India set to pay for Iranian oil using rupees

The sources said India has selected UCO Bank and IDBI Bank for facilitating payment to Iran. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018

India set to pay for Iranian oil using rupees

  • Sources said India has selected UCO Bank and IDBI Bank for facilitating payment to Iran
  • India, Iran's top oil client after China, is still seeking some exemptions to the sanctions from the US

NEW DELHI: India will settle payments for Iranian oil using rupees through local banks starting in November as US sanctions will make it difficult to settle trades through European banks, two industry sources said on Thursday.

In May, US President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and ordered the renewal of US sanctions. Some sanctions took effect from Aug. 6 while those affecting the oil and banking sectors will start from Nov. 4.

"We are bracing up for any eventuality we have to make a payment and we don't want to default on making payments," one of the sources said.

The sources said India has selected UCO Bank and IDBI Bank for facilitating payment to Iran.

Indian refiners are currently using State Bank of India and Germany-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG to buy Iranian oil in euros. SBI has told refiners it would stop handling Iran payments from November.

The second source said after the United States announced it would re-impose sanctions in May, Iran has already received payments for some cargoes in rupees.

Reuters in June reported that India is looking to revive the its earlier rupee payment mechanism with Iran. During the previous sanctions regime, India adopted a barter-like scheme to buy oil from Iran while the Middle Eastern country used rupees to import goods from India.

"Previously we settled 45 percent of our trade in rupees this time it could be 100 percent. We have to mutually decide the number," said the first source.

India, Iran's top oil client after China, is still seeking some exemptions to the sanctions from the US though some refiners have already curtailed purchases because of insurance issues tied to the sanctions.

IDBI did not respond to requests for a comment while UCO Bank's Managing Director R. K. Takkar did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.


Vaccine progress lifts stocks, dollar still sickly

Updated 24 November 2020

Vaccine progress lifts stocks, dollar still sickly

  • STOXX index of Europe’s 600 largest firms rises to its highest since February

LONDON: Investors scooped up stocks, commodities and emerging-market currencies and gave the dollar a wide berth as AstraZeneca and Oxford University provided markets with their now-regular Monday shot of encouraging COVID-19 vaccine news.

The STOXX index of Europe’s 600 largest firms rose to its highest since February, Wall Street was pointing up 0.6 percent and Brent futures were nearly 1.5 percent stronger. AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine, which is set to cost just a few dollars a shot and should be easier to ramp up and store than vaccines by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna, could also be up to 90 percent effective.

As the dollar buckled through a range it has been in for the past few months, the euro touched $1.19, but it was the emerging markets that are likely to benefit from a cheaper and easier-to-store drug that rallied the most.

South Africa’s rand shrugged off a double sovereign credit-rating downgrade over the weekend to add 0.8 percent. Russia’s rouble and Mexican peso both climbed half a percent to bolster their stellar months.

“The combined vaccine news of the last few weeks ... will lead to a much faster pace of normalization to our daily lives compared to what we would have assumed just a few weeks ago,” analysts at Deutsche Bank said.

Markets’ optimism also came after a top official of the US government’s vaccine-development effort said Sunday that the first vaccines there could be given to US health care workers and some others by mid-December.

US shares looked set to mimic gains in Europe and Asia, as Nasdaq futures rose 0.4 percent, Dow futures rose 0.7 percent, and US e-mini futures for the S&P 500 were 0.6 percent higher at 3,576.

The rally also showed investors are willing to look past the grim US case numbers — which topped 12 million over the weekend — and mixed European economic data released on Monday. IHS Markit’s headline flash composite PMI, seen as a good guide to economic health, fell to 45.1 in November from October’s 50.0 — the level separating growth from contraction. A Reuters poll had predicted a shallower dip to 46.1.

The composite future output index jumped to 60.1 from 56.5, its highest since February.

“Today’s vaccine news is positive, but it is only partly responsible for the rally in stock markets,” said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec in London. “(It) is also being driven by the news that the US hopes to start the vaccination program in under three weeks.”