Indian equity markets had a rather volatile trading session today. The indices began the day's proceedings on a cautious note. Thereby, alternate bouts of buying and selling led them to hover around the dotted line for most of the day. However, the later hours saw selling activity intensify as a result of which the indices were pushed into the red and remained there in the final trading hour as well. While the BSE Sensex closed lower by 37 points, the NSE-Nifty closed lower by 3 points. Both the BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap bucked the trend and closed marginally higher. Losses were largely seen in IT, metals and oil & gas stocks.
As regards global markets, Asian indices closed mixed today while European indices have opened in the red. The rupee was trading at Rs 54.43 to the dollar at the time of writing.
As per a leading business daily, the labour strike at Bosch Ltd's Bangalore plant has been called off. It must be noted that more than 2,500 employees affiliated to MICO Employees Association (MEA), the official trade union, had gone on 'tool down' strike from March 7, 2013. This was to protest the suspension of one of their workers. This was the second such strike at Bosch's Bangalore plant in the last 18 months. Strikes at plants of auto companies have become rampant in recent times. The most severe example was the labour strike at Maruti Suzuki's plant at Manesar. It became very ugly in 2012 when there was violence at the plant as a result of which the management imposed a lockout. Hero Motocorp has also been having issues with its trade union, which has demanded higher pay packages and benefits. The stock of Bosch closed higher by 1% today.
Banking stocks closed mixed today. While ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank were out of favour, Bank of Baroda and State Bank of India (SBI) closed firm. As per a leading business daily, slowdown in growth and high interest rates has resulted in a 42.6% rise in bad assets in the banking system. Firm interest rates have impacted the debt repayment capacity of corporates leading to deterioration in the quality of assets. As a result, the quantum of restructured assets across the banking sector has also increased. The slowdown in the economy has also played a role as it has dented the performance of corporates and thereby their ability to generate sufficient cash flows to pay off the debt. The gross NPA ratio of the system increased to 3.5% in December 2012, as against the 2.9% in December 2011. PSU banks suffered the worst with a 48% jump in NPAs, while the same for private banks stood at a much lower 10%