Markets expected to remain firm

Indian markets shrugged off weak global trends, closing the day on a positive note

During the day, Indian markets opened in positive territory on fresh buying, but shed momentum later due to weak global cues. The Sensex was up 87 points from Friday’s (15 January 2010) close, ending the day at 17,641, while the Nifty closed at 5,275, up 23 points.

At 10 hrs IST, the Sensex was trading up 75 points from the previous day’s close at 17,628 while the Nifty was trading at 5,268, up 15 points.

At 14 hrs IST, the Sensex was trading at 17,671, up 116 points, whereas the Nifty was trading up 30 points at 5,282.

Jaiprakash Associates plunged 1% after its net profit declined 38.9% to Rs103.02 crore in the December 2009 quarter against the December 2008 quarter. The company said that the latest quarter’s profit was after a one-time expense of Rs212 crore towards employee compensation.

Hindustan Composites jumped 8% after the board approved selling the company’s property at Ghatkopar, a Mumbai suburb, for Rs571 crore to Raghuleela Lessors and Developers.

ORG Informatics shot up 8%, after the company secured an order worth Rs14.05 crore.

CMI FPE was locked at the 5% upper limit at Rs950.05, after the company bagged a contract for a wide-width cold rolling complex from Asian Colour Coated Ispat for an undisclosed sum.

Engineers India zoomed 9%, extending gains and making a new high after the government (on Thursday, 14 January 2010), approved sale of 10% stake in the state-run company.

During the day, Asia’s key benchmark indices in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan fell by between 0.23%-1.16% while indices in China, South Korea and Singapore rose by between 0.17%-0.59%.

On Friday, 15 January 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 101 points whereas the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were down 12 points and 29 points respectively. US markets remain closed on Monday, 18 January 2010 for Martin Luther King Jr Day.

We expect Indian bourses to open higher tomorrow and remain firm.

As per reports, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said today that wholesale sugar prices in India have dropped in the past two to three days, while retail rates are expected to fall in 10-15 days.

D Subbarao, governor, Reserve Bank of India, said that the timing and sequence of exit from an easy policy is still a challenge, said reports. He also said that the challenge was to support growth without compromising price stability.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry is reportedly likely to keep the corporate tax rate unchanged at 30% in the coming budget, as it faces stiff resistance from companies to the draft direct tax code proposal to cut the rate to 25% and remove all exemptions. The Central Board of Direct Taxes is not willing to cut rates, as any reduction in statutory rate will further reduce the effective rate and dent the government’s revenues. The government is already struggling with a 16-year high fiscal deficit, equivalent to 6.8% of the gross domestic product for the fiscal year 2009-10.

Sunil Mitra, disinvestment secretary, said in a television interview that the government was likely to mop up more than Rs24,000 crore in fiscal 2010. He further added that the government plans to list 60 unlisted public sector units, and may even ask for dividend before divesting cash-rich companies.

Stock market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) reportedly wants the government to scrap tax benefits for corporate investing in mutual funds. If the proposal is accepted by the government, it could be a body blow to local asset management companies and other firms.

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