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Trump nominates David Malpass to head World Bank

In nominating Malpass, Trump is installing a loyalist and presidential campaign adviser to a prominent post that comes with a five-year term.

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Washington, Feb 7 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated David Malpass, one of his top economic advisers and a Wall Street veteran, to be the next president of the World Bank.

Malpass, currently the under secretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, has been a point person in the Trump administration’s trade negotiations with China and has overseen the government’s relationship with the World Bank.

He has also been a longtime critic of the World Bank’s lending practices and business model and has expressed concern about the overreach of such multilateral institutions.

Trump on Wednesday called him a “very extraordinary man.”

The appointment, which must be approved by the World Bank’s board, could prove controversial given Malpass’s skepticism of the bank and concerns that the Trump administration could politicise the role and use it to curb China’s growing influence around the world, The New York Times reported.

In nominating Malpass, Trump is installing a loyalist and presidential campaign adviser to a prominent post that comes with a five-year term.

“He’s been a supporter for a long time,” Trump said about Malpass.

Malpass is being tapped to head the World Bank after its previous president, Jim Yong Kim, abruptly announced in January that he would resign from the post, nearly three years before his term expired.

Senior Trump administration officials told reporters on Wednesday that Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has briefed many finance ministers of other countries about the plan to select Malpass and that they have been “receptive” to the choice.

The officials said that Malpass has a history of working constructively with China and that he would honour commitments the bank had made on issues such as climate change.

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Business

Sensex, Nifty trade flat, auto stocks down

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Sensex equity Nifty

Mumbai, Feb 18: The Sensex and Nifty declined after opening on a flat to positive note on Monday led by selling in auto, IT and FMCG stocks.

The Sensex of the BSE opened at 35,831.18 from its previous close at 35,808.95 on Friday.

At 9.20 a.m., the Sensex traded at 35,794.97 lower by 13.98 points or 0.04 per cent.

The Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened slightly higher at 10,738.65A from it’s previous close on Friday.

The Nifty traded at 10,723.05 during the morning trade session, down 1.35 points and 0.01 per cent.

On Friday, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold shares to the tune of Rs 966.43 crore while the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought Rs 853.25 crore worth of scrips.

IANS

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Business

Comprehensive plan prepared for BSNL’s revival: Government

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BSNL

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The government is making all efforts to make state-run BSNL robust and financially viable again and has prepared a comprehensive plan for its revival, an official said on Sunday, on the eve of a nationwide strike called by the employees unions over their demands.

BSNL employees and officers have given a three-day country-wide strike call from February 18 to highlight their long-pending issues, including allotment of 4G spectrum to the telecom major and wage revision for the workforce.

“All efforts are being made, and will continue to be made, to make BSNL robust and financially viable,” a Communications Ministry statement said.

“The main demands of the All India Unions and Associations of Bharat Sanchar Nigam (AUAB) include benefits to executives under the 3rd Pay Revision Committee (PRC) with 15 per cent fitment and to non-executives as per the 8th wage negotiations w.e.f. 1.1.2017, allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL, revision of pension for BSNL retirees w.e.f. 1.1.2017 and delinking of same with pay revision for PRC implementation, and deduction of payment of pension contribution by BSNL on actual basic pay instead of on the highest level of the pay scale.

“Government wishes to re-emphasize that it will continue to engage with the BSNL management and representatives of the unions and associations, to support their reasonable demands, and to guide the organization towards a revival,” it said.

Noting that the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) is taking “positive steps” regarding each of these demands, the ministry said the issue of alloting 4G spectrum to BSNL is being referred to telecom regulator TRAI “to recommend on the issue of administrative allocation, quantum, price and appropriate frequency band”.

“Further action will be taken on receipt of the said recommendation. In parallel, a comprehensive proposal for revival of BSNL has been prepared, which will be taken up for consideration by competent authorities very soon.”

It also noted that a Coordination Committee comprising senior officers of the DoT, BSNL management, and representatives of AUAB is already working in this regard.

“Representatives of AUAB have also held meetings with the DOT Additional Secretary in which they have been duly apprised of the progress being made in relation to their demands,” the statement said.

It pointed out that the BSNL management has appealed to its employees not to resort to any agitation at this critical juncture when the organization is engaged in “sincere and serious efforts” to protect and enhance the company’s market share, “and when any disruption in services can only adversely impact the interests of BSNL and its customers, employees and other stakeholders.”

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Rupee weakened against $ in choppy weekly trade

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India Rupee

Mumbai, Feb 17 (IANS) In a choppy week’s trade, the Indian currency weakened against the US dollar to close above the 71 a dollar mark on Friday, owing to a sharp rise in crude oil prices, turmoil in the equity markets and uncertainty around the US-China trade relations.

In what could translate into further trouble for the domestic currency, analysts see an upward move of 6 to 7 per cent in the Brent crude prices in the coming week.

The rupee lost heavily towards the end of the week – over 70 paise in the last three trading session – as traders reacted to the sanction on Venezuela and production cut by OPEC and Saudi Arabia.

Sajal Gupta, Head Fx & Rates Edelweiss, said “technically … crude now looks set for another 6-7 per cent rise” which would mean that the rupee was likely to depreciate further in the coming sessions. “And if Rs 71.80 per dollar is broken, we can head towards Rs 72.50 mark.”

Among other factors impacting the currency, Gupta said, with crude and dollar index giving breakout, rupee would remain under pressure. Trade deficit data released on Friday post market was also not very encouraging with monthly deficit touching almost 15 billion dollars.

“Political tensions would also remain heightened with key leaders vowing strong retaliation in wake of the biggest terror attack in the Kashmir valley.”

Explaining the factors which has caused volatility, Anindya Banerjee of Kotak said the currency markets largely depend on the capital flows … and right now the fear of a possible retaliation by the government in response to the Pulwama attack is having an affect.

“The context of the whole event is also important because (Lok Sabha) elections are around the corner,” Banerjee said.

Also, the currency losing against the dollar and rising crude oil prices was a double whammy for the bond markets, he added.

On the global front, discussing the factors affecting the currency, Banerjee said, the Chinese economy was very fragile right now and moreover investors were looking for developments in the US-China trade talks.

However, Gurang Somaiya, currency analyst, Motilal Oswal, felt that the rupee was protected from any major weakness as “Foreign Institutional Investment (FII’s) came around good”, especially in February.

According to data from the bourses, FII has seen inflows worth Rs 1,096 crore in February.

India on Friday revoked the Most Favoured Nation Status (MNS) of Pakistan and has warned that more stern actions will follow the attack in Pulwama. Additionally, equity markets have declined for 6 straight sessions showing weak investor sentiments.

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