begs the question; did the media and the government make a mountain out of a molehill?

Moving on to news about stocks in the energy sector. ONGC share price has risen by as much as 5% in today's trade as the company received the first instalment of $19 million from Venezuela's state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) towards recovering pending dividend.

PDVSA and ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas investment of arm of state-run explorer ONGC, last year signed a deal allowing the Indian firm to get 17,000 barrels per day of oil to recover dues of about US$ 540 million.

The deal entails PDVSA marketing ONGC's share of oil, in lieu of a dividend every month for the San Cristobal Project in Venezuela. ONGC has 40 per cent stake in the project with PDVSA holding the remainder. ONGC has invested $200 million in the San Cristobal field and has not received any dividend since 2009.

The field is currently producing about 21,000-22,000 barrels per day (bpd) and the partners plan to raise production to 27,000-30,000 bpd by using water injection techniques.

The two companies have also decided that ONGC will arrange a loan of $320 for mobilising resources to boost oil output from the field.

ONGC share price surged to its highest level since June 2015. The state run company is also expected to announce its financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2016 later in the day.

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