Taking cues from its peers in Asia, the indices in Indian stock markets began the day's proceedings on a buoyant note. Buying activity intensified in the later hours causing the indices to close above the dotted line. While the BSE-Sensex closed higher by around 421 points (up 2.7%), the NSE-Nifty closed higher by around 129 points (up 2.8%). The BSE Mid cap also ended 2.4% higher, while the BSE Small cap index managed to move up by 2.3%. While buying was seen across sectors, commodity, banking and auto stocks elicited the maximum interest.
As regards global markets, Asian indices across the board closed higher today while the European indices have opened in the green. The rupee was trading at Rs 53.22 to the dollar at the time of writing.
Steel Authority of India (SAIL) has decided to focus on expansion and capacity addition in its Rs 700 bn growth plan. The company will also shift its focus to increase the share of value-added products from 39% to around 55% in the next two years. With the completion of current phase of modernisation, the share of value-added products is likely to increase to around 50-55% of the company's total production.
SAIL's operating profits took a hit to the tune of 13.9%.YoY during the September quarter. The reason for the decline was the increase in the raw material costs. Coking coal, a key raw material used to make steel, surged 40% during the period, compared with a 14% increase in the price of steel hot-rolled coils. The management expects steel demand to pick up in the second half of this fiscal but at a slower pace as compared to last year due to rising interest rate which has lowered steel demand from auto and infrastructure companies. The steelmaker plans to spend Rs 700 bn on capacity expansion projects as part of a programme to swell total capacity at its five integrated plants to 21.4 m tonnes by March 2013.
Ashok Leyland (ALL), the country's second largest commercial vehicle maker, has reported an increase of 20% YoY in its December 2011 sales to 9,088 units as against 7,568 units in a year ago period. The company's total sales were boosted by robust sales of newly launched light commercial vehicle Dost. Sales of Dost, which was launched in October 2011, were pegged at 1,099 units in December 2011.
ALL's operating margins shrunk marginally by 0.5% during the quarter largely on account of a rise in both staff costs and other expenditure (as percentage of sales). The company's management expects the auto industry to grow at a muted pace of 7-8% YoY in FY12. As for the operating margins going forward, the management believes that ALL will be able to clock margins in excess of 10% going forward.