Headed lower: Weekly Market Report

Sell the rallies; Nifty to face resistance at 5,600-5,650

The market was mostly weak, continuing from the previous week, and recorded a 7% drop in its longest losing streak in a decade. The Sensex lost 1,392 points and the Nifty slumped by 425 points in nine days till Thursday. But on Friday, it pulled back strongly, snapping the losing run.

Over the week, the market declined 3%, the Sensex closed at 18,519, down 617 points, and the Nifty ended at 5,551, a loss of a 198 points. As the market tries to retrieve its losses, the Nifty is likely to face some resistance at 5,600-5,650.

Hero Honda and BHEL (up 3% each) were the top gainers on the Sensex. The losers were led by Reliance Communications, Bajaj Auto (down 10% each), Reliance Infrastructure (down 8%), Sterlite Industries and Bharti Airtel (down 7% each).

All sectoral gauges settled lower. The big losers were BSE Metal (down 5%) and BSE Realty (down 4%).

The indications are that this may not be the end of the decline, as a big drop in major commodity prices this week and weak European markets have strengthened the possibility of a global decline in all asset classes in the next few months.

But the highlight was the Reserve Bank of India's larger-than-expected 50 basis point rate hike, aimed at tackling stubborn inflation. The central bank underlined it would take further measures necessary, even at the cost of short-term growth, and this somewhat rattled investors.

The RBI also revised its growth forecast for the current fiscal downwards to 8% compared to the government's earlier expectation of 9%.

Surprisingly lower earnings announcements by major companies like Bharti Airtel, Hero Honda and Cipla also weighed on investors. It's been a disappointing earnings season and any change in direction will depend largely on global factors.

On the economic front, manufacturing output, as measured by the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) stood at 58 in April, marginally up from 57.9 in March. The latest reading indicates strong growth of the Indian manufacturing sector that was the fastest in five months. However, the rate of expansion eased slightly from last month's 31-month high. The increase in new export orders also slowed to a three-month low.

The output of six core infrastructure industries grew by 7.4% in March 2011, an improvement from the 6.8% expansion clocked a year ago. Crude oil production topped the table with a growth of 12.1% in March, while finished steel production showed an improvement to 9.9% in the month.

For the 2010-11 fiscal, the key infrastructure sectors-with a weight of 26.7% in the overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP)-expanded by 5.9%, as against 5.5% in the previous year.

Food inflation fell to 8.53% for the week ended 23rd April from 8.76% in the previous week, on the back of a fall in the prices of pulses, reversing the upward trend seen in the previous fortnight. Food inflation stood at 20.91% in the corresponding week last year.

The country's services sector continued to expand in April, as indicated by the HSBC Business Activity Index which rose to 59.2 in April from 58.8 in the previous month. The latest reading was a level above the long-run series average of 58.2 and indicative of a sharp growth in the rate of activity in the services sector.

On the international front, non-farm payrolls in the US jumped by 244,000 in April, much above analysts' estimates for a 186,000 gain.

The European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday kept its key interest rate unchanged at 1.25%, in line with market expectations. The ECB had raised the rate by 25 basis points (bps) at its April meeting, in a bid to curb inflationary pressures. Investors will be looking to see if the central bank will tighten policy in June.


Air India operations yet to be normalised

Airline officials said they had not been taking bookings due to the strike and this had led to the cancellation of about 90% of its flights. Some flights will be programmed by the afternoon and gradually the situation will improve, they added

New Delhi: Air India operations were yet to be normalised today after the pilots called off their 10-day strike, as the airline had stopped taking any bookings for over a week, reports PTI.

Airline officials said they had not been taking bookings due to the strike and this had led to the cancellation of about 90% of its flights. Moreover, 60 aircraft of the airlines were grounded.

“If we don’t have bookings, it is not wise to fly an empty aircraft. We will now open bookings and start rostering the pilots and other crew members. The process will take at least two days to normalise,” officials said.

The contingency plan, which was put in place for the strike, is still in operation, they said.

Some flights will be programmed by the afternoon and gradually the situation will improve, airline sources said.

Air India pilots had last night called off their 10-day-old strike that resulted in an estimated loss of over Rs150 crore after the government agreed to reinstate sacked and suspended pilots and look into their demands within a time-frame.

Over 800 pilots, belonging to the erstwhile Indian Airlines and owing allegiance to the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), as also the executive pilots, will return to work, captain AS Bhinder, the association president had said last night.

Expressing happiness over the pilots ending their stir, civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi had said, “There is no ill feeling and there will be no feeling of vengeance.”

Asked about the demands of the pilots, he had said, “Interests of all sections of employees will be taken care of by the Dharmadhikari Committee... We have received representations from other sections of employees also and asked them to approach the committee.”

It would submit its report in about four months, he said.

The three-member justice Dharmadhikari Committee, set up to go into all merger-related HR issues facing Air India employees, has started its work and has already met a cross-section of employees to elicit their views.

Mr Bhinder, along with ICPA general secretary Rishabh Kapur, had said “We have called off the strike as the government has assured us that all the pilots sacked and suspended during the stir would be reinstated and ICPA’s recognition restored.”

Both the leaders, who signed the minutes of an understanding reached with the civil aviation ministry, said the government also assured them that it would look into their demand for probing the “irregularities that have taken place in the airline”.

The striking pilots had been demanding that all sackings, suspensions and transfers effected during the strike period be revoked, ICPA’s recognition be restored, the contempt of court petition filed by Air India management be withdrawn, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged corruption and mismanagement be ordered and all other issues be tackled in a time-bound manner.


Air India operations yet to be normalised

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