• Oil prices on Tuesday (Mar 26, 2019) showed a rise towards $68 a barrel on account of following factors:
    – OPEC supply cuts;
    – expectations of lower U.S. inventories; and
    – weaker demand due to an economic slowdown.
  • The price of global benchmark Brent crude has risen about 25 percent in 2019 due to the following reasons:
    – supply curbs by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus allies; and
    – involuntary losses due to U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
  • Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) has set a target of doubling cargo handling to 400 million tonnes (mt) by 2025 after it reached a record 200 mt recently, becoming the first Indian port to reach this milestone.
  • They will be able to increase their market share by about 1% annually and have set a goal to double their cargo handled to 400 mt by 2025. The company aims to become market leader in end-to-end logistics with technology driven innovations.
  • They will add capacity at the appropriate ports as well as target new ports in other states including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal
  • The government’s ambitious Sagarmala and inland waterways initiatives will further help increase the cargo growth
  • India is important for all three major global shipping alliances and could potentially be a linking point for Asia, West Asia, Africa and Europe, offering new opportunities.
  • In Asia, due to increase in energy demand and coal usage, global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high.
  • By country, China, the United States, and India together accounted for nearly 70 percent of the rise in energy demand
  • Global gas demand increased at its fastest rate since 2010 on account of higher demand as switching from gas to coal increased.
  • Oil demand grew in 2018, while coal consumption was up 0.7 percent as higher demand in Asia outpaced declines everywhere else.
  • “Coal-to-gas switching avoided almost 60 million tonnes of coal demand, with the transition to less carbon-intensive natural gas helping to prevent 95 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Without this coal-to-gas switch, the increase in emissions would have been more than 15 percent greater.
  • On March 26, 2019 (Tuesday), the Indian rupee gained 10 paise to close at 68.86 against the US dollar on account of the following factors:
    – robust response to RBI’s maiden rupee-dollar swap auction;
    – sustained foreign fund inflows;
    – heavy buying in domestic equities; and
    – continuous inflows from foreign institutional investors to the Indian markets.
  • Fall in dollar index and higher global crude prices restricted the rupee’s upmove.
  • The Rupee-dollar swap auction, a credible liquidity tool of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) received an overwhelming response. This scheme is paving the way for more such auctions in the coming months.
  • In this swap, the RBI received dollars from banks and promised to return the dollars at 76.62 a dollar three years down the line, irrespective of the exchange rate prevailing at that time.
  • The purpose behind the swaps is to infuse rupee liquidity by buying dollars. So far, the central bank has been buying bonds from the secondary market to infuse liquidity
  • The swaps were successful because of the following factors:
    – heavy dollar inflows in the market;
    – prospects of successful overseas bidders in insolvency proceedings bringing dollars to India
    – nice way to compliment OMOs (open market operations); and
    introducing some diversification for banks as well
  • The swap facility was ideal when the rupee is weak against the dollar as it strengthens the rupee in the interim term. But when the rupee is strong already, the RBI may want to avoid this route. The swaps may end up hardening interest rates.
  • The only worrying factor remains for the RBI is the potential rise in G-Sec yields, which they can take care of.
  • Indian Railways look to improve its services without spending much.
  • Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) will modernise the stations capable of generating surplus. IRSDC awarded operations and management work for five stations.
  • Broadly, the move involves letting third parties raise funds by commercially utilising space on railway premises – airspace on stations and land around the stations among others, on the lines of airport development.
  • IRSDC intends to explore various methods of payment based on interest of private sector.
  • The Cabinet took steps like allowing the lease period to be increased to 99 years