Barring Indonesia (down o.2%) and Malaysia (down 0.1%), all major Asian stock markets have opened the day on a firm note with stock markets in Taiwan (up 1.1%), Japan (up 1%) and Hong Kong (up 0.9%) leading the gains. The Indian share market indices have also opened the day on a firm note. Stocks in the oil and gas and auto space are leading the gains. However, FMCG stocks are trading with marginal losses.
The Sensex today is up by around 99 points (0.5%), while the NSE-Nifty is up by around 26 points (0.4%). Mid and small cap stocks are also trading in the green with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices up by around 0.6% each. The rupee is trading at Rs 54.66 to the US dollar.
Mining stocks have also opened the day on a firm note with Gujarat NRE Coke, Sesa Goa Ltd and Coal India Ltd (CIL) leading the gains. For the first time ever, state-run mining giant CIL is set to fund construction of large rail network which will connect India's coalfields. The company will float a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that would lay a 180 km line for evacuating coal currently blocked in Chhattisgarh. CIL would hold 64% stake in the SPV. The balance would be shared between Ircon, a company under the Rail Ministry, and the Chhattisgarh government. In order to cover its investment, CIL is planning to levy a user charge. This would mark its entry into the haulage business. It is worth noting that this initiative is part of a bigger plan being implemented under the PMO's (Prime Minister's Office) watch to set up three rail lines. These lines would span 300 km across three naxal-affected coal-rich states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. In a bid to free up about 300 mt coal supply, the PMO has asked the ministries of coal, environment and rail to finish the project in three years.
Auto stocks have also opened the day on a firm note with Eicher Motor, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland leading the gains. As per a leading financial leading, India's leading utility vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) will sign an agreement to buy out US-based Navistar Group's 49% stake in Mahindra Navistar Automotives Limited (MNAL) and Mahindra Navistar Engines Private Limited (MNEPL) by the end of January 2013. M&M will purchase the stake for about Rs 1.75 bn. Post that, the company plans to invest about Rs 2-2.5 bn over the next three years to maintain and upgrade the products it developed with the US partner. It must be noted that the joint venture had incurred substantial losses. M&M is also exploring opportunities to launch a 16-tonne bus and a commercial vehicle in the 9-16 tonne segment. If the company decides to develop new products to plug the gap in these two categories, it would announce fresh investments over and above the Rs 2.5 bn announced for portfolio maintenance. It must also be noted that so far Mahindra Navistar has invested over Rs 8 bn on new products & engines for the Indian auto market.