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Markets Finish on a Flat Note
Thu, 31 Mar Closing

After trading on a firm note in the morning session, Indian equity markets were under pressure in the afternoon session amid weak European markets and ahead of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)'s next monetary policy which is scheduled for April 5, 2016.

In an interesting article written by Vivek Kaul, which was recently published, he writes "RBI should not cut the repo rate by 1%, or at least not all at once". He highlights multiple reasons for the same, one of which is that interest rates need to be viewed from the point of view of savers as well rather than just borrowers. But what if Dr Rajan decides to cut the rate by 1%? As Ajit Dayal, founder of Equitymaster, pointed out in his latest Honest Truth, there are enough reasons to make such a steep cut possible. The logic is that at lower interest rates people will borrow and spend more. With this increase in consumption, earnings of companies are likely to go up, and the stock prices will adjust for it.

However, a 100 basis points cut by the RBI will lead to banks cutting the interest rates on their deposits without cutting their lending rates at the same rate. If the interest rates are cut dramatically, the saver will have to save more to meet his or her financial goals, in the years to come. You can access the whole article by Vivek Kaul here.

At the closing bell, the BSE Sensex closed higher by 3 points, the NSE Nifty finished higher by 2 points. However, the S&P BSE Midcap and the S&P BSE Small Cap gathered steam and closed up by 0.7% and 0.5% respectively. Consumer Durables and IT stocks led the gainers, while majority of the selling activity was seen in metal, oil & gas and PSU stocks.

Asia markets ended mixed, with some markets partially retracing their gains following US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's cautious stance on interest rates. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.11%, while the Nikkei 225 & the Hang Seng fell 0.71% and 0.13% respectively. European shares fell in early trade after solid gains made in the previous session with shares in France faring the worst. The CAC 40 is down 1.1%, while London and German markets are down 0.5% and 0.6% respectively.

Oil prices were trading at US$37.94 a barrel at the time of writing. The rupee was trading at 66.33 against the US$ in the afternoon session.

According to a leading financial daily, Dr Reddy's Laboratories has entered into a licensing agreement with Eisai Co., Japan. This will grant exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights (excluding Japan and Asia) for Eisai's investigational anticancer agent E7777. Eisai will be responsible for the development and marketing of E7777 in Japan and Asia, while Dr Reddy's holds the option for rights to develop and market the agent in India.

Reportedly, in exchange for these rights, Eisai will receive milestone payments in line with obtaining marketing approval and the achievement of agreed upon sales targets. Through this agreement, the two companies aim to accelerate development and maximize the value of E7777. Dr Reddy's finished up by 0.7% on the BSE.

In another development, shares of Natco Pharma surged more than 3% in intraday trading today after it was reported that the company has received its board's approval for the sale of Save Mart Pharmacy Stores located in the US, which is a non-core business of the company.

Recently, the Indian Health Ministry announced a ban on 344 fixed dosage combination (FDC) drugs. The pharma companies will have to suspend the manufacturing and sale of these drugs, including cough syrups, analgesics, and antibiotic combinations. In our recent edition of The 5 Minute WrapUp Premium, we have discussed how the FDCs pose a new challenge to the Indian pharma companies (Subscription Required).

Auto stocks finished on a mixed note with Eicher Motors and Tata Motors DVR leading the gains. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has acquired 35% stake in Finland's Sampo Rosenlew for up to 18 million euros (about Rs 1.35 billion), marking its foray into the combine harvester business. The deal is expected to close by June 30, 2016. At present, Mahindra is the world's leading tractor company by volume, with an on ground presence in India, the US, China and Japan, besides many other export markets .

Sampo Rosenlew's main products are forest harvesters and combine harvesters. The company is also a joint venture partner in a combine harvester company in Algeria which had a revenue of 45 million euro in the same year. Further, it has built a significant business in its core markets like Europe, Eurasian countries and North Africa. Reportedly, Sampo Rosenlew will also develop a new range of combine harvesters in association with M&M for developing markets and for specialty crops.

More recently, (M&M), along with Tech Mahindra, announced its intention to acquire Italian car designer Pininfarina SpA (Subscription Required). Accordingly, both M&M and Tech Mahindra, through a special purpose vehicle (SPV), will buy a 76.06% stake in the Italian car designer for around 25.3 million euros. The script of M&M finished the trading day on a negative note (down 0.9%) on the BSE.

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