The Indian equity markets had a rather volatile trading session today. While the markets began the day's proceedings on a firm note, profit booking in the morning session saw the indices pare these gains and move into the red. However, buying activity across index heavyweights resumed thereafter letting the indices scale higher. The momentum was maintained in the final trading hour as well and the indices closed well above the dotted line. While the BSE Sensex today closed higher by 67 points, the NSE-Nifty closed higher by 31 points. The BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap notched gains of 1% and 0.5% respectively. Gains were largely seen in banking, capital goods and realty stocks.
As regards global markets, Asian indices closed mixed today while European indices have also opened mixed. The rupee was trading at Rs 61.80 to the dollar at the time of writing.
As per a leading business daily, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram opines that bad loans of Indian PSU banks are expected to be slightly higher by March-end from a year earlier. He has also urged the public sector banks to focus on recovery of bad loans, which happen to be high among large corporate accounts. NPAs or bad loans of PSU banks rose by 28.5% from Rs 1,830 trillion in March 2013 to Rs 2,360 trillion in September last year. The Minister also said the banks recovered Rs 18.9 bn worth of bad loans during the April-December period. As per him, the model code of conduct, which came into force today following the announcement of general elections, will not affect the process of issuance of new banking licenses by the Reserve Bank.
As per a leading business daily, according to the government, the decision on whether gold import duties will be reduced will depend on the final figures of the current account deficit (CAD). Against a backdrop of rising fuel and gold imports and slowdown in exports, India's CAD has been rising in recent times. This prompted the Indian government to place curbs on the import of the yellow metal, in the hope of easing off the pressure. As a result, gold imports, which peaked at 162 tonnes in May, came down to 19.3 tonnes in November after the government hiked import duty thrice in 2013 taking it to 10%. Not surprisingly, this move has not gone down well and there has been increasing pressure on the government to reduce the same. In an era of cheap liquidity unleashed by central banks around the world, which has undermined the value of paper currencies, gold has gained importance as a store of value. Moreover, if the government wants to reduce CAD, more emphasis will have to be laid on making exports competitive.