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Relentless selling hits indices
Wed, 28 Mar Closing

Indian stock markets languished in the red throughout today's proceedings on the back of persistent selling activity across index heavyweights. There was no respite in the final trading hour either and the indices closed well below the dotted line. While the BSE-Sensex closed lower by around 136 points (down 1%), the NSE-Nifty closed lower by around 48 points (down 1%). The BSE Mid cap and the BSE Small cap, were not spared either as they closed lower by 1% each. Losses were largely seen in banking, auto and oil and 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 50.90 to the dollar at the time of writing.

Pharma stocks closed mixed today. While Dr.Reddy's and Ranbaxy found favour, Sun Pharma closed into the red. As per a leading business daily, pharma major Sun Pharma has received Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) approval from the US FDA to launch the generic version of 'Seroquel' in multiple strengths. This drug belongs to the innovator AstraZeneca and is used for the treatment of schizophrenia and acute treatment of manic episodes. The drug had annual sales of US$ 4.5 bn in the US. This is a positive for the company and will enhance its sales from the highly competitive US generics market especially at a time when its subsidiary Caraco has yet to resolve issues with the US FDA. Having said that, many other companies have also received approval for this drug and considerable price erosion is likely on the day of launch.

As per a leading business daily, the government is expected to release Rs 150 bn in oil subsidy by the end of March to the government owned oil marketing firms notably Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL). This is expected to bring down the combined borrowings of the three companies. The delay in grant of cash compensation from the government on capped sale of these three petroleum products drives the borrowings. The debt is used by the three of them for funding working capital requirement. While Indian Oil has borrowings of Rs 780 bn, HPCL's borrowings recently touched an all-time high of Rs 310 bn. BPCL has borrowings of Rs 270 bn. It goes without saying that allowing these firms to raise the prices for diesel and cooking gas (like it was done for petrol) will go a long way in bolstering the financials of these firms. But that does not appear likely in the medium term. While BPCL closed firm, HPCL closed into the red.

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