Beyond Money
Free counselling on financial issues

Disha provides free, confidential, one-on-one counselling for those who need to understand their finances better, says Seraphina D’Souza

If you are having trouble paying your credit card dues, the worst thing you can do for your own long-term financial health is to ignore it or run away and end up damaging your credit record. But, even if you are not in trouble and simply harried about frequent changes in EMI on home loans, struggling to understand complex financial products, want help on balancing your budgets or are unsure whether you are being charged correct interest and fees, it is now easy to seek expert advice.

Most people don’t know that ignoring financial defaults can become a serious problem. You are marked a defaulter by credit bureaus which makes you ineligible for any loan or credit. Often, you cannot even open a brokerage or demat account. The default remains in the records of credit information companies for seven years. The remedy is to deal with the problem instead of ignoring it. Few people know that it is possible to get competent advice and guidance from trained counsellors absolutely free of cost.

Disha Financial Counselling, a not-for-profit entity set up by ICICI Bank, is one such initiative. It was started at the instance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to help people in financial distress avoid the embarrassment of facing recovery agents. Disha has nine centres across India (Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Kanpur, Ludhiana and Mumbai) and you can approach it irrespective of which bank you owe money to. The key is that you should want a solution and are willing to take appropriate steps to solve the problem. You can even approach Disha for guidance, if you have been wrongly reported a defaulter to credit bureau. Dr SD Israni, a director of ICICI Trusteeship Services Ltd, to which Disha reports says, “There is no doubt that it is a very positive initiative. With so many people getting caught in frauds and scams, there is much to do.” However, as he points out, “Much greater awareness needs to be created about the benefits of such counselling.” Strangely, many people lose the benefit of this neutral, independent advice, because they are distrustful or believe that the true state of their finances will be reported to the lender. Some are willing to cough up thousands of rupees to individual consultants with little standing who promise to fix a ‘settlement’ or waiver. Some even pay to merely understand their credit report. It is important to understand that Disha’s counselling is confidential and the discussions will not be used against those who approach it for guidance.

Moneylife Foundation has a tie-up with Disha to provide counselling at our premises in Mumbai with prior appointment. The counsellor, R Gopalakrishnan, a retired deputy general manager of RBI in the consumer services cell, has processed hundreds of applications for appeals against the Banking Ombudsmen’s decisions. He says, “As a counsellor, I try to understand the customer’s point of view first and assure them that the advice will be completely confidential, personal and non-judgemental.” In today’s world, few career-oriented persons can do without a loan or a credit card and one never knows when a default in your credit records can be hugely damaging. If you know someone who is ignoring or running away from a default, do guide them to Disha to get their financial lives back on track. You can even approach Disha to understand how to resolve grievances, understand wrong charges and take them up effectively with banks, institutions or even the Ombudsman. Those in need can even call Disha for free phone counselling at 53030.

DISHA                                                                                    
 Prince Apartments, Ground Floor,Karani Road, Near ICICI Bank, Ghatkopar
(West), Mumbai 400 086.
Contact – 91-22- 65971815/16/17
Email – [email protected] /
[email protected]
www.dishafc.org

MONEYLIFE FOUNDATION
305, 3rd floor, Hind Service Industries Premises, Off Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar (West),
Mumbai 400028.
Contact – 91-22-24441058/60
Email – [email protected]
www.mlfoundation.in

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Bulls unable to make much headway but succeed in holding on

One should book profits in rallies above 5,400 points, especially if the Nifty hits this level around the 16th-17th or 21st of July. The index may drift for a few days before making further attempts on the upside around these dates

S&P Nifty close: 5,327

Market Trend

Short Term: Up        Medium Term: Down            Long Term: Down


After the sharply higher close last month the bulls were unable to make much headway as the Nifty oscillated within a narrow band during the week. The Nifty gained for the 5th week (Fibonacci number) in a row from the low made during the week ended 8th June 2012. In a week of dull trading the Nifty finally ended 49 points (+0.92%) in the green. The volumes were however marginally lower than last week implying that the rise is of corrective nature even though it has survived for five weeks (we had mentioned five to six weeks) now.

The sectoral indices which outperformed were CNX Realty (+5.92%), CNX Media (+3.55%), CNX Infra (+3.36%), CNX Finance (+3.25%), CNX Metal (+2.99%) and CNX PSU Bank (+2.99%) while the gross underperformers were CNX FMCG (-2.07%) and CNX IT (-1.09%).

The histogram MACD has moved marginally above the median line but the short-term oscillators are overbought. This implies that even if a correction takes place from current or slightly higher levels, the possibility of a higher bottom has increased.

Here are some key levels to watch out for this week

  1.  As long as the S&P Nifty stays above 5,308 points (pivot) the bulls need not worry. They should use this as a stop loss on longs from a very short-term perspective.
     
  2.  Support levels in declines are pegged at 5,282 and 5,237 points.
     
  3.  Resistance levels on the upside are pegged at 5,352 and 5,378 points.

Some Observations
1.    The Nifty has completed the targets of 5,098 (38.2%) and 5,200 (50%) while it has come very close to 5,301 (61.8%) points retracement of the decline from 5,629-4,770 points.

2.    Surprisingly it crossed the 5,260 points with consummate ease which creates the possibility that the ensuing decline might make a higher bottom above the recent low of 4,770 points.

3.    We have completed 19 weeks from the recent high of 5,629 points. 21 weeks is a Fibonacci number hence one has to closely monitor the market from around the 21st of this month.

Strategy
We can see from the weekly chart above that the Nifty is just below the resistance line (black) which is pegged marginally above the 5,400 points mark. The volumes were not encouraging last week and we saw waning upside momentum even though the Nifty rose for the fifth week in succession. We have seen that the tops in the Nifty on an average have been roughly 17-19 weeks apart. We completed 19 weeks this week. If one considers Fibonacci retracements in time of the recent decline of 15 weeks we have already completed 38.2% and the 50% and 61.8% retracement levels are pegged in the week beginning 16th July and the end of this month.

A small dip is likely but if it does not break 5,263 points (in close) it will be a sign of strength and the Nifty will try to target the 5,415-5,450 points range around the above-mentioned time cycle dates. However a breach of 5,263 points could see the Nifty slide a bit further and test the 5,180-5,200 points' area. However, a breach of this level could see further bull liquidation taking the Nifty down to 5,118 or, in a pessimistic scenario, 5,052 points in the weeks ahead. One should book profits in rallies above 5,400 points, especially if the Nifty hits this level around the 16th-17th or 21st of this month. There is a strong possibility that we might see the Nifty drift for a few days before making further attempts on the upside around the above mentioned dates.

(Vidur Pendharkar works as a consultant technical analyst & chief strategist at www.trend4casting.com)

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Investors are reassessing India risk, says StanChart

Standard Chartered has advised caution in its new report, citing macroeconomic headwinds and key economic reforms as key for new finance minister to boost growth

Slowing growth, stubbornly high inflation, a deteriorating twin deficit and a perception of inaction on the policy front have clouded the investment climate in India for the last few quarters, says Standard Chartered in a report titled "Hope in Challenging Times".

"We have not yet observed any meaningful  improvement  in  India's macro trends but a few other developments do provide a ray of hope that some macro issues might be addressed going forward," the bank said.

Investor perception received a boost last week when prime minister Manmohan Singh stepped up and took charge of the finance portfolio. He promised to revive "animal spirits" and clarified the position on the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR), or foreign investment taxation proposals. The sense of urgency at which the new finance minister took cognisance was welcome by the investor community and has improved sentiment greatly. The so called "animal spirits" refers to reviving the sentiment of the Indian economy and markets.

However, there are several macro-economic headwinds to tackle, and sentiment alone isn't enough. The main problem that needs to be tackled is inflation. The deficient monsoons have been factored in and forced the bank to raise inflation forecast from 7.2% to 7.6%, which isn't a good sign. "More than a 30% deficiency in monsoon rains has prompted us to build higher food prices into our forecasts and we raise our average FY12-13 (year ending March 2013) inflation forecast to 7.6% from 7.2%," the bank said in its report.

While a higher inflation will hurt the momentum of India's growth story, cutting interest rates will not be the solution as it will only make inflation worse. Therefore, the bank believes that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is unlikely to ease its monetary policy until the final quarter of the 2012-13 fiscal. In other words, the bank is unlikely to cut interest rates to infuse more money into the system. In order to address the growth dilemma without changing interest rates, Standard Chartered hopes that the government will address some of the supply side concerns and undertake much needed economic reforms. The report said, "In our view, this is necessary to keep investment sentiment buoyant until the macros start to improve. Otherwise, the market may refocus on macro challenges, and there is little evidence of an imminent improvement here."

The twin problem of deficits-fiscal and current account deficits-is another one that needs to be tackled by the new finance minister. For instance, one of the key sticking points for economic reforms has been liberalisation of petroleum prices and subsequent reduction in subsidies, which form a large part of India's burgeoning fiscal deficit. Subsidies form roughly 5.76% of the gross domestic product (GDP), a high figure. The report said, "Failure to revive investment demand and a lack of progress on subsidy reduction could trigger rating downgrades."

Standard & Poor's has already downgraded India to 'negative' while Fitch has done the same thing as well, citing "heightened risks".
 

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