Sell Ambuja Cements, target Rs 233: Pritesh Mehta

Pritesh Mehta of IIFLBSE 5.19 % has a sell call on Ambuja Cements with a target price of Rs 233. The current market price of Ambuja Cements is Rs 245.40. Time period given by the analyst is 'Intra Day' when Ambuja Cements price can reach defined target. Pritesh Mehta recommended to keep a stop loss at Rs 254. Ambuja Cements, incorporated in the year 1981, is a Large Cap company (having a market cap of Rs 48,727.73 Crore) operating in Cement sector. The company's top management includes Dr.Omkar Goswami, Mr.Ajay Kapur, Mr.B L Taparia, Mr.Christof Hassig, Mr.Eric Olsen, Mr.Haigreve Khaitan, Mr.Martin Kreigner, Mr.N S Sekhsaria, Mr.Nasser Munjee, Mr.Rajendra P Chitale, Mr.Shailesh Haribhakti, Ms.Usha Sangwan. Company has SRBC & Co LLP as its auditors. As on 31-12-2017, the company has a total of 1,985,645,229 shares outstanding.

China’s Tsingshan begins construction on new stainless steel project in Gujarat

China's Tsingshan Holding Group has started work on construction of a cold-rolling line, which be one of the largest stainless steel projects in India when completed, the company said. The products from the new integrated stainless steel mill in Gujarat will be marketed across the country and the rest of Asia to meet growing demand, Metal Bulletin said in a report. Tsingshan has formed a joint-venture company - Cromo Steels Private Ltd Co (CSPL) to construct a 150-billion-rupee ($2.3-billion) integrated plant. The identity of the jv partner was not announced. The plant would consist of hot-rolling and cold-rolling lines as well as smelting facilities in Gujarat, the report added. The facility will reportedly have crude stainless steel capacity of 2 million tonnes per year while the CRC line will have capacity of 600,000 tonne per year, the report added quoting an industry analyst in China. Construction of the project is likely to be completed within five to six years, Tsingshan said according to Metal Bulletin. The plant will sell mainly 304-series hot-rolled flat products as well as cold-rolled products to markets in East and South East Asia which are also the main markets for Tsingshan's Indonesian steel operations. India's growing economy is expected to spur steel demand with stainless steel industry also expected to boost. , chairman Xiang Guangda said at the ground-breaking ceremony, the Metal Bulletin report added. Higher nickel prices suspensions and closures of Chinese operations on environmental grounds and strong demand from Asia, Europe and North America have been the drivers of the stainless steel market over the past five months, the report added. Tsingshan Holding Group was set up in 1992 and is mainly engaged in foreign investment, manufacturing, sales, warehousing and import& export, according to its website. The Group mainly produces stainless steel ingots, steel bars, plates, wires and seamless tubes, which are widely applied in petroleum, chemical engineering, machinery, electric power, automobile, shipbuilding, aerospace, food, pharmacy, decoration and other fields.

erth for construction materials soon at VOC port

Tuticorin: A new berth, exclusively to handle construction materials will be developed at a cost of Rs 65.37 crore at the VO Chidambaranar (VOC) port in Tuticorin. The concession agreement for the shallow draught berth that will be developed on a public private partnership (PPP) model was signed by chairman of VOC port trust, I Jeyakumar and director of M/s VJR Port Terminal Pvt Ltd, S Jagatheesan on Wednesday. VOC port will provide the space (sea) and basic infrastructure such as dredging the water front and providing road connectivity till the berth, whereas investment will be completely borne by Tuticorin based M/s Indian Port Terminal Pvt, Ltd, which has formed a SPV (special purpose vehicle) in the name of M/s VJR Port Terminals Pvt, Ltd, to construct and operate the berth. The construction is set to commence within three months and commercial operations would begin in 18 months from the commencement of the construction. The shallow draught berth will be 260m long, 30m wide and have a capacity of two MTPA. The berth would be capable of handling 25,000 DWT ships with a draft of 10.3m. VOC port will be providing 2.5 hectares as storage space for the berth. The private firm that will be operating the shallow draught berth will offer a revenue share of 36.01% to VOC port. Now, construction materials such as limestone, cement, blue metal and sand are handled in the existing berths of the port and the dedicated berth is expected to increase the handling capacity of the port. Port officials said that this is the 17th berth to be constructed at the Tuticorin port. A total of 15 berths are already functioning and 16th berth to handle coastal cargo is under construction. Officials said that 80% of the construction of the berth has been completed and would soon be put to use.

Goldman Sachs bullish on steel, has a buy on JSW Steel

MUMBAI: Goldman Sachs is bullish on the Indian steel sector as it believes the sector is in the middle of a multi-year upcycle due to higher spreads, rising domestic capacity and improving iron ore supply. The investment bank has .a neutral rating on Tata SteelBSE -0.07 % with target price of Rs 780. Goldman Sachs' target price on JSW Steel implies a potential upside of 17.45 per cent from Wednesday's closing level of Rs 268.20 on the BSE. Tata Steel has a potential upside of 3.67 per cent from Goldman Sachs' target price. Shares of Tata Steel ended at Rs 733.3 on Wednesday. The investment bank prefers JSW Steel over Tata Steel due to higher profitability and better valuations. "In a stable steel price and benign raw material cost environment, we prefer a low cost convertor (JSW Steel) over an integrated steel mill (Tata Steel). On our estimates, JSW Steel screens as attractive among global peers, while Tata Steel looks fairly valued," said Goldman Sachs in a note dated Tuesday. Goldman Sachs believes that JSW Steel is set to benefit from weaker global raw material prices and the Rs 26,800 crore capital expenditure announced by the company will help enhance its steel capacity by 5 million tones by the end of financial year 2019-2020.

After 6% rise in Jan, steel mills see room for more price hikes next month

After raising prices by five to six per cent in January, steel mills plan to do so by another Rs 2,500-3,000 a tonne in February, to bridge the gap between domestically produced and landed cost of imported steel, besides other cost pressures.Government-owned NMDC raised iron ore prices this month by 19-22 per cent, one of the steepest ever. This followed similar price hikes by private miners in Odisha due to the suspension of production at five major mines in the state, by Supreme Court order. NMDC had also raised ore prices in December, by 10-13 per cent. In calendar year 2017, the country's largest iron ore miner has raised prices 48 per cent, to match those in international markets. This has prompted steel makers to pass it on to consumers. They raised product prices by up to Rs 2,500 a tonne for January to maintain their profit margin.“Recent increase in iron ore price by NMDC and Odisha's private miners are forcing steel companies to pass on the increased cost of production. The increased cost of other raw materials like coal, refractory and electrodes are further fuelling this,” said Sajjan Jindal, chairman of the JSW Group, in a twitter post.In another tweet, he said, “With the closure of mines, people are losing jobs and the government is losing royalty. Instead of stopping iron ore production in Odisha due to non-payment of compensation by lessees, a new solution should be worked out. The government must approach the Supreme Court, considering the iron ore shortage of an additional 20 million tonnes will lead to a disastrous situation, wherein small companies will be forced to shut operations.”

Steel companies raise prices by Rs 4000/- pmt wef 1st Dec’17

December will bring more shivers for the steel users. Steel producers have raised the price for all grades by Rs 4000/- pmt effective from 1st December 2017. As per the market reports, the increase of Rs 4000/- has been settled by Tata Motors with major steel producers in the segment such as JSW, Neco Jayaswal, Usha Martin etc It may be recalled that earlier a price increase of Rs 1450/- pmt was settled between OEMs and steel producers wef from 1st July 2017. At that time, the steel makers had expressed dissatisfaction over the quantum of increase as the increase of Rs 1450/- was not sufficient to cover the rise in their production cost owing to sharp rise in raw material and electrode prices. They had instantly demanded another Rs 5000 – 6000 pmt increase as they claimed that the total increase in their input cost was to the tune of Rs 7000/- pmt. The current increase of Rs 4000/- will give the steel plants a breather and shall help them to reduce their losses. With imports of steel hit by anti dumping duties (slapped by Indian government) and many steel majors facing NCLT stick, there is an overall shortage of steel in the country. Forging industry has already aired their problems of low production due to shortage of steel. With steel demand getting better than supply, the increase was expected sooner than later. The increase shall be applicable across all grades of all the long products including wire rod. As far as the flat products are concerned, a similar rise has already taken place since July 2017. The prices should now keep stable for the remaining financial year, if the industry experts are to be believed.

Upbeat on cement, consumer discretionary; like retail oriented pvt banks: Kotak MF

Realty, cement stocks nudge lower

Key benchmark indices continued to languish in negative zone in mid-morning trade. At 11:15 IST, the barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex was down 125.11 points or 0.42% at 30,001.10. The Nifty 50 index declined 35.95 points or 0.38% at 9,323.95. The Sensex was trading above the psychological 30,000 level after alternately moving above and below that level so far. It had settled above that level during the previous trading session. Market sentiment was dull amid lacklustre trading sentiment on the global bourses. Among other indices, the BSE Mid-Cap index rose 0.04%. The BSE Small-Cap index advanced 0.16%. Both these indices outperformed the Sensex. The breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, was negative. On the BSE, 1,416 shares declined and 962 shares rose. A total of 112 shares were unchanged. Realty stocks declined. Indiabulls Real Estate (down 1.16%), HDIL (down 1.08%), Unitech (down 0.71%), DLF (down 0.54%), Prestige Estates Projects (down 0.54%) and Sobha (down 0.34%) edged lower. Oberoi Realty (up 3.66%) and Godrej Properties (up 2.49%) edged higher. Cement stocks dropped. ACC (down 0.48%), Ambuja Cements (down 0.9%) and UltraTech Cement (down 0.4%) edged lower. Grasim Industries was down 1.15%. Grasim has exposure to cement sector through its holding in UltraTech Cement. Tata Motors declined 2.59% after the company's British luxury car unit Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) reported a 2.3% fall in retail sales at 40,385 units in April 2017 over April 2016. The announcement was made during market hours today, 5 May 2017. Hindustan Construction Company lost 5.71% after net profit declined 4.13% to Rs 20.91 crore on 13.57% rise in net sales to Rs 1358.27 crore in Q4 March 2017 over Q4 March 2016. The result was announced after market hours yesterday, 4 May 2017. Among macro developments, a press release issued by the government after market hours yesterday, 4 May 2017 stated that eight states have passed the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) Act in their respective State Assembly in less than a month's time. The states include Telangana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. The next GST Council meeting is scheduled to be held at Srinagar, J&K on 18 and 19 May 2017. The central government has already informed that GST will be rolled-out from 1 July 2017. Overseas, Asian stocks witnessed a mixed trend. US stocks closed almost flat yesterday, 4 May 2017, as energy stocks put a lid on the broader market amid slide in crude oil prices. Among global developments, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi reportedly stated yesterday, 4 May 2017 that the European Union is being wrongly held responsible for decisions that belong to individual countries. Draghi has warned that Europe risks losing some of its status as a global power unless it pursues more economic and political integration. Source:business-standard.com

Narendra Modi government targets 300 mn tonnes steel production capacity by 2030; to rope in private

Cement price hikes in April indicative of better volume and profitability

Cement price hikes in April indicative of better volume and profitability

Cement company drills Rs 350cr hole in IndusInd, Yes Bank profits

IndusInd Bank and Yes Bank had to make provisions of Rs 122 crore and Rs 227.9 crore, respectively, towards their exposure to this account in compliance with a Reserve Bank notification. Exposure to a single cement company made a Rs 350 crore dent in the net profits of IndusInd Bank and Yes Bank, private lenders otherwise known to have better control on asset quality. IndusInd Bank and Yes Bank had to make provisions of Rs 122 crore and Rs 227.9 crore, respectively, towards their exposure to this account in compliance with a Reserve Bank notification. Both the banks stressed the reverses are temporary in nature, underlining that the cement company in question is all set to be acquired by a better performing city-based company soon and once the deal fructifies, there will be a write back. Even though the bank managements did not name the company, sources said this relates to the exposure to Jaypee Cements, which is all set to be acquired by UltraTech in a Rs 16,200-crore deal. To ensure greater transparency and promote better discipline, the RBI yesterday said it will be flagging divergences in asset recognition to the bank, ask them to make extra provisions or re-classification of the account and instructed lenders to disclose the same in quarterly statements, starting with that for FY2016-17. Interestingly, stating that the account in question is servicing interest Yes Bank identified it as a non-performing asset, while IndusInd Bank continued to treat it as a standard asset but increased the provisioning. "This is a cement company from the North and to the best of our knowledge there is a binding agreement to buy out a certain cement assets by a leading corporate house based in Mumbai. But to be conservative and to meet this new circular we are complying with it but I am quite certain that there will be significant recovery very very soon," Yes Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Rana Kapoor said. IndusInd Bank MD and CEO Ramesh Sobti said the cement company exposure is standard and performing, but the RBI has asked it to provide more because the company's parent is showing stress and has been recognised as sub-standard. Sobti informed that the cement asset is all set to be acquired by a city-based group and there will be a write-back of the provision in the near term once the deal is completed. Source:moneycontrol.com

No concrete recovery for cement

Cement cos. increasing prices deliberately, says CREDAI

Pecking order changes for MFs: Banks make way for NBFCs; auto, cement go out of favour

Mutual funds seem to be betting on an improvement in rural growth and selectively betting on revival of the cyclical sectors on a possible broadbased economic turnaround. Data published by Sebi showing break-up of asset under management (AUM) across sectors shows most portfolio changes have happened over the past six months in sectors such as metals, oil & gas, fertilisers, chemicals and power. The data captures the exposure of all mutual funds to each sector as a percentage of total equity AUM. The change in exposure may look miniscule. But given that these numbers are across all funds and considering the quantum of investments involved, it takes significant effort to effect even a small rise or fall in holdings and, thus, these changes are noteworthy. For instance, take the energy basket, encompassing oil & gas, petroleum and power. Mutual funds have bought heavily into this space in the past six months. The market value of oil & gas holdings rose by a massive 57 per cent. The weight of the energy play in the overall AUM rose by more than 1 percentage point. The gap between funds’ exposure to the energy space and the weight energy has in the Nifty500 index is also narrowing, indicating that funds expect this sector to improve its performance. The same holds true for steel and other metals. In the steel sector, mutual funds have been steadily hiking stake over the past year even as realisations improved. Fertiliser is another space that saw a sharp 50 per cent rise in market value in last six months. A dark horse sector that mutual funds picked up and held on to is chemicals, where the current exposure of 1.55 per cent is well above the Nifty500’s sectoral share at 0.77 per cent. But in the biggest market weight sector of banking and financial services, mutual funds seem to be betting more on NBFCs than banks. The share of financial stocks is up now from six months ago and a year ago. Banking stocks, on the other hand, saw a drop in overall exposure in last six months. This drop comes about even as the actual market value of bank exposures rose 14 per cent, indicating that other sectors saw big enough changes to push down the weight of banking shares. The earlier half of 2016, though, had already seen funds hiking exposure to banking stocks by a good measure. A similar story plays out in the auto space, where funds seem to be reducing exposure in favour of the related auto ancillaries. Following the demonetisation drive, mutual funds have also turned sour on cement, given the perceived hit on construction and real estate sectors. Funds were collectively overweight on the sector compared with that sectoral weightage in the Nifty500. From an exposure of 4.07 per cent of AUM in September 2016, the share of cement stocks dropped to 3.22 per cent now, which is underweight compared with the sectoral share in the Nifty500 index. Construction and construction projects also saw a slight drop in exposure. Of course, pharma stocks saw the steepest fall. Funds’ exposure to the sector has been falling since the past six months after a brief period when funds saw value opportunities in them during mid-2016. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Steel firms hit record sales, meet production targets

Domestic steel producers are optimistic about a demand pick-up from mid-April after record sales. State-owned Steel Authority of India (SAIL) posted its best sales performance in 2016-17 with a growth of eight per cent. The company sold 13.143 million tonnes of steel in 2016-17 and March sales of 1.575 million tonnes were 21 per cent higher than in the same month a year ago. SAIL posted 12 per cent growth in production in 2016-17 and its exports tripled during the year. The Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Steel met its target for 2016-17 with a crude steel output of 15.80 million tonnes, up 26 per cent from a year ago. The company's flat steel production was up 23 per cent, year on year, to 11.41 million tonnes and long products grew 18 per cent to 3.21 million tonnes. Flat steel is used in automobiles and long steel in construction and infrastructure. The steel industry is seeing a demand pick-up in construction, automobiles and white goods, sectors that were hit by demonetisation. Over the last few months producers had to export steel to maintain capacity utilisation, which has climbed to an average 85 per cent from 75 per cent earlier in the year. Steel exports jumped 78 per cent, year on year, in April-February to 6.62 million tonnes and imports declined 40 per cent to 6.59 million tonnes. Steel production for sale increased 11 per cent to 92 million tonnes and consumption was 76.22 million tonnes, up 3.4 per cent from 2015-16. India was as a net exporter of finished steel in April-February. Jindal Steel & Power, Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel and Tata Steel are among the country’s top producers. Source:business-standard.com

Pecking order changes for MFs: Banks make way for NBFCs; auto, cement go out of favour

Flyover stretch gets green nod

GHAZIABAD: Construction work on the flyover (grade separator) on GT Road in Ghaziabad, which has been pending over a green clearance, is set to commence soon. GDA officials said on Wednesday that a no-objection certificate has been granted by the Union environment, forest and climate change ministry to allow construction work on the last stretch of the flyover. While the major portion of the 480-metre-long flyover has already been constructed, work on about 100 metres could not be completed for lack of clearance. Pillars for the last stretch of the flyover had to be constructed in an area that is designated as protected forest in government records. The GDA required permission from the central government to undertake construction work in the area. Officials said about 60 trees would be uprooted from the area. GDA executive engineer Chakresh Jain told TOI, "However, compensatory afforestation in accordance with the rules set by the government will be undertaken in lieu of the trees that will be uprooted." He said a parcel of land would be given to the forest department by the GDA where 10 times the number of trees uprooted will be planted as a compensatory measure. "The district forest department will give us an estimate of the total cost required for afforestation following which we will make the payment to the central government," Jain said. The work order for the entire project has already been awarded to a contractor who will construct the remaining portion of the flyover. According to GDA officials, the flyover will be ready for use by July 2017. The flyover project had been conceived to avoid jams projected at the Meerut Road after the New Link Road, connecting NH-24 with NH-58, was opened to traffic. The New Link Road was formally inaugurated last year but there are traffic jams at the spot because the flyover opening is pending.

Drought situation: Bore wells can be constructed only for household use

KOZHIKODE: The district administration has imposed a ban on the digging of bore wells for commercial purpose. Taking into account the drought situation in the district, District collector U V Jose, issued a direction that new bore wells can be constructed only for household use. According to the order issued by the district collector, the permission of officials with ground water department is essential for the digging of bore wells during the summer season. The ban for bore wells for commercial purpose will be in force till the end of May. According to the order, prior permission is required for digging bore well even for house hold use. The district disaster management authority also holds powers to serve stop memo to the work of bore wells if the ground water department officials find that the bore well would affect the ground water level in the region. The diameter of the bore well for household use should not exceed 4 feet according to the latest direction. It is also directed that the depth of the well should not exceed 80 feet. The order also warns strict action against companies engaging in digging bore wells and private parties if they continue the work of the bore well even after receiving stop memo from the officials. Actions will be taken under various sections of Disaster Management Act. The district collector, during a special meeting convened the other day, also directed the officials to take immediate steps to prevent the digging of bore wells for commercial purpose. The actions are taken in the backdrop of drop in ground water level in the district. Any attempt by drinking water bottling units to dig new bore wells for running their business will also be strictly monitored and prevented by the official team.

Two tunnel boring machines simultaneously constructing Lucknow Metro’s tunnels

LUCKNOW: A total of two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) are simultaneously engaged in constructing metro tunnels across the length and breadth of Uttar Pradesh's capital region. The TBMs would be digging two parallel tunnel across 3.5 km underground metro stretch from Charbagh to KD Singh Babu Stadium (near Hazratganj) in Lucknow. Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) officials claim that the Lucknow Metro's underground corridor has emerged as one of the largest tunnelling projects ever undertaken below any major urban centre globally. The team has commenced the tunnelling drive of its second Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) at the Sachivalaya underground metro station site in the presence of the managing director and other senior officers of the organization in the first week of March, 2017. Metro officials said, "With this, the underground tunnelling work for the 3.5 km Sachivalaya, Hussainganj and Hazratganj section of Phase 1A (North - South Corridor) of Lucknow Metro Rail Project has started ahead of its schedule." The work shall be carried out simultaneously on the 'UP' and 'Down' lines with two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) aptly named 'Gomti' and 'Ganga' after the prominent rivers in the state of Uttar Pradesh. While the first TBM 'Gomti' which was assembled 18 m deep inside the launching shaft at the Sachivalaya Station - commenced operations for the UP line, the second TBM 'Ganga' has begun boring from March's first week onwards. Ganga will commence tunnelling on DOWN line. Officials said that assembly of TBMs is a complex technical process involving lowering of individual parts down the shaft by 250 tonne crane, correct positioning, jointing and providing electrical/hydraulic/water/grouting connections etc. First TBM Ganga was launched for tunnel construction around mid of 2016. The underground metro corridor has to be completed by March 2019.

Proposal to construct foot overbridges on BRTS corridor hits roadblock

JAIPUR: Proposal to construct five foot overbridges (FoBs) on Bus Rapid Transit Corridor (BRTS) corridor for pedestrians' safety has hit the roadblock. Jaipur Development Authority (JDA)'s finance wing has raised an objection on the proposal. As pedestrians are finding it difficult to cross road due to erected railings, proposal was forwarded to construct three FoBs at major points on Sikar road and two on Ajmer road. Engineering wing proposed to construct FoBs on built operate and transfer (BoT) basis. However, objection was raised by finance wing. "We have asked to invite private players for construction. The awarded firm could earn revenue after selling the advertisement space. But project was rejected," said a JDA engineer.

Whiff of foul play in Rs 21 crore bid for stone quarry

MADURAI: A stone quarry in Madurai fetched an extravagant bid of Rs 21 crore on Thursday, perhaps the highest bid in recent times, raising serious questions about the bidding process itself. It has been alleged that the bidding was a farce to hoodwink authorities and secure it for a very low price or an attempt to prevent the genuine bidder from buying the quarry. Due to the ban on leasing of granite quarries in Madurai district, stone quarries are regularly leased out. There are about 60 stone quarries in the district of which tenders were issued for 29. Since there is a stay on the auction of four of these quarries, 25 were put to auction on Thursday. The government had fixed a minimum amount for these quarries and as it was alleged that the amount was too high, 24 quarries were not auctioned for the third time in a row. Many of these quarries are money spinners and the government had hiked the base amount recently to ensure that it too benefited from the auctions.

Water crisis may leave real estate sector high and dry

CHENNAI: The water crisis is already taking a toll on residents and businesses but one area where it will have a multiplier effect is the construction sector. With water being a primary requirement for building construction, developers are worried over the depleting groundwater table in the city and its impact on ongoing projects. As per the estimates of Jones Lang LaSalle Property, a leading international property consultancy firm, about 55,500 units are under construction in different parts of the Chennai Metropolitan Area, Sriperumpudur, Orgadam, besides Chengalpet and Tiruvallur. Industry sources said builders have already started feeling the pinch of water woes at construction sites as water tankers have jacked up prices. "The cost of one load of water tanker with a capacity of 12,000 litres has in creased from Rs 900 a few months ago to anywhere between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,500. It may further shoot up in the weeks ahead," said K Chandrasekar, president of Chennai Real Estate Agents Association. The reason behind the jump in water tanker tariff is due to a variety of reasons including escalating demand for water from occupants in apartments and commercial buildings, he notes. Water is used in various stages of construction such as mixing concrete and mortar and curing, besides meeting the requirements of workers. N Nandakumar, former president of Tamil Nadu chapter of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (Credai), says around 2,500 litres of water is needed for every square foot of construction till its completion. "The volume (2,500 litres per square feet) is calculated by taking into account the water utilised at every stage of construction from the foundation to handing over the property to buyers and water required for the workforce. The quantity of water is uniform for both commercial and residential projects," he said. Normally, groundwater is extract ed from construction sites. But, developers need to transport water from outside sources, if the quality of groundwater available is not suitable for construction -it may be saline or have high iron content. Under such circumstances, tankers are the only source of quality water for carrying out construction work. Mambakkam on Vandalur-Kelambakkam High Road and Guduvancherry are the few areas near Chennai that serve the water needs of the construction sector. Ramaprabhu, secretary of the Builders' Association of India's southern centre, says 12,000 litres of water is necessary for taking up the curing process in 4,000sqm of construction for about a week. "There are several areas in and around the city where we cannot use the groundwater for construction. Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR) is one such stretch and developers in the area have to ferry water from elsewhere," he said. Noting that water sources are fast dipping, he said that housing projects under construction could be delayed. Against the backdrop of builders struggling to market their units despite offering huge discounts, acute water shortage would further discourage them, he added. A Shankar, national director, JLL Property Consultants (India) Pvt Ltd, said the soon-to-come Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act in Tamil Nadu will exacerbate matters."Housing projects must be completed as per schedule and should not be delayed under the act. It is going to be a real challenge for developers in meeting the deadline in the wake of the water shortage," he said.

Sand prices spiraling in Chennai, civil engineers forum says

CHENNAI: Claiming that sand prices have gone through the roof due to acute shortage of river sand, a civil engineers forum on Monday sought the Tamil Nadu government's intervention to tide over the crisis. One cubic feet of sand is sold at anywhere between Rs 60 and Rs 75 depending on the demand, said K Venkatachalam, founder president of the Chennai Civil Engineers Association. "Against the daily demand of around 2.8 lakh CFT for the city, approximately 52,500 CFT of sand is only available. Usually, we get sand delivered within a day, but the gap has now increased to five days," he added. He said only five out of 25 sand quarries are operational now. He said the real estate sector had been hit by demonetisation. "First, ban on registration of unapproved plots came as a blow for the construction sector, which was followed by demonetisation. Presently, scarcity for sand has added fuel to it," he said. Venkatachalam sought the government to directly engage in marketing sand mined from riverbeds as it would fetch twice the revenue of what the state-owned TASMAC is generating.

Hope Cement continues to upgrade plant

Hope Cement completed a number of major projects in 2016, according to the annual results of parent company, Breedon Group, as well as securing a significant supply of pulverised fly ash (PFA) and continuing to increase the use of waste-derived alternative fuels. In the second half of the year, the plant undertook two projects to increase the efficiency and productivity of its pyroprocessing line. New burners were installed on both kilns, increasing the throughput of fuel to boost the efficiency of the manufacturing process. The plant also installed new cyclones to speed up the rate at which raw material is fed through the preheater and into the kilns. The plant also secured a “significant contract” with major utility for the supply of PFA – a waste-product of the coal-fired power industry that is used as an alternative raw material in the cement-making mix. The use of PFA will effectively reduce the plant’s SO2 emissions, as well as allowing Hope to reduce its use of shale, thus extending the life of its shale quarry. The plant began preparations to received increased volumes of PFA in 2H16. The company also said it was continuing its drive to increase the use of alternative fuels as substitutes for traditional fossil fuels. Currently, the plant uses scrap tyre chips, refuse-derived material, and meat and bone meal as alternatives fuels. Hope Cement was purchased last year by Breedon Group, a leading independent supplier of construction materials to the UK market, for £251.9 million. The business reported earnings of £10.9 million last year on revenues of £121.3 million last year. Source:worldcement.com

Cement companies hike prices in north; reduce in south

Cement companies have increased the prices in the northern market by Rs 10 -15 per 50 kg bag, whereas the vice versa can be seen in the prices of cement bags in the southern market. Cement companies have increased the prices in the northern market by Rs 10 -15 per 50 kg bag, whereas the vice versa can be seen in the prices of cement bags in the southern market. Trade sources reported that hike in prices was the result of increase in input costs, as coal, petcoke & freight are the major raw materials used by cement companies and their prices have risen as compared to last year. Whereas, an official of a top cement company in the southern part of India, has informed that prices slipped in Kerala & Tamil Nadu due to weak demand. In Delhi, a cement bag is priced at around Rs 290 to Rs 320. A price hike has been adopted by almost all cement companies, the major ones being, Jaiprakash Associates, Shree Cement and Birla Corporation, though it has not been ascertained by them. Stock view: Birla Corporation Ltd opened at Rs 695.05 and has touched a high and low of Rs 695.1 and Rs 685 respectively. So far 23755(NSE+BSE) shares were traded on the counter. The current market cap of the company is Rs 5322.55 crore. The BSE group 'B' stock of face value Rs 10 has touched a 52 week high of Rs 806.75 on 01-Nov-2016 and a 52 week low of Rs 338.05 on 16-Mar-2016. Last one week high and low of the scrip stood at Rs 707.4 and Rs 687.55 respectively. The promoters holding in the company stood at 62.9 % while Institutions and Non-Institutions held 19.64 % and 17.47 % respectively. The stock is currently trading below its 50 DMA. Source:indiainfoline.com

Govt gives nod for outright sale of 3 SAIL steel plants

SAIL seeks advisors, including legal and merchant bankers, to carry out the strategic sale along with transfer of management control in the three steel plants The government has approved outright sale of state-owned SAIL's three special steel units, including Salem and Alloy Steel plants. In pursuance of the decision, SAIL has now sought advisors, including legal and merchant bankers, to carry out the strategic sale along with transfer of management control in the three steel plants—Alloy Steels Plant (ASP), Salem Steel Plant (SSP) and Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISP). "The government of India has 'in-principle' decided for strategic disinvestment of ASP, SSP and VISP of Steel Authority of India Ltd with transfer of management control," SAIL said in the request for proposal (RFP) for appointing advisors. The maharatna PSU is scouting for transaction advisor from professional consulting firm, investment bankers, financial institutions, to provide advisory services and manage the disinvestment process. The transaction advisor will advise SAIL on the modalities and timing of the strategic disinvestment of the three steel plans and prepare a detailed operational scheme to successfully implement the process, indicating tentative timelines for each activity. The firm will also finalise the process of strategic sale as to whether it will be done through bidding or auction and assist SAIL in fixing the range of the fair reserve price considering the valuation of the divesting plants. The reserve price will be based on valuation methods like discounted cash flow, relative valuation, and asset based valuation. Along with the report of asset value, it will highlight the pros and cons of adopting these methods of valuation. The strategic sale of these three units is likely to happen only in the next financial year beginning April. The government has budgeted to raise Rs15,000 crore from strategic disinvestment in 2017-18. ASP is located at Durgapur in West Bengal spread over around 467.22 hectares. It has a diverse product portfolio of over 400 grades catering to end-use by strategic sectors like defence, railways, automobiles, power plants, heavy engineering and manufacturing industries. SSP in Tamil Nadu can produce stainless steel in the form of coils and sheets with an installed capacity of 70,000 tonnes a year in cold rolling mill and 3.64 lakh tonnes a year in hot rolling mill. Located in Bhadravati, Karnataka, VISP produces high quality alloy and special steels and pig iron. The unit has an installed capacity of 2.16 lakh tonnes of hot metal and 98,280 tonnes of alloy and special steels.

Bengaluru flyover scrapped; public anger melts steel

Insiders say the real trigger for the climbdown was the Govindaraju Diary. After months of turning a deaf ear to the growing anger among the citizenry on plans to build a steel flyover across one of the most beautiful stretches in the heart of the city, the Siddaramaiah government on Thursday, abruptly called off plans to construct the Rs 1800 crore eyesore that was fast becoming a monument to alleged Congress corruption. As Bengaluru's activists and environmentalists celebrated their unexpected victory, and took credit for the government's apparent climbdown, that would save over 800 trees from being cut down, with some saying that a rap on the knuckles by the National Green Tribunal could be the cause, the real reason for the government's backing off may lie elsewhere. Specifically - the 'Diary wars' and the unsubstantiated but nonetheless damaging accusations on payoffs that may have been a little too close to home that was threatening to snowball into a major corruption scandal, a little more than a year before state polls. The Govindaraju Diary, dismissed as "fake" by the ruling Congress was the final straw, as it has a specific mention of the Steel Flyover Project and the monies paid against it. Sources in the party said that the revelations in the diary of the chief minister's parliamentary secretary were deeply embarrassing. The party tried to counter this by releasing a diary, purported to belong to Lehar Singh Siroya, a BJP functionary and MLC. But that failed as it did not grab the attention of the media and public as much as the Govindaraju Diary did. Continuing with his allegations of kickbacks, the BJP state president, B.S. Yeddyurappa upped the ante when when he alleged that Rs 65 crore was paid to family members of the chief minister, Siddaramaiah. This went viral in electronic media. The government tried to put up a brave front before the media and public, but insiders said the BJP's sustained bid to destroy his reputation had deeply rattled the CM camp. The decision to tackle the charges head on was one of the plans but at a hurriedly called meeting, convened by the CM camp of all the city ministers and MLAs at a brain storming session at Bengaluru Development minister, K.J. George's residence on Monday, the issue was discussed threadbare. Those who were present felt the party's image was getting mauled at the hands of an increasingly hostile media and a combative civil society that refused to back off. "If this campaign continued it would be difficult to win back the seats we hold in the next elections. To stymie the opposition's campaign and to retrieve the party's sagging image, it would be better to drop the project," many legislators and ministers including R. Ramalinga Reddy and others proposed to the chief minister. Senior ministers concurred with this idea when it was informally raised with them, after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Thereafter, CM Siddaramaiah told Mr George to announce the scrapping of the flyover project on Wednesday.Instead, Mr. George only announced he was dropping the steel flyover project after he seemed to be paying heed to a group of city MLAs at a meeting on Thursday, where they said they were getting unpopular and stood little chance of being re-elected in the coming polls if the government did not rectify the looming water shortage and the feeling that the steel flyover was a priority over drinking water. Source:deccanchronicle.com

The petcoke threat to cement companies

In the past few quarters, cement makers have been increasingly relying on petcoke since it is a cheaper alternative to coal While demand for cement has had its ups and downs each quarter, the one thing that remained constant is concern over petroleum coke or petcoke. All this while apprehensions were about movement in petcoke prices, but soon the focus might shift to environmental policies on usage of petcoke—a key input material for cement companies and a highly polluting fuel. Let’s take the cost factor first. Though average petcoke prices have declined from a peak of $96/tonne seen last year, this is not something that cement makers can cheer about. According to data provided by S&P Global Platts, the price of petcoke delivered to India is currently at $79/tonne. Similarly, prices of thermal coal, Richards Bay 5,500 kilocalorie/kg net as received, a grade bought by Indian buyers, has cooled off from its high of $78.05/tonne last year to $73.61/tonne in January 2017. But on a year-on-year basis, petcoke and coal prices are still double of what they were, and most cement makers are likely to have exhausted low-cost petcoke inventory by now. Thus, as some analysts point out, the full impact of the movement in petcoke and coal prices is expected to be felt in the current quarter, hurting profitability. Power and fuel cost account for 27-29% of the total operating costs for cement companies and with petcoke and coal prices still high, the impact on margins could be in the range of 250-350 basis points in fiscal year 2018 if they fail to pass it on, rating agency India Ratings and Research said in a report. Now, let’s move on to a larger problem that might be awaiting cement makers. According to some media reports, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority is considering imposing a ban on polluting industrial fuels such as fuel oil and petcoke in the National Capital Region in a bid to curb air pollution. Expectations are that the government might extend the policy on polluting fuels to other parts of the country over a period of time. In the past few quarters, cement makers have been increasingly relying on petcoke since it is a cheaper alternative to coal. What makes the latter dearer is a clean environment cess of Rs 400/tonne currently levied on it. Thus, taxes on petcoke or restriction on its usage as a fuel for cement plants would push operating costs higher, adversely impacting margins. A recent Kotak Institutional Equities report has highlighted two scenarios and its impact on earnings of some large-cap cement companies (see chart above). First, substitution of petcoke with e-auction coal would result in a nearly 21% increase in per unit fuel costs. This doesn’t include the impact of higher transportation costs. Second, imposition of a clean environment cess of Rs800 per tonne on petcoke usage would result in a nearly 10% increase in per unit fuel costs, the report said. Yes, one way out of this mess could be to raise cement prices and pass the burden on to the consumers. But the question is, in an environment where demand is still not very strong, will cement makers be able to raise prices? Source:livemint.com

Mixing a better cement

By examining how cement works at the molecular level, scientists at Halliburton created a lighter but stronger and more flexible cement for horizontal shale wells. One of the primary problems in horizontal shales is that the harsh environments in subterranean basins require lighter slurries to prevent breaking down the formation during the cement job. A secondary issue is preventing lost circulation, which occurs when the slurry flows into the formation rather than returning up the annulus to the desired top-of-cement location. In 2011, Halliburton went to work engineering a lighter but stronger cement that would become known as NeoCem cement. The company invested five years and $6 million in research and development to create a lighter but stronger and more ductile slurry, says Ron Morgan, Halliburton’s chief technical advisor for cementing. “We studied the physics and the chemistry. We’ve gone back to the basics, physico-chemistry,” Morgan says. “There are some very bright chemists that started looking at this from a basic chemistry point of view of how cement does its work.” Ordinary Portland cement is commonly composed of calcium, silica, aluminum, iron and other ingredients. Halliburton’s experts looked at how cement “does what it does,” he says, then looked at how to accomplish that while reducing Portland cement but adding other materials to achieve the required mechanical behaviours. Using its iCEM modelling software and the central laboratory at the Northbelt Technology Center in Houston, Halliburton cementing specialists identified a way to quantify whether a given material could help meet the needed requirements. Researchers drew on the institution’s understanding of the unique chemistries of more than 150 materials. “We developed internal proprietary methods to measure the efficacy or functionality of a given material,” Morgan says. Those methods, whether applied in the Houston facility or in field laboratories, make it possible to evaluate and help maximise the use of local materials to make the lighter cement. Brian Pfeiff, Halliburton account representative to Continental, explains: “We’re not looking at it the same way we did 10 years ago. It’s a different approach to building a slurry. It’s a different, engineered approach.” Field trial Continental Resources had wells in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) where they had been unable to consistently get slurries to the desired top of cement in the intermediate casing strings. The slurries were breaking down the weak formation, resulting in significant losses of both drilling fluids and slurries. “One of your worst nightmares is you can’t get the cement where you want it,” Morgan says. When Halliburton proposed a NeoCem solution to Continental, Pfeiff says, “it was a mixed bag” of responses. Some people were doubtful because it was a change in the slurry material, while others were excited about the possibilities. “The wells that Continental was drilling, and its activity in the SCOOP, were becoming ever more challenging,” Pfeiff says. The cement jobs before had been of the “pump and pray” variety. iCEM Service models showing comparisons of NeoCem and traditional slurries led to a buy-in from the operator, Pfeiff says. Continental signed on for a five-well pilot programme that began in July 2015. “We did it with 100% success. We logged and could clearly see the bonding. We had success with tops and returns,” he says. “One of the really promising things is we expected no returns on one well. We re-established returns on cementing, when before there were total losses.” Pfeiff says NeoCem repeatedly passed the formation integrity tests, showed improved bond logs, and reached top of cement on the Continental jobs. “We have taken this from concept with Continental to widespread adoption,” he says. “Every well they drill in the southern region has NeoCem in it. Not just the intermediate (casing).” The technology has evolved since the companies began working together on the SCOOP pilot. Continental has been a first adopter of NeoCem for multistage, single-density, foam, single design variable density and multi-mile extended lateral jobs, Pfeiff says. “They’ve done very difficult and challenging wells.” Track record As of late January 2017, Halliburton had pumped more than 500,000 barrels of NeoCem for more than 90 different customers on more than 1350 jobs. Compared to traditional slurries, Morgan says, it has consistently shown a 32% improvement in compressive strength. “Usually when you make a cement lighter, it’s not stronger,” he says. “It’s like we’re making a stone wall out of lighter rocks and bricks but stronger than a conventional brick wall. “We’ve done that by understanding the chemistry and physics down to the microscopic level.” According to Morgan, NeoCem has shown 170% improvement in toughness and a 35% improvement in relative elasticity. Morgan says customers also report a 50% improvement in the operating range of the equivalent circulating density (ECD) pressure. The ability to mix a single-density blend that can be pumped at multiple densities for both the lead and tail will help save operators money by eliminating the requirement for a two-stage downhole tool, he adds. The slurry has improved stability in liquid form to prevent particles from settling out. It can be prepared at Halliburton’s bulk plant and pumped with existing equipment, so the engineer can use familiar equipment. Because of the slurry’s lower viscosity, it can be pumped in small spaces in lateral sections, meaning it fills in the “tiniest spaces behind the casing, and that’s what gives us a good bond log,” Morgan says. The slurry develops its mechanical strength in 40% to 50% less time than traditional slurries, which reduces rig time, he says, adding that a majority of operators report improved or significantly improved bond logs. Improved elasticity helps it better withstand the multiple frack stages commonplace with in horizontal wells, he says. “It takes a very tough, ductile, forgiving cement not to shatter up and down the wellbore when they’re pressuring up for a frack job.”The improvements have not come at the cost of affordability, Morgan points out. “The customers are expecting nanotechnology prices, and they’re pleasantly surprised when it’s not.” NeoCem has about one-fifth of the internal market share in Halliburton’s North American cementing division, Morgan says, and the adoption rate in Permian basin intermediate and production cementing jobs has reached 60% of the company’s jobs. The service company has efforts under way to take the technology to the Eastern Hemisphere and Latin America, where local sourcing of materials could help simplify the supply chain. “We’re pushed every day, with longer laterals and lower ECD limits,” Pfeiff says. “Can we go and tighten up properties on heavier slurries? Can we go even lower weight than we are? We are currently pushing the boundaries in every direction.” Source:upstreamonline.com

China Said to Order Steel, Aluminum Curbs to Fight Pollution

China has ordered curbs on steel and aluminum output in as many as 28 northern cities during the winter heating season as it steps up its fight against pollution, according to people with knowledge of the matter.The cuts include halving steel capacity in four major cities, including top producer Tangshan in Hebei province, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. The other cities are Shijiazhuang and Handan in Hebei, and Anyang in the neighboring province of Henan. The plan calls for cuts in aluminum capacity of more than 30 percent across 28 cities, and by about 30 percent for alumina capacity, according to the people, who cited an order issued late last month by authorities including the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the National Development and Reform Commission. The plan doesn’t specify which heating season -- which typically runs from November to March -- will be affected by the curbs, nor a figure for the total capacity involved. A draft of the order circulated in January. ‘Huge Losses’ “The cities mentioned in Hebei have 70 to 80 percent of the province’s total capacity,” Yu Chen, an analyst with consultancy Mysteel Research, said by phone from Shanghai. “A 50 percent cut will lead to huge production losses, which may lead to short-term tightness in steel supply,” he said. “It won’t have an immediate impact, though, given the current heating season is ending soon,” said Yu. “The full impact will also depend on the detailed measures taken by local governments to implement the order.” Steel reinforcement bar in Shanghai rose 2.1 percent to 3,542 yuan a ton. “These measures, if well executed, could bring potential upside risk to aluminum, alumina and steel prices in China,” analysts led by Jack Shang at Citigroup Inc. said in an emailed note. They could lead to a 5 percent loss in the nation’s total aluminum production, 9 percent in alumina and 3 percent in steel, the analysts said, assuming a four-month halt.China is the world’s top producer and consumer of the metals. U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa Corp.’s chief executive officer said earlier that China’s aluminum curtailments could be a “game changer” for the market if implemented. Aluminum in Shanghai added 3 percent, the biggest gain since Nov. 10, to 14,180 yuan a ton. Calls to the environmental ministry’s news department weren’t answered. The NDRC, China’s top economic planning agency, didn’t respond to a fax seeking comment. Air pollution peaks in winter due to coal-fired heating. The plan follows a directive last week in which China ordered steel mills in northern Hebei province and Tianjin municipality to curb output to ensure air quality during the annual parliament meeting in Beijing this month. Source:bloomberg.com

India Ratings cuts growth outlook for cement on demonetization impact

India Ratings and Research revised down its growth estimates for India's cement sector to 3%-3.5% from 4%-6% earlier for the next financial year, citing the negative impact of demonetisation. India banned currency bills of higher denomination late last year with the intention to suck the access cash from the economy into the banking system and punish cash hoarders who were illegally functioning outside the tax net. The cancelled 500- and 1,000-rupee bills made up for 86 percent of country's cash circulation. The rating agency maintained a 'stable' outlook on Indian cement manufacturers for the next financial year, citing expected stable demand on the back on increase in government expenditure despite increased in input costs. The rating agency said it expects the credit profile of cement manufacturers to remain stable on stable operating profitability and in the absence of debt-led capital expenditure. It expects the cement industry to grow 4%-5% in 2018 fiscal, driven largely by the demand stemming from infrastructure activities and a revival in housing demand in rural areas, both led by government spending. The rating agency said it believes that a 38% increase in the allocation of funds towards the housing sector under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna and 23% increase in spending of the ministry of road transport and highways to Rs. 290 billion and Rs. 649, respectively, would increase cement demand in FY18. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Domestic Steel prices to rebound taking cues from global price rise

KOLKATA: Steel prices are climbing up globally with a 3 per cent increase in rates over the last few days. While a perk up in Chinese demand from infrastructure and construction has been robust this year, industry watchers say the key point is that domestic steel prices which are faltering now, are poised to rebound taking a cue from it. Spot prices of internationally traded hot rolled cols in Asia increased last week regional buyers accepted higher offers that reflected strong Chinese domestic prices, Platts said in its Steel Business Briefing on Monday.

Commodities rebound pans out nicely for stainless steel

Rising share prices, bigger profits and larger payouts restore lustre Stainless steel is regaining its shine. After falling victim like many other basic industries to the global commodities downturn, companies that specialise in the rustproof metal are enjoying a change in their fortunes. An upwards spiral in share prices, bigger profits and increased payouts to investors is helping to restore the lustre in this niche of the steel market. “It’s very clear we are now in a recovery process,” says Bernardo Velázquez Herreros, chief executive of Spanish group Acerinox. “We are optimistic for the future.” Although stainless steel accounts for a tiny fraction of all steel produced worldwide, it is an important market as the metal goes into household appliances, medical goods, cars and water treatment equipment. Its use is also widening as developing countries transform into consumer economies with aspirations of higher living standards. A record 45.6m tonnes were churned out worldwide last year, according to estimates from steel consultancy Meps. There are three listed pure-play stainless steelmakers, including Acerinox. They are all based in Europe but with international operations — and all of them are riding a wave of rising prices and buoyant demand for the metal as consolidation, a reduction in capacity and trade policy have helped spur recovery. The revival was highlighted this month by Luxembourg-based Aperam, which raised its dividend by a fifth and unveiled a $100m share buyback, as it reported a near one-quarter jump in annual net income to $214m. That was despite a 10 per cent decrease in revenues to $4.3bn, mainly due to a price slump in 2016. A week before, its rival Outokumpu of Finland revealed its first core annual operating profit since 2007 and proposed reinstating dividend payments after a six-year gap. Seth Rosenfeld, analyst at Jefferies, described the decision as “a symbolically important step for this previously beleaguered company”. Over the past year, shares in Acerinox and Aperam have gained more than one-third and 56 per cent, respectively, while Outokumpu’s stock price has more than tripled. Each company has a market value of about €4bn. The almost year-long rally in the metal follows a collapse in general steel prices that wrought havoc on producers around the world. “What we see today is that from the trough of last year, prices have recovered,” says Timoteo Di Maulo, chief executive of Aperam. Benchmark grades of cold rolled stainless coil became cheaper during the first quarter of last year than at any point since 2009 in the US, and 2003 in Germany, according to data provider CRU. A key factor in the reversal is climbing prices for nickel and chromium, elements that endow stainless steel with corrosion resistance and toughness. Although the cost of these alloying agents is passed on directly, when they are falling buyers of stainless steel tend to put off purchases in anticipation of the metal becoming cheaper still. “Last year, in terms of prices, we’ve experienced the lowest level that we could have imagined [for some] commodities,” says Mr Di Maulo. The situation became unsustainable, he argues, as some nickel suppliers were selling below their own production costs. Yet anchoring the stainless steel recovery is the apparent resolution of fundamental problems that have dogged the wider steel sector. “Stainless [steel] was considered a worse industry than [standard] carbon steel a few years ago, but that led to three key things: consolidation, capacity reduction and trade policy,” says Mr Rosenfeld of Jefferies. Closures of underused factories have partially dealt with excess production capacity, a chronic issue for the steel industry. When plants are not filled with orders, their high fixed costs weigh heavily on profits and companies lose the power to set prices. Outokumpu led the charge following its €2.7bn acquisition of Inoxum, the stainless steel unit of German industrial group ThyssenKrupp, in 2012, shutting about two-fifths of its combined European melting capacity. “But even after that consolidation we still saw bad industry profitability due to lots of imports coming into Europe,” adds Mr Rosenfeld. After Chinese steel mills flooded international markets with surplus material, the EU slapped anti-dumping tariffs on stainless steel sold at lowball prices in early 2015. The US followed suit last year. The move by Brussels stemmed an “incredible surge” of stainless steel shipments from China, says Mr Di Maulo. “It has helped prices a little bit, but also helps European companies to recover the production volumes that they need,” he adds. Stainless steel companies say the measures are complementing internal efforts to cut costs, reduce debt and offer higher-value product. Chris de la Camp, chief financial officer at Outokumpu, says the sector is also being aided by an uptick in Asian demand — particularly in China, which produces half the world’s steel. “When China grows, it keeps the pressure off Chinese material moving elsewhere,” he adds. But for others, the world’s monolithic producer remains an uncertain variable in the equation. “The main risk is China. It’s a black box,” says Mr Velázquez of Acerinox. “If they maintain their promise to reorganise the steel sector, try to consolidate and not increase the excess capacity, then the market will come back to reasonable and healthy levels. If not, then who knows what will happen.” Source:www.ft.com

Fives commissions mills at projects in Mexico and Qatar

Mexico/Qatar: Fives has released information on cement plant projects in Mexico and Qatar. It commissioned a second FCB Horomill unit on 31 January 2017 at the cement grinding plant of Cementos Fortaleza, as part of the new 3300t/day complete line under construction at the Tula cement plant in Hidalgo. The first unit was commissioned in early December 2016. Fives FCB was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract from Cementos Fortaleza in mid-2015 for the design, supply, erection and commissioning of the cement production line. It includes a burning line using a FCB Kiln, FCB Zero-NOx Precalciner, FCB Preheater and Pillard Novaflam burner; raw meal and cement grinding plants using FCB Horomill and associated FCB TSV™ Classifiers; and a petcoke grinding plant using a FCB B-mill and associated FCB TSV Classifier. The FCB Horomill raw meal grinding plant and FCB Kiln are scheduled for commissioned in the second quarter of 2017.In Qatar, Fives commissioned a cement milling unit on 6 February 2017 for Qatar National Cement Co.'s fifth production line in Umm Bab. This follows the commissioning of another mill at the site on 25 January 2017. The mills are part of a 5000t/day production line that Fives is building for the client covering raw material preparation to cement despatch. The equipment ordered includes one 6400 kW FCB B‑mill with a FCB TSV7500 Classifier for the raw meal grinding plant, one five-stage FCB Preheater and a FCB Zero-NOx Precalciner, along with a FCB Kiln for the burning line, two TGT process filters and two 4200 KW FCB B‑mills with their FCB TSV4000 Classifiers for the cement grinding plant. Source:globalcement.com

Steel Producers Oppose Plans to Cut Import Tariffs

Iran Steel Producers Association has voiced its opposition to plans to reduce import tariffs on a number of steel products in an open letter to the First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri last week. According to the association, the letter was written in reaction to the Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh’s suggestion to Jahangiri back in December, Bourse Press reported. Nematzadeh called for reducing duties on less than 0.5 mm thick cold-rolled coils and less than 0.3 mm hot-rolled coils from 20% to 10%, and semi-finished non-alloy iron and steel products with less than 25% carbon (such as billets, blooms and slabs) from 15% to 5%. Rebounding global steel prices, rising local demand and domestic producers’ inability to sustain an adequate supply have been cited as the reasons behind the industries minister’s proposal. Iran Trade Promotion Organization’s Article One Commission, which comprises representatives of the ministries of industries, agriculture and economy, as well as those of the Central Bank of Iran and Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, has agreed to the minister’s proposal. The government has yet to announce when the new rates will come into force. “The supply of flat steel in the domestic market is slightly lower than demand, which can be balanced by imports,” said deputy minister of industries, mining and trade, Jafar Sarqeyni. “The cessation of Chinese steel dumping has prompted the government to lower the tariff wall.” The new duty rate would mark the first reduction of tariffs since January 2016. Addressing the first vice president, Iran Steel Producers Association described Nematzadeh’s proposal as “uninformed” and “unprofessional”. The association criticized the government for making sensitive decisions regarding the industry without consulting the association and called for a revision of the plan before it is enacted. At present, import duties are set at 15% for semi-finished products, 20-26% for flat products (excluding stainless steel) and 26% for most long products, including I-beams and H-beams. Risk of Bankruptcy Iran Steel Producers Association claims the main motive of the Industries Ministry for lowering tariffs is to meet the flat steel demand of Tavan Avar Steel Industries Company–one of Iran’s largest producers of tin-plated sheets and plates based in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province and a member of the association.“This is while the new tariff codes proposed [by the ministry] include other grades of CRC with less than 0.5 mm thickness, the producers of which are operating at less than half their actual capacity due to depressed local demand,” reads the letter. The association suggested splitting tariff codes on less than 0.5 mm thick coils into two new sections: duties on 0.3 mm thick CRC to be halved to 10% and more than 0.3 thick coils to retain their 20% levy. It also criticized the proposal to lower duties on slab and ingot imports, while Iran’s 5-million-ton slab output capacity is more than double the local demand. Iranian billet and bloom producers are operating at 60% of their nominal capacity. The association said the reduction in import duties on billets, blooms and slabs will take the limited number of producers still afloat to the brink of bankruptcy. It called on Jahangiri to return the proposed plan to the Industries Ministry for more expert analysis through talks with representatives of the private sector. Producers on Alert Lowering the steel tariff bulwark will hurt local producers, says Aziz Qanavati, managing director of Kashan Amir Kabir Steel Company. The company is a subsidiary of Iran’s largest steelmaker, Mobarakeh Steel Company, and a producer of galvanized sheets. “Most Iranian industries are still using old production technologies and have high production costs. Consequently, we cannot compete with foreign offerings due to their lower prices,” he said. Iranian steel mills produced 17.89 million tons of crude steel in 2016, registering a 10.8% growth compared with the previous year, according to World Steel Association. The data also show Iran’s steel sector registered the sixth fastest growth in the world after Serbia, Pakistan, Greece, Libya and Macedonia. Furthermore, the country’s major steelmakers exported over 4.12 million tons of crude steel and steel products in the nine months to December 20, registering a 55% growth compared with last year’s corresponding period, according to IMIDRO. Zakariya Nayebi, the head of research and development at Fulad Nab Tabriz Company, also doubled down on Qanavati’s remarks. “We are grappling with a crisis right now. Lowering import duties will worsen the situation,” Nayebi declared, adding that the construction sector is still stagnated and demand is depressed. Pipe, Profile Manufacturers to Benefit Despite the criticism leveled by Iran Steel Producers Association, the move to reduce import tariffs is regarded as a positive development for domestic steel industry’s downstream sectors, especially Iran’s Syndicate of Steel Pipe and Profile Manufacturers who had to shoulder the brunt of market pressure. “The industries minister finally saw eye to eye with the syndicate. What we ask next is to implement the new tariffs as soon as possible to save the market from recession and high prices,” said the syndicate secretary, Amir Hossein Kaveh. Kaveh, who is also a member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, criticized the government for dragging its feet. “For the past year, we maintained our position that high tariff rates will hurt local producers. What we had to do all along was limiting raw material exports and manufacturing high value-added products,” he said. He also slammed Iran’s major flat steel producers for not being able to supply the local market and prioritize exports. This is while global steel prices are steadily rising, which will make it even harder for steel pipe and profile manufacturers to meet their requirements. As a case in point, Mobarakeh Steel Company reached an agreement with the syndicate back in March to supply them with 600,000 tons of 2-mm sheets and 200,000 tons of less than 2-mm hot-rolled coils during the first half of the current fiscal year (March 20-Sept. 21). According to Kaveh, MSC failed to live up to the agreement, leaving syndicate members high and dry. Together with its subsidiaries, MSC is the largest flat steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa region and Iran’s largest steelmaker, accounting for 1% of Iran’s GDP. The company accounts for approximately 50% of the country’s total steel output and also holds the same share in domestic flat steel consumption, which stood at about 7.5 million tons in the last fiscal year. Source:financialtribune.com

Ambuja Cements: higher profits are not enough

In the December quarter, Ambuja Cements’s stand-alone net profit surged nearly 60% year-on-year to Rs175.88 crore, but net sales were down 6.7% at Rs2,197 crore Ambuja Cements Ltd’s stock fell nearly 3% intraday on BSE on Tuesday and ended the trading session in the red. Investor nervousness indicates that a beat on the profit parameter is not enough to please the Street. In the quarter ended December, the cement maker’s stand-alone net profit surged nearly 60% year-on-year to Rs175.88 crore, but net sales were down 6.7% at Rs2,197 crore. A Bloomberg poll of analysts estimated net profit and net sales at Rs156.5 crore and Rs2,219 crore, respectively. Ambuja Cements, a pan-India company, follows a January-December fiscal year. Cement volumes declined 8.8% year-on-year to five million tonnes in the fourth quarter as demand remained weak due to a cash crunch in the trade segment. This fall, which signals a loss of market share for Ambuja Cements, came as a disappointment. It remains to be seen how the company addresses this. Price realizations were down sequentially, but increased on a year-on-year basis. Secondly, on the cost front, power and fuel expenses fell year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter, but freight cost jumped sequentially. Its Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) margin improved by 50 basis points to 13.4%, year-on-year. A basis point is 0.01%. This time around, higher usage of petroleum coke (pet coke) has aided the overall profitability, but going ahead, operating efficiency is likely to be limited. As some analysts point out, the gap between low-cost pet coke and high-cost fuel has now narrowed to a large extent, so the benefits seen earlier will now wane. Ambuja Cements increased usage of pet coke to 65% in the fourth quarter, up from 50% a year ago. According to a Kotak Institutional Equities report, the company’s operating cost per tonne increased 2% year-on-year to Rs3,804 in the December quarter. The management expects cement demand to improve due to government initiatives. However, unlike some peers, it hasn’t indicated any capacity addition which, according to some analysts, is a cause for concern, apart from other factors like escalating input costs, falling market share and weaker price trends. Most brokerage firms are cautious on the stock. According to an HDFC Securities Ltd report, Ambuja Cements will continue to lag peers in all likelihood and benefits from the merger with ACC Ltd will continue to be evasive. On the valuations front, Ambuja Cements is trading at a one-year forward price-to-earnings multiple of 21.79 times. Though lower than peers like UltraTech Cement Ltd and Shree Cement Ltd, it is not cheap and the positives are largely factored into the valuation. Source:livemint.com

India extends anti-dumping duty on some Chinese steel items by 5 yrs

India has extended anti-dumping duty on some steel products from China by five years, in a bid to retain protectionist barriers and stem the tide of cheap foreign products. The long-term measure, on the import of seamless tubes, pipes and hollow profiles of iron, alloy or non-alloy steel, stands effective as of May 17 last year when the government had imposed a provisional anti-dumping duty, according to the circular. Earlier this month, Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma told Reuters there was a "strong case" for imposing long-term anti-dumping duties on up to 124 steel products over the next two months. Between April and January, India's steel imports fell 37.8 percent year-on-year, data from a government body showed, primarily due to the slew of protectionist steps announced by the government. Indian steelmakers such as JSW Steel, Tata Steel, and Steel Authority of India have lobbied for more measures to protect them from cheaper imports from China, Japan and South Korea. Source:in.reuters.com

Tick 'cement' as a potential bioadhesive for human tissue

Ticks are well known for their ability to anchor themselves firmly to the skin, so that they can suck blood for several days. This anchoring mechanism is so effective because it is based on a cement-like substance with excellent adhesive properties, so that it works like a dowel for the mouthparts of the tick. Researchers from MedUni Vienna and Vienna University of Technology want to study this "tick cement" and recreate it chemically for use in biomaterial research. "It is totally conceivable that, in future, it will be possible to use this substance to produce a biological adhesive for human tissue, for example for anchoring tendons and ligaments to bone without using any metal," says project leader Sylvia Nürnberger from the Department of Trauma Surgery, outlining the objectives of the research work started in 2016 and the project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which is also part of the EU COST Action. COST is a European network for collaborating on national and international research activities in the field of science and technology, including that of bioadhesion. The EU "Bioadhesives" network, coordinated by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatology, currently comprises 150 researchers from 30 countries. As part of this project, Nürnberger is working with Martina Marchetti-Deschmann from Vienna University of Technology to study the composition of the natural tick "dowel" and how it could serve as a template for new tissue adhesives. "The tissue adhesives that are currently used in surgery, for example for serious skin injuries or liver tears, are toxic to some extent," explains the MedUni Vienna researcher. On the other hand, other adhesives are not strong enough. Biological alternatives would therefore be ideal. The research project should help to find new alternatives and applications for existing adhesive products for skin, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. Currently 300 Austrian ticks and their "cement" are being analysed and studied at MedUni Vienna. This involves the creatures biting through a skin-like membrane, causing the adhesive to be secreted and cured. During the course of this year, giants ticks are going to be studied for this purpose in South Africa. Other potential bioadhesive donors Using the adhesive threads of blue mussels, the adhesive molecule of which, DOPA (a modification of the amino acid tyrosine) is already in the preclinical trial phase, an international research group has already succeeded in replicating and producing alternative adhesives. "However, because of its low bonding strength, the DOPA bonding mechanism is not suitable for all medical applications, so that there is still a need for new adhesives," explains Nürnberger. Other potential "adhesive donors" are sea cucumbers, which shoot sticky threads out of their sac; species of salamander, which secrete extremely fast-drying adhesive out of skin glands, if attacked; or insect larvae, which produce tentacles or crabs, which can remain firmly "stuck," even under water. Source:www.sciencedaily.com

Is Shree Cement’s rich valuation warranted?

Since Shree Cement has been expanding its footprint, a slew of brokerage houses are gung-ho on the stock, citing it to be a beneficiary of cement demand recovery Shree Cement’s December quarter earnings were marred by the performance of its power segment, which incurred a loss at the operating level, thus impacting overall profitability. In the cement segment, volumes improved 4.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 4.91 million tonnes (mt) due to capacity additions in east India, but realizations declined sequentially as prices corrected sharply in both eastern and northern markets post demonetization. On a y-o-y basis, net profit increased by a mere 0.72% to Rs235.45 crore and net sales rose 3.24% to Rs2,091.17 crore, aided by higher other income. Last but not the least, freight costs surged, pushing cement operating cost/tonne higher. Going by these factors, there’s nothing much to cheer about, but the stock’s valuations show a different picture. Shares of Shree Cement, trading at a one-year forward price-to-earnings multiple of 33.92 times, compare well with ACC Ltd and Ambuja Cements Ltd. Shree Cement is expected to have an edge over peers in the long run given positives like a less stressed balance sheet, better operating efficiency and geographical diversification. But the question to ask is, whether such rich valuations are justified? The answer probably is that current valuations already reflect the aforementioned factors. More importantly, there are concerns which cannot be ignored. Cement volumes would remain sluggish in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab due to elections thus impacting cement realizations. Brokerages Reliance Securities Ltd and Karvy Stock Broking have trimmed their Ebitda estimates for FY17, FY18 and FY19 to factor subdued realizations in key markets. Ebitda stands for earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization. Secondly, freight and energy costs would weigh on margins as they are expected to harden. Also, how soon volumes in the power segment revive is key. Shree Cement is on a capacity addition spree and aims to become a 40mt capacity company by FY19. It will incur a cost of Rs1,800 crore to add clinker capacity of 2.80 mtpa and cement capacity of 3 mtpa in Karnataka. This integrated project will be funded through internal accruals and is expected to be completed by December 2018. Though the company has been adding capacity without leverage, some analysts don’t favour this move simply because south India already has excess capacity. Meanwhile, it has announced a one-time special dividend of Rs100 for every equity share held. Since the company has been expanding its footprint in various regions, a slew of brokerage houses are gung-ho on the stock citing it to be a beneficiary of cement demand recovery. When this anticipated revival will finally happen is anybody’s guess, but for now valuations need to correct. Source:livemint.com

‘Budget builds demand for cement’

The Budget’s thrust on infrastructure and the rural sector is expected to increase cement consumption on a sustained basis, according to Vijay Patil, Executive Director, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Limited. However, the progress of the projects and the rate of execution is key. Going ahead, he expects cement prices to strengthen as demand picks up with the start of the peak season for construction. Excerpts from the interview: What is the impact of the housing and infrastructure thrust in the Budget on the cement sector? The Budget has given the necessary focus on the infrastructure and housing sectors. About 15 per cent increase in capital outlay for infrastructure projects will help create cement demand in roads, railway projects, irrigation and port projects. The national highways projects and rural road projects that were launched in the earlier years are being implemented and this is helping cement offtake. Affordable housing being given infrastructural status in the Budget will provide impetus to this sector which has a high need and demand. In addition, the interest subsidy incentives for affordable housing finance will provide boost to affordable housing. There are already several project launches in this category. The continued effort of the Government to boost rural development has been re-emphasised in the Budget. Two major initiatives — ₹23,000 crore for PM Awas Yojna and the development of 300 urban clusters — will play an important role in achieving this objective. In addition, higher allocation to MNEGRA scheme will increase rural income and have a catalytic effect on rural consumption. These measures will help the cement industry as it will lead to increased and sustained levels of cement consumption. However, the progress of the projects and the rate of execution will determine growth in cement demand. Where are the prices headed over the next one year? Could you give us a regional perspective? In the South, cement prices have been more or less stable this year. In the East and in the North, the prices have remained weak the entire fiscal year. This has been due to low cement demand growth (demand was almost flat compared to previous year) as well as some new capacities that were commissioned. Going ahead, cement prices should strengthen as demand picks up due to start of the peak season for construction. When will demand recover to 6 per cent growth levels? The drop in cement offtake in November-December due to the demonetisation effect has returned to levels prior to demonetisation. In the current fiscal, the all India growth till December 2016 has been low at about 3 per cent. The implementation of the ongoing infrastructure projects as well as new projects announced in the Budget will improve growth. With the expected revival in rural economy due to good agricultural output, supported by rural housing projects, rural roads etc, rural cement demand should improve. The urban organised housing is still going through a slowdown; however, we expect construction work to improve in the next fiscal. To what extent has demonetisation affected the sector? When do you expect it to return to its pre-demonetisation condition? The impact of demonetisation on cement trade was varied across different regions. It was minimal in the South and West as compared to the North and East. The Budget’s thrust on infrastructure and the rural sector is expected to increase cement consumption on a sustained basis, according to Vijay Patil, Executive Director, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Limited. However, the progress of the projects and the rate of execution is key. Going ahead, he expects cement prices to strengthen as demand picks up with the start of the peak season for construction. Excerpts from the interview: What is the impact of the housing and infrastructure thrust in the Budget on the cement sector? The Budget has given the necessary focus on the infrastructure and housing sectors. About 15 per cent increase in capital outlay for infrastructure projects will help create cement demand in roads, railway projects, irrigation and port projects. The national highways projects and rural road projects that were launched in the earlier years are being implemented and this is helping cement offtake. Affordable housing being given infrastructural status in the Budget will provide impetus to this sector which has a high need and demand. In addition, the interest subsidy incentives for affordable housing finance will provide boost to affordable housing. There are already several project launches in this category. The continued effort of the Government to boost rural development has been re-emphasised in the Budget. Two major initiatives — ₹23,000 crore for PM Awas Yojna and the development of 300 urban clusters — will play an important role in achieving this objective. In addition, higher allocation to MNEGRA scheme will increase rural income and have a catalytic effect on rural consumption. These measures will help the cement industry as it will lead to increased and sustained levels of cement consumption. However, the progress of the projects and the rate of execution will determine growth in cement demand. Where are the prices headed over the next one year? Could you give us a regional perspective? In the South, cement prices have been more or less stable this year. In the East and in the North, the prices have remained weak the entire fiscal year. This has been due to low cement demand growth (demand was almost flat compared to previous year) as well as some new capacities that were commissioned. Going ahead, cement prices should strengthen as demand picks up due to start of the peak season for construction. When will demand recover to 6 per cent growth levels? The drop in cement offtake in November-December due to the demonetisation effect has returned to levels prior to demonetisation. In the current fiscal, the all India growth till December 2016 has been low at about 3 per cent. The implementation of the ongoing infrastructure projects as well as new projects announced in the Budget will improve growth. With the expected revival in rural economy due to good agricultural output, supported by rural housing projects, rural roads etc, rural cement demand should improve. The urban organised housing is still going through a slowdown; however, we expect construction work to improve in the next fiscal. To what extent has demonetisation affected the sector? When do you expect it to return to its pre-demonetisation condition? The impact of demonetisation on cement trade was varied across different regions. It was minimal in the South and West as compared to the North and East. Source:thehindubusinessline.com

Use of local steel may be made compulsory for govt orders

The Steel Ministry plans to make use of domestically manufactured steel for government contracts mandatory. Speaking to BusinessLine on the sidelines of the Make in Steel conference here, Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said: “We are looking at coming out with a provision in government tenders to mandate using domestically manufactured steel for the grades that are available in India. The contractor can import grades of steel that are not available in the desired quantity in the country.” The move to mandate domestic sourcing coincides with the government’s plans to aid local steel manufacturers, who have been reeling under heavy losses due to dumping by Chinese companies. This provision will come into force before the existing protectionist, anti-dumping duty expires, Singh said. The government has imposed an anti-dumping duty on certain hot-rolled and cold-rolled flat steel products imported from China, South Korea, Japan and Ukraine till April 17. A provision to mandate domestic consumption is in line with existing norms and the government will not have to make any legislative changes, said Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma. “Preferential treatment to steel made in India is completely within existing legal norms,” she said. Minister Singh also said the government is seeking to improve the quality of steel produced by local manufacturers. “The Bureau of Indian Standards has been engaged to set quality standards for steel manufactured in the country,” he said. “The government is working to expedite the process so that all steel consumers get the same quality of steel for a certain grade across manufacturers.” Drafy policy Under the Draft Steel Policy, 2017, the country aims to more than double the country’s steel production capacity to 300 million tonnes, by 2030-31. The move to boost domestic consumption is aimed at encouraging local manufacturing. Source:thehindubusinessline.com

US cement capacity sufficient to meet demand

The US has sufficient cement production capacity to supply even the most extensive infrastructure investment programme, according to new analysis from the Portland Cement Association (PCA), the organisation that represents US cement manufacturers. Current capacity in the sector it estimated to be 108 million tpy, with the industry currently operating at roughly 79% capacity. The industry also operates shipping terminals for the import or export of cement. Adding potential imports into the equation, the PCA estimates that the industry is capable of supplying over 150 million tpy of cement. US cement companies are also investing in capacity expansions, adding 1.3 million t in 2016, with an plans that could see capacity increase by another 1.6 million t by 2018. “Cement companies have made significant investments to increase capacity, productivity, and energy efficiency,” said PCA President and CEO, James Toscas. “Those investments and innovations will pay off, as the industry is called upon to support the infrastructure revival our country so desperately needs.” The new analysis took into account specific proposed infrastructure projects and known economic drivers, including projects aimed at improving the country’s highways, waterways, pipelines, runways and the potential border wall with Mexico. Source:worldcement.com

‘Make in Steel’ conference to be held in New Delhi on February 17

The conference will be inaugurated and addressed by Union Minister of Steel - Chaudhary Birender Singh and Steel Secretary - Aruna Sharma, besides eminent industry stalwarts and experts from India and abroad. In line with the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ vision, the second edition of ‘Make in Steel’ conference will be held in New Delhi on February 17. The conference will be inaugurated and addressed by Union Minister of Steel – Chaudhary Birender Singh and Steel Secretary – Aruna Sharma, besides eminent industry stalwarts and experts from India and abroad. It will provide a robust platform for critical issue-based discussions, showcasing cutting-edge technologies for steel making, policy planning, raw material security, supply chain, logistics and environment, a statement issued here said. The Central Government’s flagship ‘Make in India’ programme is aimed at transforming the country into a global manufacturing hub and providing strong stimulus for resurgence of India’s steel industry. This programme is especially important since the steel industry is now battling a string of formidable impediments such as low domestic consumption; high costs of coking coal, iron ore and nickel import; huge loans of steel companies; global overcapacity; and import of cheap steel products from China and Japan. This year the conference is special since it is occurring against the backdrop of uncertainty over continuance of Minimum Import Price (MIP) and anti-dumping that the government has imposed to insulate the domestic steel industry against surging imports from steel-surplus countries. Around 25 steel experts will participate in the brainstorming sessions on issues like Demand Generation in ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Transportation’, ‘Transit System’, ‘Automobiles’, ‘Rural’ and ‘Consumer Durables and General Engineering’, besides ‘Wealth from Waste: Scrap Recycling’. Experts will also discuss measures to ensure cashless transactions in steel sector in the wake of demonetisation of high value currencies and the country’s push towards becoming a less-cash economy. This year the ‘Make in Steel’ conference is being organised by KATM, a leadingmulti-commodity e-commerce platform, with support from Union Ministry of Steel, JSW Steel, Essar Steel, SAIL and NMDC. Source:financialexpress.com

NTPC plans to make cement, seeks partners

NEW DELHI: India's largest generation utility NTPCBSE 0.06 % is planning to expand into cement manufacturing with the twin objectives of utilising fly ash from its power stations and create captive demand for electricity. The state-run utility is inviting expression of interest from cement makers on Thursday, offering partnership for building the proposed cement plants in the vicinity of its power stations, company executives told TOI on Wednesday. NTPC is looking at building cement plants with annual capacity of 1 million tonne or more in the vicinity of its power stations - both in operation and under construction. These plants will be offered to the chosen partners on BOO (build, own, operate) basis. The company is also open to helping with land, water and power wherever possible. The partners will have to sign a long-term contract for sourcing ash from NTPC and will be responsible for marketing of products. "The notice seeking EOI is to gauge the interest of existing players in the cement market. The pattern of joint ventures will be decided on the basis of loacation and feasibility of each cement plant proposed by the interested manufacturers," one NTPC executive said. NTPC had first toyed with the idea of getting into cement manufacturing in 2008 and had six power stations for building cement plants. But the plan failed to get off the ground due to tepid response from cement makers. Subsequently ion 2010, the company brass decided to go it alone and initiated talks with Cement CorporationBSE 0.13 % of India. But this move too did not make much of progress. A cement foray is important for NTPC as it will help the company meet the environment ministry's norm envisaging 100% utilisation of fly ash. The company produces 65 million tonne a year of ash, part of which is being used as landfill and for brick-making, embankments etc. Besides, a cement JV will help NTPC find captive consumers for generating capacity, which are under contract with state utilities, but being surrendered by discoms either due to lack of buying capacity or availability of cheaper supplies from electricity exchanges. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

'Make in Steel' conference to be held in New Delhi on Feb 17

Govt has imposed to insulate the domestic steel industry against surging imports from steel-surplus countries. Mumbai: In line with the Prime Minister's 'Make in India' vision, the second edition of 'Make in Steel' conference will be held in New Delhi on February 17. The conference will be inaugurated and addressed by Union Minister of Steel - Chaudhary Birender Singh and Steel Secretary - Aruna Sharma, besides eminent industry stalwarts and experts from India and abroad. It will provide a robust platform for critical issue-based discussions, showcasing cutting-edge technologies for steel making, policy planning, raw material security, supply chain, logistics and environment, a statement issued here said. The Central Government's flagship 'Make in India' programme is aimed at transforming the country into a global manufacturing hub and providing strong stimulus for resurgence of India's steel industry. This programme is especially important since the steel industry is now battling a string of formidable impediments such as low domestic consumption; high costs of coking coal, iron ore and nickel import; huge loans of steel companies; global overcapacity; and import of cheap steel products from China and Japan. This year the conference is special since it is occurring against the backdrop of uncertainty over continuance of Minimum Import Price (MIP) and anti-dumping that the government has imposed to insulate the domestic steel industry against surging imports from steel-surplus countries. Around 25 steel experts will participate in the brainstorming sessions on issues like Demand Generation in 'Infrastructure', 'Transportation', 'Transit System', 'Automobiles', 'Rural' and 'Consumer Durables and General Engineering', besides 'Wealth from Waste: Scrap Recycling'. Experts will also discuss measures to ensure cashless transactions in steel sector in the wake of demonetisation of high value currencies and the country's push towards becoming a less-cash economy. This year the 'Make in Steel' conference is being organised by KATM, a leadingmulti-commodity e-commerce platform, with support from Union Ministry of Steel, JSW Steel, Essar Steel, SAIL and NMDC. Source:deccanchronicle.com

Buy Star Ferro & Cement; target of Rs 125: Centrum

Centrum is bullish on Star Ferro & Cement has recommended buy rating on the stock with a target price of Rs 125 in its research report dated February 09, 2017. Centrum's research report on Star Ferro & Cement Star Ferro & Cement’s (SFCL) consolidated EBITDA dipped 6% YoY hit by demonetisation, though the company moderated the pain through stringent cost control and on lower fuel costs. We expect SFCL’s profitability to recover during FY18/19 aided by its cost controls, stable fuel cost outlook, and cement price recovery in the north east region (NER). Outlook The cement manufacturer is also shirking its debtor days, which, coupled with the clearance of subsidy backlogs by the central government can boost its cash-flow, and accelerate deleveraging. SFCL’s reverse-merger into Star Cement (by end of FY17) will simplify its corporate structure without any equity dilution. Maintain BUY with revised TP of Rs 125. Source:moneycontrol.com

Domestic steel prices to rebound taking cues from global price rise

KOLKATA: Steel prices are climbing up globally with a 3 per cent increase in rates over the last few days. While a perk up in Chinese demand from infrastructure and construction has been robust this year, industry watchers say the key point is that domestic steel prices which are faltering now, are poised to rebound taking a cue from it. Spot prices of internationally traded hot rolled cols in Asia increased last week regional buyers accepted higher offers that reflected strong Chinese domestic prices, Platts said in its Steel Business Briefing on Monday. Apart from demand for steel from infrastructure and construction sector in China, its auto sector, a key industry for steel demand has also seen growth leading to overall buoyancy in prices. Another reason to expect a rebound in steel prices is the bullish sentiment across base metals.

Steel stocks unfazed after government rules out MIP extension in 19 products

NEW DELHI: Shares of major steel companies remained unfazed after steel secretary Aruna Sharma on Monday told ET NOW that there will be no minimum import price (MIP) extension for 19 steel products. In an interview to ET NOW, Sharma said the government is gradually moving from MIP to the WTO-compliant anti-dumping duty. Most steel stocks were trading rangebound in the afternoon trade. Tata Steel rose 0.14 per cent to close at Rs 472.60 on BSE. JSW SteelBSE 0.05 % was up 0.37 per cent at Rs 191.70. Jindal Steel & Power fell 0.55 per cent to Rs 90.70. Jindal StainlessBSE -1.73 % and Jindal Stainless gained up to 13 per cent. Jindal SawBSE 0.99 % declined 0.6 per cent to Rs 60.35. Bhushan SteelBSE 1.02 % dropped 1.42 per cent to Rs 58.80. State-run SAILBSE 0.99 % rose 0.23 per cent to Rs 65.70. Minimum import prices are short-term emergency measures while anti-dumping duty is a long-term measure, she said, adding that she expects to see steel prices stabilising from the current levels. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Business environment becoming challenging for steel sector: SAIL

NEW DELHI: Country's largest steel maker SAIL today said with the business environment becoming extremely challenging for the steel sector, it has identified five core areas, including optimisation of new assets utilisation, to turn impending challenges into opportunities. The announcement comes at a time when there is a slump in the demand for steel. "At this crucial juncture for steel industry across the world, SAIL management realises that business environment has become extremely challenging. Thus the company, in a recent meeting of top management, devised appropriate responses for the impending challenges to turn them into opportunities," Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) said. Five core areas were identified including, ensuring quality and cost effective input, achieving production excellence, optimising new assets utilisation and leveraging human capital. SAIL is focusing on developing high impact leadership amongst its ranks for which it is sensitising talented young executives to drive the top management's agenda of 'change' and for transforming the PSU into a vibrant organisation. With this aim in sight, SAIL Chairman P K Singh and other directors interacted with young managers for re-energising them and reshaping their perspective on leadership. The session was part of a four-day training programme organised at SAIL Management Training Institute (MTI) in Ranchi and was attended by around 100 young executives. SAIL, which has reached the last leg of its Rs 70,000 crore modernisation programme, had earlier said post modernisation there would be 60-70 per cent jump in production capacity which is a challenge for the PSU as demand for domestic steel remains weak. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. Source:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Cement majors to move Tribunal against CCI order

CCI imposed fine of Rs 205.73 cr on all 7 cos for allegedly quoting higher rates than existing rates Five of the seven cement companies which were fined by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in January, for alleged bid rigging of a 2012 tender floated by the Haryana government, have decided to take up the matter to the Competition Appellate Tribunal. The companies — Shree Cement, JK Cement, Ambuja Cements, ACC Limited and JK Lakshmi Cement — who have opted to contest the CCI order are of the view that they have a ‘good case for succeeding in the appeal.’ Other companies such as UltraTech Cement and Jaiprakash Associates are currently reviewing the order and will take a call later. According to industry sources, the five companies contesting the CCI order will fight the case individually. The CCI, while imposing a total fine of Rs 205.73 crore on all seven companies, alleged that the cement manufacturers had formed a cartel and quoted considerably higher rates than the existing contract rates. Further, it alleged that these companies, acting in concert, collectively and deliberately quoted bids for substantially lower quantities as compared to the quantities they had been quoting in the past. The CCI has also alleged that the total tendered quantity of 0.4 million tonne (MT) of cement had eventually been divided amongst them, so that each bidder could get the rate contract for the quoted quantity. According to a document from CCI, the companies had also quoted the rates in such a manner that they all acquire the lowest bidder status for supply of cement in at least some of the destinations. Source:business-standard.com

Cement maker ACC’s Q4 net profit falls 45%

ACC’s consolidated net profit fell to Rs56.34 crore in the quarter ended 31 December from Rs102.39 crore a year earlier Mumbai: Cement maker ACC Ltd on Friday said its net profit fell 45% in the fourth quarter as sales volumes declined despite a continued thrust on promotions. ACC, which reported a decline in net profit in seven of the last eight quarters, said consolidated net profit fell to Rs56.34 crore in the quarter ended 31 December from Rs102.39 crore a year earlier. The company follows a January-December financial year. Consolidated net sales fell 6.1% to Rs2,671.61 crore from Rs2,846.11 crore a year earlier. The results also missed Street estimates. Four analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected ACC to report consolidated net profit of Rs98.225 crore on sales of Rs2,720.3 crore. The slowdown witnessed after demonetisation is easing and we expect the economy to show solid growth in the months to come, the company said in a statement. “Increased government spending on infrastructure development, housing, roads, railways, irrigation and other schemes as announced in the recent Union Budget are expected to further reinvigorate the construction sector soon and boost demand for cement and concrete during 2017,” the company said. Sales volume during the quarter was lower at 5.45 million tonnes, compared with 6 million tonnes a year earlier. Sales in ACC’s largest cement business fell 7.6% to Rs2,505.42 crore, while those in its ready mix concrete business rose 14.4% to Rs282.92 crore. The company, however, said continued thrust on promotion of its range of premium products, comprising high performance varieties that come coupled with services, yielded an increase of about 27% in the sales of these products in the full-year ended 31 December. The Indian cement industry is estimated to have a capacity of about 420 million tonnes. ACC, Ambuja Cement Ltd, UltraTech Ltd and Dalmia Cement Ltd command about 40% of this market. Source:livemint.com

Nickel import duty cut to make stainless steel cheaper by 2%

Stainless steel industry uses nickel upto 8% for manufacturing industrial & utensil grade materials Stainless steel is likely to become cheaper by up to 2% or Rs 2,000 – 2,500 a tonne effective April 1 following the government’s decision to abolish import duty on the key raw material – nickel. The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget on Wednesday proposed abolishing import duty of 2.5% on nickel, which would make the cost of stainless steel production cheaper in India. Stainless steel industry uses nickel up to 8% for manufacturing industrial and utensil grade materials depending upon its quality and grade. Thus, the cost of stainless steel production in India varies depending upon nickel price and its quantum of use. India is fully reliant on import from Indonesia and China among others for import of nickel either in pure ingot or scrap form to meet its requirement. Nickel, the silvery white metal, provides strength to stainless steel. Hence, the base metal has no substitute. India imports nickel in pure cathode form and ferro nickel in alloy form to an estimated quantity of 30,000 – 35,000 tonnes. Also, nickel is recovered through melting of stainless steel scrap in equal quantity for its secondary applications. “We had requested the finance minister to abolish import duty on all types of nickel import. Since India does not produce nickel, our entire demand is met through import. Hence, levying a duty would certainly defeat the purpose of our objective. But, the finance minister abolished import duty only on nickel cathode. This means ferro nickel and stainless steel would continue to attract import duty. Through this, the government has resolved only half the problems of India’s stainless steel industry. Nevertheless, the cost of stainless steel manufacturing would decline for primary users of nickel which certainly be passed on to consumers. In actual terms, the user industry would benefit by Rs 2,000-2,500 per tonne for raw material procurement,” said N C Mathur, President, Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA). India produces around 3.5 million tonnes of various grades of stainless steel annually for both industrial and household consumption. Buyers are very conscious today. International prices are well documented on daily basis. So buyers are aware of the variations in the domestic as well as international prices. Thus, any price variations in local markets would be well passed on to consumers immediately, said Mathur. Meanwhile, downstream user industry is more wary of the quality control order than the import duty cut on nickel. Stainless steel utensil manufacturers believe that primary domestic stainless steel manufacturers have raised their basic prices by Rs 30 a kg over the last three months with its benchmark grade of stainless steel is quoted at Rs 1,36,500 a tonne now from Rs 1,03,500 in mid-October. “The domestic primary stainless manufacturers are immensely benefited by the quality control order. From the time the order was implemented, stainless steel import into India has virtually stopped resulting in utensil manufacturers’ reliance on domestic suppliers. Since the specified quality of stainless steel required for manufacturing utensils on importers’ orders is not available from domestic sources, it should be imported at an affordable price. Thus, the government must withdraw the quality control order,” said Anil Agrawal, Vice President, All India Stainless Steel Manufacturers’ Association. Source:business-standard.com

Budget 2017 will benefit the cement and manufacturing sector: Amandeep

With the proposition to construct one crore houses by 2019 for homeless under PM Awaas Yojana raising the allocation from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 23,000 crore we expect to see a boom in the demand for cement. Given the economic uncertainty around the country post demonetisation, this year’s budget was not going to be an easy task. Demonetisation, like every reform, has been looked upon as disruptive machinery since it challenges the age old conventions. Keeping into consideration many of the necessary factors of national importance, Union budget 2017-18 is indeed a forward looking budget and we expect that the positive announcements will benefit the cement and manufacturing sector. With the proposition to construct one crore houses by 2019 for homeless under PM Awaas Yojana raising the allocation from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 23,000 crore we expect to see a boom in the demand for cement. Key focus on spending more on rural areas, infrastructure and poverty alleviation under best standards of fiscal prudence will not only boost rural economy but also promote higher investment and better growth prospects. These announcements made in this year’s budget augur well for the cement industry in terms of accelerating demand. Also, the proposed speeding up of the construction of roads, under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), from 73 km from 2011-2014 to 133 km of roads per day in 2016-2017 will be a landmark establishment in terms of increasing connectivity and thus improving trade relations and working conditions. Source:indiainfoline.com

Budget 2017: Steel sector remains optimistic

KOLKATA: Though the Budget failed to address demands for withdrawal of import duty and clean power cess on coking coal, steel sector in general remained optimsitic about the budget proposals as some announcements by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will have indirect impact on the industry. "The devil is in the details which we have to see for the steel sector. Focus on infrastructure is a big positive for steel companies and the industry because it is a key driver of steel consumption," Tata Steel India and SEA MD T V Narendran said in his reaction to the budget. "The focus on rural sector is also important as many of our principal industries, like two-wheelers and tractors, are very dependent on the rural economy and MSMEs," Narendran said. Visa Steel vice-chairman & managing director Vishal Agarwal trying to remain upbeat said, "The budget focus on housing, rural economy, infrastructure spending and railway and defence capex is expected to boost economic growth and revive domestic steel demand." Shyam Steel director Lalit Beriwala described the budget as 'good' for the steel sector as the allocation of nearly Rs 4 lakh crore towards infrastructure would boost demand. As steel companies produce steel through sponge iron route, they are also not impacted for coking coal import duty. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

U.S. Steel Eyes 2017 Earnings Surge After Solid Q4

Us Steel (X) reported mixed fourth-quarter earnings and sales late Tuesday but signaled better things to come in 2017. Earlier, rival Nucor (NUE) also topped profit estimates, while reporting its biggest revenue gain since Q3 2014, but that failed to impress investors. U.S. Steel lost 61 cents per share, but excluding unfavorable adjustments of 88 cents, the company earned 27 cents. Earnings estimates were for 1 cent per share, an improvement on its 23-cent loss a year ago. Revenue, expected to rise 3.1% to $2.651 billion, came in at $2.650 billion. Management forecast earnings of $3.08 per share in 2017, assuming market conditions remain as they are. But the company expects conditions to improve, suggesting there could be upside. It's not clear if U.S. Steel's 2017 EPS outlook is comparable to analyst estimates of $1.86. "While we will benefit from improved market conditions, they continue to be volatile and we must remain focused on improving the things that we can control." U.S. Steel shares were volatile in after-hours trading, jumping 5% then settling back to down fractionally. Shares slipped 0.9% to 32.71 in regular trading on the stock market today, continuing a modest downtrend since spiking to a two-year high in early December. Are you getting the most out of IBD? Our Getting Started Guide can help! Most steel stocks were lower. Nucor closed down 3.3% to 58.09, falling intraday to levels not seen since the stock broke out on Nov. 9, the day after the election. AK Steel (AKS), which sold off last week after reporting results and guidance, slipped 0.1%, while Steel Dynamics (STLD) sank 3.8%. Specialty steel firm Allegheny Technologies (ATI), which surged 31% on Jan. 24 on its own results, bucked the trend, rising 1.2%. Nucor reported earnings of 50 cents — or 43 cents after accounting changes, by Thomson Reuters calculations. The Wall Street consensus estimate was for 34 cents. Revenue rose 14.5% to $3.96 billion. Nucor management offered vague guidance, saying that things are improving, though perhaps not as fast as investors were hoping. Wall Street expects Q1 earnings of 82 cents per share on revenue, nearly double Q4 profit. Here's what Nucor said: "Earnings in the first quarter of 2017 are expected to increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. We believe full year 2017 profitability could significantly exceed the level achieved for 2016. Prices began to increase during the fourth quarter for our steel mills segment and we expect that trend to continue into the first quarter of 2017." IBD'S TAKE: Faltering steel stocks suggest the Trump rally may be taking a breather, but the president's much-anticipated policies could still fall into place. Stay ready by always reading IBD Leaderboard. That's where IBD's best market writers are tracking the leading stocks, including infrastructure plays like copper miner Freeport McMoRan and Martin Marietta Materials, to spot buying opportunities for readers and sell signals to take profits. Nucor and U.S. Steel have been two leaders of President Trump's postelection rally. Domestic steel producers stand to benefit from Trump's policies in three main ways: An infrastructure push could rev up demand; corporate tax cuts would deliver greater after-tax earnings; and punitive tariffs against Chinese steel imports could firm up pricing. After both stocks hit multiyear highs on Dec. 8, they pulled back and, at least until Nucor broke through support on Tuesday, have mostly moved sideways as investors await for clearer signs that Trump will be able to deliver tax cuts and a major infrastructure package. The stocks closed below their 30-day averages on Monday, a technical signal that upside momentum has waned. Until there's greater clarity and optimism that much-anticipated policies will come to fruition, incoming results may drive stock performance. Source:investors.com

Buy India Cement; target of Rs 175: ICICI Direct

ICICI Direct is bullish on India Cement has recommended buy rating on the stock with a target price of Rs 175 in its research report dated January 30, 2017. ICICI Direct's research report on India Cement The company has indicated the overall south market is expected to increase 8.0% YoY in FY18E. A major driver of cement demand in the south market is expected to be the AP and Telangana market. These markets are expected to increase 14.0% YoY mainly led by increased government spending by both AP and Telangana markets on low cost housing, irrigation and other infra projects. Outlook We expect cost rationalisation led by better fuel mix, installation of power plant in AP and improving efficiency of plants to drive margins. In addition, with improving cash flow we expect debt to reduce over the next two years. Hence, we maintain our BUY rating on the stock with a target price of Rs 175 (i.e. EV/EBITDA of 9.0x, EV/Tonne of US$85/t). Source:moneycontrol.com

Cement and steel need a hand to create jobs

Reams of newsprint and thousands of web pages have recently devoted themselves to scrutinizing the importance, execution and the long-term impact of the latest large-scale intervention introduced by the NDA government through the sudden demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. However, amidst all the hype and hoopla that demonetisation has brought with it, a more pertinent concern has managed to skip the limelight over the past year. This is an issue which could impact the Indian economy far more significantly than even this groundbreaking change in monetary policy, something that will be responsible not just for the stable economic growth of this country but also the welfare of our future generations. That issue is of job creation, or more specifically, India’s urgent need to tackle jobless growth and create large-scale employment opportunities. In the current scenario, the problem of unemployment exists as an entirely different demon, completely unrelated to India’s fairytale growth story. More than a million Indians become eligible to join the workforce every month. Unexpectedly, for an economy considered to be one of the fastest growing on the world stage, most seekers have to be turned away. So though the country’s GDP growth continues to be healthy, the bad news on the jobs’ front warrants the Union government’s immediate attention as jobless growth does not help anyone. According to the Labour Bureau, India’s main agency for collecting statistics related to the creation of jobs in labour-intensive sectors, no new jobs were created; there was actually a fall of 20,000 jobs across eight labour intensive sectors in the December quarter of 2015. It would be naïve to argue that the government should be able to employ all the new or displaced job seekers, despite the existing paucity of qualified people to take up so many vacant posts in the public sector. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to make the bureaucracy a lean, mean and efficient administrative machine are laudable, what it also means is that the public sector will have to inevitably shrink. Compared to 1996-97, when more than 19 million people were employed in government jobs, 2016 saw the occupation of such positions reduce to 17 million, despite the massive rise in population. If the public sector is unable to hire, then jobseekers will automatically turn to the private sector. This is where India’s broader employability problem comes into the picture. However, this has to be seen in the light of one contradictory report that says that occupation under the government’s flagship rural employment program, MGNREGA, saw more than 200 per cent hike in November and December 2016. While MGNREGA workers were not more than 3.5 million in months preceding demonetization, the post-demonetisation period saw this figure touching 8 million. This trend is worrying as it could mean that the number of jobs contracted in the MSME sector after trade and commerce got hit due to the cash crunch in the months following demonetisation. Is there a way out? Even when we remove demonetisation from the backdrop, job growth figures have always been a painful area for the present government. Add to it the growing number of job-seekers and the looming threat of automation that will replace humans like never before. Here it needs to be emphasised that agriculture, manufacturing, and services by themselves cannot fully meet the employment needs of the workforce. There has to be a way out to prevent the migration of labour from asset-building jobs to MGNREGA jobs that are nothing but sops. Let us now see how this can be achieved. To generate more asset-building jobs across the country, industry should be able to look at cost-effective inputs with abundant and cheap raw materials to get its mojo back. In the current scenario, the labour-intensive construction industry and the infrastructure sector have tremendous potential to generate substantial numbers of jobs. Since the Union Budget 2017-18 will be presented soon, the government can ensure a boom in this sector by addressing some long-pending issues faced by stakeholders. Cement and steel being key construction inputs, it is time for our government to resolve the major pain areas of cement and steel producers. Talking about the cement sector, the industry is currently burdened with high excise duty and the demand has not been as promising as was anticipated after the Finance Minister presented the 2016-17 General Budget, where the Urban Rejuvenation Mission, Gram Sadak Yojana and Housing for All schemes were expected to bring a boom. It is to be noted that the prevailing excise duty framework for cement sector is a vague combination of specific and ad valorem rates, which, as per analysts is a reason why duty incidence on cement remains on the higher side. Another point to be noted is that cement industry provides substantial tax revenue to the government (annually about Rs 35,000 crore), next only to tobacco, liquor, and petroleum. Hence this critical sector cannot be allowed to suffer the adverse impact of the irrational tax structure and rates. Coming to the steel industry, high import duty on nickel and coking coal, which are vital components of steel-making, has added to the cost of manufacturing, thus making the industry uncompetitive when compared to steel imported from China. There is no doubt that the domestic industry has been hit hard by a surge in below-cost import of steel. Add to this the excise duty pain and stagnant demand. Although the government has been imposing anti-dumping duty on imported steel products, this sector will not witness the desired growth unless domestic taxes are rationalised. Presently, the annual excise duty collection from iron and steel sector is about Rs 20,000 crore. While the profits of big players in the steel industry are declining, the performance of small and medium units is assuming alarming proportions. From H1 2013–14 to H1 2014–15, the net profit margin for small producers became negative to the extent of about 40 per cent, and for medium producers it is about 4 per cent. Meanwhile, the capacity utilisation of many small and medium producers has gone well below 50 per cent (Source: RBI Bulletin and NCAER Report). In view of these facts, it is suggested that in the budget for FY 2017-18, our Finance Minister must rationalize excise duty on both steel and cement, along with other duties on products that are used in their manufacturing. To ease the pain of demonetisation and also to kick-start infrastructure growth and job creation, the Union government needs to give a significant boost to these critically important industries by levying lower or near-zero or even nil excise duty on these products for the next 2-3 years. Infrastructure growth can receive a major boost if steel and cement providers are given benefits that will enable them to stay competitive. If the government takes this step, it will automatically push demand. Then both 100 per cent capacity utilisation and economies of scale can be achieved. Needless to say, job growth will see the kind of rise that the government and job-seekers really want. With infrastructure development, workers will be absorbed in both construction of roads and buildings and also in steel and cement manufacturing. As far as government budgetary revenue is concerned, according to financial experts and government estimates, the direct tax growth owing to demonetisation, where the tax on higher than justifiable scrapped currency notes deposited and transparency in profit reporting of businesses, plus some dividend income from RBI, have the potential to compensate for the losses. The BJP-led government may be expecting an uptick in its support from the general public owing to the patriotic fervor involved, which did not let demonetisation spark any wide public unrest. However, the underlying truth is that the public will judge the Union government and policymakers from the many impacts that demonetisation will bring in the short, medium and long term. If contracted job growth and lessened trade and commerce will be the only outcomes, then the party in power cannot expect voters’ support in the upcoming elections. Source:thestatesman.com

Budget 2017 wishlist: Cement sector eyes boost to housing, braces for petcoke tax

NEW DELHI: With the Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring a war against black money, real estate sector – notoriously known for black money investments - is seeing demand blues. This has made the outlook of an associate sector, cement, look all gloomy. Analysts expect the government to announce a number of schemes aimed at providing affordable housing, besides pledging higher budget for road and highways sector, which could bring cement stocks back in limelight. “We expect the government to outline some steps to support low-cost housing and initiatives for overall infrastructure capex that would drive cement demand,” said Morgan Stanley in a note. At present, cement attracts higher excise duty at around 12.5 per cent compared with about 6 per cent attracted by other core industries. “Cement is a heavily-taxed commodity despite being most essential. Hence, relaxation in tax levies would be crucial in boosting the sector. The present excise rate is 12 per cent ad valorem and an additional Rs 125/tonne, with 30 per cent abatement. Simplification and reduction in the excise duty structure and an increase in the abatement limit would be a strong positive for the sector. Further any clarity regarding GST slabs would be crucial,” said Anand Rathi Share and Stock Brokers. The government in Budget FY17 increased clean energy cess on coal to Rs 400/tonne from Rs 200 per tonne, but did not levy cess on petcoke. Brokerage Motilal OswalBSE 1.34 % Securities is expecting an introduction of clean energy cess of Rs 400/tonne on petcoke, which may raise cement cost by Rs 30 tonne. Meanwhile, some brokers on the Dalal Street expect up to 20 per cent higher budgetary allocation for housing-related schemes such as Smart City, AMRUT and Housing for All. There could also be a hike in tax deduction limit on housing loans. Dalmia Bharat, Ramco Cement and Birla Corp is among cement stocks seen to gain from infra and housing boost, while JK Cement and JK LakshmiBSE 2.72 % are among cement firms seen gaining from simplification of excise duty structure. The government may increase the tax deduction limit for housing loans, “especially for buyers in metropolitan cities. The Rs 2 lakh limit is insignificant for metropolitan home buyers, as ticket size is over and above Rs 60 lakh,” said Angel broking in a note. Housing sector accounts for 67-70 per cent of the cement industry demand, while balance comes from various infrastructure sectors. Average cement price rose 1.9 per cent YoY, but declined 1.1 per cent sequentially in the December quarter. Cement companies having substantial exposure to Northern, Western and Central regions are likely fare better as realisations in these pockets are higher by 6-7 per cent YoY, Reliance Securities in a note said. Meanwhile, there is a Rs 1,500-2,000/tonne spike in domestic petcoke prices in last six months. A rise in imported coal and crude prices are expected to result in Rs 80-100/tonne YoY rise in operating cost, the brokerage noted. Cement industry grows roughly at 1-1.5 times of GDP growth, but the recent demonetisation move has slowed down the sector. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Budget push crucial to boost cement demand

The Government’s renewed focus on infrastructure spending should give a major fillip to the cement sector which bore the brunt of high-value currency demonetisation. Low demand from construction and real estate sectors has hit cement companies hard. The Government’s higher allocation in the Budget for its pet project ‘Housing for all’ will boost cement consumption and help companies improve their capacity utilisation which has plunged to a new low after the note ban. Capacity utilisation Cement companies that have put up fresh capacity in anticipation of robust economic growth are in fix. The pace of economic growth has not lived up to the expectations and most of the companies are operating much below their optimal capacity. This apart, the interest outgo and provision made for depreciation has started hitting their profitability. In fact, the all India cement industry capacity utilisation in the December quarter dipped to 60 per cent after demonetisation in November. Fall in prices Prices across regions have fallen due to weak demand. The operational cost has been rising with the recent increase in coal prices and freight charges. The upward revision in petrol and diesel has added to cement companies’ woes. A reduction in royalty paid on limestone and gypsum mining in the Budget will go a long way in bring down the operational cost. The demonetisation came when most companies were waiting for a revival in private sector spending. While not expecting any sector-specific sops, cement companies expect Government to increase public sector spending and provide incentives to encourage private sector companies take up new projects. This will not only revive investment cycle but also increase demand. A rise in Budgetary allocation towards infrastructure sectors would bring down logistics cost for manufacturing companies. An independent regulator for each infrastructure sub-sectors would help in timely implementation of projects and avoid cost overrun. An early and efficient dispute resolution mechanism in the infrastructure sector could unlock huge capital. Dedicated fund allocations for specified large infrastructure projects announced in last Budget such as bullet trains, Bharat Mala, Sagar Mala, Smart Cities, inland waterways development should also boost cement demand. On the capacity creation front, the Budget may offer some sops for builders constructing affordable houses in rural areas. Industry estimates a shortage of 6 crore housing units in the affordable segment till 2022. Source:thehindubusinessline.com

Minimum import price on steel a short-term measure: SteelMin

NEW DELHI: The government today said imposition of minimum import price (MIP) on steel is a short-term measure and it is taking permanent measures to counter unfair trade practices as per international norms . "Chaudhary Birender Singh (Steel Minister) had emphasised that MIP is a short-term measure and not of a permanent nature," the steel ministry said in a statement today. The ministry's statement was in response to some media reports. The media reports which quoted the Steel Minister gave an impression that that Minimum Import Price on steel will be discontinued after 4 February 2017, the ministry said. "In this connection, this is to clarify that the Minister was making a point in a wider context of providing level playing field to the Indian steel industry," the statement read. A total of 124 steel products have been covered by provisional anti-dumping duties and final orders on the same are expected in due course, it further said. As a result of the safeguards and anti-dumping measures, out of 173 items on which MIP was initially imposed, only 19 items are currently notified under MIP. These are relating to colour-coated steel, primarily to avoid any circumvention of the duties. Two of colour-coated steel items are already covered under anti-dumping duties. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Rock Hard Cement breaks into new markets

Despite complaining eight months ago that it was having a difficult time selling outside of Barbados, Rock Hard Cement is about to enter several territories, including St Lucia, St Vincent, the Grenadines and Guyana. According to Executive Chairman, Mark Maloney, Rock Hard cement could soon also be available in three other countries. “Rock Hard Cement is also looking to work with distributors in Grenada, Dominica and Antigua as well as in markets further north in the coming months,” the businessman said. Maloney also announced improvements to the packaging of the product, with the cement bags being changed from polypropylene cement bags to Kraft 3 ply cement bags and, later, plastic bags. Source:www.worldcement.com

Steel industry 'could thrive' if ministers follow MPs' 'masterplan' to save 40,000 jobs

Steel 2020 is a plan drawn up by a task force of MPs - and it has 43 recommendations inclusding cutting electricity prices and striking a strong post-Brexit deal with the EU The beleaguered steel industry can “thrive nationally and globally” if ministers follow a blueprint to save the sector, MPs insist. The Steel 2020 masterplan drawn up by a cross-party task force of MPs to save the industry and 40,000 jobs will be published tomorrow. It has 43 recommendations and dentifies seven key areas, including slashing energy prices for manufacturers, imposing tough “defence” measures to tackle Chinese dumping, and striking a “strong trade deal” with the EU after Brexit . Theresa May will today promise that ministers will “step up” and take an active role in backing business, as she unveils the Government’s industrial strategy. Labour MP Anna Turley, a member of the steel task force whose Redcar constituency was hit by the 2015 closure of the SSI plant, said: “The Government’s got to have a proper, long-term strategy, not just lurch from one crisis to another. If you don’t have a strategy and vision for steel, it will be lost.” Labour’s Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock, whose constituency includes Port Talbot steelworks, said: “With strategic action from government and the industry we can build a better future for the British steel industry, trigger a modern manufacturing renaissance and rebalance the British economy.” The report warns that “without action the industry and communities represented risk a future of perpetual crisis and decline”. Urging Mrs May to hand Government contracts to British manufacturers, the report urges: “We must stand up for the British steel industry.” Mrs May said her industrial strategy would “back Britain for the long term, creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow”. Source:mirror.co.uk

Draft steel policy to enable Rs.10 lakh crore investments

The Steel Ministry has proposed setting up greenfield steel plants along India’s coastline to tap cheap imported raw materials such as coking coal and export the output in a more cost-effective manner, as part of the new draft National Steel Policy of 2017. The policy, which envisages to more than double India’s domestic steel production capacity to 300 million tonnes by 2030-31, anticipates a requirement of ₹10 lakh crore of fresh investments to meet that goal and expects at least 11 lakh new jobs being created in the process. The steel sector presently employs about 25 lakh people and has a capacity of little over 120 million tonnes. However, some elements of the policy, on which comments have been sought till January 23, are still work in progress, such as its vision statement, for instance. The draft policy lays out two alternatives of its vision — “to create a globally competitive steel industry that promotes inter-sectoral growth” or “to create a self-sufficient steel industry that is technologically advanced, globally competitive and promotes inclusive growth.” While it focuses on impediments like high input costs, availability of raw materials, import dependency and financial stress plaguing the sector, projections made under the policy for a couple of factors are all still under discussion, such as the demand and production of sponge iron. To cut down reliance on expensive imports of coking coal, the policy has mooted gas-based steel plants and technologies such as electric furnaces to bring down the use of coking coal in blast furnaces. PSU units Public sector firms in the steel sector should aim for economies of scale and will be encouraged to divest their non-core assets through mergers and restructuring, according to the policy. “Establishment of steel plants along the coast under the aegis of Sagarmala project will be undertaken. Such plants would be based on the idea of importing scarce raw materials and exporting steel products,” the policy stated, adding that a cluster-based approach will be pursued, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises to ensure optimum land use, easy availability of raw materials and economies of scale. Source:thehindu.com

CCI slaps Rs 206 crore penalty on seven cement companies

NEW DELHI: The competition watchdog has held seven cement companies guilty of bid rigging and cartelisation and imposed a total fine of nearly . Rs 206 crore on them. The companies are Shree Cement, UltraTech Cement, Jaiprakash Associates, JK Cement, Ambuja Cements, ACC and JK Lakshmi Cement. The ruling relates to a tender floated by a Haryana agency in 2012. "The anti-competitive conduct was reaffirmed through SMS exchanged and calls made amongst the officials of the cement companies," the finance ministry said in a statement. In a 120-page order, the Competition Commission of India also directed the companies "to cease and desist" from such activities while imposing penalty equivalent to 0.3 per cent of each of their average turnover for three financial years. UltraTech has to pay the highest penalty of . Rs 68.30 crore, followed by Jaiprakash Associates (Rs 38.02 crore), ACC (Rs 35.32 crore), Ambuja (Rs 29.84 crore), Shree Cement (Rs 18.44 crore), JK Cement (Rs 9.26 crore) and JK Lakshmi Cement (Rs 6.55 crore). The director of Supplies and Disposals in Haryana --a procurement agency - had filed the case. The CCI had ordered a detailed probe into the matter in 2014. RAILWAY TENDER In a separate case, the CCI has imposed penalties on three firms for bid rigging on tenders floated by Indian Railways for procurement of brushless DC fans in 2013. The CCI took suo moto action under the Competition Act, 2002 based on information received from the Central Bureau of Investigation. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Cement case:Compat rejects Binani Cements plea for relaxation

New Delhi (PTI) Compat has dismissed the appeal of Binani Cement seeking waiver of the direction to deposit with it 10 per cent of the total penalty amount which was imposed by Competition Commission in a cartelisation case. "Binani Cement has failed to substantiate its claim for review of our order dated November 28, 2016," Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compat) said. While dismissing the plea, the tribunal, in an order last week, said the company has "neither presented any fresh compelling or significant circumstances to justify review of our order nor pointed out any error manifest on the face of the record, resulting in miscarriage of justice". In an order last August, CCI had slapped a penalty of over Rs 6,700 crore on 11 cement firms, including Binani Cement, for indulging in cartelisation. Binani Cement, which was fined Rs Rs 167.32 crore, had filed an appeal against CCI order before the tribunal. In November 2016, Compat stayed CCI order on one of the conditions that the company deposit 10 per cent of the penalty with the tribunal in the form of fixed deposit for a duration of six months. On grounds that it was facing severe financial hardship, Binani Cement had sought waiver of the 10 per cent of the penalty amount, which was to be deposited in a months time. The tribunal also observed that Binani Cement had not advanced any argument to suggest failure to serve ends of justice or abuse of the process of court, necessitating review of the order directing deposit of 10 per cent of penalty. Another condition for granting stay was that if the appeal against the fine was dismissed, then Binani Cement will have to pay the balance amount of penalty with an interest of 12 per cent per annum from the date of CCIs order. PTI VRN RAM MKJ This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire. Source:indiatoday.intoday.in

Hail Cement profits fall in 4Q16

Hail Cement Co. has announced a fall in quarterly profits on falling demand, the company said in an announcement to the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul). Net profits fell 20.99% year on year in 4Q16 – but did show some improvement on the previous quarter. Net profit in 4Q16 was SAR23.7 million, the company said, compared to SAR30.0 million in 4Q15. That was something of a recovery on 3Q16, however, when the company recorded net profits of SAR20.1 million. The quarter-on-quarter increase came due to some “unrealised investment gains”, the company said, which blamed “less demand and strong competition” on its otherwise negative performance. For the year, the company reported net profit of SAR104.5 million – a 7.95% loss on the previous year. Annual revenues were SAR272.1 million in 2016, compared to SAR256.4 million in 2015. The Saudi Arabian cement sector suffered a string of poor results in 4Q16 on falling demand. Saudi Cement reported a 6.5% fall in net profits for the quarter, while Arabian Cement saw net profits plunge over 84% in the quarter. Based in Hail, north of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, Hail Cement was established in 2011. The Hail cement plant has a design capacity of 5000 tpd of clinker, according to the company website. Source:worldcement.com

Narendra Modi government targets 300 mn tonnes steel production, all set to invest whopping Rs 10 la

The proposed NSP 2017, which has been put out on the steel ministry’s website for public comments, also intends to domestically meet entire demand of high grade automotive steel. (Reuters) The government aspires to enhance the country’s steel production capacity to 300 million tonnes (mt) by 2030-31 from around 125 mt now with a projected investment of R10 lakh crore even as it, in the draft New Steel Policy (NSP), admits that capital mobilisation will be a challenging task given the enormity of required fund and the current industry situation. The proposed NSP 2017, which has been put out on the steel ministry’s website for public comments, also intends to domestically meet entire demand of high grade automotive steel, electrical steel, special steels and alloys for strategic applications by 2030-31 and be a net exporter of the alloy by 2025-26. Presently, these products constitute the bulk of the imports that stood at 11.7 mt last fiscal. The proposed policy aims to enhance India’s per capita steel consumption to 160 kg by 2030-31 from around 61 kg now with the vision of creating a globally competitive steel industry that promotes inter-sectoral growth and to create a self-sufficient steel industry that is technologically advanced, globally competitive and promotes inclusive growth. graph-9 “The NSP 2005 sought to indicate ways and means of consolidating the gains flowing out of the then economic order and charted out a road map for sustained and efficient growth of the Indian steel industry. However, the unfolded developments in India as also worldwide, both on the demand and supply sides of the steel market, have warranted a relook at the different elements of the NSP 2005,” the ministry said justifying the need to give the policy a relook. You may also like to watch Setup Timeout Error: Setup took longer than 30 seconds to complete. Admitting that funding would be a problem, the proposed policy said the steel industry will be encouraged to reduce capital costs and remain innovative in developing appropriate structure of the capital to minimise debt and service equity. The steel ministry will also make necessary efforts to identify bad debts in the sector. Such companies will be encouraged to lower their debt/Ebitda ratio by adopting an appropriate debt restructuring in consultation with banks as per the RBI guidelines, it said. Over the past two decades, Indian steel industry has developed capabilities of producing a wide range of sophisticated steel at par with global best practices addressing diverse needs of the end user industries. However, India still needs to make a special effort to domestically produce steel for high-end applications, electrical steel (CRGO), special steel and alloys for power equipment, aerospace, defence and nuclear applications. Multiple issues have also adversely impacted the steel sector. Companies also faced substantially increased operating costs on account of increased logistics & raw material costs and other charges. The policy states that the steel industry will have to strongly depend on the growth of domestic consumption as the global economic prospect weakens in the face of idle steel capacity globally. Source:.financialexpress.com

China steel, iron ore extend gains on capacity cut drive

Shanghai rebar, Dalian iron ore rise for third day * Iron ore stocks at China's ports highest since at least 2004 By Manolo Serapio Jr MANILA, Jan 11 Steel and iron ore futures in China advanced for a third session on Wednesday, hitting their strongest in three weeks amid sustained efforts by Beijing to tackle excess steel production capacity. The drive since last year by the world's largest steel producer to reduce surplus capacity has helped Chinese steel prices snap a six-year losing streak, and they began 2017 higher as well. Iron ore has piggybacked on steel's rally, although traders say plentiful stocks of the raw material at China's ports suggest lean demand. Apart from shutting outdated capacities, China will also eliminate by June 30 all production of substandard rebar steel, according to local Chinese media reports. "(Beijing has) elevated the policy to the equivalent of political mission," said Argonaut Securities analyst Helen Lau. "In other words, if local government officials don't abide by this measure, they will risk losing their jobs," Lau said in a note. The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 2.2 percent at 3,164 yuan ($457) a tonne by the midday break, after touching a three-week peak of 3,202 yuan. Annual production of substandard rebar, or construction steel, in China was around 40-50 million tonnes. The closure of these producers implies that China's annual rebar output will be reduced by at least 20 percent, said Lau. China produced about 200 million tonnes of rebar in 2016. Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was last up 2.8 percent at 596.50 yuan a tonne. It earlier touched 602.50 yuan, the highest since Dec. 16. Iron ore is "not driven by fundamentals," said a Shanghai-based trader, citing ample supply of the raw material at ports. Stocks of imported iron ore at major Chinese ports reached 116.7 million tonnes on Jan. 6, according to SteelHome consultancy, the most since SteelHome began tracking it in 2004. Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB climbed 2.2 percent to $79.43 a tonne on Tuesday, according to Metal Bulletin. Source:in.reuters.com

Demonetisation uncertainty may cause cement firms to report fall in volume: Kotak

In a quarter plagued by uncertainty owing to currency demonetisation, we expect mixed results from the cement sector— pan-India players likely to report volume decline and flat realizations, players in North will report weakness in volumes with sequential drop in realizations, and South-based... The sequential decline notwithstanding, cement prices in north, central and west for Q3FY17E will appear substantially better off compared to the same period last year. In a quarter plagued by uncertainty owing to currency demonetisation, we expect mixed results from the cement sector— pan-India players likely to report volume decline and flat realizations, players in North will report weakness in volumes with sequential drop in realizations, and South-based players will report healthy volume growth coupled with sequential improvement in realizations. Rich valuations and continued earnings risk prevent us from taking a constructive stance on pan-India players. For Q3FY17, cement prices have averaged Rs 326/bag—flat sequentially though up ·16/bag y-o-y. Sequential improvement will be seen in west and south as prices in central and north trend lower. The sequential decline notwithstanding, cement prices in north, central and west for Q3FY17E will appear substantially better off compared to the same period last year. Among our coverage, Orient Cement stands out for a strong 14%q-o-q improvement in cement realization owing to its large concentration in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. You May Also Want To Watch: Indian Railways' New 'Luxury' Chair Cars With Aircraft-Like Features Our coverage universe will report a 3% y-o-y decline in cement volumes, compared to 3.7% y-o-y growth for October-November 2016 (based on DIPP), reflecting the impact of weakness in December 2016. Pan-India players will likely report decline in volumes (5-9%) while players in South appear to have been less impacted owing to institutional demand likely in the AP/Telangana region that will likely allow players such as India Cement and Dalmia to continue to report healthy volume growth. Source:financialexpress.com

This weird, sponge-like stuff is 10 times stronger than steel

It looks like a piece of Nerf or coral, but it's actually one of the strongest materials ever created. When you think of strength, you probably think of something dense and heavy, like steel. Well, MIT engineers have created one of the strongest materials ever, but it's more reminiscent of a foam Nerf toy than a metal beam. The researchers used flakes of graphene, which is already recognized as the world's strongest two-dimensional material, to create a sponge-like shape that resembles a coral. Structural engineers and materials scientists will recognize it as something else: a holy grail. That's because the odd, porous shape is 10 times stronger than steel and very lightweight, with a density of just 5 percent that of steel. "What we've done is to realize the wish of translating these 2D materials into three-dimensional structures," said Markus Buehler in a release. Buehler is the head of MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and co-author of a paper on the work published this month in the journal Science Advances. If you were able to make a structural beam out of the stuff, it would be strong enough to hold the weight of a semi-tractor trailer, but you could also bend down and pick it up. It wouldn't weigh much more than a heavy piece of luggage. The secret sauce of the new material, the researchers found, has more to do with its shape than with the graphene itself. "You can replace the material itself with anything," Buehler said. "The geometry is the dominant factor. It's something that has the potential to transfer to many things." He suggests that applying the geometry to different metals or polymers could lend them the same gains in strength. For example, a concrete bridge might be created using the porous shape, making it stronger, lighter and better insulated at the same time. So look out in the future. Materials that look like Nerf toys may actually be far less forgiving should this stuff ever make it to market. Check out the video below to see how the team used 3D-printed models to test the strength of different geometries. Source:www.cnet.com

Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma said the dependence on imports for nickel, coking coal and gas was part

Ahead of the Union Budget 2017-18, the Steel Ministry has sought reduction in import duty on both coking coal and nickel -- vital components of steel making -- a move that may revive the sector, a top official said. In an interview to PTI, Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma said the dependence on imports is particularly heavy on nickel, coking coal and gas. "What we are discussing is whether there is need to take a re-look at their custom and import duties. This is still under discussions. Let's see how it moves out during the Budget," the Secretary said. The Steel Ministry, in its recommendations to the Finance Ministry, has sought bringing down the import duty on coking, coal, nickel and gas, Sharma said. While the import duty on nickel is five per cent, in the case of coking coal, it is 2.5 per cent now. Sharma also said that in the future, the requirement of gas will increase in the manufacturing of pellets and added, "Like what the Prime Minister has said, tomorrow's economy is going to be gas-based." Pellets are small balls of iron ore used in steel making. To bring down the imports of coking coal, Sharma said that her Ministry was is discussions with the Coal Ministry to invest in washeries. "There are two ways of tackling imports. One is to replace the imports with a better alternative fuel. So, we are in discussions with Coal Ministry to invest in washeries and the Coal Ministry has agreed to invest in them so the coking coal imports will come down by nearly 30 per cent which is a very good sign for the coming years," she said. India has to heavily depend on import of coking coal, as the domestic quality has higher ash content which is unsuitable for the steel industry with present technology. Asserting the need to go for electric-based or gas-based steel production, she said that "pellet making can easily shift to the gas-based thing if it is guaranteed at affordable prices." "Now, with the Paris Convention, it is mandatory that we must bring down the carbon footprints. So, that is another alternative we are working on," she said. Indian Steel Association (ISA), the industry body representing primary steel producers, has also urged the government to reduce import duty to zero on all the raw materials used for steel making. Sanak Mishra, Secretary General of ISA said, they have also requested the government to reduce railway freight for the steel industry. SAIL, India's largest steel maker, had recently said there is a need to develop indigenous sources of coking coal to meet requirements as the recent rise in the price of metallurgical coal was putting pressure on its operations. Source:dnaindia.com

Iran Steel Exports Up 55%

Iran’s major steelmakers exported over 4.12 million tons of crude steel and steel products in the nine months ending December 20, registering a 55% growth compared with last year’s corresponding period, according to the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization. Domestic manufacturers exported 479,854 tons in the Iranian month of Azar (Nov. 21-Dec. 20) to register a 117% jump year-on-year. Khouzestan Steel Company accounted for the lion’s share of total exports by shipping more than 1.4 million tons of blooms, billets and slabs during the nine-month period, registering a 48% growth YOY. KSC’s slabs were especially in high demand, as shipments soared 2,469% to 534,796 tons. KSC, Iran’s largest semis producer, has continued to improve its position in the Far Eastern slab markets for the past few months. The company signed several contracts back in October and bolstered its market presence in Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand. The recession-hit domestic construction sector has given KSC even more reasons to further embark on exports. Mobarakeh Steel Company was the second main exporter. Its exports grew 20% to reach 1.37 million tons of different products, including hot, cold, galvanized, acid-washed, tin-plated, color-coated, corrugated steel coils and strips. HRC output of Saba Steel Complex–a subsidiary of MSC–recorded a 17,719% upsurge to 21,205 tons. Together with its subsidiaries, MSC is the largest flat steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa region and Iran’s largest steelmaker, accounting for 1% of Iran’s GDP. Mobarakeh is also dependent on exports as a lifeline to keep the company afloat, considering the current slump in the local market. “Meeting domestic demand has always been and will be on top of MSC’s agenda. The company’s expansion, however, depends on expanding exports,” Mehr News Agency quoted MSC’s deputy head for sales and marketing, Mahmoud Akbari, as saying in December. The third place on the list went to Hormozgan Steel Complex, as it shipped 812,115 tons of slabs during the three quarters and posted a 751% growth YOY. By putting out 430,285 tons of beams, rebars, coils and tin ingots, Esfahan Steel Company was the next biggest steel exporter. ESCO posted a 2% drop in its shipment record. It was the only major steelmaker to post a decline in exports for the period. Isfahan-based ESCO (locally known as Zob Ahan-e Esfahan) is Iran’s third largest steel producer controlled by the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade. The company, however, is currently in hot waters as it has accumulated about 1.9 billion in debts and filed losses worth $33 million in the last fiscal year (March 2015-16). The company’s majority stakeholders, Social Security Investment Company (known by its Persian acronym SHASTA) and the Steel Pensioners’ Fund for retired Iranian steelworkers, have tried on several occasions to sell ESCO’s ownership through block sales, but have not been able to attract any buyers. Consequently, the cash-strapped company has not been able to embark on expansion programs and is now struggling to find new export markets. Khorasan Steel Company took the fifth position among major steel exporters by shipping 51,485 tons, followed by Iran Alloy Steel Company with 30,766 tons and Oxin Steel Company with 16,181 tons. Steel producers are expected to export close to 5.7 million tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2017), according to Rasoul Khalifeh-Soltani, the head of Iran Steel Producers Association. According to the official, the recovering global steel prices have driven steel producers to increasingly shift their attention to exports. Steelmakers set a new record last year by exporting more than 4.1 million tons of steel products valued at about $7 billion. Crude exports stood at 1.8 million tons. Iran is currently the world's 14th largest steelmaker, as it produced 16.4 million tons of crude steel in the 11 months of 2016, registering an 11% growth YOY. The country aims to become the world’s sixth largest steel producer as per the 20-Year Vision Plan (2005-25), which envisions an annual production of 55 million tons of crude steel per year. Iranian steel mills have so far materialized 31 million tons of the annual steel manufacture capacity target. Source:financialtribune.com

Demonetisation to derail cement sector growth: Ind-Ra

MUMBAI: The recent government's demonetisation initiative is expected to derail the growth of the cement sector says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). "Cement production is likely to grow by around 4 per cen in FY17; as against our earlier estimation of 4 to 6 per cent growth for FY17. We expects the credit profile of pan India cement players and strong regional players to remain stable; however the credit profile of small and medium cement companies,with high debt levels will come under stress in the next two quarters," Ind-Ra said in a statement here. In its report 'Market Wire: Black Day for Black Money - Structural Benefits of Demonetisation Outweigh Short Term Agony' Ind-Ra said that the impact of this policy measure will flow to the economy mainly through the real estate/construction sector, which has strong linkages with sectors such as cement and steel and they will turn credit negative in the short-run. The lower cement output for FY17 is expected due to the fall in production of the sector in the month of November-December 2016. Cement production has grown by 4.3 per cent during April-November 2016 and it recorded a growth of 0.5 per cent in November 2016, 6.2 per cent in October and 5.5 per cent in September last year. The agency notes that post demonetisation all India volumes declined in the range of 20-25 per cent in November-December 2016 while pan-India realisations have declined in the range of Rs 15/bag-Rs 20/bag in the same period. Pet coke which is a key raw material for the sector has shown an upward movement in prices to around $ 60-$ 70 per tonne from $ 40 per tonne at the beginning of the financial year. The rise in pet coke prices coupled with increase in diesel prices is likely to increase power, fuel and freight costs for companies. The higher input cost and lower demand is expected to limit the ability of cement manufacturers to pass on the higher prices to the end consumers, thus potentially squeezing margins. Ind-Ra expects that post demonetisation, demand from the housing sector, which contributes around 65 per cent of cement demand is likely to declined further. The demand from individual home builders which mainly consists of farmers are expected to increase in FY17, due to a better monsoon; however post demonetisation Ind-Ra expects that cash availability with individual home builders will also be limited. Ind-Ra believes that the working capital cycle for cement companies is likely to increase (most cement companies are net working capital negative) due to the likely additional credit given to dealers, as most of dealers have shifted to digital payments. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

PPMAI urges govt to cut import duty on steel, metal products

MUMBAI: The city-based Process Plant and Machinery Association of India (PPMAI), which represents the capital goods and process equipment manufacturing industry in the country, has urged the government to reduce the import duty on steel and stainless steel and other metal products to 7.5 per cent level to keep capital goods industry in good health. "The Indian capital goods sector, presently with an output of Rs 2,50,000 crore, contributes nearly 2 per cent to the GDP and creates over 10 million employment. We have urged the government to reduce import duty on on raw materials including steel and stainless steel to 7.5 per cent from 12.5 per cent," PPMAI Secretary General V P Ramachandran said in a statement here. "As far as raw material steel is concerned, import duties have been raised in several steps from 5 per cent to 10/12.5 per cent for carbon and alloy steel and to 7.5 per cent in case of stainless steel. The steel prices have also risen sharply in the World market as also within the country to provide a breathing space to the industry. Further a large number of steel products are covered under specific trade actions such as anti-dumping / safeguard duties... etc. There are 19 major products which come under the MIP jurisdiction. Therefore there is no immediate threat of the steel industry getting into trouble if the import duty rates are lowered from the current level to 5-7.5 per cent. This will also correct the inverted duty rate regime to bring fairness in the supply chain," Ramachandran said. "While the import duty on capital goods may be retained unchanged, the government should reduce import duty on steel and stainless steel and other metal products to 7.5 per cent level so that capital goods industry remains in good health. The current situation is anomalous and this has happened due to continuous increase in import duty on steel. Therefore, the way out of this will be to reduce the import duty on raw materials/inputs used in the manufacturing of capital goods," he said. One of the main factors that inhibited growth of the capital goods manufacturing industry in the country to its full potential is lack of high quality component manufacturing at competitive costs. In order to reverse this situation, it is very essential, the basic raw material; high grade steels and stainless steels which are mostly imported are made available locally at highly competitive prices to the manufacturers of components and equipment; 90 per cent of them also being Small and Medium Enterprises" he added. There is a distinct threat to the domestic capital goods industry growth if it is not placed in a competitive environment due to high import duty on raw materials. The capital goods industry continues to remain dependent on foreign technology in key areas and imports of components and raw material, which are critical given the specifications provided in the design/technology. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Cement Is Stronger When Its Molecules Are Busted

ONE CHEMICAL REACTION rules the world: Water plus rocks plus cement. That’s concrete, and it equals most of the built world. Concrete is the spine of skyscrapers, the span of bridges, and the bulk of dams. It is also one of the single biggest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions on Earth. The cement industry in the US contributes about 3.5 percent of the country’s emissions. Worldwide, the industry contributes to about 5 percent of all emissions. So, even though concrete mixing facilities don’t blight the landscape like smoking oil refineries or jammed freeways, they are ripe for sustainable innovations. Like this one: Use less concrete by making it stronger. Ironically, this strength could come by making cement—the chemically-reactive powder that forms a brittle paste when exposed to water—with more molecular defects. “What first comes to mind is that defects are bad for material,” says Rouzbeh Shahsavari, a materials engineer at Rice University in Houston. But in a new paper published this week in Applied Materials and Interfaces, he and two co-authors found that when when it comes to concrete, this is not quite the case. They started by looking for clues to what made cement so strong. Using advanced microscopy techniques, they peered into layers of tobermorite, a cement mixture used by the Romans. They noticed twisting imperfections in the layers of material—in engineering parlance, they’re called screw dislocations. Intrigued, Shahsavari started playing with computer models of tobermorite riddled with these imperfections. “These are not the kind of models where you can fiddle with variable parameters and stuff like that,” he says. Unlike weather models, which are too complex to yield exact predictions, these chemical reaction models use quantum calculations to derive specific interactions between individual molecules. When Shahsavari applied pressure to the modeled tobermorite, the imperfections would guide the stress out to the edge, instead of absorbing it—and creating a crack. Even more incredible, the imperfection would spread to neighboring molecules, increasing the material’s flexibility. Concrete is mostly known for being really strong. And while it is also tough, concrete is also known for developing spiderwebbing cracks. “These two parameters, strength and toughness, are often contradictory,” says Shahsavari. He believes he could make concrete that is twice as strong by optimizing these screw dislocations. Every time anyone mixes concrete, they will create imperfections. This is partly because the process itself is messy. But it’s also because it’s so easy to contaminate the mix. Cement is mostly calcium, silica, and aluminum. But if you put the right impurities in that dry cement—things like sodium, magnesium, and iron—and in certain percentages, then they may increase the number of these desirable imperfections. Shahsavari wants to play around with impurities. He also thinks he might be able to induce imperfections by messing around with the ambient temperature during controlled situations like pre-cast concrete—huge slabs manufactured in factories and shipped to construction sites. Shahsavari admits that this would be nearly impossible at traditional outdoor pours, where concrete is delivered and mixed in trucks in all sorts of weather. He and other researchers also need to play around with other cement mixtures. There’s no standard chemical definition for cement: People change the ratio between calcium and sodium to tweak the properties of their final mix. Tobermorite has a calcium-sodium ratio of 1:1, making it easy to identify the basic behaviors of screw dislocations and apply them to other cement compositions. It could be years before all that research is done and Shahsavari’s Miracle Ready Mix is standard at every Home Depot. Even then, it won’t solve issues like rust corrosion—currently causing consternation for commuters crossing Northern California’s new Bay Bridge. “That is a durability problem, because bad chemicals are penetrating the pores into the cement,” he says. “But, once you have stronger concrete, your surface area is half, and less exposure to water, so chance of getting damaged would be half.” That’s a pretty strong argument for a stronger material. Source:wired.com

Iron and steel leads revival in engineering exports

KOLKATA: A renewal in demand from export markets like Nepal, Belgium, Spain and China has contributed to a revival in India’s engineering exports led by iron and steel sector, according to an analysis of November 2016 data by EEPC India. "With this iron and steel sector, which has been facing faced tough times in the past several months, is now seeing a reversal of fortunes at least in some of the key markets in Europe and in our neighbouring countries," EEPC India said in a statement. While Nepal showed an impressive four fold growth to $ 39 million in November 2016 from about $ 10 million in the same month a year ago. Likewise, shipments to Belgium went up more than three times to $ 52 million from $ 17 million i November 2015 .. “The interesting part is that demand for iron and steel has started rising in China which shows the slowdown in the Chinese economy must be bottoming out. Iron and steel exports from India to China went up by 86 per cent to $ 41 million for November this fiscal from $ 22 million in the comparable month of 2015,” T S Bhasin, chairman, EEPC India said. Mr Bhasin said EEPC India would provide a major thrust to revival of the engineering exports through a slew of measures, including organising its annual flagship India Engineering Sourcing Show (IESS), 2017 at Chennai in March. It would thus seek to leverage the strength of southern India's manufacturing base for high tech exports."Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have emerged as the major manufacture exporting centres in industries like steel, automobiles, industrial machinery etc and we would like to show the global players how India can be treated as a cost effective and dependable partner for integration of their international supply chain," Mr Bhasin said, adding the union commerce ministry and the Tamil Nadu government are full support in making the IESS a big success. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Note ban: Profit margins of cement cos to come under pressure, says Ind-Ra

The profit margins of cement companies may come under pressure on the back of falling demand and rising operational cost post demonetisation.The impact of demonetisation will flow to the economy mainly through the real estate and construction sector, which has strong linkages with cement and steel and they will turn credit negative in the short-run, said India Ratings in a statement on Tuesday. Post demonetisation, the all India cement demand declined 20-25 per cent in November-December while pan-India realisation declined by about Rs. 15-Rs 20 a bag in the same period. Cement production is likely to grow by 4 per cent in this fiscal against the earlier estimate of 4 per cent. The lower cement output for FY17 is expected due to the fall in production over last two months. In last eight months, cement production recorded a growth of 4.5 per cent with November witnessing the lowest growth of just 0.5 per cent. On the other hand, price of pet coke, which is a key raw material for cement companies, moved up to $60-$70 a tonne from $40 a tonne recorded in April. The rise in pet coke prices coupled with increase in diesel prices is likely to increase power, fuel and freight costs for companies. The higher input cost and lower demand is expected to limit the ability of cement manufacturers to pass on the higher prices to the end consumers, thus potentially squeezing margins. Cement demand from housing sector, which accounts for 65 per cent of total cement sales, is likely to declined further. The demand from individual home builders may increase due to a better monsoon. However post demonetisation the cash availability with individual home builders will be limited, said the rating agency. The working capital requirement of most cement companies may increase due to additional credit given to dealers, as most of dealers shift to digital payments, it said. Source:thehindubusinessline.com

Tata Steel hopes to bounce back soon

JAMSHEDPUR: Private steel major Tata SteelBSE -0.80 % on Sunday expressed confidence that the situation would be back to normal in the next quarter after the company's performance was impacted temporarily in November last owing to demonetisation. December was much better month for Tata Steel than November last affected due to demonetisation, the company's Managing Director (India and South East Asia) T V Narendran said. The steel industry in the country had gone through a difficult time during the last two years, when the sector faced many challenges from the international market, he said claiming that the situation had also affected steel sector in China in 2015. The Union government had intervened and supported the domestic steel sector when a lot of steel was coming into the country including the dumping of steel from China in 2015, he said. In fact, one million tonne of steel was coming in from China every month during the period when the government had felt that it would be unfair for them if no immediate steps were taken to protect the domestic steel sector, he said. Appreciating the initiatives of the government, Narendran said the steel sector had played an important role in the development of the country and it had invested Rs 300,000 crore in the country during the last ten years. Hailing the government initiatives to protect steel sector, Narendran said it had helped the situation to improve from the beginning of 2016 when even the international market had started picking up. However, the increased cost of coal and iron-ore during last three/four months had put cost pressure on the company, besides demonetisation being another issue affecting the performance of the company, Narendran said. Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

NGT ban on construction: Aarey cement plant gets show-cause notice

A 2010-11 National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) study about the sources of pollution in Mumbai saw an overall 8% contribution from only construction activities. (HT FILE) Five days after HT reported that another ready-mix-concrete (RMC) plant had been set up at Aarey Colony in Goregaon, the state pollution board issued a show-cause notice to the plant’s operators. Officials from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said that prima-facie, the cement plant was set up to provide construction material for the proposed Metro 3 project at Aarey. “On our visit to the site, we found that the plant is near the proposed Metro car shed site. Since the plant operators have not taken permission from MPCB for production, we issued the show- cause notice,” said a senior official from the pollution board, who visited the site on Thursday. “We have given them 10 days to respond. If they fail to provide a convincing reply, a closure notice will be issued.” HT reported on December 28 that an RMC plant had been set up at the city’s green lung along the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, Andheri (East). This overruled a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order banning all construction activities at Aarey, including the construction of the Metro 3 car shed by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL), till the next hearing scheduled for January 5. The official added that the plant had not started production. “There was a RMC plant at the plot that shut shop after we issued a closure notice. However, the plant operators sold the plot to another operator. Since there is violation of NGT orders, no production will be allowed at the site,” he said. “We will check with the civic body and Aarey authorities whether any approval was issued by them.” Environmentalists were happy the pollution board’s action. “This is a good development as the plant is located within eco-sensitive zone area of Aarey,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, NGO Watchdog Foundation that filed the complaint against the plant to MPCB. “It needs to be shut at the earliest. The air pollution caused by the operation of this plant will affect big trees.” “MMRCL has made it a policy to ensure all environment laws are violated. They have no clearances to do any work, yet work has commenced in violation of their own terms submitted in court under their environment assessment reports,” said Stalin Dayanand, project director, NGO Vanashakti. Construction dust, a major source of pollution: Studies A 2010-11 National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) study about the sources of pollution in Mumbai saw an overall 8% contribution from only construction activities. Ads by ZINC “Over the last five years, construction activities have increased especially in Mumbai and Delhi. The construction industry has to be made liable for proper collection, disposal and recycling of the disposable material or this source of pollution will continue to wreak havoc,” said Anumita Roy Choudhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi. According to a study by the Environmental Policy and Research India (EPRI), construction machineries such as ready mix concrete (RMC) plants emit a toxic cocktail of nearly 40 carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances The plants are major sources of PM2.5 that lodges deep in the lungs and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a key ingredient in the formation of ground level ozone and urban smog “Dust from construction is the major source of pollution in Mumbai. We observed that at these plants and construction sites water is sprinkled only once a day,” said Avick Sil, regional director, EPRI. What is an RMC Plant? Concrete that is manufactured in a factory or batching plant in large quantities, according to a set recipe in 10-foot-long containers, and delivered to a work site by a truck mounted with in–transit mixers that keep rotating to keep the cement wet. On an average, one RMC plant produces 80 to 100 metric cube concrete per day from one plant. Source:hindustantimes.com

As gap increases between steel's import and domestic price, najors now in position to raise prices

Kolkata: Come New Year, domestic steel players could be looking at perhaps the single largest price hike in the last five years. With the gap between imported and domestic steel prices going up to 18 per cent, steel majors are now in a position to raise prices by nearly Rs 6,500 per tonne. While it would help offset a sharp spike in coal costs that has seen production costs shoot up since July this year, low demand at home and impact of demonetization could force companies to initially seek a somewhat lower price increase of Rs 3000-4000 per tonne. "We are looking at a price hike since local domestic prices are at an 18 per cent discount compared to landed cost of imports. The increase will have to be in phases given the demand situation at home," Seshagiri Rao, joint MD, JSW Steel told ET. He, however, declined to comment on the possible extent of the price hike. Benchmark global steel prices are now at $523 per tonne (f.o.b) China and ruling well above the reference price of $474 per tonne fixed by government. Adding local transport charges and taxes, price comes to around Rs 43,040 per tonne whereas the landed cost is Rs 37,500 per tonne. It is similar in case of products from Japan or Korea, in which case, the base price is higher at $560 per tonne. When asked about a possible price hike, Vikram Amin executive director of Essar Steel said: "Our prices will be in line with the market." The possibility of raising prices by nearly Rs 6,000-6,500 per tonne is being tempered by the fact that domestic steel demand remains weak and companies may not be able to pass on the hike entirely. Further, demonetisation has also impacted retail demand in the steel sector. Additionally, coking coal prices are seeing a correction from $300 per tonne to $265 per tonne now. This is generally followed by a correction in global steel prices too. Hence, steel companies said they would like to keep a watch on prices over the next fortnight before deciding on the quantum of price hike. "Without a price increase, a lot of companies would be under water," Mr Rao added. In a recent report, ratings agency ICRA said given the muted demand outlook in the near term post the currency demonetisation, steelmakers will only be able to partially pass on cost increases, in turn putting pressure on their operating profit margins in Q4 FY2017. The plight is reflected among other mid-sized companies across the steel sector too. "Price of coking coal had risen sharply in last few months. At the hot metal stage costs have been up by almost Rs 10,000 per tonne.We have no other option left but to seek a price increase over the next 1 to 2 quarters," Rajeev Jhawar, managing director of Usha Martin, a leading global manufacturer of wire ropes and automotive steel said. Usha Martin said it could be looking at raising steel prices by around Rs 7,000-8,000 per tonne over the subsequent quarters in October-December 2016 (Q3) and January-March 2017 (Q4). Source:economictimes.indiatimes.com

Leader Steel sees improved revenue, profit

Growing orders: Leader Steel plant in Bukit Tengah. Since January, the group has seen orders from the construction, renovation and furniture industries increased by more than 15% BUKIT TENGAH: Leader Steel Holdings Bhd expects its revenue and profit for financial year 2016 to improve by strong double-digit percentage over 2015 due to higher steel prices and stronger demand from the construction, renovation and furniture industries. Group managing director Datin Tan Pak Say told StarBiz that the pricing of steel pipes was now around RM3,000 per tonne, about 25% higher than in early January. She said steel pipe prices had increased due to the stringent conditions regulating the entry of imported steel products. “Since late 2013, imported steel products need to have product certificate licensing and certificate of approval to sell in the country. “As a result, there is less competition from low-quality steel products from overseas. “The anti-dumping duties introduced in early 2015 for hot-rolled and cold-rolled coil from China is also beginning to produce results,” she added. Tan said that since January, the group had seen orders from the construction, renovation and furniture industries increased by more than 15%. “Our new production line installed at the Sungai Bakap plant late last year has helped us to cope with the new orders by raising output by more than 10%,” she said. For the nine months of the financial year ended Sept 30, 2016, Leader Steel had returned to the black with a net profit of RM5.2mil on the back of a RM120mil revenue, compared with a net loss of RM2.5mil and a revenue of RM121mil previously. Last year, the group posted a net loss of RM872,000 on the back of a RM32.5mil turnover. Moving forward, the group expects the trend in orders to maintain in 2017. “The prices of steel should maintain also. We can expect a strong double-digit percentage growth for the group in 2017. “We plan to increase our production capacity by about 20% for 2017 to produce more variety of steel products in different sizes,” she added. On its business operations in Sarawak, Tan said the plant there had recently obtained SIRIM certification for its steel products sold in East Malaysia. “The certification will help the group to broaden its customer base in East Malaysia,” she said. On the trading segment which contributes about 20% of the group’s revenue, Tan said Leader Steel’s manganese products were sold largely in China. “The price of manganese has risen by more than 50% since early this year,” she added. Source:thestar.com.my

Steel firms plan biggest price hike from January

To raise prices by Rs 6,000 per tonne on huge cost-pushMajor domestic steel companies are planning to raise product prices by a whopping Rs 6,000 per tonne from January as an unprecedented rise in coking coal rates and weak retail sales due to demonetisation are hurting margins. “Not just us, all domestic steel producers are planning to raise product prices from January. There is no option for us. Coking coal prices have gone to Rs 22,000 per tonne from Rs 7,000. The cost push is huge and we have to pass it on whether the market can absorb it or not,” Nitin Johari, director (finance) at Bhushan Steel told Business Standard. Currently, the price of domestically produced hot-rolled coil stands at Rs 36,750 a tonne as on December 9. A Rs 6,000-a-tonne hike in product prices would be the biggest upward revision by steel producers since the government started taking measures to curb cheap imports in October 2015. Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Steel, Essar Steel, Tata Steel, and Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel & Power, among others, are the major steel producing companies in the domestic market. “Demonetisation has hit our retail sales by nearly 10 per cent since November 8,” said a JSW Steel source close to the development. Steel Bhushan Steel, on the other hand, has taken a hit of nearly 20 percent in November on its retail sales. “November onwards is usually the peak demand season but this time, our retail sales have not taken place as per expectations,” said Johari. “The impact of demonetisation could be one factor since consumers and retailers usually deal in cash. The OEMs business segment is also likely to take a hit as auto companies are expected to go on a longer shutdown of 20 days than normal 12-15 days due to demonetisation.” While calls made to Tata Steel went unanswered, Essar Steel said its pricing will be in line with the market. “Our prices will all be in line with the market,” said Vikram Amin, executive director at Essar Steel. According to Joint Plant Committee data, domestic steel consumption in November rose 3.8 per cent from same period last year but was down 14.3 per cent from October. During April-November, the country's imports fell 40 per cent, while production for sale was up 10.3 per cent against the corresponding period last year. Consumption of steel in the period under review stood at 54 million tonnes, up three per cent from the same period last year. Meanwhile, the industry sees the need for continuation of minimum import price regime on 66 imported products for six months as demand continues to remain disappointing. “The full impact of MIP (minimum import prices) imposed on 173 products in February this year has not yet trickled down to boost domestic demand. Recent developments including liquidity crunch among consumers on account of currency demonetisation by the government as well as the imposition of anti-dumping duties on import of coke are expected to further dent demand and production situation, respectively,” Sanak Mishra, secretary-general at Indian Steel Association (ISA) was quoted as saying in its recent release. The association represents 60 per cent of steel capacities in the country. While domestic prices of hot-rolled coils did begin to recover from February 2016 onwards, they witnessed a drop from June-August on account of sluggish construction activity during monsoon, said ISA. After subsequent extensions on a limited set of 66 in August and October, the prices rose marginally, primarily on the back of a three-fold jump in international spot prices of coking coal, while the demand for steel continued to remain weak. Source:business-standard.com

Subdued volumes upset earnings prospects of cement cos: Icra

A similar decline in prices post demonetisation was witnessed in the western markets wherein the price, after having recovered by Rs 15/bag in October to Rs 265/bag, slipped to Rs 240/bag in November 2016.NEW DELHI: While cement prices have been affected in the southern and western markets, volume growth has been adversely impacted in all regions in November following demonetisation, rating agency Icra said today. "In the southern market, the prices have shown a decline of Rs 30/bag in October and November together, with the current prices hovering around Rs 300/bag. On an average, in the southern market, the cement prices during 8M FY2017 stood at around Rs 305/bag, lower by Rs 20/bag when compared to 8M FY2016," Icra said in a statement.A similar decline in prices post demonetisation was witnessed in the western markets wherein the price, after having recovered by Rs 15/bag in October to Rs 265/bag, slipped to Rs 240/bag in November 2016. "On a Y-o-Y basis, the average cement price during 8M FY2017 around Rs 260/bag is down by Rs 10/bag, compared to 8M FY2016. The November prices for the East and the North remained stable at Rs 325/bag and Rs 335/bag, respectively," it said. While cement prices have been affected for the South and West, volume growth has been adversely impacted for all regions in November 2016, following demonetisation. "Given that a significant portion of the cement demand is driven by real estate, it is likely to get impacted in the near term. "The demand slowdown from the realty sector is expected to be offset to some extent by infrastructure demand, specifically backed by Central government funding," Icra Ratings Senior Vice President Sabyasachi Majumdar said. "Nonetheless, overall, the demand for the cement sector is expected to be adversely impacted by this development in the next two to three quarters," Majumdar said.

Joint action can cut steel overcapacity

Due to the feeble global economic recovery and dampened global demands, China's steel industry (and those in other countries) faces overcapacity. During the US presidential campaign, rival candidates said that by "dumping its steel products", China has caused the American steel sector to lose its competitive edge. During his campaign trail, Donald Trump even threatened to impose up to 45 percent punitive tariffs on Chinese imports if he was elected president. Such rhetoric and protectionist measures, however, will not help resolve the global steel overproduction issue. China has exported only about 10 percent of its total steel output every year over the past decade, which is far below the 40 percent of some developed steel-producing countries. However, the United States and some European Union member countries have blamed China for the global steel overcapacity and launched anti-dumping investigations into Chinese steel products. In May, the US International Trade Commission invoked Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 to formally launch an investigation against more than 40 Chinese steel manufacturers, alleging the competitive edge they enjoy is unfair. Ironically, Chinese steel exports to the US and EU countries, in volume and value both, account for only a small percentage of their steel imports. So, imposing punitive tariffs on Chinese steel products can only be a ploy to protect their backward steel sectors. China has never shied away from accepting its surplus steel capacity. Instead, it has taken measures to help local governments and enterprises to reduce overproduction. In February, the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a guideline to eliminate backward steel capacity, another 100 million to 150 million tons of crude steel production will be cut in the next five years, with 45 million tons to be slashed this year alone. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the G20 Hangzhou Leaders Summit on Sept 4, President Xi Jinping reiterated that China will keep its promise of reducing its crude steel output during the next five years. Starting late November, the central government has sent several inspection teams to different regions to assess the progress made in eliminating steel and coal overcapacity. And provinces such as Shanxi, Shandong, Jiangxi, Henan and Guangdong have already completed their tasks for 2016. Steel overproduction is not an issue for just one country; going by globalization rules, it's the concern of all countries. In fact, G20 leaders at Hangzhou agreed steel overcapacity is a global issue and called for the establishment of a global forum for members of the G20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to share information and work together to resolve the issue. As the host of the Hangzhou summit, China has maintained communication with the parties to help advance the preparatory work for the establishment of the forum. China is willing to work with the United States to resolve the global steel overcapacity issue. Trump has said he would push for $1 trillion spending on infrastructure construction in the next 10 years that would include building and repairing highways, bridges, airports, schools and hospitals. Since the US cannot produce enough steel to meet that sort of demand, it can buy some of the steel needed from China. This will not only ease the world's steel overproduction pressure, but also boost the economic recovery of the US and other countries. Besides, the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) is expected to strengthen connectivity and infrastructure construction among countries along the routes and thus boost global steel demands. Hopefully, the US and other steel-producing countries will abandon their prejudices toward China and try to sincerely resolve the global steel overproduction issue. Only when more countries make coordinated decisions and strengthen their policy communications can they eliminate steel overcapacity and achieve win-win results. Source:chinadaily.com

Betting on consumption including cement: Prateek Agarwal

In a chat with ET Now, Prateek Agarwal, Business Head & CIO, ASK Investment Managers , says cement would benefit from better monsoons and better purchasing power with rural India as soon as people start to have cash. ET Now: Great opportunity to buy but do you think that the upside is capped, maybe not in individual stocks and the midcap universe is always seen as an opportunity to generate that alpha in an otherwise dull market but if momentum is lacking and there is sluggishness in fund flows, is the market going just with the assumption that perhaps we are not going to crack 8000. The reason to buy in this market at these levels looking at an upside or a rally from here is not convincing. Prateek Agarwal: Let’s see how long people believe it will take for markets to normalise and resume their usual buying and selling patterns. Two-three months maybe too short a period but a vast majority of people would agree with a six-month kind of period. We are down close to 9% to 10% from the peak. So from where we are if somebody invests and things normalise over six to seven months, that is a 10% uptick which is decent. We are not talking about improvement in the economy ET Now: It looks like it was Tata Sons that bought the 2% stake in Tata Motors. What do you do here because there has been significant damage to almost all of the group companies. Not even blue chip TCS has been spared. How do you approach these companies because we do not quite know what the going will be over the course of the next three to six months? Prateek Agarwal: We are talking of a group which many see as India’s best. So yes there may be a few things which are confusing people in the interim but once again it would help if you take three- to six-month kind of view and if you believe that the businesses are strong and they will do better. The downticks that you get in this period, are a great opportunity to buy. We believe it is a great group but we have zero exposure to the group for the simple reason that a very large part of the group is cyclical in nature and does not fit into what we believe is our deliverable to our investors. So we seek businesses which can grow steadily over extremely long periods of time. So we have stayed away. Parts of the group like TCS does offer that but the quantum of growth that we are seeking from a business that we buy tends to be in excess of 20% and clearly large IT is not the space that will deliver that to us. So it is not only TCS, we do not have any exposure to any IT, that is our position. But otherwise it would help investors if they do not look at the current noise, believe it is great group and look at three to six months horizon. ET Now: What is your thesis? I know you do not talk short term but we have a few key events short term; one is the month of December wherein more often than not we have got a Santa Claus rally, this time around we are besieged with this Fed event which comes out tomorrow post market hours and then we have the demonetisation hoodoo which is clamping down the consumption and the consumer themes as well. What is your near term outlook? Prateek Agarwal: A lot of the US Fed event tomorrow is already discounted by the market. It is because of that event that dollar has strengthened and emerging markets saw such a large quantum of outflows. India as a country also witnessed strong FII outflows over the month of November. So funds which allocate monies globally into emerging markets have positioned themselves for this event expecting, a 25 bps hike. Now once the increase is done and the currencies stabilise versus the dollar. a lot of these monies would probably come back. It always happens unless there are redemptions from a particular fund. Over the last few days, the intensity of selling has reduced. Coming to demonetisation yes, the consumption part of the market got selected for selloff. Traditionally that has been the most stable part of the market. Our belief is that if consumption comes back first and pretty quickly, then the marketplace is offering a wonderful opportunity to get positioned in that part of the market. Look at it this way, people had Rs 15 lakh crores odd of the currency that has been demonetised. As of end of last month, Rs 4 lakh crore odd was back into the hands of people. If over the next two months, Rs 12 to 13 lakh crore go back into the hands of people then is things should be as they were before demonetisation in terms of consumption spends except for select categories like maybe housing. So if people agree with that outlook then very, very clearly what the marketplace is offering is a great opportunity to buy. ET Now: Are you building positions in oil and gas stocks right now? ONGC has been in a zone of its own and is coming from a history of underperformance, a major one at that. I mean it is almost pretty much like all hope was lost for upside on that stock. But do you think that with crude oil prices seeing a new reality at $55 to $60 a barrel that that upside opportunity has come in? Prateek Agarwal: We seek to deliver preservation of capital and growth of capital to our clients and if one is looking at lesser volatile part of the market, the commodities typically do not fit in. There is no way of predicting commodity prices. They tend to be influenced by everything around the globe and in the case of oil and gas the interference of the government has also in the past tended to be of high order. So this is a space that we typically give a pass. So it is not only oil and gas, it is also metals. So both oil and metals I do understand lend themselves to improving global sentiment, everything is hardening in price but in terms of what our deliverable is, it does not fit in. ET Now: What about this space? Earlier the argument was that the valuations are very expensive. Now cement valuations have come off as well albeit more so in the midcap space. But the largecaps are not looking as expensive either but people are still shunning away from buying them. What is your view? Prateek Agarwal: The demonetisation phenomenon shot the market out of the blue, nobody expected that to happen, so that is point number one. Point number two is consumption part was heavy on portfolio managers’ books. So demonetisation coupled with the interest rate increase led outflows from the domestic market to this space getting selected and thrashed. So that is what is happening to our mind. Our sense is that if this reading is right and if consumption comes back over the next two to three months, the space of the market which has been thrashed out is probably the best place to invest into for quick gains over the next five to six months, cement included. So cement would benefit from better monsoons and better purchasing power with rural India as soon as people start to have cash. Second, it will also benefit from government spends so government is expecting to have much more tax revenues over the next six odd months so that should give government spend a fillip. A lot of it would be probably in the area of infrastructure that help cement. Where it gets impacted a bit negatively is housing in the metros which may see some slowdown in new house sales for some time. But I think rest of it may more than offset this. So we believe these are good times to buy consumption stocks that have been thrashed down, cement included. Source:livemint.com

Cement: Volumes subdued, cash crunch may add to pain

One bright spot could be the government’s spending on infrastructure activities, which may support cement demand to a certain extent. Not much is expected from cement companies in the December quarter since sales volume growth would continue to be weak. Photo: Hindustan Times As anticipated, the earnings of cement companies in the September quarter were lacklustre as sales volume growth for most companies, except for those having a significant exposure to South India, was subdued due to heavy monsoon rains. Construction activity during the June-September monsoon period is generally dull. Volume growth was strong in the south due to higher demand, led by infrastructure spending in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. South-based cement firms such as India Cements Ltd, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd and Ramco Cements Ltd registered volume growth in the range of 10-20% year-on-year (y-o-y). On the other hand, pan-India companies such as ACC Ltd, Ambuja Cements Ltd and UltraTech Cement Ltd saw a decline of 1-10% y-o-y in volumes in the quarter gone by. Cement volumes in India increased by a meagre 3.3% in the September quarter, according to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). While south-based cement makers scored on the volumes front, north-based companies saw better operating profits, aided by a higher price realization. Prajakta Patil/Mint Click here for enlarge The firming up of cement prices in the north since March this year aided a 40-70% y-o-y increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) for north-based cement makers. The realizations of these companies increased by 2-9% y-o-y, said a Kotak Institutional Equities report. Petroleum coke (petcoke) prices have been continuously hardening. Though most cement companies didn’t see power and fuel costs rising on a y-o-y basis in the September quarter, benefiting from inventory acquired at lower cost, their input costs rose sequentially. And the full impact of rising petcoke prices will reflect in balance sheets from the December quarter onwards, hurting margins, caution analysts. It is known that production cost is likely to move northwards from hereon; what still remains to be seen is how severe will be the impact of demonetisation on cement volumes, although the managements of cement companies don’t expect much impact as yet. Most cement stocks have seen sharp corrections after the currency exchange decision was announced on 8 November since it is seen as a near-term negative for the sector. Demand from the rural areas is likely to take a hit since most transactions happen in cash. Urban demand, which was already sluggish, is likely to remain so for some more time. The much-awaited demand revival which had earlier (pre-demonetisation) been foreseen in the second half of the year, would now be further delayed. In this gloom, one bright spot could be the government’s spending on infrastructure activities, which may support cement demand to a certain extent. All told, not much is expected from cement companies in the December quarter since sales volume growth would continue to be weak. Source:livemint.com

Steel edge dulled by cash crunch

Large part of production deceleration is owing to Steel Authority of India Ltd’s output declining, while large integrated steel plants in private sector saw it increase Steel output in November grew by 5.8% over a year ago, compared to 13.6% in October, shows data from the Joint Plant Committee.What impact has demonetization had on steel consumption? In November, it rose by 3.8% over a year ago, much better than October when it declined by 1.4%, shows data from the Joint Plant Committee. Sequentially, however, consumption has declined more than it did in October. Growth in consumption can be partly explained by sales under existing contracts, which implies that December could see a reversal. In fact, production is showing signs that this could happen, as output in November grew by 5.8% over a year ago, compared to 13.6% in October. A large part of this deceleration is owing to Steel Authority of India Ltd’s output declining, while large integrated steel plants in private sector saw it increase. Sequentially, however, both public sector and large plants have seen output decline in November.The uptrend in steel prices and rising exports are mitigating factors for the industry. Source:www.livemint.com/

Cement sales dip in face of currency rationing

The urban real estate market, which contributes 15% to the annual cement sales, took a sharp hit The cement sector has been seeing 10-20% drop in sales owing to currency rationing in the wake of demonetisation.The individual housing builders segment, which constitutes 45% of the entire cement market, has taken the brunt with dealers reporting frozen sales since the government announced the demonetisation move.According to a report from brokerage firm Motilal Oswal, houses constructed under this segment are typically bought in cash and the cement dealers expect this section of the market to be severely impacted as severe liquidity crunch has followed suit.“Volumes for majority dealers were impacted by 50-80%,compared to average volumes recorded in the first week of November,” said an analyst with the brokerage company reasoning that demonetisation has led to a sharp reduction in the availability of cash with clients, resulting in reduced purchases.The urban real estate market, which contributes 15% to the annual cement sales, also took a sharp hit as developers had to arrange for funding of labour payments and other input materials such as steel.Normally, cement dealers maintain a 50:50 ratio between cash and cheque or e-transactions. They also act as points of conversion of cash between clients and companies. They collect cash from clients and deposit the corresponding amount in the company’s accounts by real-time gross settlement. “As dealers are not accepting old currency notes now,cash sales have reduced to negligible levels,” said the analyst cited above.A report from Deutsche Bank Markets Research on the cement sector has factored in a 15-20% demand drop in the near term (until December2016) and then a three% growth in the fourth quarter of the current year.So far, Shree Cement has seen a decline of 10-15% in its sales last month, while Dalmia Bharat reported a fall of 15-20% in sales.However, the above-mentioned companies along with Kesoram Industries (makers of Birla Shakti Cement),are of the view that the demand for cement is likely to pick up as the government speeds up its infrastructure projects.“With the demonetisation drive and the government’s income declaration scheme, money is likely to flow into government coffers, which in turn would be pumped back into the economy,” said H M Bangur, managing director of Shree Cement. Tridib Kumar Das, director of Kesoram Industries, is also optimistic that development of infrastructure such as roads, railways, bridges, housing for the poor, toilet construction and other related fields of work will be the government’s primary agenda.“Most likely, the government will first speed up the infrastructural development work, which will translate into increased demand for cement and steel,” Das said,adding that the cement sector would be one of the first sectors to recover from demonetisation blues.However, analysts caution that although the central government’s spending is likely to shoot up, the state government finances may come under some pressure, as 5-10% of their revenue receipts come from the property sector (hit by demonetisation) resulting in their infrastructure sector spends coming under stress. “This could be mitigated if the central government passes on a higher proportion of its improved finances to the states,” said an analyst from Deutsche Bank in the report.Das, however, opined that the pace of recovery from falling sales (at present) will depend on how much money the government is able to generate by levying a 50% tax on undisclosed income and the four-year lock-in period in the banks for the same. Also, the recovery will depend on the on-ground, practical implementation of infrastructural projects. Mahendra Singhi, director at Dalmia Bharat, said the institutional segment, which operates on e-payment and takes up eight% of the total cement sales, has so far been shielded. Nevertheless, the dip in the retail sector has hit the sales hard. Source:business-standard.com

Govt extends implementation of steel quality order by 2 mths

The earlier deadline expired today and the present extension was necessitated as licensing process by BIS would take some more time, the Steel Ministry said in a statement. Aimed at introducing a quality regime in the steel sector, the government said it has extended by another two months the date for implementation of Stainless Steel Products (Quality Control) Order. The earlier deadline expired today and the present extension was necessitated as licensing process by BIS would take some more time, the Steel Ministry said in a statement. The Order inter-alia stipulates prohibition regarding manufacture, import, storage, sale, distribution etc without the Standard Mark of BIS and obligation of certification, it said. Steel minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh has called for creating a comprehensive quality regime in the steel sector, the statement said. This is essential for Indian steel products to gain acceptability and recognition at international level, he adds while informing that the way forward is to bring more and more products under the ambit of quality control order for a holistic coverage. India needs to find new markets for its steel products for better capacity utilisation and quality is a pre-requisite for export-orientation. This is essential because steel products form the backbone of infrastructure, construction, household utilities, engineering goods and other sectors. Standardisation through quality control would be beneficial for the health of mass consumers who use stainless steel utensils. Similarly strength, durability and longevity of housing and other constructions depend on the quality of steel used. "Singh has urged all stakeholders to expedite their part of the process so that the ultimate goal of providing better quality steel is achieved," the statement said. The extension route cannot be infinite and all must be committed to provide a healthier and safer product to the consumers, he added. Singh remarked, "It is the dream of our Prime Minister to make India the manufacturing hub of the world, that is why he has outlined his vision of 'Make in India'." "But if each one of us is not committed to doing his best to facilitate implementation of highest quality standards in every sphere, we shall be left behind. As they say a dream is a goal with a deadline. So we must adhere to deadlines and treat them as sacrosanct," he said. Stainless Steel Products (Quality Control) Order, 2016 was issued on June 10, 2016, covering three stainless steel products. This order was scheduled to be enforced after 3 months of publication i.e. September 10. However on receipt of several representations, date of enforcement was extended by total 180 days from the date of the original order (in effect, three months extension), which postponed the implementation date till December 7, 2016. "The three stainless products are stainless steel sheets/strips as per IS-6911 for engineering/industrial applications, stainless steel sheets as per IS-5522 for utensils and Low nickel sheet products as per IS-15997 for utensils and kitchenware," the statement said. Source:moneycontrol.com

Cement December volumes to decline by 10-20% : Systematrix

Cement price has also fell. But Arora says the prices are very volatile and will bounce back soon. Only after December end can we understand where the prices may settle. Cement volumes may drop by around 10-20 percent in December due to demonetisation, says Jaspreet Singh Arora, Systematix Intitutional Equities. Cement price has also fellen. But Arora says the prices are very volatile and will bounce back soon. Only after December end can we understand where the prices may settle. He says the dealers have also started giving extra credit to buyers. They have also started increasing the credit duration. Source:Moneycontrol

Steel scenario: Increased realisation may bring down stressed assets

The year 2016 ends in a month. No abrupt change in the steel business scenario is predicted except natural calamities. The US would have a new government installed in January. The year 2016 ends in a month. No abrupt change in the steel business scenario is predicted except natural calamities. The US would have a new government installed in January. The economic policies aimed to rejuvenate the US economy are, if the reports published are to be believed, likely to promote US manufacturing sector, remain vigilant on cheap imports especially steel and manufactured items, grant stimulatory investment in replacing and building up of the infrastructure thereby ensuring jobs and income generation for US residents. A kind of nationalistic flavour would embody all the economic decisions of the US and may be a little deterrent for all that is generally associated with Globalisation. Already the US has expressed reservations in signing of free trade treaties between nations like Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The WTO compliant trade restrictive measures by the US (AD and CVD) including continuation of SIMA and anti-circumvention investigations into rules of origin would be frequently resorted to and implemented. Steel Caucus lobby by US senators would be quite vocal. One thing is certain. If the growth-restraining factors are tackled appropriately by the US that are going to be region-specific measures, it is quite likely that regional weaknesses may not escalate further and assume a global proportion. A reasonably strong demand from the US would, on the other hand, provide ample opportunities for developing economies other than China to renew their export efforts and a good platform for raw material prices not to go for a sharp decline and reaffirm the status for US dollars. Steel prices in the penultimate month of 2016 have witnessed a rising trend. Chinese export offers at $443/t fob Tianjin for SS400 HRC against the current average cost of $420/t provide an ebitda margin of $23/t which may still prompt most of the large producers in China to emphasise higher capacity utilisation more than eliminating capacities. In the current year, Chinese steel exports are almost at the same level as last year, crude steel production marginally lower than last year and imports of iron ore around 9% higher. The stimulus measures of infrastructure building in hitherto untouched provincial cities would enhance Gross Fixed Capital Formation as a percentage of GDP from the current level of 46%. Coking coal spot prices at $313/t fob Australia are facing a lower demand in the year ending month and are projected to come down to $260/t in January 2017. Iron ore (62% FE) prices have also been projected to fall from the current $75-80/t cfr China to reach $70/t cfr China by January 2017 and to drop to around $45/t in subsequent months. Rising scrap prices (prices for 80:20 HMS grade scrap at $274/t ex-US is slated to move up to $350/t in another two months) are likely to come down by more than $100/t in the following months. The phase of high cost raw materials in raising steel prices all over the world is going to be a reality. In India the rise in prices of finished steel in January 2017 would also be primarily guided by imported coking coal and iron ore prices. The rising scrap prices would immediately put pressure on raising the prices of sponge iron. The export offers from India for HRC, CRC, galvanised and coated sheets would be rising due to increase in domestic and global prices. It also implies that a fall in raw material prices may lead to a corresponding drop in finished product prices. However, a strong domestic demand may prevent this phenomenon. It is expected that the market (including the retail trade) would become normal after the initial hesitant response to demonetisation is over. The demand in consumer durable and real estate market following rise in disposable income at the hands of the middle class and salaried class would be realised after two or three months period. The increased realisation in the domestic market would enable the producers to bring down the stressed asset component and relieve the banks partially from the scourge of NPAs. This scenario presumes the normal execution of the business processes in India. Any sudden departure from this established picture may reverse the trend and weaken the normalisation process for the indigenous producers.The author is DG, Institute of Steel Growth and Development. Views expressed are personal. Source:Financial Express

India Cements: Deleveraging of balance sheet key trigger

While India Cements stock has lost 2.2% after September quarter results were announced, demonetisation has led to correction of 26.4% since 9 November Chennai-based cement maker India Cements Ltd’s net profit surged 62.1% to Rs62.41 crore year-on-year (y-o-y) in the September quarter, aided by lower finance cost and tax expenditures. Net sales improved 6.7% y-o-y to Rs1,307 crore. Both net profit and net sales exceeded Bloomberg estimates of Rs58.09 crore and Rs1,145.60 crore, respectively.Volumes grew more than 10% y-o-y, but realizations slipped. Also, the quarter’s Ebitda at Rs2,244 crore was marginally below estimates of some analysts. This miss was primarily due to increase in minimum wages, which resulted in a sequential rise in employee cost/tonne. Ebitda stands for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. While the stock has lost 2.2% after the September quarter earnings were announced, i.e. in the last three trading sessions, the anticipated short-term negative impact of currency ban has led to correction of 26.4% since 9 November.In a post-earnings conference call, the management said demonetization of Rs500/1,000 notes has not affected sales volume till date and the proportion of cash in cement purchase is only 10-15%. But some brokerage firms have raised a red flag by trimming their Ebitda estimates. “Our channel checks indicate pressure on demand in most parts of the country. We expect dispatches to get impacted going ahead. We revise our Ebitda estimates downwards by 3.3%/13.8% for FY17E/FY18E to factor in lower demand in H2FY17 due to the demonetization issue,” Emkay Research said in a report. Sharing a similar view, Reliance Securities Ltd too has cut Ebitda estimates by 6% and 15% for FY17E and FY18E, respectively.Meanwhile, in the first half of this fiscal year, India Cements has repaid Rs80 crore debt and aims at debt repayment of Rs170 crore in the second half. The management expects debt refinancing to reduce interest costs by 75 basis points. A basis point is 0.01%. Apart from that, the company would incur Rs200 crore towards maintenance capex in FY17 and another Rs400 crore towards replacement of mills and maintenance capex. Shares of India Cements are currently trading at a one-year forward price-to-earnings multiple of 15.21, lower than peers. Although demonetization is a near-term dampener, the company is poised to benefit from deleveraging of balance sheet in the long term and this would be a trigger for valuations. Source:livemint

Domestic cement demand to touch 6% in FY17: ICRA

India’s demand for cement is expected to raise to 6 per cent in the current financial year against 4.6 per cent in 2015-16, ratings agency ICRA has said. This (demand) is expected to support the cement prices in the near term. However, the energy cost benefits are expected to reverse in second half of 2016-17, given the recent hike in the pet coke and coal prices, it said in a statement today. ICRA Ratings Senior VP Sabyasachi Majumdar said demand in 2016-17 is likely to be mainly driven by the pick-up in the infrastructure segment, primarily road projects and housing segment and the likelihood of a recovery in the rural demand from second half of this fiscal, given the better monsoons. “This is likely to support cement prices in near term. Notwithstanding the improved sentiments in these sectors, a number of structural constraints need to be sorted out for project implementation to gather pace in the other infra sub segments,” he added. Government’s emphasis on the infrastructure projects is likely to result in increased public sector investments, revival of the public private partnership (PPP) is critical to improve the pace of infrastructure development, he said. While, the energy cost savings supported profitability of the cement manufacturers during Q4 2015-16 and Q1 2016-17, the benefits of the same are likely to get diluted going forward, given the recent increase in the coal and pet coke prices, Majumdar added. Despite a decline in the energy cost savings during Q2 2016-17, North Indian cement manufacturers would report better profit numbers for H1 2016-17 vis-a-vis H1 2015-16 supported by the significant increase in cement prices. Pet coke prices have been increasing since February 2016 and reached to around Rs 6,400 pet tonne in August 2016, an increase of around 78 per cent when compared to the low of January 2016, ICRA said. This has been due to the higher domestic demand for the product, coupled with the supply constraints. Pet coke prices during July–August 2016 have been higher by 8 per cent when compared to the corresponding period last year, giving rise to the likelihood of dilution in cost savings, it added. Further, coal prices, which declined during 2015-16, witnessed some recovery during May-July 2016. In July 2016, coal prices were higher by 12.5 per cent as against the price in July 2015 The recovery in coal prices can be primarily attributed to supply side cuts and improved demand from China. Also, during April-August 2016, there was a nearly 15 per cent increase in diesel prices when compared to Q4 2015-16 and around 6 per cent when compared to April-August 2015 trends. This is likely to put pressure on the freight costs for cement companies during 2016-17, Majumdar said. Source : Financial Express.

Researchers at MIT are seeking to redesign concrete -- the most widely used human-made material

In a paper published online in the journal Construction and Building Materials, the team contrasts cement paste -- concrete's binding ingredient -- with the structure and properties of natural materials such as bones, shells, and deep-sea sponges. As the researchers observed, these biological materials are exceptionally strong and durable, thanks in part to their precise assembly of structures at multiple length scales, from the molecular to the macro, or visible, level. From their observations, the team, led by Oral Buyukozturk, a professor in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), proposed a new bioinspired, "bottom-up" approach for designing cement paste. "These materials are assembled in a fascinating fashion, with simple constituents arranging in complex geometric configurations that are beautiful to observe," Buyukozturk says. "We want to see what kinds of micromechanisms exist within them that provide such superior properties, and how we can adopt a similar building-block-based approach for concrete." Ultimately, the team hopes to identify materials in nature that may be used as sustainable and longer-lasting alternatives to Portland cement, which requires a huge amount of energy to manufacture. "If we can replace cement, partially or totally, with some other materials that may be readily and amply available in nature, we can meet our objectives for sustainability," Buyukozturk says. Co-authors on the paper include lead author and graduate student Steven Palkovic, graduate student Dieter Brommer, research scientist Kunal Kupwade-Patil, CEE assistant professor Admir Masic, and CEE department head Markus Buehler, the McAfee Professor of Engineering. "The merger of theory, computation, new synthesis, and characterization methods have enabled a paradigm shift that will likely change the way we produce this ubiquitous material, forever," Buehler says. "It could lead to more durable roads, bridges, structures, reduce the carbon and energy footprint, and even enable us to sequester carbon dioxide as the material is made. Implementing nanotechnology in concrete is one powerful example [of how] to scale up the power of nanoscience to solve grand engineering challenges." From molecules to bridges Today's concrete is a random assemblage of crushed rocks and stones, bound together by a cement paste. Concrete's strength and durability depends partly on its internal structure and configuration of pores. For example, the more porous the material, the more vulnerable it is to cracking. However, there are no techniques available to precisely control concrete's internal structure and overall properties. "It's mostly guesswork," Buyukozturk says. "We want to change the culture and start controlling the material at the mesoscale." As Buyukozturk describes it, the "mesoscale" represents the connection between microscale structures and macroscale properties. For instance, how does cement's microscopic arrangement affect the overall strength and durability of a tall building or a long bridge? Understanding this connection would help engineers identify features at various length scales that would improve concrete's overall performance. "We're dealing with molecules on the one hand, and building a structure that's on the order of kilometers in length on the other," Buyukozturk says. "How do we connect the information we develop at the very small scale, to the information at the large scale? This is the riddle." Building from the bottom, up To start to understand this connection, he and his colleagues looked to biological materials such as bone, deep sea sponges, and nacre (an inner shell layer of mollusks), which have all been studied extensively for their mechanical and microscopic properties. They looked through the scientific literature for information on each biomaterial, and compared their structures and behavior, at the nano-, micro-, and macroscales, with that of cement paste. They looked for connections between a material's structure and its mechanical properties. For instance, the researchers found that a deep sea sponge's onion-like structure of silica layers provides a mechanism for preventing cracks. Nacre has a "brick-and-mortar" arrangement of minerals that generates a strong bond between the mineral layers, making the material extremely tough. "In this context, there is a wide range of multiscale characterization and computational modeling techniques that are well established for studying the complexities of biological and biomimetic materials, which can be easily translated into the cement community," says Masic. Applying the information they learned from investigating biological materials, as well as knowledge they gathered on existing cement paste design tools, the team developed a general, bioinspired framework, or methodology, for engineers to design cement, "from the bottom up." The framework is essentially a set of guidelines that engineers can follow, in order to determine how certain additives or ingredients of interest will impact cement's overall strength and durability. For instance, in a related line of research, Buyukozturk is looking into volcanic ash as a cement additive or substitute. To see whether volcanic ash would improve cement paste's properties, engineers, following the group's framework, would first use existing experimental techniques, such as nuclear magnetic resonance, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction to characterize volcanic ash's solid and pore configurations over time. Researchers could then plug these measurements into models that simulate concrete's long-term evolution, to identify mesoscale relationships between, say, the properties of volcanic ash and the material's contribution to the strength and durability of an ash-containing concrete bridge. These simulations can then be validated with conventional compression and nanoindentation experiments, to test actual samples of volcanic ash-based concrete. Ultimately, the researchers hope the framework will help engineers identify ingredients that are structured and evolve in a way, similar to biomaterials, that may improve concrete's performance and longevity. "Hopefully this will lead us to some sort of recipe for more sustainable concrete," Buyukozturk says. "Typically, buildings and bridges are given a certain design life. Can we extend that design life maybe twice or three times? That's what we aim for. Our framework puts it all on paper, in a very concrete way, for engineers to use." This research was supported in part by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences through the Kuwait-MIT Center for Natural Resources and the Environment, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Argonne National Laboratory. Source : sciencedaily.com

Steel prices likely to see a surge from October onwards: Naveen Jindal, JSPL

ET Now caught up with Naveen Jindal, JSPL, for his outlook on the steel industry. Excerpts: ET Now: There have been reports that your company is going to restructure around Rs 7,500 crore of loans on your books. Any update on that? Naveen Jindal: Most of that Rs 7,500 crores of debt has been restructured. It is not really restructuring; it has actually been brought under the 5/25 scheme. ET Now: As for your operations, reports say you were looking for some partners. Some Japanese names have cropped up. Have you finalised any of them?Naveen Jindal: There are many companies that are keen to invest in JSPL. We keep engaging from time to time with people. But I am not supposed to divulge this information. When something concrete happens, I will come back to you. ET Now: What is your outlook on steel prices going forward? What major business objectives or targets does your company have this financial year? Naveen Jindal: I think steel prices have been quite low for a very long time. Steel is a cyclical industry. Now given the good monsoons this year, I am very hopeful that from October onwards there will be an upsurge in the price of steel. Source : The Economic Times.

UltraTech Cement Share Price, UltraTechCement Stock Price Quote, Today Stock Price NSE/BSE

UltraTech Cement Share Price, Ultra Tech Cement Stock Price Quote, Today Stock Price NSE/BSE. 3,868.15 ↓ -103.55 (-2.61%) Source: Money Control.

Industrial Steel Prices as Of 02-Sep-2016

The current, as of 02-Sep-2016, price of steel is 300.0 dollars per tonne. Steel prices are set by various markets around the world. Investors, producers and industrialists with differing needs trade in stainless steel, steel scrap, steel wire, steel coils and steel futures. Source: Quandl

Velagapudi to be Andhra's First Modern City

The sleepy village of Velagapudi in the Amaravati Capital Region has become an exhibit in itself, with people thronging there in large numbers to see the infrastructure of the temporary capital getting built brick by brick. The foundation laying work is proceeding at a rapid pace, with workers, placed in three shifts, attempting to complete the temporary capital by June. The locals, making use of the brisk pace at which progress is being made, have started petty businesses. Many visitors are visiting Velagapudi to see the big machinery being used for construction. Engineers from Shapoorji and Pallonji and L&T, who were the contractors for the complex of buildings coming up at the temporary capital, said that they were working day and night to complete the construction of pillars and flooring by March 20. They added that various types of heavy machinery were installed at the site for the swift completion of the work. Construction activity in Velagapudi and other areas of the capital region has increased in view of the work being done for the temporary capital. The local people have opened shops, supplying steel, bricks, cement and other construction materials. Also, Velagapudi now has its first internet cafe, a metro type cafeteria, modern provision shops and others. The cattle sheds, godowns and store rooms were transforming into shops, making Velagapudi into first modern city of Amaravati Region. Source : amaravativoice

Industrial Steel Prices as of 30-Aug-2016

The current, as of 30-Aug-2016, price of steel is 300.0 dollars per tonne. Steel prices are set by various markets around the world. Investors, producers and industrialists with differing needs trade in stainless steel, steel scrap, steel wire, steel coils and steel futures. Source: Quandl

Industrial steel Prices as of 25-Aug-2016

The current, as of 25-Aug-2016, price of steel is 300.0 dollars per tonne. Steel prices are set by various markets around the world. Investors, producers and industrialists with differing needs trade in stainless steel, steel scrap, steel wire, steel coils and steel futures.

Steep hike in cement prices in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh

In a New Year shock, cement manufacturers have rolled out a price hike. The price of cement per bag of 50 kg is now in the range of ₹330 to ₹340 in Hyderabad, while in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh it is slightly lower at ₹310-₹340. According to Bharat, Manager of Maruti Traders, a major cement dealer here, the increase in price was in the range of ₹50-80 compared with prices prevailing last month. Earlier, the price in Hyderabad was ₹30-40 lower than the other places in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, but now it is almost the same, he told BusinessLine on Tuesday. This was the steepest hike after October 2014. The average prices went up by ₹20 a bag and stood at ₹320 against ₹300 a bag in the year-ago period. Later, it fell and shot up again now. The price of the commodity in Tamil Nadu is in the range of ₹355-390 per bag, while in Kerala it is between ₹370 and ₹400 per bag, according to available information. The price hike, however, is not supported by any increase in demand. Enquiries with various cement dealers, however, revealed that there has not been any increase in demand and in Hyderabad alone, it had actually dipped. The industry, however, has a different version. “The cement price in the two States is still lower than the prices in other southern States. This is a natural price cycle as construction activity is expected to pick up as we move towards the summer,’’ said a top executive of a Hyderabad-based cement company. Though the cement makers are optimistic about a stable political environment and a possible spurt in the Government construction activity, it still did not happen. In addition, the present overcapacity and lower utilisation levels at about 55-60 per cent may offset the positive developments, if any. Source : thehindubusinessline.com

Goods and Services Tax Bill

The Goods and Services Tax Bill or GST Bill, officially known as The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, proposes a national Value added Tax to be implemented in India[1] from 1 April 2017.[2][3] "Goods and Services Tax" would be a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India, to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments. Goods and Services Tax would be levied and collected at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method. This method allows GST-registered businesses to claim tax credit to the value of GST they paid on purchase of goods or services as part of their normal commercial activity. Taxable goods and services are not distinguished from one another and are taxed at a single rate in a supply chain till the goods or services reach the consumer. Administrative responsibility would generally rest with a single authority to levy tax on goods and services.[4] Exports would be zero-rated and imports would be levied the same taxes as domestic goods and services adhering to the destination principle. The introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be a significant step in the reform of indirect taxation in India. Amalgamating several Central and State taxes into a single tax would mitigate cascading or double taxation, facilitating a common national market. The simplicity of the tax should lead to easier administration and enforcement. From the consumer point of view, the biggest advantage would be in terms of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods, which is currently estimated at 25%-30%,[5] free movement of goods from one state to another without stopping at state borders for hours for payment of state tax or entry tax and reduction in paperwork to a large extent. What changes there would be if India launches GST- “The tax rate under GST may be nominal or zero rated for the time being. It has been proposed to insulate the revenues of the States from the impact of GST, with the expectation that in due course, GST will be levied on petroleum and petroleum products.” The central government has assured states of compensation for any revenue losses incurred by them from the date of introduction of GST for a period of five years. [6] As India is a federal republic GST would be implemented concurrently by the central government and by state governments.[ History An empowered committee was set up by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000 to streamline the GST model to be adopted and to develop the required backend infrastructure that would be needed for its implementation.[8][9] In his budget speech on 28 February 2006, P. Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister, announced the target date for implementation of GST to be 1 April 2010 and formed another empowered committee of State Finance Ministers to design the roadmap. The committee submitted its report to the government in April 2008 and released its First Discussion Paper on GST in India in 2009.[8] The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 19 December 2014, and passed by the House on 6 May 2015. In the Rajya Sabha, the bill was referred to a Select Committee on 14 May 2015. The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha submitted its report on the bill on 22 July 2015. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 3 August 2016, and the amended bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 8 August 2016.[10] Ratification The Act was passed in accordance with the provisions of Article 368 of the Constitution, and must be ratified by more than half of the State Legislatures, as required under Clause (2) of the said article. On 12 August 2016, Assam became the first state to ratify the bill, when the Assam Legislative Assembly unanimously approved it.[11][12] State Legislatures that ratified the amendment are listed below: Assam (12 August) Bihar (16 August)[13][14] Jharkhand (17 August)[15] Himachal Pradesh (22 August)[16] Chhattisgarh (22 August)[17] Gujarat (23 August)[18] Madhya Pradesh (24 August)[19] Delhi (24 August)[20] Salient features of Goods and Service Tax, bill The salient features about this legislation were first time discussed in its first discussion paper in year 2009. We will reproduce the features discussed here again to understand this act very well. (i) The GST shall have two components: one levied by the Centre (hereinafter referred to as Central GST), and the other levied by the States (hereinafter referred to as State GST). Rates for Central GST and State GST would be prescribed appropriately, reflecting revenue considerations and acceptability. This dual GST model would be implemented through multiple statutes (one for CGST and SGST statute for every State). However, the basic features of law such as chargeability, definition of taxable event and taxable person, measure of levy including valuation provisions, basis of classification etc. would be uniform across these statutes as far as practicable. (ii) The Central GST and the State GST would be applicable to all transactions of goods and services made for a consideration except the exempted goods and services, goods which are outside the purview of GST and the transactions which are below the prescribed threshold limits. (iii) The Central GST and State GST are to be paid to the accounts of the Centre and the States separately. It would have to be ensured that account-heads for all services and goods would have indication whether it relates to Central GST or State GST (with identification of the State to whom the tax is to be credited). (iv) Since the Central GST and State GST are to be treated separately, taxes paid against the Central GST shall be allowed to be taken as input tax credit (ITC) for the Central GST and could be utilized only against the payment of Central GST. (v) Cross utilization of ITC between the Central GST and the State GST would not be allowed except in the case of inter-State supply of goods and services under the IGST model which is explained later. (vi) Ideally, the problem related to credit accumulation on account of refund of GST should be avoided by both the Centre and the States except in the cases such as exports, purchase of capital goods, input tax at higher rate than output tax etc. where, again refund/adjustment should be completed in a time bound manner. (vii) To the extent feasible, uniform procedure for collection of both Central GST and State GST would be prescribed in the respective legislation for Central GST and State GST. (viii) The administration of the Central GST to the Centre and for State GST to the States would be given. This would imply that the Centre and the States would have concurrent jurisdiction for the entire value chain and for all taxpayers on the basis of thresholds for goods and services prescribed for the States and the Centre. (ix) The present threshold prescribed in different State VAT Acts below which VAT is not applicable varies from State to State. A uniform State GST threshold across States is desirable and, therefore, it is considered that a threshold of gross annual turnover of Rs.10 lakh both for goods and services for all the States and Union Territories may be adopted with adequate compensation for the States (particularly, the States in North-Eastern Region and Special Category States) where lower threshold had prevailed in the VAT regime. Keeping in view the interest of small traders and small scale industries and to avoid dual control, the States also considered that the threshold for Central GST for goods may be kept at Rs.1.5 crore and the threshold for Central GST for services may also be appropriately high. It may be mentioned that even now there is a separate threshold of services (Rs. 10 lakh) and goods (Rs. 1.5 crore) in the Service Tax and CENVAT. (x) The States are also of the view that Composition/Compounding Scheme for the purpose of GST should have an upper ceiling on gross annual turnover and a floor tax rate with respect to gross annual turnover. In particular, there would be a compounding cut-off at Rs. 50 lakh of gross annual turn over and a floor rate of 0.5% across the States. The scheme would also allow option for GST registration for dealers with turnover below the compounding cut-off. (xi) The taxpayer would need to submit periodical returns, in common format as far as possible, to both the Central GST authority and to the concerned State GST authorities. (xii) Each taxpayer would be allotted a PAN-linked taxpayer identification number with a total of 13/15 digits. This would bring the GST PAN-linked system in line with the prevailing PAN-based system for Income tax, facilitating data exchange and taxpayer compliance. (xiii) Keeping in mind the need of tax payer’s convenience, functions such as assessment, enforcement, scrutiny and audit would be undertaken by the authority which is collecting the tax, with information sharing between the Centre and the States. The draft GST law proposed in the parliament indicates all the entities that lie under the GST Bill. The GST bill comes directly under the Central government and there are certain procedure that are meant to provide feasible condition for the taxpayer. The power to grant exemption from the tax between the states and the central government is well explained in the draft bill. The Central Goods and Services tax grants power to the officers to discharge their duties under the GST Act. National proposals A proposal to introduce a national-level Goods and Services Tax (GST) by April 1, 2010 was first mooted in the Budget Speech for the financial year 2006-07. Since the proposal involved reform/ restructuring of not only indirect taxes levied by the Centre but also the States, the responsibility of preparing a Design and Road Map for the implementation of GST was assigned to the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers (EC). In April, 2008, the EC submitted a report, titled "A Model and Roadmap for Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India" containing broad recommendations about the structure and design of GST. In response to the report, the Department of Revenue made some suggestions to be incorporated in the design and structure of proposed GST bill . Based on inputs from GoI and States, The EC released its First Discussion Paper on Goods and Services Tax in India on the 10th of November, 2009 with the objective of generating a debate and obtaining inputs from all stakeholders. A dual GST module for the country has been proposed by the EC. This dual GST model has been accepted by centre. Under this model GST have two components viz. the Central GST to be levied and collected by the Centre and the State GST to be levied and collected by the respective States. Central Excise duty, additional excise duty, Service Tax, and additional duty of customs (equivalent to excise), State VAT, entertainment tax, taxes on lotteries, betting and gambling and entry tax (not levied by local bodies) would be subsumed within GST. Other taxes which will be subsumed with GST are Octroi, entry tax and luxury tax thus making it a single indirect tax in India.[22] In order to take the GST related work further, a Joint Working Group consisting of officers from Central as well as State Government was constituted. This was further trifurcated into three Sub-Working Groups to work separately on draft legislations required for GST, process/forms to be followed in GST regime and IT infrastructure development needed for smooth functioning of proposed GST. In addition, an Empowered Group for development of IT Systems required for Goods and Services Tax regime has been set up under the chairmanship of Dr. Nandan Nilekani.Amendment Parliamentary motions A draft of the Constitutional Amendment Bill has been prepared and has been sent to the EC for obtaining views of the State GST, has its salient features for taxes made on goods. The Goods and Service Tax Bill or GST Bill, officially known as "The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014", would be a Value added Tax (VAT) to be implemented in India, from April 2017.[23] GST stands for "Goods and Services Tax", and is proposed to be a comprehensive indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at the national level. It will replace all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian Central and State governments. It is aimed at being comprehensive for most goods and services.[24][25] The GST was passed in Rajya Sabha on August 3, 2016 by a full majority. AIADMK staged a walk out in protest of the GST Bill during the voting period. The GST Bill has been approved by the Lok Sabha on 8 August 2016. The Government believes that this will boost the nation’s economy and bring fresh investments. The bill was ratified by 16 states in one month after it was passed in the Parliament. Under the GST regime, the goods will be taxed at the consumption rate, avoiding multiple taxations on different rates. It is also believed that the new system will also generate Government revenues in a better way. However, the losses experienced by the manufacturing states will be compensated by the central government. Model Draft GST Law The draft GST law proposed in the parliament indicates all the entities that lie under the GST Bill. The GST bill comes directly under the Central government and there are certain procedure that are meant to provide feasible condition for the taxpayer. The power to grant exemption from the tax between the states and the central government is well explained in the draft bill. The Central Goods and Services tax grants power to the officers to discharge their duties under the GST Act. Tax-Rate under the proposed GST The tax-rate under the proposed GST would fall, but the number of assesses would increase by 5-6 times.[27] Although rates would come down, tax collection would go up due to increased tax elasticity. The government is working on a special IT platform for smooth implementation of the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST). The IT special vehicle (SPV) christened as GST N (Network) will be owned by three stakeholders—the centre, the states and the technology partner NSDL, then Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) Chairman S Dutt Majumdar said while addressing a "National Conference on GST". On the possibility of rolling out GST, he said, "There was no need for alarm if GST was not rolled out in April 1, 2012.[25] Renewed GST concerns With heterogeneous State laws on VAT, the debate on the necessity for a GST has been reignited[28][citation needed]. The best GST systems across the world use a single GST, while India has opted for a dual-GST model. Critics claim that CGST, SGST and IGST are nothing but new names for Central Excise/Service Tax, VAT and CST, and hence GST brings nothing new to the table. The concept of value-added has never been utilised in the levy of service, as the Delhi High Court is attempting to prove in the case of Home Solution Retail, while under Central Excise the focus is on defining and refining the definition of manufacture, instead of focusing on value additions. The Revenue can be very stubborn when it comes to refunds, as the Maharashtra Government proves, and software entities that applied for refunds on excess service tax paid on inputs discovered[citation needed].[25] The all-new Cenvat Credit Rules, 2014 do little to clarify eligibility for input credits, by using general terms such as "any goods which have no relationship whatsoever with the manufacture of a final product" and "services used primarily for personal use or consumption of any employee"[citation needed].[29]

Industrial steel Prices as of 23-Aug-2016

The current, as of 23-Aug-2016, price of steel is 300.0 dollars per tonne. Steel prices are set by various markets around the world. Investors, producers and industrialists with differing needs trade in stainless steel, steel scrap, steel wire, steel coils and steel futures. Source: Quandl

Industrial Steel Prices

The current, as of 18-Aug-2016, price of steel is 300.0 dollars per tonne. The current, as of 18-Aug-2016, price of iron is 60.4 dollars per tonne. Steel prices are set by various markets around the world. Investors, producers and industrialists with differing needs trade in stainless steel, steel scrap, steel wire, steel coils and steel futures. Source: Quandl

JSW steel gains edge owing to lower debt, import price curbs

ET INTELLIGENCE GROUP: While most steel manufacturers are staring at high debt and finding it difficult to negotiate with banks for additional funding requirements, JSW Steel's relatively better debt position seems to be giving it an edge. In addition, since it never undertook backward integration of operation by owning iron ore mines, it has an advantage amid subdued ore prices, a major raw material for steel. These factors make JSW SteelBSE 0.62 % better placed to benefit from the government's policy to impose minimum import price (MIP) on steel. With a good share of high-value products such as coated steel products in its offering, the company surprised the Street with much higher realisation per tonne for the June 2016 quarter, a parameter that gives a sense of the demand and operating strength of the business. Realisation per tonne for the quarter was at $124, nearly 20 per cent higher than the estimates. Sales volume was higher by 1.8 per cent sequentially. Higher realisations and lower costs helped it post 100 basis points sequential jump in operating margin before depreciation (Ebitda margin) at 28 per cent. Net profit rose to Rs 1,085 crore against Rs 300 crore in the preceding quarter. Despite a rise in the company's debt to Rs 45,355 crore — around 10 per cent rise after adjust for new accounting standards — the debt situation has not worsened. While debt-to-equity is at 2.3 times, debt-to-Ebitda improved to 5.7 from 6.4 at the end of the March quarter. While it is still high, it is expected to improve in the coming quarters. Also, If MIP is extended beyond August, it will benefit the company. The company's peers are under pressure. Tata SteelBSE -0.75 % is struggling with its European operations, which is hit by low demand and high debt. The government-owned SAILBSE 0.83 % continues to remain least cost effective with high employee expense, whereas Essar SteelBSE 0.41 %, Jindal SteelBSE 7.00 % and Bhushan SteelBSE 5.09 % are expected to face working capital constraint given their high debt. JSW Steel has been cautious over the past few years by not buying riskier assets. Its stock has risen by over 55 per cent in the past six months. Shares of Tata Steel, SAIL and Jindal Steel & Power are 65-88 per cent below their all-time highs. Some analysts have given a buy rating on the stock post results with price targets around Rs 1,738-2,108. On Thursday, the stock closed at Rs 1,685, down 3 per cent.

Government extends minimum import price on 66 steel products

KOLKATA: The government has decided to extend the Minimum Import Price regime on 66 items for a period of two months. Following this, the MIP regime introduced for a six-month period in February 2016 and was due to end on Friday August 5, will now be applicable on these items till October 4, 2016, a commerce ministry notification said on Thursday. It will apply to steel items like billets, bars, wire rods, and coated steel. Earlier the list of steel products under MIP included 173 items. However, imports under Advance Authorisation Scheme are exempted from Minimum Import Price (MIP) under the notification. An official notification said MIP conditions laid down in it will be valid for two more months with effect from 05/08/2016 or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

Domestic steel makers push for continuation of minimum import price

KOLKATA: Large domestic steel makers are pushing for a continuation of minimum import price, a measure that has helped cut cheap imports and firm up steel prices in the home market. The protectionist measure, introduced by the government in February on 173 steel items for six months, is due to end on August 5. Big players like JSW, Tata SteelBSE 2.48 % and state-owned Steel Authority of IndiaBSE 5.31 % (Sail) want MIP to continue as it has helped them improve their margins by reining in steel imports in the last nine months. While the government may consider the option of continuing with it for some more time, there is speculation that the list of products under MIP could be snipped. A call on this will be taken by the PMO after discussions with the ministries of steel, commerce and finance. "While the steel industry is arguing for an extension of MIP, the rollover would remain a formidable decision for the government," Ind-Ra said. Source: Economic Times

Build house for less as materials turn cheap

This is not the best time to buy a house. Though an estimated 2.45 lakh houses are lying unsold across the country, the correction expected in property prices has still not happened. Interest rates too are not coming down. Even so, the dip in commodity prices means this could be the ideal time to construct a house. Prices of key construction materials that account for nearly 47% of the total construction costs have come down 6-21% in the past six quarters, bringing down the overall costs by more than 6% (see graphic). These figures are based on prices of construction material in Delhi's Burari Market between April 2014 and September 2015. Steel accounts for the biggest chunk of the costs of construction material. Last week, the government imposed a minimum import price on steel to protect the domestic industry. This is likely to cause a spike in steel prices which had dropped almost 18% between April 2014 and September 2015. The other big component is cement. Cement prices have hardened in the past few months but still remain 5% below their April 2014 levels. Bricks, paints, electrical fittings and sanitaryware are also cheaper now. Some other costs such as labour, architect's fee and other ancillary expenses would have obviously gone up in the past two years. Also, the ban on sand mining around Delhi has caused prices to go up. However, given the slowdown in the real estate sector, not too many projects are taking off. This means artisans, labourers and construction equipment are easily available now. If you have already secured the land and necessary clearances for your future home, the current market conditions are perfect for you to begin executing your plan. Can't buy in bulk There are, however, certain limitations to making the best of this opportunity. It is not easy to find space to store building materials like cement, bricks and steel. Even if you have enough space, cement cannot be stored for extended periods of time. So, you can't buy the entire steel and cement required for construction at one go. These will have to be purchased in small installments, according to usage. Moreover, many items will not be immediately required. Prices of paints, electrical fittings and tiles are down but they are needed when the structure is ready, which could be 4-6 months down the line. By the time you need these items, their prices might have gone up. Even so, if you have been planning to build a house, this is the best time to take the plunge. Overseeing the construction of a home is an arduous task, which is why many house owners endlessly procrastinate the decision. However, delaying the decision could mean missing out on the low construction costs. Our calculations show that if the total cost of construction is `30 lakh, one can save close to `1.9 lakh by acting now. Keep in mind that construction involves a lot of time-consuming paperwork as well. Getting the initial permission from municipal authorities alone can take a few weeks. Finalising the architectural drawings and arranging for finances also take up a lot of time. So if you start now, the construction might start only two to three months later.

New Building Materials Make Residents Swelter

While the scorching sun is making temperature soar, modern construction methods and materials are adding to the woes of the people. Excessive use of cement, concrete and glass in today

Style and substance, from waste

Many architects with green ideologies have converted waste to usable construction material, some of it in the most innovative manner. It is customary to see mounds of construction waste lying around demolished buildings, with debris spilling on to roads, blocking traffic. Many a time, empty sites are host to dumping of debris as disposal of this has become troublesome for private individuals. The recent decision of BBMP to collect construction debris for a fee and transport to the proposed recycling plants in three places

Cost-effective ways of construction explained

Nirmithi Kendra has in-house manufacturing units of construction materials and adopts latest cost-effective methods of construction technologies researched by CBRI. It gives Nirmithi Kendra an edge over the public works department and Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd, which also offers construction service, in constructing affordable structures. Quoting examples on how Nirmithi Kendra came up with ideas in addressing construction challenges inside forests, Shikha said: "It came up with precast concrete product and bamboo to build structures inside wildlife restricted areas. Bamboos were used to build eco-friendly structures to run anganwadi centres inside forests." Engineers, building supervisors and masons attached to Nirmithi Kendra were enlightened on reducing the construction cost by reusing waste materials. Krishna, a contractor, said that CBRI experts explained how one can build 40x40sqft block at Rs 2 lakh by reusing waste materials. "But the hiccup is we need to have machinery to recycle waste construction materials," he added. An official explained that construction cost can be reduced by using locally available waste agri products like paddy husk and jute fibre to make wooden products and fly ash for making bricks. Yadavendra Pandey and Singh of CBRI were in Mysuru to demonstrate and explain latest cost-effective methods of construction. MCC chief C G Betsurmath and Nirmithi Kendra director Manjunath were present.

Asia Pacific Market: Stocks up on positive global lead

Headline equities of the Asia Pacific market closed mostly higher on Thursday, 26 May 2016, on following gains in the Wall Street overnight and continued gain in crude oil prices. But move on the upside capped as investors were awaiting a speech by Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen on Friday that will shed more light on whether U.S. interest rates will be raised as early as next month. U.S. crude and Brent oil futures climbed above $50 a barrel on Thursday for the first time in nearly seven months as a global supply glut that plagued the market for nearly two years showed signs of easing. Oil prices have rallied in recent weeks as a string of outages, due in part to wildfires in Canada and unrest in Nigeria and Libya, knocked out nearly 4 million barrels per day of production. Global benchmark Brent crude oil was up 60 cents at $50.34 a barrel at 7:49 a.m. ET, after a larger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude oil inventories last week indicated buyers are starting to mop up spare supply. U.S. crude futures were up 52 cents at $50.08 a barrel, the highest since mid-October. The recent comments by Fed policymakers have put a possible rate hike this summer firmly on the table for discussion. U.S. interest rate futures are still pricing in only about one-third chance of a rate hike in June and about 60 percent likelihood by July. Financial markets have a more appropriate reading now on the chances of a U.S. interest rate rise in June than before, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Thursday. "I think they read the minutes correctly," Bullard told reporters after a speech in Singapore, referring to the minutes of the Fed's latest policy meeting in April.Global investors, many of whom had assumed the Federal Reserve was in no rush to raise interest rates, were jolted last week by the minutes which suggested most policymakers felt the U.S. economy could be ready for another rate increase in June. Bullard said is keeping an open mind on whether the Fed should raise interest rates at its June 14-15 meeting, adding that he wanted to see economic data that is available then. Among Asian bourses Australia Market ends higher Australian share market closed slight higher on the back of strength in energy and material stocks thanks to strength in crude oil and base metal prices. At close of trade, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index inclined 15.60 points, or 0.29%, to 5388.10. The broader All Ordinaries added 15.10 points, or 0.28%, to 5451.90. Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Australia Stock Exchange by 554 to 432 and 316 ended unchanged. The S&P/ASX 200 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/ASX 200 options, was down 0.01% to 16.857 a new 1-month low. Shares of energy players reaped the gains from the rising crude oil prices, with Oil Search up 0.1% to A$6.71, Santos up 4.9% to A$4.49 and Woodside up 2% to A$27.71. Poker machine maker Aristocrat Leisure rose 0.1% to A$12.45 after boosting its net profit for the first half of 2016 by 66% to $A183.2 million due to strong growth in Australia and North America and more punters using its social gaming apps.Materials and resources stocks also rallied. Global miner BHP Billiton advanced 2.7% to A$19.41 and Rio Tinto jumped 1% to A$45.48. Pure-play iron ore producer Fortescue Metals added 2.1% to A$2.96. Consumer staples were the major drag on the market, with Wesfarmers declining 3.6% to A$40.40 in the wake of Wednesday's A$2.3 billion Target write-down and after a analysts at Deutsche Bank said they now expected a 10% cut in the company's dividend this financial year, from A$2 to A$1.80. Citi also tipped a dividend cut, but by a much lower 3 cents to A$1.97, while Macquarie predicts a reduction to $1.92. Wesfarmers' main competitor, Woolworths, also had a poor day, losing 1.2% to A$22.01. Japan Stocks rise on positive offshore lead The Japan share market ended slight higher, helped by positive cues from global markets overnight and continued gains in oil prices. But gains were marginal as investors were awaiting comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen for more indications about whether the central bank would raise rates in near term. She is scheduled to speak at Harvard University on Friday. The 225-issue Nikkei average climbed up 15.11 points, or 0.09%, to close at 16,772.46. The Topix index of all first-section issues ended marginal 0.01 point down at 1,342.87. Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by 940 to 877 and 180 ended unchanged. The Nikkei Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of Nikkei 225 options, was up 0.08% to 26.19. Shares of energy explorers were the biggest gainers on the Topix as Inpex Corp. jumped 2.6 percent and refiner JX Holdings added 1.4 percent. Drugmakers provided the second-largest gain on the gauge. Aska Pharmaceutical Co. advanced 4.8 percent, Shionogi & Co. rose 2.3 percent and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. added 1.8 percent. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. climbed 5.3 percent to be the biggest gainer on the Nikkei 225. Haseko Corp. rose 5.2 percent after Daiwa Securities Group raised its rating on the builder to buy from outperform. Takata Corp. surged 21 percent, the daily limit, after the Nikkei newspaper reported KKR & Co., a private equity firm, may support and take control of the company responsible for the biggest safety recall in auto industry history. By contrast, shipping stocks were biggest losses on the Topix, with Mitsui OSK Lines down 4 percent. Softbank Group Corp. sank 3.7 percent after Alibaba Group Holding fell the most in four months as the e-commerce giant said it's being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over its accounting practices and whether they violate federal laws. Softbank owns large equity stakes in Alibaba Group. China Market ekes out gain on large cap buying Mainland China stock market eked out gains, as late buying of large cap stocks helped equities bounce off the 2-1/2 month lows hit in the morning session. However, market gain was limited on growing worries that the economy was losing steam again after a promising start to the year. The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen added 0.16%, to 3,064.21, while the Shanghai Composite Index grew 0.26%, to 2,822.44 points. Sentiment toward health of the world's second largest economy turned bearish after data earlier this week showed China's state-owned firms' profits fell 8.4 percent year-on-year in the first four months of this year from a year earlier, while their debts surged 18 percent, highlighting the challenges Beijing faces as it tries to restructure the bloated state sector as the economy slows. Moody's ratings agency said that China's authorities have the tools to avert a financial crisis, but erosion of credit quality is likely over the medium term. "China's growing debt overhang will impose a substantial deadweight cost on the economy that will need to be allocated between the state, banking system, and corporate and household sectors," the credit rating agency said in a report on Thursday. Shares of material and resources companies advanced, with coal producers leading the advance, with China Coal Energy Co. adding 1.9 percent. Energy companies were boosted as the government allowed retail fuel prices to be increased and Brent surged amid signs global oversupply will ease. China Petroleum & Chemical, known as Sinopec, increased 0.9 percent. China Molybdenum Co. jumped by the daily 10 percent limit after resuming trade as the producer of niche metals sought to reassure investors that it can manage to fund the planned acquisition of overseas assets totaling more than $4 billion. By contrast, Airline carriers went lower, with China Eastern Airlines Corp leading declines, down 2.4 percent, as rising fuel prices risk a profits reversal for Chinese airlines, which reported surging earnings last year. Hong Kong Market ends higher The Hong Kong stock market closed little changed in narrow trade, helped by positive close on the Wall Street overnight and continued gains in oil prices. But gains were capped on caution before comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen for more indications about whether the central bank would raise rates in near term. The benchmark Hang Seng Index advanced 29.06 points, or 0.14%, to 20397.11 points. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, benchmark measure of performance of mainland China enterprises, fell 10.19 points, or 0.12%, to 8526.19. Turnover reduced to HK$46.4 billion from HK$62 billion on Wednesday. Energy companies rallied the most in Hong Kong, after crude oil prices touched US$50 level in Asia hours today. CNOOC (00883) gained 2% to HK$9.37. Sinopec (00386) added 1.3% to HK$5.32. PetroChina (00857) edged up 0.4% to HK$5.35. Belle (01880) dipped 6.3% to HK$4.43 after reporting its earnings, which triggered a slew of research houses' bearish comments. It became the top blue-chip loser today. Tingyi (00322) and Want Want (00151) saw buying orders support, rising 3% to HK$8.3 and HK$5.64. Want Want was the top blue-chip winner today. Indian market settles above key levels Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments in an interview to a foreign newspaper indicating that further economic reforms are on the cards triggered the latest rally on the domestic bourses. The barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, surged 485.51 points or 1.88% to settle at 26,366.68. The Nifty surged 134.75 points or 1.7% to settle at 8,069.65. Modi said he had opened up more of the economy to foreign investment and made changes to curb corruption, fill gaps in rural infrastructure and make it easier to do business. He also said that he has an enormous task ahead. The Prime Minister said that he expects the goods and services tax (GST) bill to pass this year. The BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government completed two years in office today, 26 May 2016. The prime minister said that he would look to state governments to further liberalize the country's rigid labour laws. Strong Q4 March 2016 results from engineering and construction major L&T and the company's guidance of a 15% growth in order inflow during the current financial year also aided the latest rally on the bourses. L&T shares surged 13.85% after the company announced the results and the order inflow guidance after trading hours yesterday, 25 May 2016. Capital goods stocks edged higher after the Union Cabinet approved the National Capital Goods policy to support and boost development of this crucial sector. Bank stocks edged higher after global credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service said in a report that the new bankruptcy code will address several key inefficiencies in the current legal framework for asset resolution in India and is credit positive for Indian banks. Yes Bank edged higher after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs cleared the bank's proposal for increase in foreign investment limit in the bank's equity capital to 74% from 41.87% without any sub-limits. Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region: New Zealand's NZX50 inclined 0.58% to 6947.88. South Korea's KOSPI index fell 0.18% to 1957.06. Taiwan's Taiex index sank 0.02% to 8394.12. Malaysia's KLCI rose 0.01% to 1631.09. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index added 0.24% to 4784.56. Singapore's Straits Times index grew 0.24% to 2773.31.

Impact of Admixture on Heat Gain through Mixed Concrete Roof into a Building

Experimental investigation has been carried out to study thermal performance of various admixtures and their mixed concretes with different ratio and density. There are nine admixtures mixed with concrete for studying their thermal performance. Some of them are Fly ash, Perlite Powder, EPS beads etc. The study of sixteen mixed concretes were carried out and compared with thermal performance of cement concrete. Heat gain were computed for 11.5 cm thick roofing sheets made up of all the mix concretes and cement concrete. According to this study thermal performance of EPS concrete with 30% EPS beads found to be better than all other concretes. The AAC performance was next to EPS concrete followed by the performance of perlite mix concrete with 50% expanded perlite. The other good performer is the vermiculate concrete reducing 41.5% heat gain when compared to cement concrete. It is also found from the study that the mixed concrete with lower overall thermal transmittance allows minimum heat flow across it. Number of thermal insulation materials with fine particles is available to mix with concrete to improve thermal behaviour of mixed concrete. The admixtures are mixed in different ratio with concrete to enhance their thermal characteristics for energy efficiency points of view. Heat gain principle through building fabrics depends upon temperature difference between outside and inside of a building. High temperature difference allows higher heat flow into the building. Heat flow always takes place from high temperature to low temperature. In this process temperature difference is not the only criteria of heat flow but solar radiation, absorptivity and emissivity, external heat transfer coefficient are also influencing the heat ingress into the building. By combining these parameters and outdoor air temperature a new parameter known as sol air temperature which is responsible for heat flow into the building. The conduction heat transfer through structure is of great importance in civil engineering problems. Such problems include, energy efficient building design, thermal load of structures due to diurnal variations of temperature, planning and design of building for thermal comfort, design of radiation shield and other exposed structures for solar thermal loading etc. The knowledge of thermal conductivity and other thermal transport properties of construction material involved in the process of heat transfer are essential in predicting the temperature profile and heat flow through the material. Most of the commercial and residential buildings are now air condition building. Therefore consumption of power and electricity is increasing exponentially. One of the ways of achieving energy conservation in building construction is by introduction of thermally insulated admixture with concrete for building application. Number of concrete manufactures supply such mixes concrete but no one provide relevant data on thermal behaviour of their products. Therefore an experimental investigation was undertaken to understand the influence of various admixtures on density and thermal performance of mix concretes. Number of studies [1, 2] has been made to know the effect of ceiling insulation on the electricity consumption and creating conducive indoor thermal environment. Some of the studies carried out [3, 4] in South Africa revealed that insulated houses are not only warmer in winter but also cooler in summer months. Density of building material plays a key role in determining thermal performance of building section because a masonry building material with low density has decreased thermal conductivity. The derived thermal properties like overall thermal transmittance and subsequently heat gain through the material depend upon its thermal conductivity. Heat gain [5] through roofing sheet will be lower, if thermal conductivity of the material used in roofing sheet is also lower. The mix concrete [6] of low thermal conductivity is useful for building insulation. Bouguerra [7] et. al reported that thermal conductivity of light weight concrete changes considerably with its porosity and density. Roof is the main contributor of heat gain into the building. Sustainable building design [8-10] with mixed cement concrete prepared by mixing admixture with thermal insulation property can be developed. Foam concrete, Vermiculite concrete, Perlite concrete and EPS concrete are some example of such materials. Sol air temperature (Tsol) is the main factor, responsible to heat flow from outside to inside of a building which includes the effect of outdoor air temperature and solar radiation of the place, surface properties like reflectivity, emissivity, and absorptivity of building section. In the present study, sol air temperature will remain same for all cases of study for determining heat gain into the building.

Transparent wood could be the construction material of the future

Wood is the preferred choice of construction material for numerous things, including furniture, wall panels and flooring. However, it could be soon used for fabricating windows, optical equipment and a lot more as well. Yep, you read that right. Researchers at the University of Maryland have come up with a way to remove colours and other chemicals from a block of wood, effectively making it clear and transparent like glass . Despite looking like glass, the transparent wood has more strength and better insulating properties than glass. It also has better biodegradability than ordinary plastic , and is shatter-proof as well. Making wood transparent is essentially a really simple process. The first step involves immersing blocks of wood in a boiling bath filled with water, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals for about two hours. This causes a polymer, called Lignin, to percolate from the wood's cellular walls. Lignin is one of the most prevalent compounds in the plant world and its primary purpose is to make plant cells stiffer. Interestingly, Lignin also impart colour to the wood, and it turns white without the compound. For the next step, wood is soaked with an epoxy that not just strengthens it but also renders it clear. Surprisingly, the underlying structures of the wood remain intact even when its colour is gone. When filled with epoxy, these structures are turned into channels that allow light to pass through. The final product left after the process looks like plastic. However, the process is still in its early stages of development. Currently, only wood chunks that are about five by five inches in size can be made transparent. Future plans include scaling up the process to make it work for larger wooden blocks. Wood is already used for fabricating a diverse array of things, thanks to its advantages like insulating properties and strength. And transparent wood could be employed for making everything from windows to windscreens stronger and safer. Not just that, it could also be used to fabricate damage resistant optical lenses, smartphone touchscreens and a variety of other products. Transparent wood could one day completely eliminate the need for using plastic. And since it has better biodegradability than plastic, it'll be better for the environment as well. The possibilities are endless.

NIIT signs pacts to impart IT training to 50,000 in China

The partnerships -- with Guiyang Municipal Government and Guizhou Professional College of Electronics in Gui An New District -- will see NIIT training up to 50,000 people in 5 years, NIIT said in a statement.

Adani Transmission to seek shareholders nod to raise Rs 8500cr

The board has "accorded approval for seeking approval of the shareholders at the ensuing Annual General Meeting to raise funds by issue of equity shares/convertible bonds.

FPIs' holding in BSE-200 cos drops to $291 bn in March qtr

In percentage terms, FPI holdings in BSE-200 companies came down marginally to 24.5 percent in the March quarter against 24.8 percent in the preceding quarter.

Ashok Leyland re-appoints Vinod K Dasari as MD for 5 years

The Bengaluru-based company has cited restructuring of its businesses as the reason behind the deferring of joining dates for campus recruits from June this year to December.

Flipkart offers Rs 1.5 lakh bonus to hires amid joining delay

Being a quality conscious company, we have been manufacturing and supplying an extensive range of quality assured AAC Block, AAC Brick & Concrete Block. These bricks and blocks are highly demanded by customers for their accurate dimension, long service life, high durability, perfect finishing and excellent strength.