Barring China (up 0.7%), most major Asian stock markets have opened the day on a weak note with markets in Hong Kong (down 1.1%) and Japan (down 1.4%) leading the losses. The Indian share markets have opened the day on a weak note. Stocks in the banking and metal space are leading the losses.
The Sensex today is down by around 82 points (0.4%), while the NSE-Nifty is down by around 27 points (0.4%). The midcap and smallcap stocks have also opened in the red with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices trading lower by 0.2% and 0.04% respectively. The rupee is currently trading at Rs 62.23 to the US dollar.
Auto stocks have opened the day on a mixed note with Tata Motors and Bajaj Auto leading the gains. However, Tubes Investments and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) are trading in the red. As per a leading financial daily, car makers have cut prices across the board following the Finance Minister's move to reduce excise duty on automobiles in the Interim Budget. India's leading passenger vehicles manufacturer Maruti Suzuki has cut prices in the range of Rs 8,502 to Rs 30,984 across its car models. Hyundai Motor India has cut prices in the range of Rs 10,000 to Rs 135,300. Utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra slashed prices of its passenger vehicle portfolio ranging from Rs 13,000 to Rs 49,000. It is also set to lower prices of its premium SUV, the Rexton by up to Rs 92,000.It must be noted that on February 17, the Finance Minister cut excise duty to 8% from 12% for small cars, scooters, motorcycles and commercial vehicles. For SUVs, the excise duty was lowered to 24% from 30%. For mid-sized cars, it was lowered to 20% from 24% and for large cars it was lowered to 24% from 27%.
Private sector bank stocks have opened the day on a weak note with Federal Bank, City Union Bank and ICICI Bank leading the losses. As per a leading financial daily, private sector lender ING Vysya Bank has chalked out a plan to open 40 new branches every year between 2014 and 2016. The move is aimed at improving the mobilisation of current and savings accounts (CASA) as well as to accelerate growth. Currently, ING Vysya Bank has a total branch network of 551 branches. About two-third of these are in south India alone. The bank is aiming to expand its branch network by a quarter within the next three years. The bank now plans to set up more of the branches in the east, west and in the north in order to build a pan-India presence.