By Daniel Hunter

India have announced more lenient rules on foreign direct investment in a range of industries in an attempt to support the sliding currency and boost growth.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, supported by senior cabinet ministers, approved the plans at a meeting late on Tuesday.

Under the new laws it will be permissible for 100% foreign ownership in the telecommunications industry, up from 74% at the moment. However, the reforms still need clearance from the full cabinet.

In September last year, the government announced the opening up of India's huge retail sector to foreign supermarkets, which led to protests in the streets from small shop owners.

Tuesday's move would allow companies such as Britain's Vodafone Group and Norway's Telenor ASA to operate in the country without the need to partner with an Indian company.

Restrictions in a dozen other industries including insurance and tea plantations would be relaxed or abolished, said Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

"We expect more foreign direct investment to flow in with these decisions," Mr Sharma said at a press conference.

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