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Indians making most from longest gold price slump

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New Delhi/Mumbai/Kolkata/Bengaluru, Even as gold may be losing its sheen in the global market, logging its longest weekly loss in terms of prices since 1999, the yellow metal still seems to be in favour across India with low prices luring people to buy, stakeholders maintain.

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If the footfalls at the India International Jewelry Show in Mumbai that concluded on Aug 11 is any indication, some brisk buying in gold has been reported. While the metal may no longer be an investment option, its lure has still not faded away from people’s psyche, experts added.

“If prices stabilize at these levels, we expect gold sales will be good during the Diwali season. People are not buying gold bars and coins as an investment option,” said Premjit Sengupta, chief marketing officer of Senco Gold in Kolkata. But demand for jewelry was good, he added.

From a peak of $1,900 per ounce in September 2011, spot gold prices dipped to a new five-year low of $1,086 in global markets past week, breaching the $1,100 barrier on signs of a recovery in the US economy, a fall in unemployment there and stock and debt marketing offering better returns.

This has resulted in the gold import bill for India, among the top three consumers of gold in the world, going down but demand remained robust. According to the World Gold Council, the demand in India in 2015 is expected at around 900-1,000 tonnes, against 891.5 tonnes in 2014.

Rajesh Khosla, managing director of MMTC-PAMP India, a gold and silver refining and minting joint venture between India’s state-run metals major and a reputed Swiss bullion brand, gold imports in fiscal 2015-16 could fall as much as 18 percent to $28 billion or so.

“With the price of gold decreasing from $1,250 to $1,100 per ounce in the past six months, import bill has decreased substantially. Thereby it has reduced stress on the current account deficit,” said Rajosik Banerjee, partner with KPMG in India,

“This will give more flexibility to the Reserve Bank of India to handle interest rates. Further, this price scenario may also lead to some realignment of portfolios,” he added.

Drawing comfort from the footfalls at the Mumbai exhibition, Pankaj Parekh, former vice-chairman, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, “We are experiencing phenomenal sales throughout the country.”

He said the situation was only going to improve in the coming months, as the festive season will be in full swing and people waiting for prices to fall more will take some decisions. “Globally, people have stopped buying. But in India they are waiting for prices to come within range.”

Sengupta sought to explain the reason why the past week has seen a slight slump in sales. “This is only normal, given how gold prices are reacting to market forces,” he said, adding since the interest is in jewelry, and not bars or coins, people are waiting for the festive season.

Little wonder Khosla estimates India’s gold imports in July at 70-75 million tonnes, as against 57 tonnes in June. “Jewelers have started stocking up for the festive season.”

(IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

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It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

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President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)