Barring Singapore (down 0.1%), most Asian stock markets have opened the day on a firm note with stock markets in Japan (up 1%) and South Korea (up 0.8%) leading the gains. The Indian share market indices have opened the day on a weak note. Stocks in the realty and consumer durables space are leading the losses. However, auto stocks are trading in the green.
The Sensex today is down by around 18 points (0.1%), while the NSE-Nifty is down by around 6 points (0.1%). However, mid and small cap stocks are trading in the green with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices up by around 0.1% and 0.2% respectively. The rupee is trading at Rs 53.89 to the US dollar.
Auto stocks have opened the day on a firm note with Maruti Suzuki, Maharashtra Scooters and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) leading the gains. As per a leading financial daily, Tata Motors recently launched the new Vista D90 hatchback. The car is priced at Rs 5.99 lakh and Rs 6.83 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). With its sporty appearance and 1.3 litre diesel engine, the Vista D90 is set to compete with Maruti Suzuki's Swift and Hyundai Motor India Ltd's (HMIL) i20. The company's senior management has said that it is planning to increase the pace of introduction of new products. It is also aiming to reorient its dealer network towards better customer service. The company is keenly looking at the number one position in the domestic passenger vehicle market in the long term. However, its target in the short to medium term is to achieve the second slot. It is worth noting that during the period April-December 2012, Tata Motors ranked third in the domestic passenger vehicles market after Maruti Suzuki and HMIL.
Private bank stocks have opened the day on a weak note with South Indian Bank, Lakshmi Vilas Bank and IndusInd Bank leading the losses. At a time when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to cut repo rates (the rate at which RBI lends to the banks) for the first time in nine months, India's largest private sector bank ICICI Bank and third largest lender Axis Bank have increased deposit rates. The two have increased their deposit rates by 25-30 basis points (0.25-0.3%) on longer tenure maturities. Effective from 26th January 2013, ICICI Bank has increased the deposit rate by 25 basis points (0.25%) in the two to five years category. On the other hand, Axis Bank has raised deposit rates on deposits up to Rs 10 m for four tenures ranging from 18 months to five years by 30 basis points (0.3%). As such, the interest rate on these categories has increased from 9% to 9.3% effective from 24th January 2013. As per a senior official at Axis Bank, the increase in deposit rates has been initiated with the aim of correct the mismatch in the bank's asset-liability position. This has raised questions on whether banks will lower lending rates if the RBI cuts interest rates in today's third quarter monetary policy review.