Cautious opening on the cards: Friday Market Preview

Asian markets were mixed in morning trade on the last day of the week while Wall Street closed mixed with the Dow ending marginally lower, snapping its eight-day winning streak, on concerns about the political situation in the Middle East

The local market is expected to open on a cautious note as its Asian counterparts were mixed in morning trade on the last day of the week. Wall Street closed mixed with the Dow ending marginally lower, snapping its eight-day winning streak, on concerns about the political situation in the Middle East. The SGX Nifty was down five points at 5,220 compared to its previous close of 5,225.

On the domestic front, the government is expected to announce the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for the month of December 2010. IIP for November 2010 was 2.7% from 11.3% in the year-go period.

We expected the market to bounce back yesterday but the Sensex fell 130 points to 17,463, while the Nifty fell 28 points to 5,226. The Sensex opened with a small gap up of 11 points at 17,603, while the Nifty opened with a negative gap of eight points at 5,246. Within half an hour, the indices slipped below Wednesday’s close and made a new short-term low. It traded within a range for most of the day, never getting anywhere near yesterday's high and the bears prevailed at the end. Thursday’s high-low range was narrower than the previous day’s, exhibiting indecisiveness about the next move. 

Remember, the monthly picture is weak and the weekly trend is firmly bearish. The daily trend is yet to show any sign of revival. However, there is a slight hope on the intra-day movement. If Thursday’s lows hold, we may see a weak rally tomorrow, provided there is no further negative news.

The US markets ended mixed with the Dow snapping its eight-day winning streak on concerns about the political situation in Egypt. Stocks traded lower but perked up in late trade on a statement from Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak that he would delegate powers to his deputy. However, the news was not accepted by Egyptians who stated that they would continue their agitation till the president stepped down.

Meanwhile, initial claims for unemployment benefits fell more-than-expected last week to touch their lowest point in two-and-half years, offering a sign that the labour market was strengthening despite Januarys poor jobs numbers. Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000, the lowest since early July 2008, the Labor Department said.

In other US news, disappointing earnings report from Cisco Systems was the biggest drag on stocks through most of the day, and pulled down the Dow 24 points. PepsiCo dropped 1.7%, after the company said it faces headwinds from high unemployment, cost inflation and a potentially tough competitive pricing environment.

The Dow shed 10.60 points (0.09%) at 12,229.29. The S&P 500 gained 0.99 points (0.07%) at 1,321.87 and the Nasdaq added 1.38 points (0.05%) to end at 2,790.45.

Markets in Asia were mixed in early trade on Friday as protesters in Egypt threatened to continue their agitation till president Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Yesterday the president made a statement that he would delegate powers to his deputy but that was not agreeable to the protestors. Investors were worried that the turmoil would spur oil prices putting pressure on inflation. 

Meanwhile, the South Korean central bank kept interest rates unchanged, surprising analysts who had expected the Bank of Korea to raise rates for the second time in as many months in its battle to curb inflation.

The Shanghai Composite gained 0.36%, the Hang Seng rose 0.44% and the Seoul Composite advanced 0.39%. On the other hand, the Jakarta Composite declined 0.92%, the KLSE Composite fell 0.32%, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.11%, the Straits Times declined 0.31% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.60%.

Back home, the government on Thursday said it will soon unveil a national manufacturing policy which will help in attracting overseas investments besides increasing the share of the sector in the Indian economy.

India aims at increasing the share of manufacturing sector, which contributes over 80% in the country’s overall industrial production, from 16-17% to 25-26% of the GDP by 2020. Under the upcoming policy, the government has proposed to set up integrated greenfield mega investment zones to attract global investment and latest technologies.


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Microsoft India: Exodus of top executives continues

Microsoft India continues to lose top executives, with Ravi Venkatesan, chairman and corporate vice-president, being the latest to resign

Software giant Microsoft may have managed to keep its clients for the Windows operating system and MS Office, but the company's Indian unit is finding it difficult to keep top executives from exiting the organisation. On Thursday, Ravi Venkatesan, chairman and corporate vice-president of its India operations, resigned to pursue other opportunities. He had joined Microsoft from Cummins India.

Microsoft said in a statement, "A successor (to Mr Venkatesan) will be named in the near future and Venkatesan will partner with Microsoft international president Jean-Philippe Courtois to ensure a smooth transition with his successor."

A few month ago, Rajan Anandan, managing director of Microsoft, left the company abruptly. After a short stint in angel funding, early this month he joined Google as vice-president for India sales and operations. Mr Anandan was with Microsoft for two years. Prior to Microsoft, he was vice-president and country general manager at Dell India.

According to an internal memo at Microsoft India, Rakesh Bakshi, associate general counsel and director for legal and corporate affairs, is also on his way out.

Last year in August, Srini Koppolu, a veteran at Microsoft and corporate vice-president and managing director, also left the company after 21 years with the company. Mr Koppolu, who started Microsoft India Development Centre (MSIDC) with a team of 20 people saw the group grow to over 1,500 people working on a 20-product group.

Similarly, Neelam Dhawan, Microsoft's first woman managing director in India, also left the company in 2008, to return to HP India as managing director. Ms Dhawan's departure happened at a time when India and three other countries were opposed to Microsoft's plans to make its Office Open XML file format a standard format in the country.

It is natural to wonder about the reason for the exit of so many top executives from Microsoft. The following blog comment at Mini-Microsoft ( describes the problem: "People are leaving and the leadership never meets the employees. We have box manufacturers trying to sell software. We have a chairman who I have not seen in six months in person. I have seen him on TV and the newspaper a few times. We now spend so much time reporting and having conference calls that I cannot meet my customer. Do the Redmond people care about what is happening in MS India? Who can I complain to if I have a problem?"


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