Fiscal deficit in 2010-11 shows improvement

In the 11 months from April 2010 to February 2011 the fiscal deficit was at 68.6% compared to 92% in the corresponding period of the previous year.

New Delhi: The Centre's fiscal deficit during April 2010-February 2011 worked out to 68.6% of the estimates, compared to 92% in the corresponding period last year, an indication of an improvement in the fiscal position.

In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit stood at Rs2.75 lakh crore in the 11-month period of 2010-11, against Rs3.80 lakh crore in the period in the previous financial year, PTI reports.

In the April 2010-February 2011 period, net tax receipts of the government stood at Rs4.60 lakh crore and total expenditure at Rs9.78 lakh crore, according to an official statement.

Non-tax revenue in the April-February period was at Rs2.09 lakh crore, primarily on account of higher realisation from the auction of spectrum, which raked in about Rs1.08 lakh crore.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had in his 2011-12 Budget speech pegged the fiscal deficit for the current year at 5.1%, on the back of higher-than-expected realisation from auctioning of 3G and BWA spectrum, which is lower from the 5.5%, or Rs3.81 lakh crore, projected in the Budget last year.


Indian stocks likely to open sideways: Friday Market Preview

Wall Street ended mixed overnight while markets in Asia were trading with marginal gains in early trade today on cautious outlook from the corporate sector

The domestic market is likely to open sideways as its Asian counterparts are trading with marginal gains in early trade on Friday, paring some of the gains accrued in the previous session, mainly on concerns over the economic situation in Japan. The US markets ended mixed on Thursday on inflation worries. The SGX Nifty was at 5,864, down five points from its previous close of 5,689.

The market continued its gaining spree for yet another day on Thursday. Volatility on account of the futures and options expiry was evident since the start of trade. The market touched the day’s high just after mid-day, however, intense profit-booking pushed the indices to their intra-day lows at around 2.50pm. The indices fell below its opening levels and even dipped into the red (Sensex to 19,284 and the Nifty to 5,779).

The market picked up some momentum amid fluctuations in the last half an hour and closed in the positive for an eighth day, an indication of a strong bull-run. The Sensex closed at 19,445, a gain of 155 points over its previous close, and the Nifty was up 46 points at 5,834. In the fiscal-end rally which started on 22nd March the Sensex has gained 1,606 points and the Nifty has risen by 469 points.

The market has rallied for eight days in a row and it would be a surprise if it does not correct today.

The US markets closed in the mixed as inflationary pressures is likely to prompt policymakers to hike interest rates. Economic woes in Europe also weighed down on investors. Early setbacks in the market were seen as Irish regulators directed four banks to raise 24 billion euros ($34 billion) in additional capital following a stress test on the nation’s lenders. Portugal reported a budget deficit of 8.6% of gross domestic product last year, higher than a government target of about 7%.

In US economic news, initial jobless claims fell by 6,000 to 388,000 in the week ended 26th March, more than analysts’ expectations for a decline to 380,000 claims. Other reports showed US factory orders unexpectedly fell 0.1% in February after a 3.3% gain in January. Besides, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc’s business barometer fell in March.

The Dow fell 30.88 points (0.25%) to 12,319.73. The S&P 500 shed 2.43 points (0.18%) to 1,325.83, whereas the Nasdaq added 4.28 points (0.15%) to 2,781.07.

Markets in Asia were trading with marginal gains on concerns over corporate earnings in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan early last month. China's official Purchasing Managers Index rose to 53.4 in March from 52.2 in February. The rise in the PMI indicates a rebound in manufacturing activity in March after three consecutive months of slowdown.  The Bank of Japan’s quarterly tankan survey showed the headline index for big manufacturers’ sentiment improved to plus 6 in March from plus 5 in December, compared to economists’ forecast of plus 7.

The Shanghai Composite gained 0.36%, the Hang Seng was up 0.06%, the Jakarta Composite rose 0.34%, the KLSE Composite advanced 0.25%, the Straits Times and the Seoul Composite added 0.08% each and Taiwan Weighted rose 0.01%. On the other hand, the Nikkei 225 lost 0.11%.

Meanwhile, with rapid increase in demand from India and China, the prices of oil in the global market would continue to increase, the US president Barack Obama noted. He said if one looks at the long-term trends, there are going to be more ups in gas prices than downs in gas prices.

Back home, amid corporate honchos being questioned in connection with the 2G scam case by investigating agencies, prime minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday assured a “nervous industry” that the government is committed to creating a corruption-free environment to ensure the industry moved ahead without fear.

The government is mulling all measures, administrative and legislative, to tackle corruption and better transparency, he said at a meeting of the Council on Industry and Trade, which was attended by Ratan Tata, Rahul Bajaj, Azim Premji, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Deepak Parekh, Swati Piramal and Kumarmangalam Birla, among others.


Dynamic bond funds do not give really dynamic returns

Axis Mutual Fund has launched a Dynamic Bond Fund. While such funds were launched to allow fund manager’s flexibility to deal with changing interest rates, the returns of existing dynamic funds have not been encouraging

A Dynamic Bond Fund, as the name suggests, is designed to give the fund manager the flexibility to change the duration of the bond as and when needed. In fact, funds believe that they should have bond funds where fund managers have more flexibility in a changing interest rate climate.
Interest rates and bond prices are inversely related. When the interest rate is rising, bond prices fall and the fund manager should be able to decrease the duration of the bond; short-term bonds face a lower impact. And when the interest rate is falling they should be able to increase the duration of the bond.
 The other flexibility is to move into cash and sit on the sidelines when the interest rate is rising sharply over different horizons. It is to offer this flexibility that dynamic bond funds were introduced. They will dynamically move from a fully invested situation to a fully cash position and various stages in between, depending on the fund manager’s reading of the interest rate situation.
There is just one problem. Among the most difficult things to predict in financial markets is interest rates. Economists use a variety of techniques to forecast interest rates. The most basic is to use economics and history as a guide and to make a judgment on the appropriate level of interest rates and their future course, given the state of the economy and important economic variables.
Since most economists disagree on how the economy works, or what economic history means, this is more difficult than it seems.The reason for this inaccuracy is simple. Interest rates reflect a complex set of forces including human behaviour which is highly complex. This complexity has been compounded by the globalization of economies and the integration of financial markets, on account of which money moves at lightning speed. The net result is that forecasts of interest rates and actions based on them have often turned out to be wrong.
Not surprisingly, the idea of dynamic bond funds has by and large proved to be good only on paper. We studied seven of them and their returns since inception do not seem great. Some of them have given returns as low as 2.4% since inception. Birla Sun Life Dynamic Bond Fund - Ret gave a return of 7.85% and Tata Dynamic Bond Fund fetched a return of 5.26%. Among the others are Taurus Dynamic Income Fund (1.19%), UTI Dynamic Bond Fund (5.21%), Canara Robeco Dynamic Bond Fund - Retail (3.85%), Reliance Dynamic Bond Fund (3.86%), and SBI Dynamic Bond Fund whose return of 2.36% is the worst among the lot. (It was launched in 2004.)
Even the best among the lot, Birla Sun Life Dynamic Bond Fund – Ret, has given a return of just 7.85% over a period of around seven years, which is far lower than the bank fixed deposit rate. The existing funds are already performing so badly and Axis Mutual Fund is launching another one in this group.
Axis Dynamic Bond Fund is an open-ended debt scheme which has an investment objective of generating optimal returns, while maintaining liquidity through active management of a portfolio of debt and money market instruments. The New Fund Offer (NFO) price for the scheme is Rs10 per unit. The new issue will be open for subscription from 6th April 2011 and close on 20th April 2011. It would re-open on or before 3rd May 2011.The benchmark Index for the scheme is CRISIL Composite Bond Fund Index.


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