Indian markets have started today's session on an extremely strong note. The benchmark indices opened above the breakeven mark and have surged ahead into the positive territory. Other key Asian markets are trading in the green with Hong Kong (up 1.5%) leading the pack of gainers. The US markets closed lower by 0.2% yesterday.
Currently in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading in the green with construction, metal, banking and software stocks witnessing buyers' interest. The BSE-Sensex is trading higher by around 160 points, while the NSE-Nifty is up by about 45 points. Buying interest is also being witnessed among mid and small cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices are trading higher by 1.1% and 0.9% respectively. The rupee is trading at 46.42 to the US dollar.
Aluminium stocks have opened the day on a strong note. Gainers here include Hindalco and Nalco. As per a leading business daily, India's largest aluminium maker, Hindalco Industries hopes to complete Rs 49 bn of debt-raising by the end of this month. The process was launched in December last year by the company's bankers. Completing the process will help it achieve financial closure for its 1.5 m tonne per annum project in Orissa, Utkal Alumina Refinery. The refinery is expected to start production from July 2011 and involves an estimated capital expenditure of Rs 65 bn. Out of this, 25% will be in the form of the company's equity, while the rest will be debt. Hindalco has capital expenditure plans of over Rs 230 bn for the next three years, including other new plants in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. In our view, these projects will significantly enhance the scale of the company's operations. It will add to its competitive strength by virtue of being one of the lowest-cost producers of alumina and aluminium worldwide in a regime where cost curves are shifting upwards.
Energy stocks have opened the day on a positive note. Gainers here include GAIL and Petronet LNG. As per a leading business daily, the oil ministry has recommended a hike in petrol and diesel prices by Rs 3 and Rs 2 per litre respectively. Hike in LPG and Kerosene prices will be to the tune of Rs 50 per cylinder and Rs 3 per litre respectively. The decision is based on the recommendations of the Kirit Parikh committee. However, the cabinet is yet to approve it. It may be noted that recommendations stem from the fact that public sector oil marketing companies - Indian Oil, BPCL and HPCL incur huge losses due to under-recovery of input costs from subsidised fuel prices. In our view, the price hikes are inevitable from a financial standpoint. However, the political fallout is huge with opposition parties as well as coalition partners within the government wary of inflation at time when food prices are escalating. It remains to be seen if the government is willing to bite the bullet.