Carrying on from the weakness that we saw last week, Indian markets have started this week on a similar note. The benchmark indices opened way below the breakeven mark and have not managed to recoup the losses since then. Other key Asian markets are trading in the negative with Japan (down 1.2%) leading the pack of losers. The US markets closed 2% lower last Friday.
Currently in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading in the red with banking and software stocks facing the brunt of selling activity. However, auto and metal stocks are trading in the positive. The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by around 130 points, while the NSE-Nifty is down by about 45 points. Selling interest is also being witnessed among mid and small cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices are trading lower by 0.6% and 0.3% respectively. The rupee is trading at 46.13 to the US dollar.
Banking stocks have opened the day on a weak note. Losers here include Allahabad bank and Vijaya Bank. As per a leading business daily, India's largest lender SBI is eyeing acquisitions in Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. It may be noted that SBI acquired PT Bank IndoMonex in 2006. Now called SBI Indonesia, it has seven branches. Each new acquisition is likely to require about US$ 200 m. Most of it will be sourced from SBI's internal accruals. In our view, SBI's move to establish a presence in these countries is tied to the fact that Indian companies are setting up operations there. Many Indian companies are especially interested in acquiring companies in Indonesia, due to it rich coal and oil reserves. SBI's overseas operations now span 33 countries contributing 12% of overall topline. The bank plans to take the number up to 25% in the future.
Pharma stocks have opened the day on a positive note. Gainers here include Cadila Healthcare and Orchid Chemicals. As per a leading business daily, Piramal Healthcare is reviewing its plans to set up a new unit to make codeine, the basic chemical used in cough syrups and pain killers. The new unit requires an investment of Rs 1 bn and was expected to commence operations in June this year. Currently, two public sector companies produce codeine in India and 30 tonnes is imported each year. It may be noted that there are strict government controls and difficulties in the availability of raw material given that it is derived from opium, a narcotic substance. Recently Dr. Reddy's also shelved its plans to produce codeine.