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Mumbai heeds warning to stay home after worst rain in 12 years

[MUMBAI] Streets in Mumbai, India's financial capital, were relatively empty while trading volumes in stock and bond markets dropped as residents stayed home following the worst downpour in 12 years.

The city's Santacruz weather centre recorded 33.1 centimeters of rain in 24 hours that ended at 8.30am on Wednesday, the most since 94.4 centimetres of precipitation recorded 12 years ago.

Authorities asked residents to stay at home after the weather office predicted "heavy to very heavy" rainfall in parts of the city.

Still, suburban train services, which carry 8 million passengers daily, resumed services and the city's bus network added more vehicles.

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Jet Airways India cancelled at least 12 flights from Mumbai citing weather conditions, while the Mumbai airport said it was was functioning normally.

"Trading is expected to remain thin today due to rain-related disruptions," said Anoop Verma, vice president for treasury at DCB Bank, adding that the treasury team only had 30 per cent of its employees at work.

 "Many of our people didn't go home last night and some left for home this morning."

Trading volumes on the National Stock Exchange's NSE 50 Nifty Index were 19 per cent below the 30-day average as of 1.30pm local time.

Residents in the city, home to the nation's central bank, stock exchanges and the Indian headquarters of Novartis AG and Citigroup, walked home, hitched rides on trucks or spent the night in their offices as the deluge evoked memories of the flooding in 2005 caused by a cloudburst that dumped three feet of rain on a single day, killing 570 people, grounding flights and cutting off rail and road links.

Five people were killed, while Mumbai's famous delivery men, known as dabbawalas, who pick up home-cooked lunch boxes from about 130,000 households each morning, and deliver them to the respective office workers by the afternoon, weren't operating, NDTV reported on its website.

Trading volumes on the central bank's trading platform were at 192.6 billion rupees (S$4.081 billion) as of 1.35pm in Mumbai. Turnover was 364.1 billion rupees for all of Tuesday compared with the one-year average of about 498 billion rupees.

"Activity in the bond market is low, there are few quotes, fewer deals in corporate bonds," said Sandeep Bagla, associate director at Trust Capital Services Pvt. in Mumbai.

"Few dealers are on desk, with the intention of deploying overnight cash as banking has been kept open."

The Nifty Index rose one per cent, while the rupee advanced 0.2 per cent.

"In the wake of warnings issued by #IMD people in Mumbai and areas around #Mumbai are advised to stay back home unless there is an emergency," office of Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

Rain was 4 percent below normal across the country since June 1, according to the India Meteorological Department. About 83 per cent of the country received normal to excess showers during the period while rest got deficient rain, it said.

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