Indian equity markets traded in the red for the larger part of the trading session today. The indices began the day's proceedings on a weak note and persistent selling pressure across index heavyweights kept the them languishing in the red. Although the afternoon session witnessed a rally, this was quelled as profit booking once again took over. The final trading hour saw the indices close below the dotted line. While the BSE Sensex closed lower by 29 points, the NSE-Nifty closed lower by 10 points. The BSE Mid Cap bucked the trend and closed marginally into the positive, while the BSE Small Cap closed 1% lower. Losses were largely seen in IT and oil & gas stocks.
As regards global markets, Asian indices closed mixed today while European indices have also opened on a mixed note. The rupee was trading at Rs 54.13 to the dollar at the time of writing.
Auto stocks closed mixed today. While Tata Motors and TVS Motors found favour, Bajaj Auto and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) closed in the red. Tata Motors announced results for the third quarter ended December 2012. On a consolidated basis, sales grew by a mere 2% YoY during the quarter as the company was impacted by tepid performance in both the MHCV and passenger vehicles businesses. While revenues from the Indian business fell by 17% YoY, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) revenues grew by 11% YoY. As far as the Indian operations are concerned, sluggish economic activity and weak macro outlook led to a decline in MHCV sales. Revenues from the passenger vehicles segment were also heavily impacted on account of the slowdown and intense competition. JLR sales were led by strong growth in Evoque and Freelander in terms of products and China in terms of regions. Operating profits fell by 17% YoY as margins contracted by 2.8% YoY to 12.3% on a consolidated basis. Poor performance at both the topline and operating profit level coupled with higher interest costs and depreciation charges caused the bottomline to fall by 52% YoY during 3QFY13.
Energy stocks closed mixed today. While Castrol closed firm, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) closed weak. As per a leading business, post the hike in diesel prices, bulk diesel sales have declined by 14-15% since mid January. Bulk diesel accounts for around 40% of sales for oil companies. While the government has allowed oil companies to price bulk diesel sales at market prices, subsidy has been maintained on retail sales. Oil marketing companies (OMCs) typically sell bulk diesel to private bus fleets, state transport corporations (STCs), industrial units, power companies, railways and defence establishments. Out of these, buses and fleets are allowed to purchase diesel from retail outlets. Thus, while bulk diesel sales have dropped, retail sales of diesel have increased by 3-4%. Given that private buses and STCs account for around 41% of bulk diesel consumed per month, there is a possibility that these may shift to retail consequently resulting in higher sales from the latter.