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Autos drag the markets
Wed, 23 Mar 09:30 am

Asian stock markets have opened the day on a mixed note. On one hand, benchmark indices in China (up 0.8%), Singapore (up 0.5%) and Indonesia (up 0.3%) are trading in the positive. On the other hand, markets in Japan (down 1.1%) and Hong Kong (down 0.2%) are trading in the red. The Indian stock markets have opened the day on a negative note. Stocks in the auto and IT sectors are the biggest losers.

The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by around 15 points (0.1%), while the NSE-Nifty is down by around 5 points (0.1%). Midcap and small cap stocks are however, trading in the positive, with the BSE Midcap and BSE Small cap indices up by about 0.3% each. The rupee is trading at 45.02 to the US dollar.

Auto stocks have started the day on a weak note with Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, and Tata Motors leading the losers' pack. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), the leading tractor manufacturer, will set up a tractor manufacturing unit at its existing facility at Zaheerabad in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. The company will invest Rs 3 bn on the tractor manufacturing facility over the next three years. The proposed facility is intended to manufacture 90,000 tractor units per year and also 3 and 4-wheeler commercial vehicles. It will provide direct employment to about 2,000 people and indirect employment to another 5,000. This will give a major boost to industrialization in the backward region of Telangana.

M&M has not sought any new land for its new facility. It would utilise the vacant land at its existing unit which is spread over 343 acres at Zaheerabad. Here, it currently manufactures its products like UV (Maxx), 3-wheelers (Champion Alfa), Light Commercial Vehicles and buses. The state government has agreed in principle to consider 100% reimbursement of VAT for 10 years from the date of commencement of production. The state government will also recommend to the central government allocation of natural gas for M&M's project on a priority basis.

Steel stocks have opened the day on a positive note with Bhushan Steel, SAIL, and JSW Steel trading in the green. However, Tata Steel is currently witnessing selling pressure. Tata Steel is all set to celebrate a better FY12 (financial year ending on 31st March 2012). This is on the back of better expectations of the volumes for the year. The company expects volumes to touch 10 m tones by the end of March 2012. As per the company's management, volumes and consequently financials would be boosted by the start of the greenfield project at Orissa, better earnings in Europe and by better raw material access. As a result, the company plans to raise funds to fuel this growth. The company has already earmarked the launch of perpetual bonds of Rs 150 bn. It plans to raise more funds through other hybrid corporate security issues. These funds would be used for funding the company's attractive pipeline of Greenfield projects, downstream projects as well as for coal projects abroad. The company's management expects the year 2012 to be good in financial terms due to the expected rise in the steel prices. The company's margins have been under pressure in recent times due to higher raw material prices.

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