International cues will continue to weigh on local bourses, but expect a rally on Monday
The market was down taking cues from the global markets; however, gains in the Reliance Industries (RIL) stock limited the plunge. The BSE Sensex was down at 16,769, lower by 218 points while the Nifty was down at 5,018, lower by 72 points. The bourses started the day with a sharp plunge. They were highly volatile in the morning session on the swing of the RIL shares when the verdict of the Supreme Court was going on. The market rebounded in the early afternoon session and traded in a narrow range for the rest of the day.
Asian shares were down in choppy trade taking cues from Wall Street’s closing on Thursday and on concerns that Greece's debt problems could spill over to other weaker European countries. Key benchmark indices in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan fell by 0.16% to 3.1%. US stocks plunged 9% in the last two hours of trading on Thursday before paring some of the losses, as a suspected trading glitch and concerns over the credit crunch in Europe bogged down markets. The Dow suffered its biggest ever intraday drop of 998 points.
The massive intraday slide was rumoured to have been caused by erroneous trades reflecting the value of some shares to nearly zero. The Dow dropped 347.8 points, (3.2%) to 10,520 at close of trade. The S&P 500 fell 37.75 points, (3.2%) to 1,128. The Nasdaq lost 82.6 points, (3.4%) to 2,319. The European Central Bank will hold a conference call with commercial banks later on Friday to gather opinion on the state of money markets in the wake of the Greece debt crisis. Interbank lending rates are rising over the recent weeks on the intensification of the crisis despite the ECB's recent promise to provide banks with unlimited liquidity until at least mid-October.
Closer home, exports were down 4.7% in FY 2009-10 on the back of the global economic slowdown. However, India is targeting an export growth of 15% in the current fiscal. Aided by government help and the low base effect, India’s exports have been in the positive zone in the last five months after a straight 13-month decline.
Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) were net sellers yesterday offloading stocks worth Rs937 crore. On the other hand, Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) were net buyers purchasing stocks worth Rs379 crore. The rupee recovered in the afternoon, trading in line with some recovery in the equity market and the dollar’s loss.
A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan ruled in favour of Reliance Industries by 2:1. Supreme Court judge P Sathasivam declared that the brothers' Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was not binding and that RIL and Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) must renegotiate the MoU in six weeks. Justice B Sudarshan Reddy then delivered the dissent to Justice Sathasivam's verdict. At the end of both verdicts, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of RIL by 2:1. RNRL plunged 22.9% after the verdict while RIL was up 2.4%.
Ramco Systems (down 5%) has received an order for its human capital management (HCM) and payroll management solutions from Dubai-based Tradeline LLC, a trading and manufacturing group.
Crude was down as concerns over the Greece debt crisis and the weakness in the global equity markets dragged oil prices down.
Hindustan Copper (down 6.9%) was on a rally yesterday on the news that the company will come up with a follow-on public offer (FPO). However, it pared its gains today.
Realty stocks extended recent losses on fears that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may resort to further monetary tightening to counter soaring inflation.
Uncertainties about sovereign debt and exchange rates have made global ‘fund of funds’ an unviable investment alternative
In one of their clever marketing tricks, fund companies have been suggesting that you should invest in global funds, offering investors the chance for allocating their nest-egg across different geographies. The idea of course is to gather more assets, under the garb of offering you diversification. How many of these funds actually understood the risk underlying such a product? Our guess is very few.
Many things have happened in the western markets in the past few weeks – Goldman Sachs’ alleged civil fraud, Greece’s debt troubles, Icelandic volcanoes and what not. After a period of relative calm and serenity, western markets have again been hit by financial woes. Exchange rates have gone haywire and stock markets have lost sheen. Concerns over Greece’s debt are being shadowed by vulnerabilities in Portugal, Spain and Italy. In such a scenario, would investors be comfortable investing in a fund that invests in global fund offerings? Right time to take a look at how global funds have been doing.
Moneylife has previously written how these funds are mere gimmicks; our advice being - stay away from these funds. First, most of these global funds have exhibited severe underperformance with average returns. For instance, the Principal Global Opportunities Fund has provided a one-year return of 23.36%, when most Indian indices have been up 80%. The Sundaram BNP Paribas Global Advantage Fund has returned just 24.70%. Similarly, the DWS Global Thematic Offshore Fund has returned a paltry 14.82%. The list goes on.
Funds that put your money in other countries presumably offer another round of diversification. That also means you are exposed to all kinds of risks unique to different countries, plagued with their own set of problems. Most shockingly, you cannot even compare how these funds have done vis-à-vis a benchmark. Global funds are pure fads. When the commodity markets are shooting up, fund companies will launch commodity-focused equity funds. When the Chinese market is hot, they will launch a China fund.
Take for example, the Franklin Asian Equity Fund, launched in December 2007, when the Asian markets were hot property among fund managers, what with the abundance of decoupling and other hackneyed theories. Since inception, the fund has given a return of -1.32%.
ULIPs should remain commission based, say insurers, as intermediaries play an important role in selling the product
For a long time now, many have commented and expressed their views that insurance agencies’ big ticket success, unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) should be a fee-based model and not a commissioned based model. However, insurers disagree with the view, reasoning that intermediaries play a vital role in selling ULIPs—most of them are sold through relationship models and there would hardly be any change in the cost for the consumer to pay.
“How would the fees be decided? For that matter, how would an employee or agent be motivated to bring in more renewals? It is definitely not feasible,” a top official from Bajaj Allianz said. Most ULIP products are sold in rural and semi-urban areas.
Rajesh Sud, managing director and chief executive officer, Max New York Life Insurance, said that intermediaries play an important role in the selling of ULIPs to potential consumers. A fee-based model would not be fair to an agent, he added.
“Not many understand the risk we live under—either dying too early or living too long, somebody has to help you understand that risk and appropriately help you understand the product,” Mr Sud said.
Life Insurance Council’s secretary general, S B Mathur said a fee-based model wouldn’t work as nearly 80% of ULIPs are sold in rural and semi-urban parts of India and most of these sales are based on mutual relations. “Most of these sales are relationship-based, where it is very awkward for an agent to charge his client for doing his work,” he said.
The argument lies that ULIPs overcharge consumers, through the commission-based model. As per the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) rules, agents are entitled to get a commission of up to 40% of the premium in the first year, as compared to mutual funds or pension funds.
Regardless of whether the charges are levied on a fee-based model or commission model, the policyholder’s charges would inevitably not be affected, in fact, he might pay a higher amount, Mr Mathur said.
Unlike mutual funds and pension funds, which are no-load products, ULIPs continue to charge high commissions. In August last year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had removed loads on mutual funds.
Commenting on mutual funds, Mr Mathur said that mutual funds are not yet a retail-based industry, with 80% of funds still being corporate funds. He also said that their level of operations were only limited to metros and urban areas. “So why extend it to an (insurance) industry, which over a 10-year period has created a huge distribution network and where the sale of insurance is predominantly in rural areas,” he asked.
A fee-based model is considered a fair deal for consumers as it enables them to directly evaluate the service an intermediary gives them and it also compensates intermediaries. It gives the consumer the opportunity to negotiate the fees to be paid to agents instead of the charge being embedded in the premium.
In the past, there were reports circulating that consumers who had invested in ULIPs would be free from this commission from April 2011. However, the insurance regulator has decided to maintain the status quo.