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India confident of weathering US storm

Source: PTI
September 17, 2008 18:27 IST
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India sees no grave threat to its economy, although it expects the United States financial storm to rock its capital markets from where FIIs have pulled out over $1 billion so far this month.

The US Federal Reserve's $85 billion bailout package to insurer AIG to stem the rot notwithstanding, the industry, especially software exporters with their exposure to the US BFSI segment, continued to remain cautious.

"As of now, turbulence (in the US financial market) may have some impact on capital markets, but payment obligations are being met currently and there won't be any payment related problem," top finance ministry sources said on Wednesay.

Although the US stock market benchmark index Dow Jones Industrial Average ended in positive territory on Tuesday following the Fed's rescue of AIG, the Indian market was unmoved with its barometer index Sensex on Wednesday ending 256 pts down at 13,262.90, as banking and realty stocks continued to be battered.

Country's largest private lender ICICI Bank has said that its London subsidiary has a 57 million euro (about Rs 375 crore) exposure to failed investment banker Lehman Brothers.

ADA Group chairman Anil Ambani also said on Tuesday that India cannot remain immune to the present financial crisis, although the impact would be moderate due to the cautious and conservative approach of the country's policy makers.

"In the light of the current development in the forex markets, the Reserve Bank will sell dollars through agent banks to augment supply in the domestic forex market or intervene directly to meet any demand-supply gaps," the central bank said, detailing measures to check the slide of the rupee against the greenback.

Following the central bank intervention to bolster liquidity, the Indian unit today rose 62 paise to 46.27/28 from a two-year low 46.89/90.

Although the about 15 per cent depreciation in rupee this year has given a boost to exports, it has made imports expensive leading to concerns in the government that is preoccupied with battling over 12 per cent inflation.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said that steps taken by the government have had a calming effect on prices.

"Inflation is going down. We have put in place measures and we hope that these measures are going to take effect. They have started showing signs of taking effect," he said.

On Tuesday, the central bank also allowed banks to borrow more by relaxing the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR), while expanding the liquidity adjustment facility scheme.

Investments from FIIs, finance ministry sources said, are flowing into debt markets, including government securities, even as there is slight pullout from equity segment.

According to data available with market regulator Sebi, the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have sold off shares worth a net of $1,096.3 million so far in September.

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