The Indian markets have started today's session on a negative note. The benchmark indices opened at the breakeven mark, stumbled into the red and have not been able to move into the positive since then. Other key Asian markets are trading in the red with Japan (down 1.4%) leading the pack of losers. The US markets closed higher by 0.2% yesterday.
Currently in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading weak with banking majors bearing the brunt of selling activity. However, auto and software heavyweights are finding favour. The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by around 80 points, while the NSE-Nifty is down by about 25 points. The rupee is trading at 44.44 to the US dollar.
Steel stocks have opened the day on a positive note. Gainers here include NMDC and JSW Steel. As per a leading business daily, SAIL is in talks with South Korean steel giant Posco and Japan's Kobe Steel to jointly set up steel plants. Finex from Posco and ITMK3 from Kobe Steel are new iron making technology that SAIL could benefit from. FINEX technology uses iron ore fines and low quality coal to produce high grade steel. SAIL could further process it to make specialised steel. Similarly, ITMK3 (Iron Making Technology Mark Three) uses iron ore fines and thermal coal to produce high grade steel. The final decision on the joint ventures is yet to be made and will hinge on techno economic viability. It may be noted that Posco has recently approached SAIL to set up a Rs 150 bn steel plant in Bokaro. This is after over 4 years of delay due to land acquisition issues in its Rs 540 bn Orissa project.
Energy stocks have opened the day on a positive note. Gainers here include Castrol and Petronet LNG. Castrol has announced its 1QCY10 results. Its topline increased by 29%YoY during 1QCY10 due to higher volumes as well as realisations. The volume growth was driven by its investments in brand and marketing, especially the program built around Castrol's global FIFA World Cup 2010 sponsorship. Operating margins expanded to 27%, from 23% in 1QCY09 on the back of a 5% (as a percentage of sales) decline in raw material costs. Besides favorable cost of materials, a combination of premium product mix and higher unit realisation also helped. Other income declined by 15% during the quarter. Castrol's bottomline registered a whopping 54% YoY growth during 1QCY10 due to expansion in operating margins.