The Indian markets have started today's session on a strong note. The benchmark indices opened above the breakeven mark and have managed to surge further into the positive territory since then. Other key Asian markets are trading in the green with Japan (up 2.1%) leading the pack of gainers. The US markets closed higher by 0.5% yesterday.
Currently in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading strong with construction and financial stocks attracting investors' interest. The BSE-Sensex is trading higher by around 117 points, while the NSE-Nifty is up by about 35 points. Buying interest is also being witnessed among mid and small cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices are trading higher by 0.9% and 1.1% respectively. The rupee is trading at 45.78 to the US dollar.
Textile stocks have opened the day on a positive note. Gainers here include Alok Industries and Raymond. As per a leading business daily, Raymond is initiating a restructuring exercise that will try to extend the reach of the flagship brand and pull out some of the non performing ones. The company will phase out the affordable segment brand Notting Hill from tier-I and tier-II cities although it will still be available in the smaller centers. In our view, Raymond's new strategy for its brands stems from its efforts to reduce the debt on its books. The company is cutting cost, unlocking its real estate assets in Mumbai and trimming down its portfolio of brands to pay off its debt. The brand realignment is also intended to sharpen the positioning of the Raymond brand.
Engineering stocks have opened the day on a positive note. Gainers here include Ashok Leyland and TVS Motor. As per a leading business daily, auto major Ashok Leyland will invest Rs 30 bn in the next three years on various expansion projects. The outlay will go towards product development as well as projects such as the light commercial vehicles joint venture with Nissan and construction equipment joint venture with John Deere. It may be noted that the company had earlier scaled down its capital expenditure plans to Rs 20 bn due to the economic slowdown. This development does not come as a surprise in our view as the demand for commercial vehicles tracks very closely with overall economic growth. In fact, the company has recently announced a 140% YoY increase in unit sales for the month of February, 2010.