As regards global markets, Asian equity markets closed mixed. European indices have opened in the red. The rupee was trading at Rs 54.88 to the dollar at the time of writing.
India's April trade deficit leapt to US$ 17.8 bn, on a massive surge in imports of cheaper gold that will increase concerns about the current account deficit. Gold and silver imports were up by 138% to US$ 7.5 bn last month compared to US$ 3.1 bn a year earlier, as retail consumers in the country went on a buying spree after global prices fell. Exports rose 1.6% from a year earlier to US$ 24.16 bn, up for the fourth straight month.
Falling for the second straight month, retail inflation declined sharply to 9.39% in April due to easing of prices of vegetables, edible oil and protein-based items. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation stood at 10.39% in March.
According to a leading financial daily, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Russia's Rosobornexport are in a straight contest to supply the 100 self-propelled tracked howitzers to the Army and the trials of the two guns are slated to begin in June-July this year. This is for the first time that an Indian private company is in direct competition with a foreign vendor to supply howitzers. The contract is estimated to be worth Rs 20 bn. The guns are being procured by the Army as part of its more than Rs 200 bn artillery modernisation programme, which has been stuck after the Bofors gun deal scandal.