Indian equity markets started the day on a negative note and continued this trend through mid-afternoon. The markets finally closed the day in the red amid weak Asian cues, after sharp contraction in December services PMI dashed hopes of a recovery in the second half of the year. Banking and Realty stocks were the biggest losers. While the BSE-Sensex closed lower by 64 points, the NSE-Nifty closed lower by 19 points. BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap closed on a positive note.
As regards global markets, Asian indices closed in the red. European indices, however, have opened in the green. The rupee was trading at Rs 62.3 to the dollar at the time of writing.
India's services sector contracted further in December amid a decline in incoming new orders. The HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the services industry fell to 46.7 in December from 47.2 in November, registering the sixth consecutive monthly drop in output levels. The sharpest decline in new orders was noted in hotels and restaurants. Last week, the HSBC/Markit manufacturing PMI showed India's manufacturing sector decelerated marginally to 50.7 in December as a slowdown in domestic order flows led to slower output growth.
The government is planning to seek a record dividend of Rs 150 bn from Coal India Ltd, the world's largest coal producer, to raise funds to help meet a budget-deficit target. The government also intends to tap another state-owned company, NMDC Ltd, for Rs 25 bn via a special dividend or share buyback, and sell half of its 21% stake in Axis Bank Ltd for about Rs 60 bn. The finance ministry expects to raise only Rs 150 bn of the targeted Rs 400 bn from the sale of shares in state-owned companies for the year ending March 2014. That's adding pressure to extract special dividends as the government pushes to prevent a sovereign credit-rating downgrade.