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The Selloff Continues
Wed, 20 Jan Closing

The Indian equity markets continued to bleed through the day, ending deep in the red by the end. Stocks across the board ended on a weak note with those from the energy and metal spaces witnessing maximum selling pressure. The BSE Sensex stood lower by 418 points, while the NSE Nifty closed lower by 126 points. Mid and small caps were not spared as well. The S&P BSE Mid Cap and S&P BSE Small Cap indices closed the day lower by 2% each.

Asian markets ended in the red with shares in Hong Kong being hit the most. The Hang Seng fell by nearly 4% while the Nikkei fell by 3.9%. The Shanghai Composite lost 1.1%. Meanwhile, European markets are trading weak with shares in France off the most. The DAX is down 3.1% while London's FTSE 100 is off 2.9% while France's CAC 40 is lower by 3.4%. The rupee was trading at 68.01 against the US$ at the time of writing.

Stocks in the power space ended weak with GVK Power and Infra and JSW Energy leading the losses. The Union Cabinet has approved a new power tariff policy today. The policy is aimed at faster roll-out of investments in the sector and also in encouraging renewable energy. Further, it will also look at strengthening regulatory mechanism so that distribution companies (discoms) become more efficient and more mindful towards their duties to consumers.

Power Minister, Piyush Goyal believes that the government is bringing in elements, which will promote Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and help waste-to-energy prosper in India. Under the policy, the power plants will have to use processed municipal waste water available in their vicinity of 100 km radius. The policy will also allow discoms to buy any amount of power produced from the waste.

This policy can come as a breather for the poor state of the power sector in India (subscription required). Legacy issues like failure to pass on tariff hikes, power theft, infrastructure issues, and over capacity have dragged the performance of companies operating in this sector. Power companies especially the State Electricity Board (SEBs), have been witnessing a vicious cycle of high debt and operational losses. Not to mention the effect of rising debt taking a toll on the banks as well. Due to these issues, the government has announced many reforms and policies to bring a turnaround in this sector. The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojna (UDAY) is one of them.

Also, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has opined that India's power sector is at a turning point. We have stated this in brief here.

All of these steps by the government will indeed help in improving the power demand scenario in the country. Having said that, we would like to see steps the government takes to make these reforms successful (subscription required).

Stocks in the engineering space finished mixed today with Jindal Drilling and Elecon Engineering bearing most of the brunt. As per a leading financial daily, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has announced that its Korean joint venture (JV) firm Daewoo E&C has bagged an order for construction of a new Ganga bridge in Bihar for Rs 31 billion. The order is for design and construction of greenfield six lane extra-dosed cable bridge over river Ganga near Kachchi Dargah in Patna on NH-30.

The company's management recognizes this is as a significant win in the heavy civil infrastructure space and hopes that this is a sign for many such projects involving vital infrastructure that are in the offing to materialize.

In another news, Coal India is going to spend Rs 2 billion on technical up-gradation. The spending is said to be in various areas including electronic fencing of mines on the lines of practices in advanced nations like US and Australia. The technical up-gradation includes fitting all trucks meant for carrying coal with GPS tracking devices within a month to check plunder of the dry-fuel.

The move comes against the backdrop of the world's largest coal miner mandate to double its output to 1 billion tonne by 2020 to meet growing demand. Coal India ended lower by 3.4%.

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Jan 19, 2018 (Close)