The Street Press & TSP Web Desk The Street Press & TSP Web Desk en © 2022 The Street Press & All Rights Reserved. Ukraine, Russia say hundreds of enemy troops killed in battle for Bakhmut March 11 (Reuters) - Ukraine and Russia claimed on Saturday that hundreds of enemy troops were killed over the previous 24 hours in the fight for Bakhmut, with Kyiv fending off unabating attacks and a small river that bisects the town now marking the new front line.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a Ukrainian military spokesperson, said that 221 pro-Moscow troops were killed and more than 300 wounded in Bakhmut. Russia's defence ministry said that up to 210 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the broader Donetsk part of the frontline.

While Moscow did not specify Bakhmut casualties, the eastern Donetsk town, now nearly deserted, has been the site of one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the year-long war.

Both sides have admitted to suffering and inflicting significant losses in Bakhmut, while the exact number of casualties is difficult to independently verify.

British military intelligence said on Saturday that Russia's Wagner mercenary group has taken control of most of the eastern part of Bakhmut - an advance that the group's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on Wednesday.

"In the city centre, the Bakhmutka River now marks the front line," the British Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin.

Ukraine insisted that it was holding on in Bakhmut and was giving a "decent rebuff" to Russian forces, with the commander in charge of defending Bakhmut saying its protection was key for a Ukrainian counter-strike.

"It is necessary to gain time to accumulate reserves and start a counter-offensive, which is not far off," the military cited Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi as saying on Saturday.

Moscow says capturing Bakhmut would punch a hole in Ukrainian defences and be a step towards seizing all of the Donbas industrial region, a major target. Kyiv says the battle is grinding down Russia's best units.

Prigozhin said on Saturday that he is now 1.2 km (0.75 mile) away from the administrative centre of the city. The centre is on the west side of the Bakhmutka River.

British intelligence said that with the river running through some open ground, "this area has become a killing zone, likely making it highly challenging for Wagner forces attempting to continue their frontal assault westward."

But the situation remained dangerous for Ukrainian forces.

"The Ukrainian force and their supply lines to the west remain vulnerable to the continued Russian attempts to outflank the defenders from the north and south," it said.

Writing by David Ljunggren and Lidia Kelly; editing by Grant McCool and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Sun, 12 Mar 2023 14:01:39 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Russia kills civilians in first huge missile wave for weeks KYIV/ZOLOCHIV, Ukraine, March 9 (Reuters) - Russia fired a huge wave of missiles across Ukraine on Thursday as people slept, killing at least nine civilians and knocking out power in an attack Kyiv said included six Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, one of Moscow's most valuable weapons.

The mass strikes on targets far from the front were the first such wave since mid-February and shattered the longest calm since Moscow began an air campaign against Ukraine's civil infrastructure five months ago.

They also briefly forced Europe's biggest nuclear power plant off the grid.

"The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That's all they can do. But it won't help them. They won't avoid responsibility for everything they have done," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, describing strikes that hit infrastructure and residential buildings in ten regions.

Russia's defence ministry said it had carried out a "massive retaliatory strike" as payback for a cross-border raid last week. It claimed to have hit all its intended targets, destroying drone bases, disrupting railways and damaging facilities that make and repair arms.

Villagers in Zolochiv in Ukraine's western Lviv region carried a body in a black plastic bag over the rubble of a brick house completely destroyed by a missile. They put the body into the back of a white van with another. A dog lay curled up on a carpet in the ruins.

Oksana Ostapenko said the house belonged to her sister Halyna, whose body was still buried under the rubble with two other family members.

"They still haven't found them. We were hoping that they're alive. But they're not alive," she said.

Another civilian was reported killed by the missiles in the central Dnipro region. Three civilians were separately reported killed by artillery in Kherson.

Moscow says such hits are intended to reduce Ukraine's ability to fight. Kyiv says the air strikes have no military purpose and aim to harm and intimidate civilians, a war crime.

In the capital Kyiv, a seven-hour alert through the night was the longest of Russia's five-month air campaign.

"I heard a very loud explosion, very loud. We quickly jumped out of bed and saw one car on fire. Then the other cars caught on fire as well. The glass shattered on the balconies and windows," said Liudmyla, 58, holding a toddler in her arms on a Kyiv street near wrecked cars.

"The child got scared and jumped out of bed," she said. "How can they do this? How is this possible? They are not humans."


Moscow confirmed it had used hypersonic Kinzhal - Russian for dagger - missiles in Thursday's attack. Ukrainian officials said it was the first time they had faced so many of the weapons, which Ukraine has no way to shoot down.

The White House said that the barrage was "devastating" to see and Washington would continue to provide Ukraine with air defence capabilities.

Russia is believed to have just a few dozen Kinzhals, which fly many times faster than the speed of sound and are built to carry nuclear warheads with a range of more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles). In his speeches, President Vladimir Putin regularly touts the Kinzhal as a weapon for which the transatlantic NATO alliance backing Kyiv has no answer.

Ukraine said the attacks had knocked out power in various places including to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, severing it from the grid and forcing it onto emergency diesel power to prevent a meltdown. It was later reconnected to Ukraine's energy grid, operator Ukrenergo said.

The plant, which Russia has held since capturing it early in the war, is near the front line and both sides have warned in the past of a potential for disaster. Moscow said it was safe.

U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi appealed for a protection zone around the plant.

"Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out," Grossi told the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors.

Kyiv, the Black Sea port of Odesa and Kharkiv were all hit. Targets stretched from Zhytomyr, Vynnytsia and Rivne in the west to Dnipro and Poltava in central Ukraine, officials said.


On the battlefield, the week has seen an apparent shift as Ukraine has decided to fight on in Bakhmut, a small city that has borne the brunt of a Russian winter offensive in the bloodiest fighting of the war.

Moscow says Bakhmut is important as a step to securing the surrounding Donbas region, a major war aim. The West says the ruined city has little value and Russian forces are sacrificing lives to give Putin his only victory since sending hundreds of thousands of reservists into battle at the end of last year.

Ukraine had appeared likely to withdraw from Bakhmut, but commanders now say they are inflicting enough damage on Russia's assault force to justify staying and fighting on.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia's Wagner private army which has led the fighting in Bakhmut, said on Wednesday his forces controlled all of the city east of a river through it.

Moscow, which claims to have annexed a fifth of Ukraine, says it launched its "special military operation" a year ago to combat a security threat. Kyiv and the West call it an unprovoked war to subdue an independent state.

(This story has been refiled to remove extraneous words in paragraph 18)

Reporting by Reuters bureaux, Writing by Peter Graff, Alexandra Hudson, Editing by Angus MacSwan

Fri, 10 Mar 2023 07:12:22 +0530 TSP Web Desk
WHO Assisting Cambodia After Two Confirmed Cases of H5N1 Bird Flu Found LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that it is working closely with Cambodian authorities after two members of the same family were diagnosed with the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Speaking to reporters during a virtual briefing, Dr Sylvie Briand, the director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, described the situation as "worrying" due to the recent increase in cases in birds and mammals.

The H5N1 virus is a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza that has been responsible for outbreaks in both birds and humans over the past two decades. In humans, the virus can cause severe respiratory illness and has a mortality rate of around 60%.

Dr Briand confirmed that WHO is currently reviewing its global risk assessment in light of the recent developments in Cambodia, and is working closely with local health authorities to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to contain the outbreak.

She added that WHO is also providing technical support to help Cambodian health officials with the investigation and response to the outbreak.

The news of the two confirmed cases of H5N1 in Cambodia comes amid rising concerns about the spread of bird flu globally. In recent months, several countries have reported outbreaks of the virus in poultry flocks, including China, India, and Iran.

The WHO has warned that the emergence of new strains of bird flu poses a significant threat to global health and has urged countries to remain vigilant and take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

As the situation in Cambodia continues to develop, health officials are urging people to take precautions such as avoiding contact with sick or dead birds, washing hands regularly, and seeking medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms.

With the WHO and local health authorities working together, there is hope that the outbreak in Cambodia can be contained before it spreads further.

Sat, 25 Feb 2023 07:05:14 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Putin set for major Ukraine war speech after Biden walks streets of Kyiv KYIV, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to make a speech on Tuesday setting out aims for the second year of his invasion of Ukraine, a day after U.S. President Joe Biden walked the streets of Kyiv promising to stand with Ukraine as long as it takes.

Following his surprise visit to Kyiv, Biden flew to Poland and on Tuesday will give a speech on how the United States has helped rally the world to support Ukraine and stress American support for NATO's eastern flank.

China, which in public has remained neutral despite signing a "no limits" friendship pact with Russia weeks before the invasion, said on Tuesday it was "deeply worried" that the Ukraine conflict could spiral out of control.

Biden, in his trademark aviator sunglasses, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in green battle fatigues, walked side-by-side to a gold-domed cathedral in Kyiv on a bright winter Monday morning pierced by the sound of air raid sirens.

"When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong," Biden said.

"The cost that Ukraine has had to pay is extraordinarily high. Sacrifices have been far too great. ... We know that there will be difficult days and weeks and years ahead."

Outside the cathedral, burned-out Russian tanks stand as a symbol of Moscow's failed assault on the capital at the outset of its invasion, which began on Feb. 24. Its forces swiftly reached Kyiv's ramparts - only to be turned back by unexpectedly fierce resistance.

Since then, Russia's war has killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides, cities have been reduced to rubble, and millions of refugees have fled. Russia says it has annexed nearly a fifth of Ukraine, while the West has pledged tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv.

"This visit of the U.S. president to Ukraine, the first for 15 years, is the most important visit in the entire history of Ukraine-U.S. relations," Zelenskiy said.

Biden traveled to Ukraine's capital by overnight train from Poland, arriving after roughly 10 hours at 8 a.m. on Monday, before returning there the same way, leaving just after 1 p.m. (1100 GMT), according to a White House pool report by a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Biden arrived late on Monday in Warsaw, where he is scheduled to meet Poland's President Andrzej Duda, along with other leaders of countries on NATO's eastern flank, the following day.

While Biden was in Kyiv, the State Department announced a further $460 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, including $450 million worth of artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems and air defense radars, and $10 million for energy infrastructure.

Russia was notified before Biden's departure, officials in Washington and Moscow said, apparently to avoid the risk of an attack on Kyiv while he was there.

"Of course for the Kremlin this will be seen as further proof that the United States has bet on Russia's strategic defeat in the war and that the war itself has turned irrevocably into a war between Russia and the West," said Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst.

Putin will update Russia's political and military elite on the Ukraine conflict, the biggest confrontation with the West since the depths of the Cold War, in a speech to members of both houses of parliament on Tuesday.

He will also give his analysis of the international situation and outline his vision of Russia's development after the West imposed sweeping sanctions on it, the Kremlin said.

The speech is due to begin at 0900 GMT in central Moscow.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc would approve more sanctions before the anniversary of the invasion on Feb. 24, which Russia describes as a "special military operation" to defend Russian sovereignty.


China's top diplomat Wang Yi on Monday called for a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine war during a stopover in Hungary ahead of a visit to Moscow for talks. Ukraine says any diplomatic solution requires the withdrawal of Russian forces from its territory.

"China is deeply worried that the Ukraine conflict will continue to escalate or even spiral out of control," China's foreign minister Qin Gang said on Tuesday in a speech at a forum held at the foreign ministry.

"We urge certain countries to immediately stop fuelling the fire," he said in comments that appeared to be directed at the United States, adding that they must "stop hyping up 'today Ukraine, tomorrow Taiwan'".

Russia is trying to secure full control of two eastern provinces forming Ukraine's Donbas industrial region. It has sent thousands of conscripts into Ukraine for a winter offensive but has secured only scant gains so far in assaults in frozen trenches up and down the eastern front in recent weeks.

Kyiv and the West see it as a push to give Putin victories to trumpet a year after he launched Europe's biggest conflict since World War Two.

Ukraine expects to receive large supplies of Western weaponry in coming months that will help it mount a planned counteroffensive. In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces claimed to have inflicted huge casualties while repelling attacking Russian forces.

Reporting by Reuters reporters worldwide; Writing by Peter Graff, Arshad Mohammed, Simon Lewis and Michael Perry; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Tue, 21 Feb 2023 15:32:23 +0530 TSP Web Desk
How Biden's surprise trip to Kyiv was kept secret & but not from Russia WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden by all accounts was having a quiet weekend at the White House, joining his wife Jill Biden for dinner at a restaurant on a rare outing in Washington on Saturday.

But behind the scenes, officials at the White House and other agencies were planning intensively for Biden to make an unannounced trip to Kyiv to show solidarity with Ukraine days before the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion.

After months of planning, Biden on Friday decided to go ahead with the trip, according to the White House.

White House officials said Biden was taken to Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington and departed at 4:15 a.m. (0915 GMT) on Sunday aboard an Air Force jet, accompanied by a handful of aides. A scaled-back news media presence went along with him: just one reporter and a photographer instead of his usual media pool.

The president flew overnight to the United States' Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The plane was refueled and he flew on to Rzeszow in southeastern Poland. After a one-hour drive, he arrived in Przemysl, a city along the Poland-Ukraine border.

Biden then boarded a train and traveled 10 hours to Kyiv. By then it was Sunday night, and Biden's train traveled in the dark with a heavy security presence on board.

The train came to a stop at the Kyiv-Pasazhyrsky station in the Ukrainian capital at roughly 8 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) on Monday. The area around the platform had been cleared and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, awaited Biden and his staff.

"It's good to be back in Kyiv," Biden said after stepping off the train.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who accompanied the president, said U.S. officials did notify Russian officials that Biden would be traveling to Kyiv. "We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes," he told reporters on a conference call, declining to provide more details.

Sullivan said the trip had "required a security, operational, and logistical effort from professionals across the U.S. government to take what was an inherently risky undertaking and make it a manageable level of risk."

Residents of Kyiv live under the constant threat of Russian missile and drone attacks.

After his visit, Biden got back on the train for the trip to Przemysl. After arriving there, he made his way to Warsaw.

(This story has been refiled to fix a spelling in paragraph 9)

Reporting By Steve Holland; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis

Tue, 21 Feb 2023 15:23:59 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Russian envoy: U.S. seeks to inflame Ukraine crisis with claims of crimes against humanity Feb 19 (Reuters) - Washington is trying to demonize Moscow and foment the crisis in Ukraine with allegations of Russian crimes against humanity, Russia's ambassador to the United States said on Sunday.

The Biden administration formally concluded that Russia has committed "crimes against humanity" during its nearly year-long invasion of Ukraine, Vice President Kamala Harris said on Saturday.

"We regard such insinuations as an unprecedented attempt to demonize Russia in the framework of the hybrid war unleashed against us," Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in a statement on the Russian Embassy's Telegram messaging platform.

"There is no doubt that the purpose of such attacks by Washington is to justify its own actions to fuel the Ukrainian crisis."

Organisations supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development have documented more than 30,000 war crimes incidents since the invasion, according to the U.S. government. Ukrainian officials said they were investigating the Thursday shelling of the city of Bakhmut as a possible war crime.

The U.N.-backed Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine says it has identified war crimes but has not concluded whether they amount to crimes against humanity.

Friday will mark a year since Russia launched what it calls "a special military operation" to "denazify" and "demilitarise" its neighbour. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Kyiv's Western allies call the invasion, which has no end in sight, an unprovoked, imperialistic land grab.

The war has killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions, pummelled the global economy and made Russian President Vladimir Putin a pariah in the West.

The Kremlin has intensified operations across a broad swath of southern and eastern Ukraine, and a major new offensive has been widely anticipated.

The United States and its allies have provide Ukraine with increasingly sophisticated arms, including modern battle tanks, and Western leaders have discussed more aid at a series of meetings in Europe in recent days.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by William Mallard

Sun, 19 Feb 2023 17:11:04 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Jimmy Carter, 98, to receive hospice care Feb 18 (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has decided to receive hospice care and "spend his remaining time at home with his family" instead of additional medical intervention, the Carter Center said on Saturday.

Carter, 98, who has lived longer after leaving the White House than any former president in U.S. history, was a Democrat who served from January 1977 to January 1981.

"He has the full support of his family and his medical team. The Carter family asks for privacy during this time and is grateful for the concern shown by his many admirers," the center said in a statement.

In recent years, the Georgia native suffered from several health issues including melanoma that spread to his liver and brain, although he had responded well to treatment he received.

The former peanut farmer's rocky four years at the helm of the country were marred by economic woes at home and the Iran hostage crisis that ended just after he left office. But Carter also played a central role in brokering the Camp David accords that led to the landmark Egypt-Israeli peace treaty.

He was swept from office in an electoral landslide in 1980 as voters embraced Republican challenger Ronald Reagan, the former actor and California governor.

However, Carter rehabilitated his legacy as he worked energetically for decades on humanitarian causes.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 in recognition of his "untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."

He could also often be seen, hammer in hand, helping to build affordable houses as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Carter and his wife Rosalynn, whom he married in 1946, have four children.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub and Maria Caspani; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Sun, 19 Feb 2023 16:45:18 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India to blacklist renewable firms for missing project deadlines NEW DELHI, Feb 16 (Reuters) - India will exclude renewable power companies from government contracts for between three and five years if they do not meet project completion deadlines, a government order seen by Reuters shows, as the country looks to speed up green power projects.

"If any renewable energy project is not completed by the prescribed date of completion, then its bank guarantee should be encashed and the developer blacklisted after asking to show cause," the order issued by the new and renewable energy ministry said.

The blacklisting will be for a period of three to five years, the order issued on Wednesday said.

The ministry did not immediately respond to queries about the policy sent by Reuters.

So far India has not blacklisted any company from renewable energy generation contracts for delays, but the government order said the blacklisting was in accordance with the government's General Financial Rules and would apply to all tenders.

India needs to install more than 40 gigawatts of capacity annually - about 2.5 times the rate of addition in 2022 - to achieve its commitment to increase its non-fossil fuel capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030.

Renewable energy installations have been hit by disruptions in equipment supply in recent months, due to heavy import duties on solar equipment, industry officials say.

As a result of the pandemic, the ministry allowed several extensions, most recently an order in December 2022 which granted a one-year extension to March 2024 year for the completion of various projects.

The country had set a target to achieve 175 GW in renewable energy capacity by 2022 but failed to meet that objective. Green energy capacity currently stands at 121.55 GW, government data show.

Big hydro projects make up 46.85 GW of the total while nuclear makes up 6.78 GW of total capacity of 411.65 GW including thermal, the data show.

The energy-hungry country's thermal capacity - which includes coal and gas-fired generators - accounts for 236.47 GW, or 57.4% of total installations.

Additional reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan in Singapore; Editing by Barbara Lewis and David Holmes

Fri, 17 Feb 2023 11:02:47 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Portugal ends Golden Visas, curtails Airbnb rentals to address housing crisis LISBON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Portugal announced on Thursday a hefty package of measures to tackle a housing crisis, including the end of its controversial "Golden Visa" scheme and a ban on new licenses for Airbnbs and other short-term holiday rentals.

Rents and house prices have skyrocketed in Portugal, which is among the poorest countries in Western Europe. Last year, more than 50% of workers earned less than 1,000 euros per month while in Lisbon alone, rents jumped 37% in 2022.

Low salaries, a red-hot property market, policies encouraging wealthy foreigners to invest and a tourism-dependent economy have for years made it hard for locals to rent or buy, housing groups have said. Portugal's 8.3% inflation rate has exacerbated the problem.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said the crisis was now affecting all families, not just the most vulnerable.

It is not clear when the measures, worth at least 900 million euros ($962.19 million), will come into effect. Costa said some would be approved next month and others will be voted on by lawmakers.

A mechanism would be introduced to regulate rent increases, he added, and the government will offer tax incentives to landlords who convert tourism properties into houses for locals to rent.

Left Bloc party MP Mariana Mortagua criticised the measures, saying the government was giving tax breaks to landlords who have already "benefited from (housing) speculation".

New licenses for tourism accommodations, such as Airbnbs, will be prohibited - except in less populated rural areas.

The Social Democrats said the measures were an "attack" on the rights of property owners and businesses.

To address the housing shortage, Costa said the state would rent vacant houses direct from landlords for a period of five years and put them on the rental market.

Portugal will end its golden visa programme, which offers EU passports to non-EU nationals in return for investments including in real estate and has been criticised for boosting house prices and rents.

The scheme attracted 6.8 billion euros in investment since its launch in 2012, with the bulk of the money going into real estate.

Housing groups said the measures would mean little if the government continued to promote other policies to attract wealthy foreigners to Portugal, such as the "Digital Nomads Visa" introduced in October, which gives foreigners with high monthly income from remote work to live and work from Portugal without paying local taxes.

At a small housing protest in Lisbon, 23-year-old activist Andreia Galvao accused the government of failing to live up to promises it made to address the housing crisis in the past.

"The goal was that by 2024 all Portuguese would have access to quality housing - it doesn't look like that will happen," she said. "The situation is dramatic."

The "Housing is a right" group said the measures do not change the "system in place" in which large real estate investment funds control a significant chunk of the market.

"For the vast majority of people, rents will remain unaffordable and buying a house will continue to be a dream," it said.

($1 = 0.9354 euros)

Reporting by Patricia Rua, Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Aislinn Laing, Sandra Maler and David Gregorio

Fri, 17 Feb 2023 10:13:34 +0530 TSP Web Desk
China sanctions Lockheed Martin, Raytheon over Taiwan arms sales BEIJING, Feb 16 (Reuters) - China on Thursday put Lockheed Martin and a unit of Raytheon Technologies on an "unreliable entities list" over arms sales to Taiwan, banning them from imports and exports related to China in its latest sanctions against the U.S. companies.

The measures come amid heightened tensions after the U.S. military shot down what it says was a Chinese spy balloon, and a day after Beijing warned of "countermeasures against relevant U.S. entities that undermine China's sovereignty and security".

Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Raytheon Missile and Defense Corp, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N), are prohibited from "engaging in import and export activities related to China," China's commerce ministry said in a statement.

Neither company sells defense products to China. Raytheon declined to comment. Raytheon Technologies sells its Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, as well as landing gear and controls, to China's commercial aviation industry.

Lockheed, which exports to more than 70 countries, said in a statement, "Foreign Military Sales are government-to-government transactions and we work closely with the U.S. government on any military sales to international customers. Lockheed Martin closely adheres to United States government policy with regard to conducting business with foreign governments."

Lockheed makes the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, which flew the mission to shoot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, using the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile made by Raytheon.

Beijing also banned the companies from further investment in China, barred senior management from entering the country, canceled residence permits for any staff in China and imposed fines that are double the contracted amounts of their arms sales to Taiwan.

It was not clear how China would enforce such fines, which it said must be paid within 15 days.

Last February, China sanctioned the two companies over a $100 million arms sale to Taiwan, a self-ruled island which Beijing views as a breakaway province.

On at least two previous occasions China has announced sanctions against Lockheed and Raytheon, in 2019 and 2020, though Beijing has not explained what those sanctions entailed or how they were enforced.

The U.S. does not sell weapons to China. However, the United States is bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, and U.S. weapons sales always attract China's anger.

Reporting by Tony Munroe, Laurie Chen Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Jonathan Oatis

Thu, 16 Feb 2023 23:03:18 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Ukraine pounded by missiles, Russia eyes capturing Bakhmut by April KYIV, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Russia rained missiles across Ukraine on Thursday and struck its largest oil refinery, Kyiv said, while the head of the Wagner mercenary group predicted the long-besieged city of Bakhmut would fall within a couple of months.

Following a pattern of heavy bombardments after Ukrainian battlefield or diplomatic gains, Russia launched 36 missiles in the early hours, Ukraine's Air Force said, after NATO alliance officials met the previous day to plot more support for Kyiv.

About 16 were shot down, it added, a lower rate than normal.

The missiles triggered air-raid sirens and landed all over Ukraine, including at its largest oil refinery, Kremenchuk.

The extent of damage was unclear at the unit, hit several times during the war with operations halted at least once.

"Another massive missile attack by the terrorist state on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine," the Defence Ministry tweeted. Ukraine said the barrage included three KH-31 missiles and one Oniks which its air defences cannot shoot down.

Police in Moldova said they again found missile debris near the border with Ukraine.

There was no word from Moscow on the strikes.

Bolstered by tens of thousands of reservists, Russia has intensified ground attacks across southern and eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, and a major new offensive appears to be shaping as the first anniversary of its Feb. 24 invasion nears.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, pulverised Ukrainian cities, destabilised the global economy and uprooted millions of people from their homes.

Showing the scale of disruption, Germany said 1.1 million people arrived from Ukraine in 2022, exceeding its unprecedented migrant influx in 2015-16.


Russia's current focus is on the small city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, one of two regions making up the Donbas, Ukraine's industrial heartland now partially occupied by Russia.

In battles led by the Wagner group swelled by prison recruits, Russia has for months been pounding and encircling Bakhmut. Most of its pre-war population of about 70,000 people have left, leaving Ukrainian soldiers dug in.

Bakhmut's capture would give Russia a stepping stone to advance on two bigger cities, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, further west in Donetsk. But Ukraine and allies say seizing Bakhmut would be a pyrrhic victory given the months it has taken and what they claim is enormous loss of life in waves of Russian assaults.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Air Assault Brigade fire M119 Howitzer artillery weapon towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near Bahmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 16, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

In an interview with a pro-war military blogger, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin forecast Bakhmut would fall next month or in April, depending on how many men Ukraine throw into the fight and how well his men are supplied.

"Because there are a huge number of problems that need to be solved. Naturally it will also depend on whether we continue to be bled," he added, referring to the end of prisoner recruits.

As Ukraine burns through munitions fast and clamours for heavier firepower, including tanks and fighter jets, NATO members are ramping up production and promised more during meetings in Brussels this week.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's army has received vast amounts of aid, particularly from the United States which has committed more than $27.4 billion since the conflict began.

Senior U.S. officials have advised Ukraine to hold off with an intended counter-offensive until the latest supply of U.S. weaponry is in place and training has been provided.

Zelenskiy thanked Norway for pledging $7 billion over five years, its largest aid ever for a single recipient nation.

Russia calls the invasion a "special military operation" against security threats and has cast deliveries of heavy weapons to Ukraine as proof that the West is escalating the war.

Kyiv and its allies call Russia's actions a land grab.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Canadian counterpart Melanie Joly were the latest in a stream of foreign dignitaries to travel to Ukraine.

Cohen was to meet Zelenskiy in the first such visit during the war from Israel, which coordinates with Russia over strikes on suspected Iranian targets in Syria and has stopped short of pledging any direct weapons supplies to Kyiv.

Joly met first lady Olena Zelenska and announced C$21.2 million ($15.8 million) in aid to address conflict-related sexual violence and demining of Ukraine, among other work.

"Canada will continue to support them on the path toward peace and pursue accountability for the horrific crimes being committed across Ukraine for as long as it takes," she said.

Zelenskiy, who has become something of a global celebrity during his leadership of Ukraine's war effort, was to open the Berlin Film Festival via video.

Belarus, which allowed Russia to use its territory to send troops into Ukraine at the start of the war, said it would only fight alongside its ally if it was attacked.

($1 = 1.3409 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Max Hunder, Pavel Polityuk, Caleb Davis, Tim Heritage, Jake Cordell, Gwladys Fouche, Sabine Siebold, Ron Popeski and David Ljunggren; Writing by Stephen Coates and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Mark Heinrich

Thu, 16 Feb 2023 22:25:53 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Nikki Haley launches 2024 Republican presidential bid, first challenge to Trump WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that she will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, putting her at odds with one-time boss Donald Trump, the ex-president also seeking to win back the White House.

"I'm Nikki Haley and I'm running for president," Haley said in a video that her team sent out by email.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, will lay out her campaign plans in a speech in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday.

She became Trump's first direct challenger in a Republican field expected to grow in coming weeks and months. Her announcement was a sign the Republican nomination race is picking up steam.

Other high-profile Republicans looking at a 2024 run include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, among others.

“It’s time for a new generation of leadership – to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border, and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose," Haley, 51, said in her video.

She also harked back to her foreign policy experience with a folksy flair.

"China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullied, kicked. You should know this about me: I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels," she said.

Trump, 76, whose own campaign has gotten off to a slow start, on Feb. 2 mocked Haley on his Truth Social platform, noting she had earlier said she would support Trump if he ran in 2024.

“Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!” he wrote.

South Carolina is expected to host one of the first Republican nominating primaries in 2024 and will play an important role in picking the eventual candidate.

A day after Haley's event, Scott will kick off a "listening tour focused on Faith in America" in Charleston, according to a campaign advisory. He will then swing through Iowa, another key early voting state.


The daughter of two Indian immigrants who ran a successful clothing store in a rural part of the state, Haley has gained a reputation in the Republican Party as a solid conservative who has the ability to address issues of gender and race in a more credible fashion than many of her peers.

Haley has pitched herself as a stalwart defender of American interests abroad, having served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump from 2017 to 2018. During that time, the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed under Democratic President Barack Obama and was highly unpopular among Republicans.

One Haley associate said she chose to launch her campaign this early to try to grab voters' attention and shake up the race.

Many key Republican donors and elected officials in South Carolina have been looking for alternatives to Trump amid concerns about his electability, according to conversations in recent weeks with more than a dozen party officials and strategists.

Several prominent Republicans, including Haley and Scott, opted to skip a Trump campaign appearance in Columbia last month, which was intended to showcase his support in the state.

Among Haley's major challenges will be nailing down a consistent message. Even in a field where most candidates have changed their mind about key issues multiple times, Haley is particularly chameleonic.

She has distanced herself from Trump several times, only to later soften her rhetoric, saying he has an important role to play in the Republican Party.

While she has criticized Republicans for baselessly casting doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election, she campaigned on behalf of multiple candidates who supported Trump's false election fraud claims during the 2022 midterms.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Nick Macfie and Chizu Nomiyama

Tue, 14 Feb 2023 20:46:41 +0530 TSP Web Desk
INDIAN RUPEE Fed rate outlook to push rupee lower; U.S. inflation data key this week MUMBAI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The Indian rupee is likely to open lower against the dollar on Monday, tracking losses in Asian currencies and shares on concerns over the U.S. interest rate outlook.

The non-deliverable forwards indicated an opening of around 82.60-82.64 for the rupee to the U.S. dollar, compared with 82.4975 in the previous session.

The rupee last week recorded its worst performance in almost two months, weighed by the rise in U.S. yields and the dollar index. The December U.S. jobs report has prompted investors to reassess terminal rate expectations and the quantum of rate cuts the Fed will deliver later this year, lifting U.S. yields and the dollar.

Futures are now pricing in a peak rate of 5.18% and about 25 basis points (bps) of rate cuts this year. Before the U.S. jobs report, the peak rate was about 25 bps lower and around 50 bps of rate cuts were expected.

Comments by Fed officials that more rate hikes were needed have contributed to the change in the U.S. rate outlook.

On the back of this repricing, the U.S. consumer inflation data due on Tuesday will draw more than the usual scrutiny. Economists polled by Reuters expect both the annual headline and core inflation rate to soften.

"U.S. CPI (consumer price index) is the real risk event," ING Bank said in a note. We suspect key dollar crosses will stay rangebound until we see the inflation data, ING added.

Unless there is a big surprise in U.S. inflation data, the rupee should hold the 82.40-82.90 range, a trader at a Mumbai-based bank said.

The dollar index opened the week on a quiet note, while Asian currencies extended losses. The offshore Chinese yuan declined to nearly 6.84 to the dollar.

Also due later in the day is the India inflation data. The inflation rate is forecast to have risen to 5.9% in January from 5.72% in December.


** One-month non-deliverable rupee forward at 82.72/82.76; onshore one-month forward premium at 12 paise

** USD/INR NSE February futures settled on Friday at 82.65

** USD/INR February forward premium at 5.75 paise

** Dollar index at 103.74

** Brent crude futures down 0.9% at $85.6 per barrel

** Ten-year U.S. note yield at 3.75%

** SGX Nifty nearest-month futures down 0.2% at 17,847

** As per NSDL data, foreign investors bought a net $4 mln worth of Indian shares on Feb. 9

** NSDL data shows foreign investors sold a net $152.5 mln worth of Indian bonds on Feb. 9

Reporting by Nimesh Vora

Mon, 13 Feb 2023 10:30:33 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Adani slashes growth targets amid rout sparked by Hindenburg, Bloomberg reports Feb 12 (Reuters) - India's Adani group has halved its revenue growth target and plans to scale down fresh capital expenditure, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday.

Listed companies controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani have lost more than $100 billion in market value since Jan. 24, when U.S. short seller Hindenburg Research accused the conglomerate of stock manipulation and improper use of offshore tax havens.

The group has rejected the allegations and denied any wrongdoing.

Adani group will now shoot for revenue growth of 15% to 20% for at least the next financial year, down from 40% originally targeted, Bloomberg News said citing people familiar with the matter.

A spokesperson for Adani Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Holding back on investments for even as little as three months could save the conglomerate as much as $3 billion, the report said, adding that the plans are still imminent.

Adani group has also been a part of India's market regulator's investigation into the group's links to some of the investors in its scrapped $2.5 billion share sale.

Earlier this month, India's ministry of corporate affairs started a preliminary review of Adani Group's financial statements and other regulatory submissions made over the years, Reuters reported, citing two senior government officials.

Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill

Mon, 13 Feb 2023 10:06:01 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Asia stocks slip, dollar gains before U.S. inflation test SYDNEY, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Asian shares slid and the dollar rose on Monday as investors hunkered down for U.S. inflation data that could jolt the outlook for interest rates globally, while accelerating or reversing the recent spike in bond yields.

An air of geopolitical mystery was added by news the U.S air force had shot down a flying object near the Canadian border, the fourth object downed this month. read more

Officials declined to say whether it resembled the large white Chinese balloon that was shot down earlier this month.

In any case, it provided an extra excuse for caution and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.7%, after losing 2.2% last week.

Japan's Nikkei fell 1.2%, and South Korea 1.0%. Chinese blue chips nudged up 0.1% aided by strong data on bank lending.

EUROSTOXX 50 futures fell 0.1%, as did FTSE futures . S&P 500 futures were off 0.4%, while Nasdaq futures eased 0.5%.

The near-term direction for assets could well be determined by U.S. data on consumer prices and retail sales this week, with much resting on whether inflation continued to slow in January.

Median forecasts are for headline and core consumer prices to rise 0.4% for the month, with sales rebounding by 1.6%.

Risks could be to the upside given a re-analysis of seasonal factors released last week saw upward revisions to CPI in December and November. That lifted core inflation on a three-month annualised basis to 4.3%, from 3.1%. read more

There were also changes to the weightings for shelter costs and used car prices which might bias the CPI higher.

Bruce Kasman, head of economic analysis at JPMorgan, expects core CPI to rise 0.5% and sales to jump 2.2%, underlining the message of resilience from the bumper January payrolls report.

"Developed market labor markets have tightened in recent months against our expectations of easing," says Kasman.

"The latest news reinforces conviction that we are not on a soft-landing path and that a recession will eventually be necessary to bring inflation back to central bank comfort zones."

Markets have already sharply raised the profile for future tightening by the Federal Reserve, with rates now seen peaking up around 5.15% and cuts coming later and slower.

There is also a full slate of Fed officials speaking this week to provide a timely reaction to the data.

Yields on 10-year Treasuries are at five-week highs of 3.75%, having jumped 21 basis points last week, while two-year yields hit 4.51% .

That shift helped stabilise the dollar, especially against the euro which slipped 1.1% last week and extended the retreat on Monday to a five-week low of $1.0656 . That was well away from its early February high of $1.0987.

The dollar also got a leg up on the yen on Friday when reports emerged Japan's government was likely to appoint academic Kazuo Ueda as the next Bank of Japan governor.

The surprise news sparked speculation about an early end to the BOJ's super-easy policies, though Ueda himself later said it was appropriate to the current stance. read more

The dollar was last up 0.3% at 131.76 yen , after bouncing from a trough of 129.80 on Friday.

The rise in yields and the dollar has been a burden for gold prices, which was stuck at $1,860 an ounce compared to an early February peak of $1,959.

Oil prices ran into fresh selling, having jumped on Friday when Russia said it planned to cut its daily output by 5% in March after the West imposed price caps on Russian oil and oil products.

Brent slipped 47 cents $85.92 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell 52 cents to $79.20.

Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

Mon, 13 Feb 2023 09:48:39 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Defiant Man City see off Villa to close gap on Arsenal MANCHESTER, England, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Manchester City produced a defiant response to the Premier League's charge sheet as they comfortably beat Aston Villa 3-1 to close to within three points of leaders Arsenal on Sunday.

Goals by Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez put the result beyond doubt by halftime as City got back on track following last weekend's loss at Tottenham Hotspur.

With the club facing more than 100 charges relating to alleged financial misconduct the home fans were in belligerent mood at the Etihad Stadium with a series of ironic chants and voicing support for the club's owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

On the pitch, City's players showed they have not been distracted by the developments as they effectively wrapped up the points even before the halftime whistle.

Pep Guardiola's side needed only four minutes to take the lead when Rodri headed in Riyad Mahrez's corner and they were cruising in the 39th minute when Erling Haaland was forced wide after racing on to a Kevin de Bruyne pass but showed great vision to set up Gundogan for a side-foot finish.

Villa were left with mission impossible when Mahrez tucked away a penalty in first-half stoppage time after Jacob Ramsey was adjudged to have tripped former Villa player Jack Grealish.

Ollie Watkins scored for the third successive league match to reduce the deficit on the hour mark and Villa also struck the woodwork through substitute Jhon Duran late on but City never looked in any real danger of dropping points.

Champions City have 48 points from 22 games to Arsenal's 51 from 21 and can go top if they win at Arsenal on Wednesday.

It was not a vintage City performance against Villa but considering the build-up was dominated by serious allegations that could have huge ramifications for the Abu Dhabi-owned club, it was efficient enough to get the job done.

It also set up Wednesday's clash at Arsenal beautifully, although they may have a worry with Haaland being withdrawn at halftime on Sunday with an injury.

"It's going to be a tough game," Gundogan told Sky Sports. "We are looking forward to it and know how tough it will be."

Villa never really recovered from allowing Rodri to get away from his marker and head past Emiliano Martinez after four minutes although they were perhaps unlucky to be trailing 3-0 at halftime as Ramsey's foul on Grealish looked soft.

They improved after the break as City appeared to take their foot off the gas but suffered two successive defeats for the first time since Unai Emery replaced Steven Gerrard as manager to stay 11th in the standings with 28 points.

"We have to be positive when we are winning, and we have to learn how to respond and although the result was bad we tried to show our mentality in the second half," Emery said.

"It was a bad result, but we have to learn and use it in the next matches."

Reporting by Martyn Herman Editing by Christian Radnedge

Mon, 13 Feb 2023 02:03:05 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Australia call up Kuhnemann, McDonald wants batters to be brave NEW DELHI, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Australia left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann has been called up to the squad for their test series in India with Mitchell Swepson heading home for the birth of his first child, Cricket Australia said on Sunday ahead of next week's second match.

Kuhneman will give Australia a second left-arm spin option alongside Ashton Agar, who did not play in the first test in Nagpur which Australia lost by an innings and 132 runs within three days.

Australia head coach Andrew McDonald said Kuhnemman could make his test debut in the second test in New Delhi which will begin on Friday.

"If we play three spinners then we clearly want back-up here and available in the squad if that's the way we want to go," McDonald said.

Swepson, who also did not feature in the Nagpur test, will fly back to Brisbane to be with his pregnant fiancee while the rest of the squad will prepare for the second test.

Australia are hoping all-rounder Cameron Green will return for the second test after missing the series opener because of a finger injury.

Mitchell Starc is likely to be available but captain Pat Cummins has ruled out overhauling the squad following the battering they received in Nagpur.

None of the Australia batsmen managed a half-century in the match and the tourists were all out for 91 in the second innings, losing all 10 wickets in one single session on Saturday.

McDonald said their batters would have to be brave against the Indian spinners.

"You feel as though my only way out of this is to take my time and defend," McDonald told reporters.

"If you're not proactive, as I said if you allow the bowler to take it to you, with catches around the bat, then something's going to happen.

"I thought Steve Smith summed it up really well after he came off and said we're going to have to be brave, take some risks, take the ball down the ground, push some fielders out and give ourselves the ability to rotate the strike."

Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru and Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

Mon, 13 Feb 2023 01:37:56 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Former Cyprus foreign minister wins presidential election NICOSIA, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Nikos Christodoulides won the Cyprus presidential election on Sunday after a second and final round of voting, promising a unity government tasked with breaking a deadlock in peace talks with estranged Turkish Cypriots.

Official results showed Christodoulides, 49, taking 51.9% of the vote, compared with runoff rival Andreas Mavroyiannis, 66, taking 48.1%. The winner will be formally proclaimed at 1800 GMT.

Sunday's vote pitted Christodoulides, a former foreign minister, against career diplomat Mavroyiannis, a former chief negotiator in the peace talks with Turkish Cypriots and a former permanent representative of Cyprus to the United Nations.

Christodoulides ran as an independent with the backing of centrist and right-of-centre parties.

But he broke ranks with his own party, the right-wing DISY, causing fissures in the dominant Cypriot political grouping which had backed its leader who was eliminated in the first knock-out race last weekend.

"What is most important is that the day after the elections we are all united," Christodoulides said earlier as he cast his vote.

Christodoulides has frequently been in the public eye in the past decade, either as government spokesman or as foreign minister until early 2022, with the persona of a young, energetic politician offering fresh ideas.

Mavroyiannis conceded defeat and congratulated Christodoulides. "Tonight is the end of a long but nice journey ... I want to thank from the bottom of my soul all those who travelled with me," he said.

The next president faces problems ranging from a deadlock in reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots on the ethnically divided island, and labour disputes amid runaway inflation, to the fallout from corruption scandals and a spike in migration that has left authorities coping with thousands of asylum applications.

Presidential elections are held once every five years. Nicos Anastasiades, a conservative of the ruling DISY party, has been in power since 2013, having been re-elected in 2018. By law, he cannot seek a third term.

Cyprus's division for more than half a century loomed large over the campaign. The island has been divided since a 1974 Turkish invasion, triggered by a coup instigated by Greece's then-ruling military junta, though the seeds of division were sown earlier.

The last round of peace talks collapsed in disarray in mid 2017. Christodoulides says he wants to resume talks, but says a United Nations framework governing talks, issued in 2017, should be renegotiated.

Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Holmes

Mon, 13 Feb 2023 01:04:34 +0530 TSP Web Desk
MSCI to announce changes to free float status of some Adani securities Feb 9 (Reuters) - Index provider MSCI said on Thursday it had determined that some Adani securities should no longer be designated as free float after market participants raised concerns about the eligibility of the Indian conglomerate's companies for some of its indexes.

Changes for Adani securities associated with its MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes are due to be announced on Thursday as part of its regular review for February, it added.

"MSCI has determined that the characteristics of certain investors have sufficient uncertainty that they should no longer be designated as free float pursuant to our methodology," it said in a statement.

The group led by billionaire Gautam Adani has been engulfed in crisis since U.S. short-seller Hindenburg Research published a report on Jan. 24 accusing the conglomerate of improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation. It also raised concern about high levels of debt and what it said were excessive valuations.

The Adani Group has denied the allegations, saying the short seller's narrative of stock manipulation has "no basis" and stems from an ignorance of Indian law.

MSCI defines the free float of a security as the proportion of shares outstanding that is considered available for purchase in public equity markets by international investor.

Adani Group did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

In response to the MSCI statement, Hindenburg founder Nathan Anderson wrote on Twitter: "We view this as validation of our findings".

The report and its aftermath wiped out $110 billion off Adani's seven main listed stocks in slightly more than a week, and its flagship Adani Enterprises was forced to abandon a $2.5 billion stock offering.

Some of the companies' shares had been rebounding this week but they tumbled again on Thursday after the MSCI announcement. Adani Enterprises shares sank 10% in morning trading after recouping recent falls to multi-year lows.

Adani Transmission, Adani Total Gas and Adani Power were each down 5%, while Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone were down nearly 9%.

The short-selling attack and shelving of the share sale have tarnished Adani's reputation. India's Securities and Exchange Board of India regulator is investigating the market rout, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters this week.

Moody's rating firm has warned the share price declines could hit the group's ability to raise capital, while India's central bank is checking on lenders' exposure.

JPMorgan said on Tuesday that Adani group companies remain eligible to be included in the bank's influential bond indexes.

Hindenburg has said it had taken short positions in Adani's U.S.-traded bonds and non-Indian traded derivatives.

Adani companies said in filings on Tuesday the group was considering an independent evaluation of issues surrounding legal compliance, related party transactions and internal controls following the Hindenburg report.

Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney. Additional reporting by Chris Thomas and Rhea Binoy in Bengaluru; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and William Mallard

Thu, 09 Feb 2023 10:49:37 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Alphabet shares dive after Google AI chatbot Bard flubs answer in ad LONDON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc lost $100 billion in market value on Wednesday after its new chatbot shared inaccurate information in a promotional video and a company event failed to dazzle, feeding worries that the Google parent is losing ground to rival Microsoft Corp.

Alphabet shares slid as much as 9% during regular trading with volumes nearly three times the 50-day moving average. They pared losses after hours and were roughly flat. The stock had lost 40% of its value last year but rallied 15% since the beginning of this year, excluding Wednesday's losses.

Reuters was first to point out an error in Google's advertisement for chatbot Bard, which debuted on Monday, about which satellite first took pictures of a planet outside the Earth's solar system.

Google has been on its heels after OpenAI, a startup Microsoft is backing with around $10 billion, introduced software in November that has wowed consumers and become a fixation in Silicon Valley circles for its surprisingly accurate and well-written answers to simple prompts.

Google's live-streamed presentation on Wednesday morning did not include details about how and when it would integrate Bard into its core search function. A day earlier, Microsoft held an event touting that it had already released to the public a version of its Bing search with ChatGPT functions integrated.

Bard's error was discovered just before the presentation by Google, based in Mountain View, California.

"While Google has been a leader in AI innovation over the last several years, they seemed to have fallen asleep on implementing this technology into their search product," said Gil Luria, senior software analyst at D.A. Davidson. "Google has been scrambling over the last few weeks to catch up on Search and that caused the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) to be rushed and the embarrassing mess up of posting a wrong answer during their demo."

Microsoft shares rose around 3% on Wednesday, and were flat in post-market trading.

Alphabet posted a short GIF video of Bard in action via Twitter, promising it would help simplify complex topics, but it instead delivered an inaccurate answer.

In the advertisement, Bard is given the prompt: "What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my 9-year old about?" Bard responds with a number of answers, including one suggesting the JWST was used to take the very first pictures of a planet outside the Earth's solar system, or exoplanets. The first pictures of exoplanets were, however, taken by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2004, as confirmed by NASA.

"This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we're kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program," a Google spokesperson said. "We'll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard's responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information."


Alphabet is coming off a disappointing fourth quarter as advertisers cut spending.

The search and advertising giant is moving quickly to keep pace with OpenAI and rivals, reportedly bringing in founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to accelerate its efforts.

"People are starting to question is Microsoft going to be a formidable competitor now against Google's really bread-and-butter business," said King Lip, chief strategist at Baker Avenue Wealth Management, which owns Alphabet and Microsoft shares.

Lip cautioned, though, that concerns about Alphabet may be overblown, saying: "I think still Bing is a far, far cry away from Google's search capabilities."

The new ChatGPT software has injected excitement into technology firms after tens of thousands of job cuts in recent weeks and executive pledges to pare back on so-called moonshot projects. AI has become a fixation for tech executives who have mentioned it as much as six times more often on recent earnings calls than in prior quarters, Reuters found.

The appeal of AI-driven search is that it could spit out results in plain language, rather than in a list of links, which could make browsing faster and more efficient. It remains unclear what impact that might have on targeted advertising, the backbone of search engines like Google.

Chatbot AI systems also carry risks for corporations because of inherent biases in their algorithms that can skew results, sexualize images or even plagiarize, as consumers testing the service have discovered. Microsoft, for instance, released a chatbot on Twitter in 2016 that quickly began generating racist content before being shut down. And an AI used by news site CNET was found to produce factually incorrect or plagiarized stories.

At the time of writing, the Bard ad had been viewed on Twitter more than a million times.

Reporting by Martin Coulter; Additional reporting by Johann Cherian, Eva Mathews, Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by David Gregorio and Christopher Cushing

Thu, 09 Feb 2023 10:29:25 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Cyprus heads to polls to pick new president with runoff expected NICOSIA, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Cyprus went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president whose challenges will include breaking a deadlock in reunification talks, tackling irregular migration and repairing the country's image tarnished by corruption scandals.

Barring a major upset, Sunday vote is unlikely to produce a clear winner, setting the stage for a runoff on Feb. 12.

Fourteen candidates are running, though the vote is likely to be a tight race between former foreign minister Nikos Christodouldes, who is leading the polls, right-wing DISY party leader Averof Neophytou, and career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis backed by the leftist AKEL party.

All three main contenders have been close associates of incumbent right wing President Nicos Anastasiades, who by law cannot contest a third five-year term.

Polls have suggested turnout will be low. Some 28% of voters abstained in the last election in 2018.

Anastasiades's administration was hit by a corruption scandal in 2020 over its lucrative citizenship-for-investment scheme. A government commission of inquiry found that hundreds of passports had been issued illegally, and that the system ran without adequate oversight for years.

Over this same period, the island had to deal with a spike in irregular migration mainly through a porous buffer zone which splits the island between the internationally recognised south, and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.

Christodoulides broke ranks with his own party and its leader Neophytou to run for the presidency, splitting the political right. He is also backed by political parties which have traditionally taken a hard line in reunification talks.

"The day after elections should find us united. The elections will end, but the challenges and problems lie ahead of us," he told reporters as he was cheered by supporters.

Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2017.

Some say the three differ more on style rather than substance. "I think that is probably least in the case of Mavroyiannis, more in the case of Christodoulides," said Fiona Mullen, director at Sapienta Economics.

"On foreign policy I think Christodoulides is going to be closer to how Anastasiades has been in his final years," she added, calling that policy "more assertive".

In 2020, while Christodoulides was foreign minister, Cyprus held out for about a month on European Union sanctions imposed on Belarus because the island-nation wanted more action from the bloc against Turkey in a dispute over offshore gas resources.

Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by David Holmes, Christopher Cushing and Raissa Kasolowsky

Sun, 05 Feb 2023 16:51:11 +0530 TSP Web Desk
U.S. fighter jet shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C., Feb 4 (Reuters) - A U.S. military fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, a week after it first entered U.S. airspace and triggered a dramatic -- and public -- spying saga that worsened Sino-U.S. relations.

President Joe Biden said he had issued an order on Wednesday to take down the balloon, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until it could be done over open water to safeguard civilians from debris crashing to Earth from thousands of feet (meters) above commercial air traffic.

"They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it," Biden said.

Multiple fighter and refueling aircraft were involved in the mission, but only one -- an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia -- took the shot at 2:39 p.m. (1939 GMT), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, a senior U.S. military official said.

China strongly condemned the military strike on an airship that it says was used for meteorological and other scientific purposes, and which it said had strayed into U.S. airspace "completely accidentally" -- claims flatly dismissed by U.S. officials.

"China had clearly asked the U.S. to handle this properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner," China's foreign ministry said in a statement. "The U.S. had insisted on using force, obviously overreacting."

The balloon was shot down about six nautical miles off the U.S. coast of the Atlantic Ocean, over relatively shallow water, potentially aiding efforts to recover elements of the Chinese surveillance equipment over the coming days, U.S. officials said.

One U.S. military official said the debris field was spread out over seven miles (11 km) of ocean, and multiple U.S. military vessels were on site.

The downing of the balloon came shortly after the U.S. government ordered a halt to flights in and out of three airports in South Carolina -- Wilmington, Myrtle Beach and Charleston -- due to what it said at the time was an undisclosed "national security effort." Flights resumed on Saturday afternoon.

While Saturday's shootdown concludes the military dimension to the spying saga, Biden is likely to continue to face intense political scrutiny from Republican opponents in Congress who argue he failed to act quickly enough.

A senior administration official said after shooting down the balloon, the U.S. government spoke directly with China about the action. The State Department also briefed allies and partners around the world, the official said.

Questions remain about how much information China may have gathered during the balloon's trek across the United States.

The balloon entered U.S. airspace in Alaska on Jan. 28 before moving into Canadian airspace on Jan 30. It then re-entered U.S. airspace over northern Idaho on Jan. 31, a U.S. defense official said. Once it crossed over U.S. land, it did not return to open waters, making a shootdown difficult.

U.S. officials did not publicly disclose the balloon's presence over the United States until Thursday.

"It's clear the Biden administration had hoped to hide this national security failure from Congress and the American people," said U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican who leads the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Biden's emphasis on Saturday that -- days ago -- he ordered the balloon shot down as soon as possible could be an effort to respond to such critics.

Former President Donald Trump, Biden's potential rival in the 2024 election, called earlier this week for the balloon to be shot down, and has sought to portray himself as stronger than Biden on China. The U.S. relationship with China is likely to be a major theme of the 2024 presidential race.

Washington had called the balloon's appearance a "clear violation" of U.S. sovereignty and notified Beijing about the shootdown on Saturday, a U.S. official said.

Still, officials on Saturday appeared to play down the balloon's impact on U.S. national security.

"Our assessment -- and we're going to learn more as we pick up the debris -- was that it was not likely to provide significant additive value over and above other (Chinese) intel capability, such as satellites in low-Earth orbit," the senior U.S. defense official said.

A Reuters photographer who witnessed the shootdown said a stream came from a jet and hit the balloon, but there was no explosion. It then began to fall.

The Pentagon assesses that the balloon was part of a fleet of Chinese spy balloons. On Friday, it said another Chinese balloon was flying over Latin America.

"Over the past several years, Chinese balloons have previously been spotted over countries across five continents, including in East Asia, South Asia and Europe," the U.S. official said.

The suspected spy balloon prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a visit to China this week that had been expected to start on Friday.

The postponement of Blinken's trip, which had been agreed to in November by Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, was a blow to those who saw it as an overdue opportunity to stabilize an increasingly fractious relationship between the two countries.

China is keen for a stable U.S. relationship so it can focus on its economy, battered by the now-abandoned zero-COVID policy and neglected by foreign investors alarmed by what they see as a return of state intervention in the market.

Reporting by Randall Hill in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, and Phil Stewart, Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing; Writing by Phil Stewart and Diane Bartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Marguerita Choy, Leslie Adler, Sandra Maler and William Mallard

Sun, 05 Feb 2023 10:27:49 +0530 TSP Web Desk
French PM offers to tweak pension overhaul for conservatives backing PARIS, Feb 5 (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne offered on Sunday to soften a planned pension overhaul to let some people who started work early also retire early in order to win conservatives support for the reform in parliament.

President Emmanuel Macron's government wants to raise the retirement age two years to 64 and extend the period workers have to pay in as part of a reform it says is necessary to keep the system out of the red in the coming years.

Since his party lost its majority last year, the government needs votes from the conservative Les Republicains to pass the unpopular reform in parliament.

While workers who started to work before 20 would be allowed to continue to leave the workforce early under the reform, Borne said she was open to suggestions from conservatives to extending the measure.

"We are going to move by extending the measure for long careers to those who started working at 20 and 21. They will be able to retire at 63," Borne said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche Sunday newspaper.

She added that the move would affect up to 30,000 people and cost up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) per year, which meant that a source of financing would need to be found.

Her government has faced two days of nationwide strikes since presenting the reform on Jan. 10 with unions planning another on Tuesday.

($1 = 0.9265 euros)

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Sandra Maler

Sun, 05 Feb 2023 09:55:34 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Girl killed in shark attack on Australia's west coast SYDNEY, Feb 5 (Reuters) - A 16-year-old girl died on Saturday after being mauled by a shark in a river in Western Australia's state capital Perth after she jumped in the water to swim with a pod of dolphins.

Police said they were called to the scene of the attack about 3:45 p.m. Saturday (0745 GMT) near a traffic bridge in the Swan River, in the Fremantle port area of Perth.

The girl was pulled from the water with critical injuries and she died at the scene, police said in a statement.

Police believe the victim was with friends and jumped off a jet ski to swim with a pod of dolphins in the river when the shark attack occurred.

Authorities were not sure what kind of shark attacked the girl, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported.

People were being urged to take extra caution in the Swan River around Fremantle in the wake of the mauling.

The last fatal shark attack in Western Australian waters was in November 2021 when a 57-year-old man was killed by a great white shark at Perth's Port Beach.

A man was severely injured by a bull shark while swimming in the Swan River in January 2021.

More than 100 species of shark live in the waters of Western Australia - the nation's largest state, with bull sharks often found many kilometres upriver.

The risk of shark attacks in the state is low, according to the state government, which has set up a dedicated shark response unit to work with first responders on shark incidents.

On the east coast, several Sydney beaches, including the iconic Bondi and Bronte, were shut down last February after a swimmer was killed in a shark attack, the first such fatality at the city's beaches in nearly 60 years.

Australia ranked behind only the United States in the number of unprovoked shark bites on humans in 2021, according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File.

Reporting by Samuel McKeith; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lincoln Feast.

Sun, 05 Feb 2023 09:40:39 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Blinken postpones China trip over 'unacceptable' Chinese spy balloon WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to China that had been expected to start on Friday after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was tracked flying across the United States in what Washington called a "clear violation" of U.S. sovereignty.

Military leaders considered shooting down the high-altitude surveillance balloon on Wednesday but eventually recommended against this to President Joe Biden because of the safety risk from debris, officials said.

The Pentagon said on Friday that another Chinese balloon was observed over Latin America, without saying where exactly.

"We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon," Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was briefed on Tuesday about the balloon flight over the United States and there was an administration "consensus that it was not appropriate to travel to the People's Republic of China at this time."

China expressed regret that an "airship" used for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes had strayed into U.S. airspace.

Jean-Pierre said the U.S. administration was aware of China's statement "but the presence of this balloon in our airspace, it is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law. It is unacceptable this occurred."

On Friday, Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, said the balloon had changed course and was floating eastward at about 60,000 feet (18,300 meters) above the central United States and demonstrating a capability to maneuver. He said it would likely be over the country for a few more days.

Commercial forecaster AccuWeather said the balloon would potentially leave the United States and move over the Atlantic on Saturday evening. Mike Rounds, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News it would be good to recover the balloon "one way or another" to see "if it was designed to actually collect data or if it was designed to test our response capabilities."

The Pentagon's disclosure about the balloon's maneuverability directly challenges China's assertion about it being blown off course.

At a news conference with South Korea's visiting foreign minister on Friday, Blinken said he had told Wang Yi, director of China's Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, that the incident on the eve of his trip was an "irresponsible act" by China, but Washington remained committed to engagement and he would visit when conditions allowed.

Blinken said he would not put a date on when he might go to China and the focus was on resolving the current incident. "The first step is ... getting the surveillance asset out of our air space," he said, adding that Washington would maintain open lines of communication with China.

The Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said the balloon should never have been allowed in U.S. airspace and could have been shot down over water.

"I am calling on the Biden administration to quickly take steps to remove the Chinese spy balloon from U.S. airspace," he said in a statement.

China's foreign ministry said in statements on Saturday that the flight of the "airship" over the United States was a force majeure accident, accusing U.S. politicians and media of taking advantage of the situation to discredit China.

It said Wang had told Blinken during their phone call that both parties needed to communicate in a timely manner and avoid any misjudgments.


A White House official said the administration had briefed staff of the so-called Gang of 8, which brings together Republican and Democratic leaders from the Senate and House, on Thursday afternoon.

The official said such balloon surveillance activity had "been observed over the past several years, including in the prior administration – we have kept Congress briefed on this issue."

The postponing of Blinken's trip, which had been agreed to in November by Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, is a blow to those who saw it as an overdue opportunity to stabilize an increasingly fractious relationship. The last visit by a U.S. secretary of state was in 2017.

China is keen for a stable U.S. relationship so it can focus on its economy, battered by the now-abandoned zero-COVID policy and neglected by foreign investors alarmed by what they see as a return of state intervention in the market.

In recent months Chinese leader Xi has met with world leaders, seeking to re-establish ties and settle disagreements.

Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia under former President Barack Obama, said he did not see a strategic rationale for canceling the trip and stressed the importance of maintaining high-level engagement with China.

"In as much as the U.S. has much bigger fish to fry with the Chinese than a surveillance balloon, the Biden team may be inclined to pick up where they left off after a decent interval," he said. Sino-U.S. relations have soured significantly in recent years, particularly following then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August, which prompted dramatic Chinese military drills near the self-ruled island.


The Pentagon's Ryder told reporters on Thursday the balloon was at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and did not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. One U.S. official added it was assessed to have "limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective."

Another official said on Thursday the flight path would carry the balloon over a number of sensitive sites, but did not give details. Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana is home to 150 intercontinental ballistic missile silos.

Ryder declined on Friday to say where precisely the balloon was, but as he spoke, the National Weather Service in Kansas City said on Twitter it had received multiple reports across northwestern Missouri of a large balloon.

China has often complained about surveillance by the United States, including its deployment of ships or planes near Chinese military exercises.

Reporting by Steve Holland, Idrees Ali, Humeyra Pamuk, Phil Stewart, Michael Martina, David Brunnstrom, David Shepardson and Simon Lewis in Washington; additional reporting by Tony Munroe, Ryan Woo and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing, Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru, Greg Torode in Hong Kong, Lion Schellerer in Singapore and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Don Durfee, Jonathan Oatis, Marguerita Choy, Cynthia Osterman and William Mallard

Sat, 04 Feb 2023 21:23:32 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India's Paytm quarterly revenue up 42%, posts surprise operating profit BENGALURU, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Indian fintech company Paytm reported a 41.6% rise in third-quarter revenue on Friday, helped by soaring loan growth, and said it achieved operating profitability three quarters ahead of guidance.

Paytm's parent, One 97 Communications Ltd, said revenue rose to 20.62 billion rupees in the October-December quarter from 14.56 billion rupees a year earlier.

The company posted its first-ever core profit before cost of employee stock-owning plans, or operating profit, of 310 million rupees compared with a core loss of 3.93 billion rupees a year earlier.

However, it continued to post a consolidated net loss that nearly halved to 3.92 billion rupees from a loss of 7.78 billion rupees a year earlier, the company said in an exchange filing.

The company's fast-growing financial services business — primarily buy-now-pay-later (BNPL), personal and merchant loans — accounted for 21.6% of the total revenue, more than trebling to 4.46 billion rupees from a year earlier.

Loan disbursement surged to 99.58 billion rupees, led by a four-fold jump in BNPL loans.

Revenue at Paytm's core payments services business - consumers and merchants using its eponymous app and merchants' device subscriptions - rose 43.2% to 15.99 billion rupees, accounting for 77.5% of the total.

The company's net payments margin, or payments revenue excluding processing costs, more than doubled to 4.59 billion rupees from a year earlier.

The SoftBank-backed firm has previously said it was aiming to turn profitable and become free cash flow positive in 2023. Operating profit margin improved to 1.5% from negative 27% from a year earlier.

(This story has been corrected to remove incorrect references to Paytm storing deposits and Paytm Payments Bank business looking to lend money)

Reporting by Nandan Mandayam and Urvi Dugar in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

Sat, 04 Feb 2023 18:59:22 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India, U.S. discuss Narendra Modi White House visit WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The Biden administration is in talks with Indian officials over a possible White House visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this year, according to a U.S. official aware of the discussions and another person briefed on the matter.

U.S. President Joe Biden is eager to deepen ties with the world's largest democracy as part of his bid to win what he has framed as a contest between free and autocratic societies, especially China.

The White House and the Indian Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

Dates are not finalized, the sources said. Discussions about a possible White House visit intensified this week as Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met with his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington.

During the visit, the United States and India launched a partnership to deepen ties on military equipment, semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

New Delhi has frustrated Washington by participating in military exercises with Russia and increasing purchases of the country's crude oil, a key source of funding for the war in Ukraine. Washington has been pushing New Delhi to do more to punish Russia for the Ukraine invasion.

India proposed on Wednesday hiking military spending for the upcoming year by 13% to $72.6 billion as it seeks to add more fighter jets and roads along its tense border with China. India and China share a 2,100-mile (3,400-kilometer) frontier that has been disputed since the 1950s.

The U.S. president is expected to make his own trip to New Delhi in September for the G20 meetings hosted by India.

Biden is also expected to meet with Modi during a mid-year meeting of the Quad countries, which is hosted by Australia and also includes Japan.

Those countries, along with South Korea, are key to Biden's strategy of strengthening regional alliances and shoring up Asian security in the face of threats including China's claims of Taiwan and vast swathes of the South China Sea.

President George W. Bush's administration in 2005 denied Modi a U.S. visa after a 2002 incident where more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in sectarian riots in the Indian state of Gujarat, where he had been chief minister. Modi denied any wrongdoing.

He was first invited to the White House after he became prime minister in 2014 by Barack Obama.

Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a record-breaking victory in his home state Gujarat in December and is widely expected to win the next general election in 2024.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Sandra Maler

Sat, 04 Feb 2023 18:40:04 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Foreign portfolio investors in India to pay higher tax on debt securities &official New Delhi, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Foreign portfolio investors will lose a preferential tax rate on interest from Indian government securities and corporate and foreign currency bonds, a senior tax official said on Saturday.

Foreign portfolio investors have been enjoying a lower 5% tax on interest earned on bonds since 2013, making investments in the country more attractive. Ending this treatment would require them to pay a 20% tax on interest income from July 1.

"It has not been extended," Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman Nitin Gupta told Reuters. "Our view point is that it was a revenue foregone by the government

"We have certain tax treaty with any jurisdiction which permits the Indian government to deduct tax at a certain rate. We had foregone that right. It was helping the other government, and the other jurisdictions," Gupta said in an interview.

The exemption does not benefit any Indian company, he said.

Gupta said regular registration by charitable trusts will help India in gathering data of beneficial owners, and comply with standards from the Financial Action Task Force, a global money laundering and terrorism watchdog.

The task force, reviewing India this year, is "much concerned about trusts because it becomes a route... for illegal activities, money laundering," he said.

India's $550 billion budget, unveiled on Wednesday, proposes a series of changes for charitable trusts that include regular registration to access tax benefits.

Reporting by Nikunj Ohri and Shivangi Acharya; Editing by William Mallard

Sat, 04 Feb 2023 18:13:48 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Philippines grants U.S. greater access to bases amid China concerns MANILA, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The Philippines has granted the United States greater access to its military bases, their defence chiefs said on Thursday, amid mounting concern over China's increasing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea and tension over self-ruled Taiwan.

The United States would be given access to four more locations under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippines' Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez said in a joint news conference at the Philippine military headquarters in Manila.

Austin, in the Philippines for talks as the United States seeks to extend its security options as part of efforts to deter any move by China against self-ruled Taiwan, referred to the Philippine decision as a "big deal" as he and his counterpart reaffirmed their commitment to bolstering their alliance.

"Our alliance makes both of our democracies more secure and helps uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific," said Austin, whose visit follows one by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in November, which included a stop at Palawan island in the South China Sea.

"We discussed concrete actions to address destabilising activities in the waters surrounding the Philippines, including the West Philippine Sea, and we remain committed to strengthening our mutual capacities to resist armed attack," Austin said.

"That's just part of our efforts to modernize our alliance. And these efforts are especially important as People's Republic of China continues to advance its illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea," he added.

China said greater U.S. access to Philippine military bases undermined regional stability and raised tensions.

"This is an act that escalates tensions in the region and endangers regional peace and stability," China's foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in a regular briefing.

"Regional countries should remain vigilant about this and avoid being used by the U.S."

The additional sites under the EDCA bring to nine the number of military bases the United States would have access to. The United States has announced it was allocating more than $82 million for infrastructure at the existing sites.

The EDCA allows U.S. access to Philippine military bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and the building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing, but not for a permanent presence.

Austin and Galvez did not specify the sites that would be opened to U.S. access. The former Philippine military chief had said the United States had asked for access to bases on the main northern island of Luzon, the closest part of the Philippines to Taiwan, and on Palawan in the southwest, near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Outside the military headquarters, dozens of protesters opposed to a U.S. military presence chanted anti-U.S. slogans and called for the EDCA to be scrapped.

Before meeting his counterpart, Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and assured him of U.S. support.

"We stand ready to help you in any way we can," Austin said.

Ties between the United States and its former colony were soured under the previous president, Rodrigo Duterte, who made overtures towards China and was known for anti-U.S. rhetoric and threats to downgrade military ties.

Marcos has met President Joe Biden twice since the son of former dictator, also called Ferdinand Marcos, won a landslide victory in an election last year and reiterated he could not see a future for his country without its longtime treaty ally.

"I have always said, it seems to me, the future of the Philippines and for that matter the Asia-Pacific will always have to involve the United States," Marcos told Austin.

Reporting by Karen Lema; additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Editing by Ed Davies and Gerry Doyle

Thu, 02 Feb 2023 15:34:29 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India hikes spending, shuns 'outright populism' in last pre&election budget NEW DELHI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - India announced on Wednesday one of its biggest ever increases in capital spending for the next fiscal year to create jobs but targeted a narrower fiscal deficit in its last full budget ahead of a parliamentary election due in 2024.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party has been under pressure to create jobs in the populous country where many have struggled to find employment, although the economy is now one of the world's fastest-growing.

"After a subdued period of the pandemic, private investments are growing again," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said as she presented the 2023/24 budget in parliament.

"The budget makes the need once again to ramp up the virtuous cycle of investment and job creation. Capital investment is being increased steeply for the third year in a row by 33% to 10 trillion rupees."

Reuters Graphics

The capital spending increase to about $122.3 billion, which would amount to 3.3% of gross domestic product (GDP), will be the biggest such jump after an increase of more than 37% between 2020/21 and 2021/22.

Total spending will rise 7.5% to 45.03 trillion rupees ($549.51 billion) in the next fiscal year starting on April 1.

Sitharaman said the government would target a fiscal deficit of 5.9% of GDP for 2023/24 compared with 6.4% for the current fiscal year and slightly lower than a Reuters poll of 6%. The aim is to lower the deficit to 4.5% by 2025/26.


Brokerage Nomura said the budget "prudently pushes for growth, without rocking the macro boat".

"In the event, the government has presented a good budget. It has pushed for growth via public capex and continued on the path towards fiscal consolidation, without offering much in terms of outright populism."

Capital Economics said the "absence of a fiscal blowout", a recent drop in inflation and signs of moderating growth could convince India's central bank to slow the pace of rate hikes next week.

It said there was still a chance of fiscal slippage as campaigning kicks off for the election, in which Modi is widely projected to win a third straight term.

The finance ministry's annual Economic Survey, released on Tuesday, forecast the economy could grow 6% to 6.8% next fiscal year, down from 7% projected for the current year, while warning about the impact of cooling global demand on exports.

Sitharaman said India's economy was "on the right track, and despite a time of challenges, heading towards a bright future".

Her deficit plan will be aided by a 28% cut in subsidies on food, fertiliser and petroleum for the next fiscal year at 3.75 trillion rupees. The government cut spending on a key rural jobs guarantee programme to 600 billion rupees - the smallest in more than five years - from 894 billion rupees for this fiscal year.

The government's gross market borrowing is estimated to rise about 9% to 15.43 trillion rupees next fiscal year.


Moody's Investors Service said the narrower fiscal deficit projection pointed to the government's commitment to longer-term fiscal sustainability, but that a "high debt burden and weak debt affordability remain key constraints that offset India's fundamental strengths".

Among other moves to stimulate consumption, the surcharge on annual income above 50 million rupees was cut to 25% from 37%.

Indian shares reversed earlier gains to close lower on Wednesday, led by a fall in insurance companies after the budget proposed to limit tax exemptions for insurance proceeds, while Adani Group shares tumbled again as it struggles to repel concerns raised by a U.S. short seller.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi has ramped up capital spending including on roads and energy, while wooing investors through lower tax rates and labour reforms, and offering subsidies to poor households to clinch their political support.

A lack of jobs for young people, and meagre wages for those who do find work, has been one of the main criticisms of Modi.

Sitharaman also said the government was allocating 350 billion rupees for energy transition, as Modi focuses on green hydrogen and other cleaner fuels to meet India's climate goals.

($1 = 81.7725 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Shubham Batra, Nikunj Ohri, Shivangi Acharya, Sarita Singh, Nigam Prusty, Manoj Kumar, Rupam Jain and Indian bureaux; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Kim Coghill, Jacqueline Wong and Gareth Jones

Wed, 01 Feb 2023 21:45:05 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India's Budget 2023 highlights NEW DELHI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The Indian government on Wednesday unveiled a 45 trillion rupees ($549.14 billion) spending budget for the next fiscal year starting April to boost economic growth, while aiming to lower fiscal deficit before elections due next year.

The aim is to have strong public finances and a robust financial sector for the benefit of all sections of society, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Here are the highlights of the budget:


*Nominal GDP for 2023/24, which includes real GDP and inflation, estimated to grow 10.5% year-on-year to 301.75 trillion rupees ($3.69 trillion) in 2023/24

*India's federal government will target a fiscal deficit of 5.9% of GDP for 2023/24 compared to 6.4% for the current fiscal year

*Aims to achieve fiscal deficit of 4.5% of GDP by 2025/26

*India is expecting 6-6.8% economic growth in 2023/24, slightly lower than the 7% expected in the current fiscal year


* Total federal budget spending target raised 7.5% to 45.03 trillion rupees for 2023/24 vs revised 41.87 trillion rupees for current fiscal year

*Spending in real terms will rise less than 3% considering estimated around 5% retail inflation for next fiscal year.

*Capital spending seen to rise 33% to 10 trillion rupees for 2023/24

*Proposes to hike capital outlay for railways by 48% to 2.4 trillion rupees in 2023/24 from revised 1.62 trillion rupees in 2022/23

*Proposes to hike outlays for road transport by 24.4% to 2.7 trillion rupees in 2023/24 from revised 2.17 trillion rupees in 2022/23

* Total defence outlays raised to 5.94 trillion rupees vs revised 5.85 trillion rupees for 2022/23


* Education budget raised to 1.13 trillion rupees for 2023/24 vs 999 bln rupees in 2022/23

* Health budget raised to 889.5 bln rupees for 2023/24 vs 709.4 bln rupees in 2022/23

* Allocations for rural job guarantee programme cut to 600 bln rupees vs revised 894 bln rupees outlays for 2022/23

* Increases budget allocations to 790 billion rupees for affordable housing in 2023/24

* To provide 350 billion rupees for energy transition


* Total revenue receipts seen at 26.32 trillion rupees in 2023/24 vs revised 23.48 trillion rupees in 2022/23

* Total tax receipts seen up 12% to 23.3 trillion rupees in 2023/24 from revised 23.48 trillion rupees

* Govt targets gross borrowing of 15.43 trillion rupees in 2023/24

* Net market borrowings seen at 11.8 trillion rupees

* Pegs receipts from govt stake-sale in state-run companies at 510 billion rupees in 2023/24 vs revised 500 billion rupees in 2022/23


* Proposes to promote new income tax regime with higher threshold limit

* Proposes to cut highest surcharge rate to 25% from 37.5% under new income tax regime

* Proposes to raise rebate limit to 700,000 rupees under personal income taxes


* To consider a cut in customs duty on lab-grown diamonds

* Propose higher import duties on silver dores

* To increase duties on items made from gold, platinum

* Customs duties on compounded rubber being raised.

* Custom duty exemption extended to EV batteries

($1 = 81.7620 Indian rupees)

($1 = 81.9460 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Janane Venkatraman, Nivedita Bhattacharjee

Wed, 01 Feb 2023 21:18:28 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India Budget 2023: Here's what the experts say Feb 1 (Reuters) - India's government will raise its capital expenditure by 33% to 10 trillion rupees ($122.29 billion) in the next fiscal year, the finance minister said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to create jobs ahead of a general election.

Since taking office in 2014, Modi has ramped up capital spending including on roads and energy, while wooing investors through lower tax rates and labour reforms, and offering subsidies to poor households to clinch their political support.



"An extremely well-balanced budget focused on growth driven by capital expenditure while giving an adequate push to rural welfare and agriculture.

"Government borrowing is well-calibrated, and it is a significant positive. The fiscal deficit target of 5.9% indicates a considerable degree of prudence. On top of this, relief to the middle class on the income tax front is the cherry on the cake."

"At this point, it is difficult to find any shortcomings. The budget has delivered on all the expectations very well. In the short term, we expect the markets to move higher on the back of pro-growth measures announced in the budget and less fear of the government crowding out private investments due to fiscal prudence shown by the government."


"The budget when dissected in three realms of Agriculture, Manufacturing and Services sector, it can be seen that it has done maximum for Agriculture and least for Services sector and specially for financial sector, as the budget's inclination towards New Income Tax regime will reduce incentive to invest in financial products (including MFs’ ELSS, insurance premium etc). Or, for that matter, even the decade-old housing sector incentives for interest payments will be the least preferred option."

"This budget, therefore, has rewritten the rules for financilisation of savings in India, which will induce expenditures rather incentivise savings. However, the fiscal deficit under control, no big disinvestment targets, no bigger borrowings and thrust on govt capex will keep the bulls happy on the stock markets."


"India budget 2023 has offered a multi-dimensional view. The 3 Cs which stand out are - Capex increase - consumption boost - capital gains tax status quo. Mindful of the fact that there is hardly any space for fiscal expansion, FY24 fiscal deficit is pegged at 5.9% and expected to see progressive reduction by FY 2026. Clearly a bull’s-eye budget satisfying most strata of the society and, of course, a thumbs-up from the market as well."


"The Union Budget was pragmatic, considering that the government has a tight rope between managing fiscal deficit and giving some relief to residents from high inflation. Higher capex spend, roadmap to reduce fiscal deficit and boosting consumption will provide a major leg-up to the economy, especially at a time when global growth has been hit hard by slowdown and recessionary fears. Finally, the overhauling of the income tax structure should add more money into the hands of the middle-class taxpayers. That would give a boost to consumption and increased allocation towards several investment options. Overall, it would leave more people with extra money in their hands and a smile on their faces."


"As expected, the budget is heavy on capex, which is needed to ensure the cyclical recovery continues. Infrastructure, along with the agriculture push, will help the rural economy improve by boosting employment and incomes.

"Allocation to affordable housing... will help the housing market retain momentum. Incentives for local production in the form of lower duties will also be helpful."

"Overall, this budget push on capex will ensure that the private capex greenshoots really sustain, help inclusive growth and make the economy become more resilient in light of the global slowdown.

"Both equity and bond markets have reacted positively to the budget, as the thrust to maintain cyclical recovery and largely maintain fiscal prudence has helped lift sentiments."


"The narrower deficit forecast in the government budget for 2023-24 underscores the government's commitment to longer-term fiscal sustainability and supports the economy amid high inflation and a challenging global environment.

"Although changes to the tax regime will forego some tax revenue, the budget predicts largely buoyant revenue on the back of strong nominal GDP growth and gains from the tax administration. This will help mitigate pressures on debt affordability from increasing debt servicing costs associated with rising interest rates.

"At the same time, the budget's continued emphasis on capital expenditure suggests an ongoing improvement in the quality of spending.

"Although the gradual fiscal consolidation trend remains intact and will help to stabilize the government's debt burden relative to nominal GDP, the high debt burden and weak debt affordability remain key constraints that offset India's fundamental strengths, including its high growth potential and deep domestic capital markets."


"The Union budget FY24 presents a very well-considered and credible picture that prioritizes growth through its increased focus on capital expenditure while keeping the goal of fiscal consolidation on track.

"It offers stability for markets by not making any significant changes in the structure of capital gains taxes. Additionally, the budget has provided significant direct tax benefits to individuals which will help increase disposable income and support spending.

"Overall, the Union Budget FY24 presents a positive outlook for the economy and will help sustain growth."


"On the face of it, it is quite a pragmatic budget with multiple appropriate measures and without dollops of populist measures, heading into elections. The FM tried to invoke a feel-good factor across classes and sectors. The poor, middle class and HNIs have some positive takeaways from the budget.

"Whether the lower tax outgo will spur consumption or inspire savings is a moot point. But either way, it will be positive for the economy. Adherence to fiscal prudence while emphasizing continued focus on capex is what we expected and has been delivered.

"Our pointed expectation on supporting green hydrogen has seen a rather impressive focus. However, we see some significant misses. For one, despite talking about a 25% increase in central government capex, total public capex is budgeted to increase by a mere 4% as the contribution of PSEs diminish drastically.

"Hence, it is unlikely to move the needle much except for direction and sentiment. Not a single mention of the word 'inflation' in the speech is somewhat worrying. Also, the budget did not talk about allocation to health and education, which is a worry for future growth prospect as India remains one of the weakest spenders on these areas globally."


"The budget has ensured the fiscal impulse is maximized to improve potential growth, while signalling adherence to medium-term fiscal sustainability. This requires continued financial sector reforms and better resource allocation. The expenditure focus has been on rural, welfare, infrastructure, PLIs (production-linked incentive schemes) and energy transition. Capex spend has picked up significantly to 3.3% of GDP and is almost double pre-pandemic prints. This especially implies a larger fiscal multiplier on employment and growth and will support crowding in of still-lacking private capex.

"The tax benefits have been tweaked to encourage individuals to move towards the new tax regime and to provide relief to middle class, the while maximum marginal rate has also been reduced to 39% from 42.7% to give relief to the highest income strata. While the government is foregoing effective revenue of 350 billion rupees, this could have a consumption multiplier effect albeit at the margin, in the economy that's seeing fading consumption growth."


"The Union budget speech from an indirect tax perspective was customs-centric, with the intention to boost exports, domestic manufacturing/value addition.

"Customs duty rationalization for the green energy sector and exemption extensions to consumer electronics sector are noteworthy takeaways. Specific announcements on further PLI schemes and customs amnesty scheme may have provided further cheer."


"The Finance minister has delivered what looks like a blockbuster budget. While additional tax revenues are going to be collected from the rationalization of exemptions under sections 54 and 54F, sops have also been provided to the middle class by way of increase in the taxability threshold and revision of personal tax rates.

"It is also clear now that the government is aiming to move to a simplified exemption-less regime for taxation. The new slab rates should provide much-needed momentum to that endeavour.

"The reduction of the peak rates of surcharge is a most welcome measure and will go a long way in ensuring that highly paid professionals, businesses and AIFs stay within India.

"The increase of threshold limits for presumptive taxation for both professionals and small businesses is also a welcome step that will aid more savings and reduce the cost of compliance."


"The budget continues to focus on capex spending as the engine of growth while also paying heed to fiscal consolidation. The lower-than-expected borrowing number for FY24 is likely to bring in some relief for the bond market, although the absolute borrowings continue to remain high and are likely to put a floor for bond yields in FY24.

"Moreover, we remain cautious over the government's ability to finance the fiscal deficit through the increased reliance on small savings despite the new schemes introduced as bank deposit rates rise.

"The consumption boost through income tax slab adjustment is a big positive and bodes well for overall growth and domestic demand in a time when global risks remain high."


"The 10 lakh crore rupees budget for capex will take the Capex/GDP ratio to 3.3%, a 20-year high. In the backdrop of an anticipated slowdown in global growth, reliance on public capex as a countercyclical policy will help in supporting overall growth. With state finances incrementally getting better, there is hope that this could be supplemented by an uptick in capex by states in FY24. This we believe would help attract private investments as soon as the global growth cycle stabilizes."


"The Union Budget has adequately focused on the holistic development of the economy with special emphasis on infrastructure, MSME financing needs and affordable housing. The surge in capex spending, if achieved, will assure a significant multiplier effect on the overall medium-term growth prospects of the economy."


"The budget strikes an excellent balance between the need for growth with the need for inclusion, keeping the de-carbonisation and sustainable growth mandate in mind. The budget keeps in mind the needs of future India while focusing on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.

"A mammoth 33% increase in capex spending is encouraging although we need to see the fine print to assess the effective allocation. Lower-than-expected market borrowing is also bond market positive. I would surely give a thumbs up for the budget for its balanced focus on growth, inclusion, sustainability and fiscal consolidation."

Reporting by Ankika Biswas, Chris Thomas, Anuran Sadhu, M. Sriram, Nandan Mandayam, Rama Venkat, Arpan Chaturverdi and Nallur Sethuraman; Editing by Janane Venkatraman and Savio D'Souza

Wed, 01 Feb 2023 20:57:01 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India proposes cuts in personal income tax rates under new taxation regime NEW DELHI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - India will raise the personal income tax rebate limit to 700,000 rupees ($8,565) under the new tax regime from the previous 500,000 rupees, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech on Wednesday.

The tax slabs will be cut to five from seven earlier, Sitharaman said.

"This will provide major relief to all tax payers in the new regime," Sitharaman said in her budget speech.

"The new tax regime has got a great boost by the budget announcements made by the FM (finance minister)," said Alok Agrawal, partner, Deloitte India.

"Taxpayers at both ends of the spectrum will be encouraged under the new regime as there will be no liability up to annual income of Rs 700,000 on the one hand and surcharge on annual income above 5 crores has been reduced from 37 to 25% at the high income end."

She said an individual with an annual income of 900,000 rupees will be required to pay 45,000 rupees as income tax, while those with an income of 1.5 million rupees would pay 150,000 rupees or 10% of their income.

($1 = 81.7240 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Sarita Chaganti Singh; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

Wed, 01 Feb 2023 20:21:43 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Financials, IT firms drag Indian shares lower ahead of budget BENGALURU, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Indian shares fell Tuesday, as financial stocks continued their slide since a short-sellers attack on the Adani Group and IT stocks dropped ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy decision, with investors also cautious ahead of the Union budget.

After a volatile opening, the Nifty 50 index was down 0.41% at 17,579.60 as of 11:12 a.m. IST, while the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.42% to 59,246.83.

The heavyweight financials index fell 0.3%, continuing its drop in the wake of U.S-based Hindenburg Research's report on the Adani Group.

The group's seven listed companies have lost $65 billion in market value since the report on Wednesday, while financials have fallen 4.23% on concerns about their exposure to the group.

"Financials have seen some pressure in the wake of the Hindenburg report but the fundamentals continue to remain strong," said Astha Jain, senior research analyst at Hem Securities.

She expects the Nifty to find support at the 17,400 level, but said volatility would surge over the next few sessions as key events play out, starting with the Union budget on Wednesday.

Besides the government's fiscal consolidation path and borrowing calendar for fiscal 2024, traders will also watch for any incentives to entice foreign investors.

FIIs have piled out of the market recently, having offloaded 151.65 billion rupees ($1.86 billion) worth of shares since the Hindenburg report.

India is expected to peg GDP growth at 6-6.8% for 2023-24, the slowest in three years, at its pre-budget economic survey later in the day.

While most of the Adani Group stocks resumed their slide, the flagship Adani Enterprises rose 4.15% on the last day of its crucial $2.5 billion follow-on share offering.

IT stocks slid 1.5%, the most among the 13 major sectors, with all the constituents logging losses.

The U.S. Federal Reserve's decision, due on Feb. 1, is key for IT firms, which have major exposure to the United States.

The Fed is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points, but Fed Chair Jerome Powell's speech will be scrutinized for any signs of further increases. ($1 = 81.5930 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza

Tue, 31 Jan 2023 14:31:36 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Suicide bombing at mosque in Pakistan kills 32, targeted police PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan 30 (Reuters) - A suicide bombing at a crowded mosque in Pakistan's Peshawar killed at least 32 people on Monday, the latest attack targeting police in this northwestern city where Islamist militants remain active.

Hospital officials said at least 147 people were wounded, with many of them in critical condition.

Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif called the blast a suicide attack. There were at least 260 people in the mosque, police official Sikandar Khan added.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, which ripped through the mosque during noon prayers, causing a wall to collapse on top of worshippers. The building is located inside a highly fortified compound that includes the headquarters of the provincial police force and a counter-terrorism department.

"We're getting that the terrorist was standing in the first row," Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo TV.

Footage from government broadcaster PTV showed police and residents scrambling to remove debris from the blast site and carrying wounded people on their shoulders.

The attack was the city's worst since March last year, when a suicide bombing at a Shi'ite Muslim mosque during Friday prayers killed at least 58 people and injured nearly 200. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for that bombing.

Peshwar, which sits at the edge of Pakistan's tribal districts bordering Afghanistan, is frequently targeted by militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban.

The group, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is an umbrella of Sunni and sectarian Islamist groups that want to overthrow the government and replace it with their own brand of Islamic governance.

The TTP has stepped up attacks since it ended a so-called peace deal last year with the Pakistani government, which was facilitated by Afghan Taliban.

TTP has staged frequent attacks targeting police in the last few months. In December, Islamist militants seized a counter-terrorism centre in the northwestern and took hostages to negotiate with government authorities.

Reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; editing by Miral Fahmy, Simon Cameron-Moore and Bernadette Baum

Mon, 30 Jan 2023 20:21:18 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Adani group's market loss swells to $65 billion in short&seller attack aftermath NEW DELHI, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Most Adani group shares extended their sharp falls to Monday as a detailed rebuttal of a U.S. short-seller's criticisms by the Indian conglomerate failed to pacify investors whose market losses have now risen to $65 billion over three days.

Flagship Adani Enterprises, which is facing a crucial test this week with a follow-on share offering, rose 3%, but was off initial gains of as much as 10% and significantly below the offer price.

Adani, led by Asia's richest man Gautam Adani, has locked horns with Hindenburg Research and on Sunday hit back at the short-seller's report of last week that flagged concerns about its debt levels and the use of tax havens. Adani said it complies with all local laws and had made the necessary regulatory disclosures.

Adani Transmission and Adani Total Gas plunged 20% each on Monday, while Adani Green Energy was down 16%. Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone slipped 1.1%.

Adani Enterprises' $2.5 billion secondary share sale entered its second day amid weak investor sentiment. The stock was trading at 2,848 rupees in early trade, far below the price band for the share sale of 3,112-3,276 rupees per share.

On Friday, the first day of the offer, the issue was subscribed 1% amid a broader fall in shares. Initial data from stock exchanges on Monday showed Adani has now received bids for 563,156 of the 45.5 million of shares, or 1.2%, on offer. Foreign and domestic institutional investors, as well as mutual funds, have made no bids so far in the offering, according to the data.

Indian regulations say the share offering must receive minimum subscription of 90%, and if it does not the issuer must refund the entire amount. Maybank Securities and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority are among investors who bid for the anchor portion of the issue.

Adani Group told Reuters in a statement on Saturday that the sale remains on schedule at the planned issue price, even as sources said bankers of the country's largest secondary share sale were considering extending the timeline beyond Jan. 31, or tweaking the price due to the fall in its share price.

The Hindenburg report has led to a massive wipe-out in seven listed companies of the Adani group since last week. As of Monday, the seven listed group entities have collectively lost $65 billion in market capitalisation since the report was released. Adani Total Gas lost the most, at $21 billion.

On Monday, responding to Adani's rebuttal, Hindenburg said the "response largely confirmed our findings and ignored our key questions."

The stock market meltdown has been a dramatic setback for 60-year-old Adani, a school-dropout who rose swiftly in recent years to become the world's third richest man, before slipping to rank eighth on the Forbes list.

Hindenburg's report said five of seven key listed Adani companies have reported current ratios, a measure of liquid assets minus near-term liabilities, of below 1 which it said suggested "a heightened short-term liquidity risk".

It said key listed Adani companies had "substantial debt" which has put the entire group on a "precarious financial footing" and that shares in seven Adani listed companies have an 85% downside due to what it called "sky-high valuations".

Adani's response on Sunday stated that over the past decade, its group companies have "consistently de-levered".

Reporting by Chris Thomas and Aditya Kalra; Additional reporting by Gaurav Dogra; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Mon, 30 Jan 2023 12:11:59 +0530 TSP Web Desk
New Zealand counts cost of Auckland floods, more rain forecast WELLINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Flood-ravaged Auckland is forecast to receive further heavy rain in the coming days, authorities in New Zealand's largest city said on Monday, as insurers counted the costs of what looks likely to be the country's most expensive weather event ever.

Four people lost their lives in flash floods and landslides that hit Auckland over the last three days amid record downpours. A state of emergency remains in place in Auckland. A state of emergency in the Waitomo region south of Auckland was lifted.

Flights in and out of Auckland Airport are still experiencing delays and cancellations, with thousands of passengers still stranded, including hundreds from overseas, flag carrier Air New Zealand said on Monday.

Beaches around the city of 1.6 million are closed and all Auckland schools will remain closed until Feb. 7.

"There has been very significant damage across Auckland," New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told state-owned television station TVNZ on Monday. "Obviously there were a number of homes damaged by flooding but also extensive earth movements."

Around 350 people were in need of emergency accommodation, he added.


The country's Metservice is forecasting further heavy rains to hit the already sodden city late on Tuesday.

"We have more adverse weather coming and we need to prepare for that," Auckland Emergency Management duty controller Rachel Kelleher told a media conference.

Fire and Emergency services received 30 callouts overnight Monday, including responding to a landslide when a carport slid down a hill.

The council has designated 69 houses as uninhabitable and has prevented people from entering them. A further 300 properties were deemed at risk, with access restricted to certain areas for short periods.

The north of New Zealand's North Island is receiving more rain than normal due to the La Nina weather event.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said Auckland has already recorded more than eight times its average January rainfall and 40% of its annual average rainfall.


The cost of the clean up is expected to top the NZ$97 million ($63 million) bill for flooding on the West Coast in 2021 but will not be anywhere near as expensive as the estimated NZ$31 billion insured costs of two major earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010-2011, said Insurance Council of New Zealand spokesperson Christian Judge.

Insurance Australia Group's (IAG.AX) New Zealand divisions have received over 5,000 claims so far and Suncorp Group (SUN.AX) said it received around 3,000 claims across the Vero and AA Insurance Brands. New Zealand's Tower (TWR.NZ) said it had received around 1,900 claims.

"The number of claims is expected to rise further over the coming days, with the event still unfolding and as customers identify damage to their property," IAG said in a statement.

Economists say the recovery and rebuild could add to inflationary pressures in New Zealand as vehicles and household goods need to be replaced and there is an increase in construction work needed to repair or rebuild houses and infrastructure damaged by the flooding.

($1 = 1.5385 New Zealand dollars)

Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Lincoln Feast

Mon, 30 Jan 2023 11:52:55 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Zelenskiy: Ukraine needs more weapons, faster Jan 29 (Reuters) - Ukraine needs new weapons and faster deliveries to confront a "very tough" situation of constant attacks by Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday.

"The situation is very tough. Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other sectors in Donetsk region -- there are constant Russian attacks. There are constant attempts to break through our defences," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

"Russia wants the war to drag on and exhaust our forces. So we have to make time our weapon. We have to speed up events, speed up supplies and open up new weapons options for Ukraine."

The General Staff of Ukraine's armed forces said earlier on Sunday that its forces repelled an attack near Blahodatne in the eastern part of the Donetsk region, while Russia's Wagner private military group said it took control of the village.

A later military statement made no mention of Blahodatne.

Zelenskiy issued his latest appeal for increased weapons shipments days after Germany and the United States led a list of countries agreeing to supply modern tanks.

Zelenskiy on Saturday said Ukraine needed the U.S.-made ATACMS missile with a range of about 300 km, which Washington has so far declined to supply. A presidential adviser said talks were under way on supplying long-range missiles and a Ukrainian air force spokesman spoke of negotiations on providing aircraft.

In his latest remarks, Zelenskiy Ukraine's command was committed to ensuring that "our pressure is greater than the occupiers' capacity to attack" and that meant "maintaining the defence support from our partners".

"The enemy takes no account of its personnel and despite the extent of the losses is maintaining the intensity of its attacks," he said.

"Confronting this requires extraordinary resilience and a full awareness by our soldiers that in defending Donetsk region they are defending all of Ukraine."

Reporting by Ron Popeski and Nick Starkov

Mon, 30 Jan 2023 03:36:38 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Adani hits back at Hindenburg, says it made all disclosures NEW DELHI, Jan 30 (Reuters) - India's Adani Group issued a detailed riposte on Sunday to a Hindenburg Research report that sparked a $48 billion rout in its stocks, saying it complies with all local laws and had made the necessary regulatory disclosures.

The conglomerate led by Asia's richest man, the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, said last week's Hindenburg report was intended to enable the U.S.-based short seller to book gains, without citing evidence.

For 60-year-old Adani, the stock market meltdown has been a dramatic setback for a school-dropout who rose swiftly in recent years to become the world's third richest man, before slipping last week to rank seventh on the Forbes rich list.

Adani Group's response comes as its flagship company, Adani Enterprises, pushes ahead with a $2.5 billion share sale. This has been overshadowed by Hindenburg's report, which flagged concerns about debt levels and the use of tax havens.

"All transactions entered into by us with entities who qualify as 'related parties' under Indian laws and accounting standards have been duly disclosed by us," Adani said in the 413-page response issued late on Sunday.

"This is rife with conflict of interest and intended only to create a false market in securities to enable Hindenburg, an admitted short seller, to book massive financial gain through wrongful means at the cost of countless investors," it added.

Hindenburg did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Adani response on Sunday.

Its report had questioned how the Adani Group has used offshore entities in tax havens such as Mauritius and the Caribbean islands, adding that certain offshore funds and shell companies "surreptitiously" own stock in Adani's listed firms.

The research report, Adani said, made "misleading claims around offshore entities" without any evidence whatsoever.

Adani said on Thursday that it is considering taking action against Hindenburg, which responded on the same day by saying it would welcome such a move.

Hindenburg's report also said five of seven key listed Adani companies have reported current ratios, a measure of liquid assets minus near-term liabilities, of below 1 which it said suggested "a heightened short-term liquidity risk".

It said key listed Adani companies had "substantial debt" which has put the entire group on a "precarious financial footing" and that shares in seven Adani listed companies have an 85% downside due to what it called "sky-high valuations".

Adani's response stated that over the past decade, its group companies have "consistently de-levered".

Defending its practice on pledging shares of its promoters - or key shareholders - the Adani Group said that raising financing against shares as collateral was common practice globally and loans are given by large institutions and banks on the back of thorough credit analysis.

The group added there is a robust disclosure system in place in India and its promoter pledge positions across portfolio companies had dropped from more than 50% in March 2020 in some listed stocks, to less than 20% in December 2022.


The Hindenburg report, and its fallout, is seen as one of the biggest career challenges to face the billionaire, whose business interests range from ports, airports, mining and power to media and cement.

Adani's response included more than 350 pages of annexes that included snippets from annual reports, public disclosures and earlier court rulings.

Hindenburg, Adani said, had sought answers to 88 questions in its report, but 65 of them were related to matters that have been disclosed by Adani portfolio companies in annual reports.

The rest, Adani said, relate to public shareholders and third parties, and some were "baseless allegations based on imaginary fact patterns".

Hindenburg, known for having shorted electric truck maker Nikola Corp (NKLA.O) and Twitter, said it holds short positions in Adani companies through U.S.-traded bonds and non-Indian-traded derivative instruments.

Adani also responded to allegations by Hindenburg relating to the company's auditors, saying "all these auditors who have been engaged by us have been duly certified and qualified by the relevant statutory bodies."

Its response comes just hours ahead of India market opening, when the $2.5 billion secondary share sale begins its second day of subscription. Friday's plunge took Adani Enterprises shares below the issue price, raising doubts about its success.

In a separate statement on Sunday, Adani Group's chief financial officer Jugeshinder Singh said it is focused on the share sale and is confident it will succeed. He also said its anchor investors have shown faith and remain invested.

"We are confident the FPO (follow-on public offering) will also sail through," he said.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra, Aditi Shah, Jayshree Upadhyay and Anirudh Saligrama in Bengaluru; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Alexander Smith

Mon, 30 Jan 2023 02:36:33 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Microsoft probes Teams, Outlook outage as thousands of users report disruption Jan 25 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp said on Wednesday it was investigating a networking issue that impacted multiple services including Teams and Outlook, with outage reports saying the platforms were down for thousands of users globally.

Microsoft did not disclose the number of users affected by the disruption, but data from outage tracking website Downdetector showed more than 3,900 incidents in India and over 900 in Japan. Outage reports also spiked in Australia, Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

The Downdetector site tracks outages by collating status reports from sources including user-submitted errors on its platform.

"We've identified a potential networking issue and are reviewing telemetry to determine the next troubleshooting steps," Microsoft said in a tweet.

During the outage, most users were unable to exchange messages, join calls or use any features of Teams application. Many users took to Twitter to share updates about the service disruption, with #MicrosoftTeams trending as a hashtag on the social media site.

Microsoft Teams, used by more than 280 million people globally, forms an integral part of daily operations for businesses and schools, which use the service to make calls, schedule meetings and organize their workflow.

Among the other services affected were Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, according to the company's status page.

Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Subhranshu Sahu

Wed, 25 Jan 2023 14:23:56 +0530 TSP Web Desk
India's Kotak Mahindra Bank quarterly net profit jumps 31% MUMBAI, Jan 21 (Reuters) - India's Kotak Mahindra Bank reported a 31% increase in net profit on Saturday for the October-December quarter, aided by a strong top line and healthy loan growth.

The lender's net profit reached 27.92 billion rupees ($344.2 million), compared with 21.31 billion in the same period last year and with an average analyst expectation of 26.28 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Net interest income - the difference between interest earned and interest expended - rose 30.4% from a year ago to 56.53 billion rupees, while other income rose nearly 54%. The net interest margin (NIM) was at 5.47% compared with 4.62% last year.

The bank said it expects a further uptick in NIM in the short term, though this may taper off as borrowing costs also inch up.

"As we are seeing interest rates picking up, we will see some increase in NIM," said Jaimin Bhatt, group chief financial officer, on a conference call with reporters.

The lender’s advances grew by more than 23%, while deposits rose by nearly 13% year-on-year. The bank's current account and savings account (CASA) ratio was at 53.3% as on Dec. 31.

Indian banks are looking to fund the current pace of credit growth by increasing their deposit bases. Loans by Indian banks rose nearly 15% in the fortnight ending Dec. 30 compared with a year ago, while deposits rose only 9.2%, according to the latest data from the Reserve Bank of India.

Kotak Mahindra Bank’s gross bad loans as a percentage of total loans – a key measure of asset quality – was at 1.90% at the end of December, versus 2.08% at the end of September. Its net non-performing assets ratio stood at 0.43%, against 0.55%.

The bank's provision coverage ratio was at 77.6% at the end of December. It held Covid-related provisions worth 4 billion rupees.

Reporting by Siddhi Nayak and Nupur Anand; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and David Holmes

Sat, 21 Jan 2023 21:22:52 +0530 TSP Web Desk
Tata Motors to launch mini SUV 'Punch' this festive season Homegrown auto major Tata Motors on Monday said it will launch its mini SUV Punch in the ongoing festive season.

Punch is based on the H2X concept, which Tata Motors had showcased at the Auto Expo 2020. It will be positioned below the company's compact SUV Nexon and is expected to hit the market around Diwali this year.

Slated for "national launch this festive season", Tata Motors in a statement said Punch will offer a mix of "tough utility with sporting dynamics". It, however, did not disclose further details.

Tata Motors President Passenger Vehicle Business Unit Shailesh Chandra said, "Tata PUNCH, as the name suggests, is an energetic vehicle with a capability to go anywhere".

He further said, "True to the SUV genes of all Tata Motors' products and catering to the needs of customers, who are looking for a compact city car with pure SUV characteristics, Punch will be the fourth addition to our SUV family, widening the range of options for all to choose from".

It is the first SUV built on ALFA-ARC (Agile Light Flexible Advanced Architecture) platform, developed under Impact 2.0 design language.

Mon, 23 Aug 2021 02:15:31 +0530 TSP Web Desk