New Delhi: India’s largest bank posted better than expected earnings on Thursday. The State Bank of India’s (SBI) profits rose 42% in the first quarter to Rs2,330 crore. The profit has come on the back of good income from investments both in equity and debt. However, the net interest margin, or the difference between yield on investments and cost of funds, has fallen sharply compared to the same quarter a year ago.
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Congress chief Sonia Gandhi backed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the controversial Indo-Pak joint statement on Thursday. But the support came with a caveat. She said that while the Congress party welcomes the dialogue, Pakistan must deliver on its promises of bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and not allow Pakistani soil to be used for anti-India activities. The statement is significant as there was disquiet within a section of the party, who believed that the joint statement has compromised India’s stand.
Later, dissatisfied by a statement made by foreign minister S.M. Krishna, the opposition walked out of the Lok Sabha. They accused the government of not answering critical questions about the statement.
Steel makers continue to feel the pressure of low commodity prices. Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) reported a 28% fall in its net profits to Rs1326 crore.
Two new private equity funds have powerful backers. Industrialists Kumaramangalam Birla and Anil Ambani are setting up individual funds, and already have commitments from banks and financial institutions. Birla hopes to raise about Rs1,500 crore, while Ambani plans to raise Rs1,500-2,000 crore.
Markets recovered on Thursday after the previous day’s fall. The sensex jumped 215 points to close at 15,388, while the Nifty went up 58 points, ending at 4,571.
Bhart Airtel is running out of talk time. The period for which it can hold exclusive merger talks with South Africa’s MTN ends on the 31 July. If the deal goes through, it could create the third largest phone company in the world with more than 200 million customers. But the deal is complex and negotiations have been difficult.