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Flat-to-positive opening likely: Monday Market Preview

Wall Street settled in the green on Friday on goods jobs report while markets in Asia, most of which have opened after the Lunar New Year holiday, were playing catch-up and were in the green in early trade on Monday

The Indian market is likely to see a flat-to-positive opening today on supportive global cues. Wall Street settled in the green on Friday on goods jobs report. Markets in Asia, most of which have opened after the Lunar New Year holiday, were playing catch-up and were in the green in early trade on Monday. The SGX Nifty pared early losses and was down 1.50 points at 5,380.50 from its previous close of 5,382.

Concerns about rising inflation and its impact on the economy pulled the market down for the fourth week in a row. While manufacturing output data for January was a tad higher than that in December, food inflation for the week ended 22nd January surged to 17.05%, rekindling fears of the possibility of a further hike in interest rates. Corporates have also toned down their forecasts for the fourth quarter on rising costs. 

We were hoping to see a slow rally on Friday, but apparently the bears are not done yet. After staying strong for an hour or so, foreign investors started selling ferociously again. Their selling quickly brought the indices to the levels from where the market started rallying on Thursday. The indices tried to stage a rally in the afternoon, but selling pressure-that too on the last trading day of the week-was just too strong. The market lost 2% over the week as the Sensex declined 387.82 points and the Nifty shaved off 116.40 points.

The market is clearly in bear territory. But even a bear market is punctuated by rallies. So, don't get too pessimistic. After the current decline is over, a slow and weak rally will start.

Markets in the US finished Friday’s trade with modest gains on reports of a decline in unemployment rate last month. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell to 9% in January, the lowest rate since April 2009 and a steep fall from 9.4% in December. Meanwhile, the government said that 36,000 new jobs were created last month, the fewest in four months. However a day ago, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that the United States can’t fully recover from the worst recession in decades until hiring improves. He further added that the economy is strengthening, and will likely grow at a faster pace this year as more confident consumers and companies spend more.

The Dow gained 29.89 points (0.25%) to close at 12,092.15. The S&P 500 added 3.77 points (0.29%) to 1,310.87 and the Nasdaq rose 15.42 points (0.56%) to 2,769.30.

Markets in Asia most of which opened after the Lunar New Year Holiday, reported gains in early trade this morning, boosted by optimism from the US and a weaker yen that supported export-oriented companies. However, the crisis in Egypt is being closely watched by market participants.

The Jakarta Composite surged 0.71%, the KLSE Composite gained 0.58%, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.69%, the Straits Times added 0.05% and the Seoul Composite jumped 0.55%. The Hang Seng pared early gains and dipped into the red, down 0.13%. The Chinese and Taiwanese markets continue to be closed for the New Year holiday.

Back home, CEOs surveyed by industry body Assocham suggested an increase in the personal income tax exemption limit to at least Rs3 lakh from Rs1.6 lakh at present in the upcoming Budget for giving relief to taxpayers from high inflation. 
At present, income up to Rs1.6 lakh is exempted from tax for individuals. For women and senior citizens, the limit is Rs1.9 lakh and Rs2.4 lakh, respectively.

The budget for 2011-12 would be unveiled by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on 28th February.
 

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