Companies & Sectors
Union Bank Q4 net at Rs597.60 crore

Net interest income increased 22.9% to Rs1,716 crore in the March 2011 quarter from Rs1,396 crore in fourth quarter of FY09-10 while net interest margins stood at 3.44%

In line with expectations, state-owned lender Union Bank of India reported a net profit of Rs597.60 crore in the quarter ended 31 March 2011 compared to Rs593.50 crore in the corresponding previous quarter. Total income of the bank increased by 29% to Rs5,215.81 crore in the reporting quarter from Rs 4,054.20 crore in the quarter ended 31 March 31 2010.

Net interest income increased 22.9% to Rs1,716 crore in the March 2011 quarter from Rs1,396 crore in fourth quarter of FY09-10. Its Net Interest Margin (NIM) in the quarter under review was at 3.44%, up 3.39% year-on-year.

Gross non-performing assets (NPA) declined at 2.37% as against 2.68% on quarter-on-quarter basis.

For the fiscal 2010-11, Union Bank's net profit was Rs 2082 crore against Rs2075 crore for the previous fiscal. Total income rose 21% to Rs18,491 crore in FY10-11 compared to Rs15,277 crore in the year-ago period.

The provision coverage ratio of the bank stood at 67.58% as on 31 March 2011.

Meanwhile, Union Bank of India has revised its base rate and benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) upwards. Both the rates have been hiked by 50 basis points and will stand at 9.5% and 14.25%, respectively. The rate hikes are effective from 7th May.

The increase comes on the back of the Reserve Bank of India hiking key policy rates on 4th May and is attributed to an increasing cost of deposits. The revision in the rates will impact advances with floating interest rate structures linked to base rate as well as BPLR.


Range-bound opening for Indian stocks indicated: Friday Market Preview

The plunge in commodity prices pressurised stock markets worldwide

The Indian market is expected to open range-bound as losses in the last nine days might spur investors to go bargain hunting. On the global front, Wall Street closed with cuts of around 1% overnight on a huge retreat in commodity prices. The rout in commodities also led Asian shares lower in early trade on Friday. On the other hand, the SGX Nifty was up 32 points at 5,480 against its previous close of 5,448.

Yesterday the Sensex fell 259 points to close at 18,211, while the Nifty fell 77 points to close at 5,460. It was the 9th consecutive day of decline. Since 1990, the market has been in the negative for nine consecutive days on five occasions (excluding the current fall). Of these five occasions, it has turned positive on the 10th trading day in four instances. Interestingly, a continuous stretch of decline over nine days has not happened since September 2001. We expect the market to bounce back-possibly to 5,700.

At the same time, all commodities are falling sharply. After a big decline on Wednesday, copper, lead, nickel, oil, aluminium, gold and silver are all down between 5%-2% in post-noon trade on Thursday.

The Sensex opened the day at 18,485, in the positive, and remained there till the noon session. But the Nifty opened negative at 5,532. During the morning session itself, the indices hit an intra-day high of 18,569 and 5,560, after which the move on the bourses was range-bound. Weaker-than-expected earnings from Bharti Airtel also put pressure on the market in morning trade.

But an expression of caution with regard to economic growth this year, by chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu led to a sharp selloff, pushing the benchmarks further southwards in the post-noon session. In the last one hour, the indices hit 18,161 and 5,444, which are new intra-day lows in the recent falling trend and the lowest in the last 28 days. As we had said earlier, the support for the Nifty lies at 5,300.

The US market suffered another day of losses on a retreat in commodity prices, the fastest in two years and disappointing economic news. Crude oil plunged in a free-fall on Thursday, sinking more than 10% and sending US crude under $100 a barrel. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, US light, sweet crude settled down $9.44 at $99.80 a barrel, before declining to $98.26 a barrel in post-settlement trade, marking the second-biggest one day loss in dollar terms on record. In London, Brent crude for June delivery last traded down $12 a barrel.

Silver plunged 7% on Thursday, heading for its biggest weekly loss since 1983 and pushing gold 2% lower, as panic selling accelerated across the commodities sector. LME copper fell 3.3% to $8,820.20 a tonne and touched a 2011 low of $8,744,25 a tonne. Tin was the biggest loser of the industrial metals, shedding more than 7% to $28,500 a tonne in intra-day trade.

In economic news, initial jobless claims increased by 43,000 to 474,000 in the week ended 30th April, the most since August. This apart, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index slipped to minus 46.2 in the week ended 1st May, the lowest level since the end of March, from minus 45.1 the prior period. The buying climate gauge slumped to its second-lowest level in 15 months.

The Dow slid 139.41 points (1.10%) to 12,584.17. The S&P 500 declined 12.22 points (0.91%) to 1,335.10 and the Nasdaq fell by 13.51 points (0.48%) to 2,814.72.

Markets across Asia were lower in early trade on Friday following a sharp decline in commodities yesterday. Weak economic data from the US also weighed on investor sentiments. Central banks in the region have taken harsh steps to curb rising prices. Meanwhile, the Indonesian economy expanded a strong 6.5% in the first quarter from a year ago, in line with expectations.

The Shanghai Composite declined 0.82%, the Hang Seng fell by 0.62%, the Jakarta Composite was down 0.72%, the KLSE Composite slipped 0.57%, the Nikkei 225 plunged 1.82%, the Straits Times was down 0.46%, the Straits Times tumbled 1.72% and the Taiwan Weighted shed 0.15%.

Back home, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed private airlines to continue carrying out ground handling duties till July when it will start final hearing of the plea challenging a government directive to hand over such duties to airport operators or a consortium led by Air India.

In an interim order passed on 4th April, the Supreme Court has directed the DGCA and other agencies to renew the passes of the ground handling staff of the airlines to enable them carry out these duties.


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