The Sensex today is up marginally by around 9 points (0.05%), while the NSE-Nifty trading flat. Mid and small cap stocks are trading in the green with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices up by around 0.4% and 0.6% respectively. The rupee is trading at Rs 54.29 to the US dollar.
Auto stocks have opened the day on a weak note with Tata Motors, Bajaj Auto and Maruti Suzuki leading the losses. On account of the ongoing slowdown in the Indian economy, high interest rates and increasing fuel prices, auto sales have been facing a slump. After witnessing a drop in the month of February, car sales have plunged again in the month of March 2013, reporting yet another record low. Passenger car sales dropped more than 20% year-on-year (YoY) in March. Even steep discounts and offers failed to revive growth. This has resulted in negative sales growth for the entire fiscal year 2012-13. This is the first time in a decade that car sales would report a drop in annual sales. However, it must be noted that passenger cars had reported the highest-ever sales in March 2012. As such, the decline is steeper on account of the large base.
Oil & gas stocks have opened the day on a mixed note with Jindal Drilling Industries and Cairn India leading the gains. However, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) are facing selling pressure. As per a leading financial daily, India's leading state-run gas utility Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) has inked a deal with US-based energy company Dominion Resources Inc for using half the liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity that the latter plans to add at its LNG liquefaction terminal in the US. The 20-year agreement will help Gail India to meet the increasing energy demand in India by sourcing natural gas from the US. Dominion can currently handle 11.7 million metric tonnes. It plans to add 4.6 million metric tons of annual capacity at its Cove Point LNG liquefaction terminal project at Lusby in Maryland. The construction work for the expansion is set to commence by 2014. The facility is expected to be operational by 2017.