Attempts at recovery went into vain as investors chose to book profits at higher levels and consequently, led the indices lower during the closing hours of trade. While the BSE Sensex edged lower by around 170 points (down 1%) today, NSE Nifty closed around 60 points lower (down 1.2%). Even BSE Midcap and Small cap indices were not spared as both of them lost in the region of 1% each. More than three stocks slid on the Sensex today for every stock that gained.
Other Asian indices also closed mostly in the negative today while Europe too is trading weak currently. The rupee was trading at Rs 45.5 to the dollar at the time of writing.
It is quite obvious that today's weakness was caused by the interest rate hikes affected by the Reserve Bank of India. What made the markets all the more jittery is the fact that the hikes came just days before the RBI was supposed to have its policy meet. This indicates how serious a threat the RBI perceives inflation to be to the economic stability of the country. Furthermore, the possibility that the central bank could hike its rates further in the forthcoming policy meet can also be not denied. The impact of the recent hike was not restricted to India alone. Other Asian markets and even oil prices turned shaky today because of the surprise thrown in by India's central bank.
Pharma stocks closed mostly strong today with some of the prominent gainers being Lupin, Cadila Healthcare and Dr Reddy's. Special mention should be made here of Lupin. As per reports, the counter struck an all time high today presumably on the back of a news item that the company has received a tentative approval from the US FDA for Eszopiclone tablets used in the treatment of a sleep disorder. The company has welcomed the move and has gone on to state that the product would be introduced in the US market through Lupin Pharmaceuticals' strong network of national wholesalers and pharmacy chains post the patent expiry in 2012. It should be noted that the drug, which is a generic version of Sepracor's Lunesta tablets, had annual sales of approximately US$ 761 m for 2009 and thus, could turn out to be a good revenue generator for the company going forward.
Nalco, the public sector alumina major closed lower today. The weakness seemed a result of the announcement made by the centre that there is no plan of divestment in the company in the immediate future. This view ran contrary to the announcement by the disinvestment department that they would indeed consider 5%-10% stake sale in the company. It should be noted that the Government of India holds about 87.2% in the company. In another news on the company, it is also said to be suffering some sort of disruption in the production of aluminium as its supplies of coal are turning out to be rather inadequate.