Wholesale price-based inflation provisionally touched a 19-month high of 10.16% in May, while final figures released for the month of March put inflation at a much higher 11.04%
With inflation surging into double digits, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today said it may take monetary action to tame the rising prices ahead of the scheduled review of the policy on 27th July, reports PTI.
"This (high inflation) is a concern, inflation is always a concern and will remain a concern. At some stage (the) monetary policy has to address the issue," RBI deputy governor K C Chakrabarty told reporters on the sidelines a function organised by Financial Information Network and Operations Ltd, a firm working in the field of inclusive banking.
Wholesale price-based inflation provisionally touched a 19-month high of 10.16% in May, while final figures released for the month of March put inflation at a much higher 11.04%.
When asked whether monetary action can be taken before the next policy review, Mr Chakrabarty said, "Absolutely".
Action by the RBI requires examination and after study if the governor comes to a conclusion that if there is a need now, "it will be done," he said.
"It (monetary action) can happen any time," the deputy governor said.
RBI will review its quarterly monetary policy on 27th July.
The country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) said yesterday that the liquidity position in the system was tight and interest rates can go up by 25 basis points (bps) in the coming months.
The Sensex rose more than 2,000 points in the Feb-April period and then gave up all the gains thereafter in April-May. How did equity funds do during this period?
The Sensex went up from 15,725 on 5th February this year to its peak of 18,047 on 7th April and quickly fell back to 15,960 on 25th May. The mutual fund sector's performance in this round trip was a study of contrasts. In the rally of 14% in the Feb-April period, only 49 equity diversified growth schemes out of 216 schemes outperformed their respective benchmarks.
This stands in sharp contrast to the performance during the decline of 11% in the April-May period when as many as 174 schemes outperformed their benchmarks. This shows that funds have been conservative with their portfolio construction. By and large they have stayed away from highly volatile stocks that ensured an outperformance during the recent market decline.
The top performer among the 216 schemes during the rally was Canara Robeco Force Fund. Its Net Asset Value (NAV) was up 17% over the period while its benchmark, S&P Nifty was up 14%. Birla Sun Life Long Term Advantage Fund - Series 1 was second with NAV rise of 16%, while BSE500, its benchmark, changed 13%. Templeton India Growth Fund (up 16%), Escorts Growth Plan (up 15%), IDFC Strategic Sector (50-50) Equity Fund-Plan A (up 15%) were among the top five. Out of the 49 schemes, which outperformed their benchmarks, 21 schemes have beaten the Sensex.
Schemes of JM Financial Mutual Fund have been laggards in any market scenario. It repeated this unique distinction during this short rally too. JM Core 11 Fund, JM Emerging Leaders Fund, JM Small & Mid-Cap Fund were among the bottom five. Their NAV yielded a return of 6%, 5% and 3% respectively while their benchmark BSE Sensex, BSE200, CNX Midcap were up between 13-14%. Sahara REAL Fund and SBI Magnum Midcap Fund were the others in the bottom five. Their returns rose 7% and 6% respectively.
Following this rally, the Sensex tumbled 11% between 7th April and 25th May. In this fall, out of the 216 schemes, the NAVs of two schemes actually were up: DSP BlackRock Micro Cap Fund and HSBC Small Cap Fund. The first was up 3% and the second 2% while their benchmark, BSE Small Cap, fell 9%. Others among the top five outperformers were dividend yield plans-Escorts High Yield Equity Plan (1%), Tata Dividend Yield Fund (3%) and ING Dividend Yield Fund (3%) while their benchmark CNX100, Sensex and BSE200 fell 10%, 11% and 10% respectively.
Among the worst performers during this decline were Bharti AXA Equity Fund, Franklin India High Growth Companies Fund, Reliance Natural Resources Fund, Birla Sun Life Special Situations Fund and Religare AGILE Fund. Remember these names. They have stocks that are inherently more volatile.
After repeated articles by Moneylife highlighting multi-level marketing and other illegal schemes being run by insurance agents, we have finally received information on some action taken by an insurer
Birla Sun Life Insurance has come out with an official statement on posters being plastered on local trains, advertising a dubious scheme being offered to potential agents to sell life insurance products
(see: http://www.moneylife.in/article/81/5641.html). According to the company’s statement, “appropriate action” is being taken against the concerned person.
We have reported on numerous occasions
(see: http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/5761.html) about such illegal schemes, including multi-level marketing (MLM), and this is the first time an insurer has responded. What’s more, officials from the company have admitted that the concerned person was associated with the company.
Selling insurance translates into big money for agents. A number of agents have been coming out with devious plans to sell policies to gullible investors. From operating MLM schemes, blatant mis-selling of unit-linked insurance products (ULIPs), plastering of fake job applications and sending misleading text messages—every trick in the book is being tried to peddle insurance products. The common factor in all of these dubious schemes has been the inaction of companies.
In its statement to Moneylife today, Birla Sun Life Insurance said, “We thank you for bringing this matter to our notice. We have investigated the case and have taken necessary action against the concerned person.”
An official from Birla Sun Life Insurance, who did not want to be named, admitted that the person advertising the scheme was associated with the company. The official said, “He was associated with the company and his act was one of negligence and not knowing the rules prescribed by the company.”
However, it is not clear what kind of action was taken. An executive from the corporate communications department of the company said that disclosing the nature of the action “would be against company policy.”
This issue throws up three matters. First, these schemes are being run by employees from various companies or at least by individuals associated with various insurers. Second, more often than not, firms have hardly ever responded to such issues—Birla Sun Life is an exception—and if they do respond, the response is tepid (“We will be looking into the matter”). Third, both insurance companies and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) have still failed to take action against such persons.
On 11th May, Moneylife had sent a mail to IRDA about various MLM schemes in operation. We were told that such schemes were not allowed by the regulator and action would be taken against such companies.