Sensex ends higher; budget awaited
Indian shares ended higher on Monday as bargain-hunting lifted recently hit stocks, though sentiment remained cautious ahead of the federal budget next week.
NEW DELHI A panel of ministers will meet on Friday to decide on fuel prices, Oil Minister Murli Deora said on Tuesday.
"There is a meeting on June 25 on fuel prices. I cannot say whether prices will be hiked, but the meeting is on," Deora told Reuters.
A Press Trust of India report said a government panel will consider decontrol of petrol prices at the meeting.
Earlier this month, the government deferred a decision on raising fuel prices, the second time in a year it has tripped on pushing the politically sensitive reform measures that could help trim a budget deficit.
Shares of oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corp(IOC.BO), Bharat Petroleum Corp(BPCL.BO) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp(HPCL.BO) rose between 2.7 and 3 percent on the news.
With wholesale price inflation in May breaching the double digit mark at 10.16 percent, the move could put upward pressure on the headline inflation rate and on the Indian central bank to aggressively tighten monetary policy.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that headline inflation could come down to between 5 percent and 6 percent by December.
However, a rise in fuel prices, with food prices still high, could upset those calculations.
The ministerial panel is expected to ask state governments to lower state-level taxes on petroleum products to cushion the blow from a possible price hike.
"One of the points of discussion will be higher taxes by state governments. They should reduce it ... at least on kerosene," Deora said.
(Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)
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ZURICH Swiss Re has obtained regulatory approval to open a branch in India, the world's second largest reinsurer said on Monday, part of the Swiss company's growth aspirations in the world's second most populous country.
MUMBAI Cotton supplies in Indian spot markets fell 15.9 percent from a year earlier to 10.8 million bales between October and December as government's move to scrap high-value currency notes disrupted trading, a leading trade body said on Monday.