The Indian markets have started on a weak note. The benchmark indices opened above the breakeven mark but quickly fell into the negative territory. They have not managed to fight back since then. Asia is currently trading in the red with Japan (down 1.8%) leading the pack of losers. The US markets also closed lower by 0.9% last Friday.
Currently, in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading a mixed bag with software, auto and banking stocks witnessing buyers' interest. However, select metal and cement heavyweights are in the red. The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by 17 points, while the NSE-Nifty is down by 15 points. However, buying interest is being witnessed among mid and small-cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-smallcap indices are trading higher by 0.2% and 0.5% respectively. The rupee is trading at 45.73 to the US dollar.
Engineering stocks have opened the day on a strong note. Gainers here include Engineers India and Thermax. As per a leading business daily, L&T has decided to put its heavy engineering special economic zone (SEZ) project near Surat on hold. The company had planned an SEZ for heavy engineering at Suvali and Mora in Surat district. The SEZ was to come up over an area of 100 hectares. It entailed an overall investment of around Rs 40 bn. The project has apparently been put on hold due to sluggishness in the export markets. Interestingly, L&T is not alone in having second thoughts about its SEZ projects. SPG Infrastructure, Indian Steel Corporation, Gujarat Growth Centre Development Corporation, DLF and Parsvnath have also either withdrawn or deferred their SEZ plans. In our view, this is another example of a corporate fad eventually facing the harsh reality of economics.
Refinery stocks have opened the day on a strong note. Gainers here include MRPL and HPCL. As per a leading business daily, HPCL plans to set up a refinery in the Konkan region. The plant will have a capacity of processing 9 to 15 m tonnes per annum of crude. The company will invest about Rs 200 bn for the project. It is likely to come up on about 2,000 acres either in the Raigad or Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. HPCL plans to fund the project with a debt equity ratio of 1:2 or 1:2.5. In our view, this refinery can be viewed as a natural extension of the company's Mumbai refinery. However, given the fact that HPCL has to sell fuels below their cost, financing such huge capital expenditure will require some serious effort.