Sensex, Nifty regain strength: Monday closing report

Upmove may sustain if the Nifty manages to keep itself above previous day low

The Indian  market on Monday recovered more than the losses it made in past two trading sessions. The indices opened in the positive and consistently edged higher. The positivity in the market seems to emanate from the efforts taken by the newly formed government.

The BSE 30-share Sensex opened with a gap up at 24,369 while NSE 50-share Nifty opened higher at 7,264. After hitting the day’s low at the beginning of the session the indices started with their upward journey. Sensex hit a low at 24,270 while Nifty hit a low at 7,240. Sensex reached a high of 24,709 and closed near it at 24,685 (up 468 points or 1.93%) while Nifty hit a high of 7,369 and closed at 7,363 (up 133 points or 1.83%). The NSE recorded a lower volume of 109.21 crore shares. India VIX rose 0.99% to close at 16.4975.

Except for Pharma (1.27%), FMCG (0.80%), NI15 (0.27%) and Media (0.15%) all the other indices on the NSE closed in the positive. The top five gainers were PSU Bank (4.56%), Infra (4.03%), CPSE (3.44%), PSE (3.38%) and Bank Nifty (3.34%).

Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 37 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Larsen & Toubro (6.70%), BPCL (6.53%),    Bharti Airtel (5.49%), ONGC (4.98%) and Jindal Steel (4.77%). The top five losers were HCL Technologies (2.30%), Tech Mahindra (2.03%), Dr Reddy (1.86%), Sun Pharma (1.84%) and ITC (1.51%).

Of the 1,581 companies on the NSE, 1,113 companies closed in the green, 436 companies closed in the red while 32 closed flat.

To expedite the process of decision making and usher in greater accountability in the system, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Saturday announced that the Prime Minister has decided to abolish all the existing nine Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoMs) and twenty-one Groups of Ministers (GoMs). The Ministries and Departments will now process the issues pending before the EGoMs and GoMs and take appropriate decisions at the level of Ministries and Departments itself.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley vowed on Sunday to uphold fiscal discipline, despite pressure on public finances from figures showing the economy grew by less than 5% in the fiscal year just ended.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) undertakes a monetary policy review on Tuesday. The RBI is widely expected to keep rates unchanged.

Diesel prices were on Saturday hiked by 50 paise a litre, excluding state levies, the second increase in rates in three weeks. The revised prices were effective from Sunday, 1 June 2014.

The HSBC India Manufacturing PMI for May 2014 indicated that production volumes at Indian manufacturers continued to rise. Growth of both total new orders and new export business accelerated over the month, leading to further job creation across the sector. Up marginally from 51.3 in April to 51.4 in May, the seasonally adjusted HSBC India Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) pointed to a slight improvement in operating conditions and one that was weaker than the series average.

Larsen & Toubro posted growth in its March 2014 quarter result. The company also mentioned that it sees gradual recovery in the domestic demand which will further further fuel its growth rate. The stock was the top gainer (6.23%) in the Sensex 30 pack.

Except for Cipla which closed marginally higher (0.49%) all the other pharma stock in the Sensex 30 stock, closed in the negative. Dr. Reddy’s (1.39%) and Sun Pharma (1.34%) were the top two losers.

Syndicate Bank was in news for having raised $400 million through a senior unsecured bond offering. The five-and-a-half-year bond priced at a spread of 240 basis points over the five-year US Treasury. The offering is denominated in dollars, and would bear a fixed interest of 3.875 per cent per annum. The bonds would mature on December 04, 2019. The stock was the top gainer (11.63%) in the ‘A’ group on the BSE.

Gitanjali Gems came out with weak March 2014 quarter and annual result. The stock was the top loser (6.31%) in the ‘A’ group on the BSE.
US indices closed flat with a positive bias.

Except for KLSE Composite (0.49%) all the other Asian indices trading today closed in the green. Nikkei 225 (2.07%) was the top gainer.

European indices were trading in the green while US Futures were trading marginally higher.


Huge tasks await for Dharmendra Pradhan, the new oil minister

No doubt, Dharmendra Pradhan would do all that it takes to ensure work goes on smoothly, and clears approaching hurdles.

The new minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, has a lot on his plate that the former UPA minister Moily left for him to handle.  It may be recalled that the major issue that needs immediate attention is the fixation of the gas price for Reliance, which ought to have been effective from 1st April, but could not be introduced due to the elections.  Now the ball is in Pradhan's court. No doubt, this pending issue may have to be discussed by the Cabinet before being made public.

Will the new government honour the commitment made by the previous administration, at least for the time being before finalising the issue? At the same time, they have to consider the policy of pricing the domestic gas produced, including whether the rate should be on a US dollar base, and if so, at what rate of rupee conversion. This gas price, when announced will be applicable to all gas produced in the country. The Minister will also have to tackle the issues relating to retail price of auto fuels
 and capping of LPG subsidy.

In his meeting, Pradhan is reported to have stated that self-reliance was important for the country to become an economic "super-power". For the time being, and for years to come, this self-reliance depends upon how Reliance increases its gas production and finds new fields to ensure greater supply of both gas and oil to the country!

Pradhan has also stated that the focus of the Modi government will be eradicating poverty.  At the moment, there is poverty of power to deal with too!

According to the press reports, Pradhan apparently has been adviced by his ministry officials on matters relating to "decisions" that "should not" have been taken on subsidising domestic LPG cylinders etc. There is a lot of focus on ONGC which is a government enterprise directly involved in the matters which are primary concerns of this ministry.

First is the good news that ONGC has been exploring the Krishna-Godavari block (KG-DWN-98/2), primarily classified as a "gas field", and have luckily "discovered" huge reserves of oil, initially estimated to hold 100 million tonnes, according to Narendra Kumar Verma, Director, Exploration. While further exploration and investigation work is going on at the site, plans are on the anvil for ONGC to start producing oil from this field by 2017-18. No doubt, Dharmendra Pradhan would do all that it takes to ensure work goes on smoothly, and without interruption of any kind, to get the oil to really gush out earlier than 2017-18, if practical.

The second major job on hand for ONGC, is the exploratory drilling in the Palar basin, which is some 40 kms North of Chennai, and which falls between two existing prolific producing Cauvery and Krishna-Godavari basins.  According to Verma, it will take about four months to drill its way to reach 2,000 metre depth.  Due to strong cash reserves and focus on exploration policy, ONGC is already in the process of upgrading their hardware, including rigs, floaters etc.  It appears that new generation rigs with joysticks are being extensively used in the US, as these can drill upto 4,000 metres in three weeks, and can be assembled or dismantled in a day.

So, as soon as possible, it would worthwhile for ONGC to obtain a few of these so that they can carry out several drilling operations in prospective sites in various blocks under their control.  Past experience with exploration shows that when such exploratory drills are undertaken, only one out of ten becomes successful, and even then, the yield may not be significant. It may be mentioned that in the nine rounds of auctions, 302 blocks have been given out, where 123 "discoveries" were made, but only six have begun to produce anything of importance.

Another important issue that Minister Pradhan will have to study carefully.  And this relates to the 84-page report from the Comptroller and Auditor General, who has slammed both the Oil Ministry and Director General of Hydrocarbons for "failing to check" and for "losing control" over Reliance Industries on its spending which impacts the government revenue in KG-D6 fields.  

It may be noted that the present oil field contracts permit companies to recover their investments in a "graded" manner before sharing revenue with the Government.  Any "unjustified" or "excess" amount spent without "due  approval" may adversely impact the government's stake.  Minister Pradhan will no doubt need good advice on this score to handle present and future contracts.

One other issue that the Minister may need to look into relates to the present manpower, both technical and otherwise, in the Ministry and DGH.  Whether one likes it or not, some dead wood and paper pushers may have to be removed and replaced by qualified technocrats.

It may also be necessary, and perhaps prudent, for the Minister to see if ONGC itself needs any reorganisation, and whether they can be burdened with 40% share of losses of state run fuel retailers who incur these in selling diesel, cooking gas and kerosene below the cost of actual production. It is a difficult decision to make, but to what extent can they continue to "sell" below the actual production cost?

As if these issues are not enough for a single plate, Minister Pradhan has the following pending issues to tackle, as soon as possible:

a) Gujarat State Petroleum  has been waiting for an environmental clearance to lay a 11.5 Kilometre pipe line; work has been suffering for months now;

b) Cairn India had sought for reinstatement of surrendered fields and the Oil Ministry had indicated that they may have to again make a bid to get the block. There is no reason for such an approach      and an explorer like Cairn, with a proven track record, need not be put through such an unreasonable demand.

c)  Gas prices which were gazetted on 17th January, but withheld due to the elections; can be set right now;

d)  Urea manufacturers have been unable to get the gas they need due to fall in production from Reliance; The Ministry must either make the gas available through other sources but ensure production does not suffer. However, as gas supplies are low at the moment, and not sufficient to meet domestic needs, overseas projects to be set up by the government with main gas exporters like Qatar.

A full plate awaits action from Minister Pradhan.

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the




2 years ago

There is no issue of capping the LPG cylinder numbers. It should be 12 per year. Because, it is the source for LIG/MIG people. Govt. should make LPG for commercial purpose with differently coloured cylinders and fix price accordingly.

Italian CRIF buys majority stake in High Mark credit bureau

Following RBI directive last year, Italian CRIF has taken over cash-strapped High Mark Credit Information Services for an undisclosed sum

As pointed out by Moneylife in November 2013,  Italy-based CRIF SpA has acquired majority stake in cash-strapped High Mark Credit Information Services Pvt Ltd (High Mark). No financial details were provided. However, as reported by Moneylife, in December 2012 High Mark was offered Rs30 per share by CRIF.

"Larry Howell is the chairman of the newly constituted board and Kalpana Pandey continues to be the chief executive (CEO) and managing director. High Mark's current management and staff will be retained to carry on its current business operations," the Indian credit bureau said in a release.

In his previous innings, Howell successfully brought together TransUnion, which he was heading at that time, and CIBIL, India's first credit bureau.

Last year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) increased foreign direct investment (FDI)  limit to 74% in credit information bureaus in the country. Moneylife had pointed out that this move would prove to be beneficial to Italian CRIF SpA to enter Indian market and also take over cash-strapped High Mark.

As reported by Moneylife earlier, High Mark was negotiating with CRIF credit bureau for a bailout. High Mark was offered Rs30 per share by CRIF, which is also an existing shareholder in the credit bureau. CRIF SpA owns 9.09% stake in High Mark. We learned that CRIF executives had already met senior executives of RBI to assure them of support and continuity after takeover. However, the banking regulator, because of its reservations about CRIF’s ownership pattern, rejected the proposal.

Experian India, one of the four credit information companies (CICs) in India, was in talks with High Mark and reportedly had also completed the due diligence process. According to the sources, Experian had increased its bid to Rs27 from Rs25 to buy minimum 26% stake in troubled and cash-strapped High Mark. Reportedly, there is not much progress on this front as well.

High Mark was negotiating with other credit bureaus to do an asset sale, including 250 million records collected from member institutions, says a complaint filed by a former employee of the credit bureau to the finance minister, the then RBI governor D Subbarao, secretaries from the finance ministry and financial services.

High Mark, the only bureau started by individuals, has been under severe financial stress following the exit of several of its top managers and the failure of its rights issue.


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