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Global markets: Employment ecstasy!!

Apr 3, 2004

Weaker job markets, the scourge of the US economy for quite some time now, finally showed some signs of improvement as the payrolls report for the month of March showed significant job additions. As a result, the US indices registered strong growth on Friday and on a broader basis over the week. While the NASDAQ edged higher by 5%, the Dow ended 3% higher for the week ended April 2, 2004. The week's proceedings got off to a positive start as the stocks surged on Monday, aided largely by a slew of positive corporate announcements, lower oil prices and bargain hunting at lower levels. End hour surge also helped the markets to post marginal gains on Tuesday, which otherwise was largely a range bound day. After two strong sessions, the markets witnessed modest declines on Wednesday, the last trading day of the quarter thus ending the day in much the same way as the quarter.

Fresh quarter started off with fresh gains as bargain hunting at lower levels pushed the markets, especially the tech stocks, up. Stronger than expected manufacturing sector report also helped boost the markets. Monthly payrolls report, the most eagerly anticipated news of the week, eventually released on Friday and when it reported that employers added 3,08,000 new jobs in March, the stock markets witnessed a strong wave of buying as it dispelled fears that economy would slow down owing to weaker job growth. Although, it would be too early to arrive at a conclusion, it did soothe some fraying nerves and pushed the NASDAQ up by almost 2% and the Dow by 1%.

Indices 26-Mar-04 2-Apr-04 Change
NASDAQ 1,960 2,057 4.9%
Hang Seng 12,483 12,732 2.0%
Nikkei 11,771 11,816 0.4%
BSE 5,529 5,788 4.7%
FTSE 4,358 4,466 2.5%
Dow 10,213 10,471 2.5%
Dax 3,822 4,008 4.9%

As far as the indices across the world are concerned, it was a strong week for all of them. Three indices across three different continents ended the week with a strong 5% growth. While job growth helped the US indices, Indian markets got a boost when it was reported that the GDP of the country grew by a strong 10% during the third quarter, aided largely by a near 17% jump in agriculture output. The German benchmark index, Dax, also gained on the back of strong employment addition in US markets, the US being a key importer of European goods.

(Price in US$) 26-Mar-04 2-Apr-04 Change
Dr.Reddy's 23.6 24.3 3.0%
HDFC Bank 29.2 31.2 6.8%
ICICI Bank 14.2 16.4 15.5%
Infosys 83.7 83.0 -0.8%
MTNL 7.4 8.4 13.5%
Rediff 7.8 11.1 42.3%
Satyam 21.4 22.3 4.2%
Satyam Infoway 5.8 7.1 22.4%
VSNL 8.7 9.3 6.9%
Wipro 43.1 42.6 -1.2%

Barring weaknesses in tech majors, Infosys and Wipro, Indian ADRs rallied strongly during the week on the US bourses. Dotcom major, Rediff gained a substantial 42% over the week and not surprisingly emerged as the highest gainer. The ADR received a boost on the back of the company's tie-up with Yahoo for jointly promoting online shopping and mobile content. The optimism seemed to have rubbed off on other dotcom major Sify as well as it gained 22% over the week. ICICI Bank, India's second largest bank, also gained sharply over the last week. With the bank coming out with a public offer to shore up its capital adequacy ratio to further its growth plans, investors seem to be bullish on the bank's prospects. Telecom ADRs, MTNL and VSNL, were among the other major gainers on the US bourses.

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