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A Positive Start to the Week
Mon, 22 Feb Closing

Indian equity markets remained above the dotted line in the post noon session and finished in the green for a fourth consecutive session amid strong international markets. At the closing bell, the BSE Sensex finished higher by 80 points, while NSE Nifty finished higher by 24 points. The S&P Small Cap & the S&P BSE Mid Cap also finished above the dotted line as respective indices were up by 0.5% and 0.8%. Gains were largely seen in oil and gas stocks as oil prices recovered steep losses seen in the previous session. Buying was also witnessed across realty and pharma stocks.

Markets in Asia finished mostly higher, with major indices in China, Japan and Australia leading gains, extending last week's advance. The Shanghai Composite is up 2.35%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng is up 0.95% and Japan's Nikkei 225 is up 0.90%. European markets are trading sharply higher today with shares in Germany leading the region. The DAX is up 1.73%, while France's CAC 40 is up 1.45% and London's FTSE 100 is up 1.2%. The rupee was trading at Rs 68.55 against the US$ in the afternoon session.

Shares of domestic cement companies advanced on Monday ahead of Union Budget 2016 on February 29 amid hopes of an increase in infrastructure spending by the government. Ultratech Cement and Shree Cement were the leading gainers. Reportedly, the government plans to increase infrastructure spending by 29% this year including for smart cities and low cost airports.

Meanwhile, Shree Cement has reportedly bagged the Karhi Chandi limestone block in Balodabazar district of Chhattisgarh in the first-ever non-coal mining lease auctioned by the state government. The block has an estimated reserve of 166 million tonnes with 80 million tonnes cement grade limestone. The block would help the company's cement plant located in the same district.

2015 had been a rather poor year for stocks from the cement sector. Barring Shree Cement, the overall returns generated from the top companies from the cement sector have been quite lackluster (Subscription Required). The average cement prices have declined to levels of Rs 300 for a 50-kg bag. This is largely on the back of weak demand from the rural markets (which forms about 40% of the market).

Moving on to news from the FMCG sector. According to a leading financial daily, Dabur India has entered into License Agreements with the government for commercialisation of malaria and diabetes drug Ayush 64 and Ayush 82 respectively. Ayush-64 is an ayurvedic formulation for treatment of malaria, while Ayush-82 is for management of diabetes.

The agreement was signed between the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), an Enterprise of the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology and the company. The stock of Dabur finished the trading day on a firm note (up by 1.3%) on the BSE.

On a separate note, ITC shares finished below 2% on worries that the government may raise excise duties for cigarettes in the upcoming Union Budget 2016 on February 29. ITC shares shed nearly 26% of its value from an all-time high of Rs 409.7 on Feb 28, 2015.

Buying activity was witnessed across majority of the FMCG stocks with United Spirits and Hindustan Unilever leading the gains. Recently, a lot of FMCG companies announced their December quarter results. The companies have been reporting sluggish growth. Revenue growth for companies such as HUL and ITC has fallen from double digit to single digit in recent quarters.

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Nov 24, 2017 (Close)