Asian stock markets have opened the day on a mixed note. While stock markets in Singapore (up 0.4%) and Japan (up 0.3%) are trading firm, markets in Taiwan (down 0.5%) and China (down 0.3%) are facing selling pressure. The Indian stock markets have opened the day on a weak note. Stocks in the banking and Information Technology space are the major losers. However, auto and consumer durables stocks are trading firm.
The BSE-Sensex is down by around 38 points (0.2%), while the NSE-Nifty is down by around 17 points (0.3%). However, mid cap and small cap stocks are trading in the positive zone, with the BSE Mid cap and the BSE Small cap indices up by about 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. The rupee is trading at Rs 50.09 to the US dollar.
Auto stocks have opened the day on a mixed note with Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) leading the pack of gainers. Owing to a slew of interest rate and fuel price hikes over the last couple of years, demand for cars has been facing a slowdown in recent times. To battle with this situation, Indian car manufacturers are now planning to increase investments to make more diesel cars. India's leading passenger carmaker Maruti Suzuki had foreseen this trend as early as 2007 when it started making diesel engines. The company is now planning to add more capacity. Recently, it entered into a deal with Italian carmaker Fiat SpA to source 3 lakh diesel engines from them. Moreover, Maruti is also planning a second diesel engine plant at its Gurgaon facility. This new plant is estimated to entail an investment of about Rs 10 bn. Initially, it would begin with a capacity to produce 1 lakh diesel engines per year.
Steel stocks have opened the day on a negative note with JSW Steel, Jindal Steel and Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) leading the losses. In the Union Budget 2012-13, Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee announced a 2% hike in excise duty. This will take the excise duty on manufactured goods from 10% to 12%. This move is likely to increase costs for steel producers by about Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per tonne. In turn, it is likely to push steel prices higher by more or less the same amount, depending upon the market's capacity to absorb price hikes. Currently, the prices for various steel products are in the range of Rs. 36,000 to Rs. 40,000 per tonne. Leading steel producers like Tata Steel, SAIL and Essar Steel have raised steel prices in the last couple of months, particularly for long products. These are used mainly by the construction industry.