Share prices trying to keep themselves afloat: Wednesday Closing Report

Below 5,600, the Nifty may fall to 5,500

Worries of a slowdown in global economic growth and fresh developments in Portugal led the market lower today. The banking, PSU and healthcare sectors were the worst-performing sectors today.

Reflecting the mixed trend in the Asian markets, the domestic market also opened lower this morning. The Nifty opened nine points lower at 5,623 and the Sensex resumed trade at 18,730, down 15 points from its previous close. PSU oil companies, banking, power and healthcare stocks were under pressure in early trade. However, investors soon resorted to bargain hunting, taking the indices to their intra-day highs in the first half hour. At the day's high the Nifty rose to 5,655 and the Sensex touched 18,823.

However, sharp volatility saw the indices bobbing in and out of the red on quite a few occasions. Rudderless trade led the market to the day's low in the post-noon session, when the Nifty lost 21 points to touch 5,611 and the Sensex fell to 18,683, down 62 points. A sharp recovery followed, lifting the market into the positive. However, the lower opening on key European markets made investors jittery in late trade and the market closed flat with a negative bias for the second day. The Nifty closed down seven points at 5,625 and the Sensex finished at 18,727, down 18 points.

The Nifty trailed close to its first support of 5,600 in trade today. The market is trying hard to restrain itself from falling. If the Nifty closes below 5,600, its next support lies at 5,500.

The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was 965:979.

Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index added 0.04% and the BSE Small-cap index rose 0.23%.

BSE Consumer Durables (up 1.39%), BSE Capital Goods (up 0.51%) and BSE Auto (up 0.37%) were the top sectoral gainers. BSE Bankex (down 0.93%), BSE PSU and BSE Healthcare (down 0.44% each) were the losers.

Tata Motors (up 1.54%), HDFC (up 1.23%), Hindalco Industries (up 1.07%), Larsen & Toubro (up 0.85%) and Reliance Industries (up 0.77%) were the top Sensex gainers. Reliance Communications (down 2.46%), Tata Power (down 2.02%), ICICI Bank (down 1.98%), Hero Honda (down 1.63%) and Jaiprakash Associates (down 1.52%) were the major losers on the index.

The top gainers on the Nifty were Tata Motors (up 2.07%), HDFC (up 1.69%), Hindalco (up 1.50%), Sesa Goa (up 1.24%) and Bajaj Auto (up 0.93%). RCom (down 2.81%), Reliance Capital (down 2.63%), Tata Power (down 2.28%), Dr Reddy's (down 2.18%) and ICICI Bank (down 2.17%) were the main losers.

Markets in Asia settled mixed on Wednesday with the Nikkei 225 gaining for the seventh day in a row, the longest winning streak in two years. On the other hand, Chinese banks were down, as Singapore-based Temasek sold $3.6 billion worth stake in two Chinese banks. Lingering debt concerns in Eurozone nations also weighed on investors.

The Shanghai Composite fell 0.21%, the Hang Seng tumbled 1.01%, the Jakarta Composite declined 0.39% and the Straits Times slipped 0.48%. On the other hand, the KLSE Composite rose 0.60%, the Nikkei 225 surged 1.10%, the Seoul Composite gained 0.44% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.46% higher in trade.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs825.52 crore on Tuesday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net sellers of shares worth Rs898.49 crore.

Textile major Raymond plans to open 400 new stores in smaller towns as part of the next phase of expansion. This is to be undertaken mainly through the franchise route into tier 3, 4 and 5 towns, some of which have a population of only 15,000-20,000. The company currently has 740 stores, 600 of which are under the 'The Raymond Shop' brand name. The stock gained 1.54% to Rs381.90 on the NSE today.

The US health regulator has issued a warning to Cadila Healthcare for violation of current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) regulations for finished pharmaceuticals at its facility in Gujarat. The American health regulator said it identified significant violations during its inspection of the plant at Sanand. Cadila Healthcare fell 1.46% to Rs935.10 per share on the NSE.

More than four months after UK's BP Plc agreed to buy a 30% stake in Reliance Industries' (RIL) oil and gas blocks, the oil ministry has referred the $7.2 billion deal to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval. The deal is the single largest foreign direct investment in the country and RIL had on 25th February made a formal application to the oil ministry for approval of the transfer of stake to Europe's second biggest oil company. The RIL stock gained 0.78% to Rs852.55 on the NSE.

JSW Steel today reported a 14% year-on-year increase in crude steel production to 5.73 lakh tonne in June compared to 5.03 lakh tonne in the month a year ago. The company said crude steel production rose by 8.64% in the first three months of the current fiscal to 17.1 lakh tonnes from 15.74 lakh tonnes in the corresponding previous quarter. The stock rose 1.66% to close at Rs890 on the NSE.


Brokerages positive on IT first quarter performance on good demand, broad-based user spending

Cross-currency movements also favour higher dollar revenues, but increased manpower costs could result in a decline in margins

The information technology (IT) sector should put in a positive performance in the June quarter, as the demand landscape remains unscathed and user spending continues to be broad-based, says Angel Research. Besides, cross-currency movements favour growth in US dollar revenues and a surge in overall revenues. However, there could be a possible decline in margins on account of increased manpower costs, as well as an overall slip in earnings of the order of 7% to 9% for the market leaders or even higher for smaller companies.

The demand environment for most Tier-I IT companies is marked by positive client budgets across industries, with the exception of telecom, a higher component of offshore assignments for clients, an ability to satisfy surging demand with upbeat gross hiring guidance for 2011-12. (Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services say they are adding 45,000 and 60,000 employees respectively.)

In spite of the favourable environment, there is a cause for concern in the looming macro economic scenario that may see a delay in client projects. The pent-up budget flush is not happening as planned, because clients are turning marginally cautious about the economic recovery. However, there are no indications of any budget cuts from clients yet and IT companies continue to see robust demand for discretionary services going ahead.

Recently, Gartner Information Technology Research revised its growth on IT spending for 2011-12 from 5.6% year-on-year to 7.1% y-o-y.

As per NASSCOM's strategic review in February 2011, worldwide IT spend is expected to grow by about 4% in 2011-12. As for industry-wise trends, the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) segment that contributes about 45-50% to exports, will continue to lead in terms of volume due to persistent work related to regulatory compliance, data analytics, operational efficiency and risk and fraud prevention issues.

Sharekhan also has a positive demand outlook for the IT sector over the next 12 months. It says that despite the macro-economic headwinds, mainly the slow recovery of the US economy and the European debt crisis, the demand environment remains strong, with higher client spends towards regulatory changes, higher globalisation and newer technologies like cloud and analytics.

One example is Oracle, which has reported strong new licence sales (up 19.2% y-o-y to $3.74 billion) that would have a multiplier effect on the market for Oracle-based assignments.

However, negative news flows and disappointment over quarterly performance would impact stock performances. Sharekhan expects Infosys to have a negative q-o-q growth of 4.1% in net profit (Rs1,743 crore) in the June 2011 quarter. It also expects Tata Consultancy Services to announce negative q-o-q growth of 5.9% in net profit (Rs2,260 crore).

Motilal Oswal Securities (MOSL) believes the demand in the IT sector is fundamentally intact from the near-term perspective, and it has revised its estimates only marginally. Increased rhetoric around visa issues and the macro slowdown in the US are negative factors affecting market sentiment.

Visa issues have not impacted operations of most Indian IT companies in any material way, as increased scrutiny is an ongoing feature of the US visa process. Deal pipelines in terms of volume and size remain strong and demand is getting broad-based, as lagging verticals like manufacturing show improvement. Infosys registered a net profit of Rs6,800 crore in 2010-11, while TCS recorded a net profit of Rs8,700 crore.

Macquarie Research believes that revenue growth in 2011-12 could trigger margin expansion from the 2010-11 level. These companies have faced wage inflation and rupee appreciation last year, and with robust demand they should be able to reverse the profitability trend seen last year.

But IDFC Securities sees divergent trends among the top four companies. TCS could achieve the highest q-o-q US dollars revenue growth of 6%, while HCL Tech could grow at 5%, Infosys at 4% and Wipro 2%. The revenue growth is to be largely volume driven with some pricing improvement.

On the contrary, q-o-q margins are to decline largely on the back of wage hikes and visa costs. The decline in margins for the market leaders includes Infosys 270 basis points, TCS 210 basis points, and Wipro 40 basis points. The exception is HCL Tech, which will achieve 70 basis points margin expansion led by offshore shift and no wage hikes.

According to Nomura Equity Research, the IT industry will witness revenue growth of 2% to 8% in the first quarter of 2012, and decline in margins due to impact of wage hike, with the exception of HCL Tech. The factors which lead to this performance include the impact of macroeconomic deterioration on demand and the outlook for Indian IT companies; shifting of client spending priorities toward discretionary spending; continuation of positive pricing momentum; and the impact of an increase in visa rejections on revenue growth and margins.

Overall, as per the estimates/projections of leading broking houses, we can expect the news from the IT sector to cheer investors over 2011-12.


Jalan backs labour ministry stand; against EPFO investment in equities

The labour ministry had opined that if employees' provident funds are to be ploughed into the stock market, the government has to provide a guarantee regarding the safety of the workers' funds and a reasonable rate of return. However, the finance ministry stated that the government cannot stand guarantee to the EPFO investment in the share market

New Delhi: Amidst a debate in the government over investment of employees' provident funds (PF) in the stock market, former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Bimal Jalan cautioned that any such move will have to be backed by a government assurance for making up for losses, reports PTI.

"If it (PF) is invested in equity, there should be backing with government assurance that in case of any shortfall, the funds will be provided by the managers," the well-known economist told PTI.

He said these funds can be invested in equity, provided "we have sufficient resources to be able to weather fluctuation of at least 10% in the stock market."

Mr Jalan's views are consistent with the stand taken by Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) that it was not in favour of investing a part of its Rs3.5 lakh crore corpus in stocks as proposed by the finance ministry.

"... if the investment in the capital market is so good, then there should be no problem for the government to provide a guarantee regarding the safety of the workers' capital funds and a reasonable rate of return on the capital," the labour ministry had opined.

However, the finance ministry had made it clear that the government cannot stand guarantee to the EPFO investment in the share market.

"There is no question of government providing the sovereign guarantee to any provident fund... The government gives no guarantee of safety of returns to any provident fund," it had said.

Recently Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman UK Sinha also batted for investment of the EPFO funds into the equity market.

"India is perhaps the only significant country where there is a prohibition that workers' money cannot be invested in the market. I have not seen any other market where workers' money is prohibited by regulation," he said.


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