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Markets upbeat ahead of the budget
Mon, 28 Feb 09:30 am

Asian markets have started the week on a weak note. Higher oil prices appear to be weighing down most of the indices. Korea (down 1.0%) and Japan (down 0.6%) are leading the losers' pack. However, markets in China (up 0.2%) and Indonesia (up 0.1%) are trading in the green. Indian markets, however, have opened the day on an upbeat note. Capital goods and energy stocks are the leading gainers.

The BSE-Sensex is trading higher by around 90 points (0.5%), while the NSE-Nifty is up by around 35 points (0.6%). Midcap and small cap stocks are trading in the positive as well, with the BSE Midcap and BSE Small cap indices up by about 0.9% and 0.7% respectively. The rupee is trading at 45.27 to the US dollar.

Auto stocks have opened the day in the negative zone. Hero Honda, Tata Motors and Bajaj Auto are the biggest losers. 2-wheeler major, Hero Honda is all set to buy out the stake of Honda in the joint venture. In lines with this, Hero Investments Pvt. Ltd. (HIPL) a part of the promoter group of companies will pledge its shares in Hero Honda to raise a debt of Rs 35 bn. This debt would be short term in nature and the amount would be used to fund the buyout. The debt would be in the form of non-convertible debentures with an expiry period of three months. To raise this debt, HIPL would be pledging shares of Hero Honda worth Rs 52.5 bn. The reason behind this raising of debt is to speed up the process. As per the company's management, it would take a few months to raise the funds using the private-equity route. And the promoters wish to complete the stake sale as soon as possible. Honda Motors currently holds a stake of 26% in the joint venture. The Munjal family holds another 26% stake while HIPL holds about 8.67% stake in Hero Honda.

India's major fuel, coal, is all set to become more expensive. At least for some of its consumers. India's largest coal company, Coal India, has decided to raise the prices of coal for some of its customers. The rates have been raised by an average of nearly 12%. This would help the company in increasing its revenues by nearly Rs 60 bn annually. This in turn would help the company in meeting its rising costs, without the need to raise its output, which has been stagnating in recent times. Coal India has been unable to raise its output levels thanks to environment issues and its own inefficiencies. While Coal India had been contemplating a price increase for quite some time, it had indicated that it would carry out the hike only in July. However, with output growing by a meager 1-2% as against the 6% increase seen last year, the company was forced to raise prices earlier than expected. However, Coal India has decided to spare crucial industries like power, fertilizers and defense from this rate hike.

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KULANDAIVEL

Feb 27, 2011

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