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After opening the day marginally higher, share markets in India have continued to remain strong and are trading above the dotted line. Sectoral indices are trading on a mixed note with stocks in the oil & gas sector and stocks in the realty sector trading in green, while stocks in the IT sector and stocks in the consumer durables sector leading the losses.
The BSE Sensex is trading up by 100 points (up 0.4%) and the NSE Nifty is trading up by 20 points (up 0.2%). Meanwhile, the BSE Mid Cap index is trading down by 0.6%, while the BSE Small Cap index is trading down by 0.3%. The rupee is trading at 66.95 to the US$.
Coal India share price surged by over 2.5% in the day's trade after the after the company announced that the board will meet on March 06, 2017, to consider payment of interim dividend, if any, for the year 2016-17.
The company has fixed 15 March 2017 as the record date for the purpose of payment of interim dividend on equity shares, if any. The stock will turn ex-bonus on March 14, 2017.
In previous financial year 2015-16, Coal India had paid interim dividend of Rs 27.40 per share.
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The Government remains the biggest stakeholder in Coal India, with a shareholding of almost 80%, and stands to benefit the most from the interim dividend issue.
The government is exploring ways at shoring up its revenues and is leaving no stone unturned in exhausting its options through buybacks, steep dividends from PSUs, and other instruments.
Earlier this fiscal, the government had raised about Rs 7.9 billion crore through share buyback of MOIL. The government has so far raised about Rs 300 billion through minority share sale by way of OFS, share buyback and CPSE ETF so far in the current fiscal.
At the time of writing, Coal India share price was trading up by 2.6%.
Moving on to news from stocks in the FMCG sector. According to a leading financial daily, ITC Ltd, India's largest cigarette maker, is set to increase prices of its leading cigarette brands, India Kings, Classic and Gold Flake, by 11-13%. Packs with the new price tags will hit retail stores this week, according to retailers.
The increase in cigarette prices was expected as the Union budget on 1 February had proposed hiking the excise duty on cigarettes between 2.5% and 6%. ITC is passing on the increased duty to the consumers.
ITC had, before the budget, increased prices by around 14% for cigarettes of 69mm and 74mm lengths, including top-selling brands Navy Cut and Gold Flake (regular). No more price hikes are expected for cigarettes of 69-74mm lengths soon.
Last year, ITC had increased cigarette prices by 12.8% after the budget proposed to increase excise duty by 10-15%.
Increasing cigarette prices is an annual exercise as the government hikes excise duty on tobacco products every year in its budget proposals.
Excise duty on cigarettes has jumped substantially since finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed his first budget in July 2014. In 2015, excise on cigarettes was increased up to 25% depending on length and in 2016 it was increased by around 10%.
ITC's business and profitability are largely driven by the cigarettes business. However, this segment of the company's business has been hit by the steep hike in excise duty over the past few years and intense regulatory pressures.
On the financial front. The company has reported 4.7% YoY and 5.7% YoY growth in revenues and net profits respectively for the December quarter of the current fiscal.
At the time of writing, ITC Ltd share price was trading up by 0.3%.
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