Asian stock markets have opened the day on a high note. Markets in Hong Kong (up 0.9%), China (up 0.9%) and Malaysia (up 0.8%) are leading the gains in the region. However, the Indian stock markets seem to have bucked the trend and have opened the day on a negative note. Stocks in the realty and energy sectors are the major losers.
The BSE-Sensex is down by around 40 points (0.2%), while the NSE-Nifty is down by around 12 points (0.2%). Mid cap stocks are trading in the negative zone as well, with the BSE Mid cap index down by around 0.1%. However, small cap stocks appear to be witnessing buying interest and the BSE Small cap index has opened up by about 0.1%. The rupee is trading at Rs 49.27 to the US dollar.
Auto stocks have opened the day on a flat note. Stocks of Hero MotoCorp and Ashok Leyland are trading in the green while those of Bajaj Auto and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M) are trading in the red. After witnessing a comparatively slower 2011, car sales appear to have gathered steam again in 2012. Cars sales in February have touched record levels ahead of the Union Budget 2012. Car buyers had started to defer car purchases in 2011 owing to the high interest rates on auto loans as well as higher fuel prices. Though interest rates have still not been brought down, most car buyers preferred to buy the cars ahead of the Budget. Particularly as it is possible that the government may announce higher taxes on diesel vehicles in the upcoming Union Budget. The country's leading passenger car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki recorded a 6% YoY growth in sales numbers. The second largest auto maker, Hyundai, fared better with a 12.8% growth over last year. Tata Motors (Telco) recorded a growth of 9.16% YoY in its sales of passenger cars.
Power stocks have opened the day on a weak note with Adani Power and Suzlon Energy leading the pack of losers. However, Reliance Power and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) are witnessing buying interest. As per a leading financial daily, the Indian government has decided to relocate NTPC Rs 100 bn Karanpura power plant. The power major had been struggling to set up a super-critical plant at Chhatra district of Jharkhand. However, the coal ministry had objections against the proposed project. The reason for the same was that the plant would sterilise more than 6 bn tonnes of coal reserves beneath the site. So finally, a 12-member Group of Ministers (GoM) chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee decided that the plant site be relocated to an area where the coal seams are at a depth of 400 meters.