While the market is on a declining trend, there is no clarity about which way it is headed
The market opened in the red, tracking weak global cues on escalating tensions in West Asia. Half-hearted attempts to lift the indices into the green a couple of times were shot down by sellers. An increase in IIP numbers for January also did not help matters. Then, as news broke of a huge earthquake in Japan in the late morning session, investors were nervous, leading to a further fall in the indices.
The key indices touched the day's low shortly after noon and moved sideways after that till the end of the session.
The Sensex and the Nifty opened with a negative gap at 18,248 and 5,456, respectively, following a sharp decline in the US markets on Thursday and the Asian markets early Friday. However, after initial weakness the indices recovered significantly, and even crawled into the green.
The Sensex hit intra-day highs of 18,368 and the Nifty at 5,503, after which selling resumed. Around noon, the news of the earthquake in Japan took the indices to intra-day lows of 18,063 and 5,412. But the market recovered half its losses from there onwards. In the end, the Sensex fell 154 points to close at 18,174 and the Nifty ended at 5,445, lower by 49 points. The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange was 472:1241. While the market has been weak, there is still no panic. The direction will be clear in a few days.
The market breadth on the key indices was negative today. The Sensex closed with 25 stocks in the red and five gainers and the Nifty had 40 declining stocks and 10 in the advancing list. In the broader markets, the BSE Mid-cap index declined 1.07% and the BSE Small-cap settled 1.12% lower.
With the exception of oil & gas and fast moving consumer goods sectors, all other sectoral gauges settled lower. BSE Metal (down 1.91%), BSE TECk (down 1.61%), BSE IT, BSE Power (down 1.49% each) and BSE Capital Goods (down 1.42%) were the top losers. On the other hand, BSE Oil & Gas (up 0.81%) and BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.03%) were the only gainers in the sectoral space.
ONGC (up 2.14%), Reliance Industries (up 0.73%) and Tata Power (up 0.55%) were the noteworthy gainers on the Sensex. The major losers on the benchmark were BHEL (down 3.64%), Reliance Communications (down 3.46%), Reliance Infrastructure (down 3.19%), Sterlite Industries (down 3.06%) and Jaiprakash Associates (down 2.90%).
Industrial growth, as measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), slowed to 3.7% in January 2011 compared to a 16.8% expansion in the year-ago period, dragged down by the poor performance of the manufacturing sector, particularly capital goods.
However, growth in factory output in January was better than the 2.53% expansion (revised upward from 1.6%) in the previous month.
Adding to the woes of the markets, the news of the strong earthquake in Japan resulted in the Asian markets closing lower today. After the earthquake hit, the Nikkei 225 extended its losses to close at its lowest level since 31st January.
Besides, China's February consumer price index stood at 4.9%, unchanged from the January figure, but exceeded analysts' predictions of a 4.8% rise. China's producer price index, a measure of pipeline inflation pressures, rose 7.2% from a year earlier, up from 6.6% in the previous month.
In volatile foreign exchange trade, the yen fell sharply immediately after the news of the earthquake, but bounced back against the dollar as the Bank of Japan said it would do all that was necessary to ensure financial stability.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.73%, the Hang Seng tanked 1.55%, the Jakarta Composite slid 1.27%, the KLSE Composite fell 1.40%, the Nikkei 225 plunged 1.72%, the Straits Times declined 1.04%, the Seoul Composite tumbled 1.31% and the Taiwan Weighted fell 0.87%.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net sellers of equities worth Rs97.19 crore on Thursday, whereas domestic institutional investors were net buyers worth Rs108.98 crore.
State Bank of India (down 0.70%), India's largest lender, is looking to buy banks in Africa and Southeast Asia to expand its overseas operations. It has earmarked around $200 million for the proposed acquisitions.
SBI has been on the lookout for large acquisitions, but after the global financial meltdown it has been focusing on smaller deals. It is aiming to increase the contribution from its international operations to 25% over the next five years, from about 16% currently.
Infosys Technologies (down 1.07%) has bagged three big transformational deals ranging between $50 million and $200 million. The deals, extending over a period of four to five years, are with companies in the manufacturing, retail, and banking, financial services and insurance space. The customers are based in the US and Europe.
Pharma major Nectar Lifesciences (up 1.67%) has received the approval of the Japanese Ministry of Health for Cefuroxime Axetil. The approval marks a significant achievement for the company and demonstrates further progress made towards entering highly regulated and strong markets like Japan. Last September, the company was granted 'Certificate of Suitability' for its key molecule Cefuroxime Axetil in the European Union.
Nippon Steel is reported to have tied up supplies from Anglo American at $330 a tonne for the next quarter, compared with the current $221. Indian steel producers are hoping that this is an exception and that prices will settle down
Indian steelmakers' margins a likely to come under tremendous pressure if the coking coal contract for the April-June quarter is sealed at $330 per tonne, amid high inflation and lukewarm demand.
A Japanese newspaper reported yesterday that steelmaker Nippon Steel
Corporation and British miner Anglo American Plc had settled a coking coal contract for the next quarter at $330 a tonne, a huge increase from $221 a tonne in the current January-March quarter.
"Generally coking coal contracts by Japanese steelmakers are a benchmark for Indian steel companies. There could be a difference of between $2 and $5 a tonne, not more than that," Arun Kumar Jagatramka, managing director, Gujarat NRE Coke, told Moneylife. "But I think that in the second quarter, prices would come down. I don't think such high prices will be sustainable in the long term."
According to reports, large mining companies like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are looking at the possibility of monthly contracts, instead of the quarterly contracts that have been operational over the past year. Monthly contracts would make things more difficult for steel companies, as margins could see wild swings even within the quarter.
Japanese media reported that Anglo American was the only miner to offer quarterly contracts and this was why they had settled the contract at a higher price.
However, there is no concrete confirmation of the development. Industry experts believe that coking coal contracts would be settled at $300 a tonne, or even below $300, as steelmakers would not be in a position to pass on the hike to consumers.
Alok Kumar Nemani, analyst with Nomura Financial Advisory and Securities (India), told Moneylife, "Yes, we have also heard that contract prices have been signed at $330 a tonne between Nippon and Anglo American. But we are not sure about this."
Steelmakers across the globe have increased steel prices on the back of soaring raw material prices-coking coal and iron ore in particular-after supply was disrupted due to floods in Queensland, northeast Australia, the world's top exporter of the commodity.
"The effect of the floods on mining, rail movement and infrastructure is still there and most ports are without coking coal. Two to three months would be needed to normalise the situation," Mr Jagatramka said.
The coking coal shortage in the international market pushed spot prices to more than $300 per tonne. "Selected Indian steel buyers have bought coking coal at the rate of $360 to $380 a tonne in the last two months," Mr Jagatramka said.
However, the rate of the price rise has reduced, as steel demand has slowed down in India and China. Last week, steel companies, including Steel Authority of India, JSW Steel and Essar Steel, opted for a nominal hike, as demand has softened a bit particularly for long products.
But steel makers and industry experts in India believe that coking coal contract prices would not go beyond $300 a tonne.
Mr Nemani of Nomura said, "Our estimate was that contract prices for the April-June quarter would be between $280 and $290 a tonne, but on an average it could be $260 a tonne. Of course, as supplies of the commodity are very low, miners have the pricing power."
A senior steel industry official said, "We expect coking coal contract prices to be below the $300 a tonne mark as spot prices are correcting downwards."
However, rising concerns over inflation in China, the world's largest steel producer and consumer, and India, will be in the minds of steelmakers as they finalise contracts and they would be under tremendous pressure to increase steel prices on account of spiralling domestic inflation.
Also, the Chinese government is expected to increase interest rates to cool the economy. And this is reflected in Chinese steel prices which have been sliding since the end of February.
Although the Chinese government has hiked interest rates repeatedly over the past few months, there has been no major impact on the country's steel production. But any further such rate hikes to curb inflation could affect market sentiment and impact production, analysts say.
In India, also, demand for steel products-mainly long products-has softened a bit due to the lack of big order flows from the government for the infrastructure sector. Also, private companies are finding it difficult to execute orders due to the high cost of borrowing and hurdles in land acquisition.
At present, FIIs and NRIs are allowed to invest in MFs. However, fund houses would have to ensure KYC norms before seeking investment from overseas investors
Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will soon come out with guidelines for foreign investors undertaking direct investments in mutual funds (MFs), reports PTI.
"SEBI will issue the guidelines allowing foreign investors to invest in mutual funds shortly...We are working with the Reserve Bank of India and the finance ministry (for allowing foreign investors' entry into mutual funds... It is a matter of weeks and not months," SEBI executive director of institutional investment management KN Vaidyanathan told reporters here.
In Budget 2011-12, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had announced to allow foreign investors to invest directly in MFs.
At present, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and NRIs are allowed to invest in MFs. However, fund houses would have to ensure know-your-customer (KYC) norms before seeking investment from overseas investors.
Mr Vaidyanathan further said the proposal would definitely give a boost to domestic asset management companies.
The average assets managed by the MF industry, consisting of 40 players as of 31 December 2010, was Rs6,75,377 crore.