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Indian Indices Trade Marginally Lower; Metal Stocks Witness Losses
Wed, 25 Apr 12:30 pm | Monish Vora, TM Team

Share markets in India are presently trading marginally lower. Sectoral indices are trading on a mixed note with stocks in the metal sector and oil & gas sector witnessing maximum selling pressure.

The BSE Sensex is trading down by 50 points (down 0.2%), while the NSE Nifty is trading down by 19 points (down 0.2%). The BSE Mid Cap index is trading flat, while the BSE Small Cap index is trading up by 0.1%. The rupee is trading at 66.75 to the US$.

From the IT sector, Wipro share price is in focus today as the company is going to declare its fourth quarter results today.

In the news from the macroeconomy space, as per a leading financial daily, India is seeking more oil, drones and aircraft from the US to help narrow its US$ 28 billion trade surplus.

This is sought amid rising concerns of possible collateral damage to the economy from President Donald Trump's trade spat with China.

With this, India could bridge the surplus by up to US$ 4 billion through oil imports alone.

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In the meantime, conflicts over trade tariffs remain and India has requested the US to exempt it from the hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. It is also vetting other options to deal with the issue.

Last month, Trade Minister Suresh Prabhu had said that India will bilaterally discuss import curbs on steel with the United States.

The development comes as US President Donald Trump followed through on his pledge to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, while excluding Canada and Mexico and leaving the door open to sparing other countries on the basis of national security. Last month, he signed two proclamations that levied 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum imports from all countries except Canada and Mexico.

He also warned there would be more tariffs coming, saying he plans to proceed with what he has called reciprocal taxes on imports from countries that charge higher duties on US goods than the US now charges on their products.

As for domestic markets, the above actions by Trump has led Indian metal stocks trade on a volatile note lately.

In the news from commodity markets, India's bonanza from low crude prices may slowly be nearing an end. After declining from a high of US$ 143 billion in FY14 to US$ 64 billion in FY16, the country's oil import bill has been steadily rising in line with the hardening crude oil prices. In FY18, the crude oil import bill swelled up by 25% YoY to US$ 87.6 billion.

Further the petroleum and natural gas ministry has projected the FY19 crude import bill to rise by 20% YoY to US$ 105 billion, on the assumption of crude oil price of US$ 65 a barrel.

Crude oil prices have been escalating due to a pick-up in global demand coupled with supply cuts by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia. Even geopolitical tensions between US, Russia, North Korea and Iran have kept prices on the boil.

Note that crude oil prices have been witnessing a rising trend of late. From hovering below US$ 30 per barrel, it rose above US$ 60 per barrel and went on to hit its 28-month high level in November, as can be seen from the chart below. Presently, it is trading above US$ 75 a barrel.

Crude Oil Hits 28-Month High

However, this is not good news from India's perspective.

As we wrote in a recent edition of The 5 Minute WrapUp...

  • Fiscal revenues are at risk. Particularly if the government is forced to consider a cut in fuel excise duties due to a rally in oil prices. In recent times, a sharp jump in excise collections has helped indirect tax collections. Any risk to revenues and subsequent threat to the fiscal deficit target at 3.2% of GDP would require tighter spending cuts.

    Secondly, the impact on inflation needs to be monitored. This narrowing the central bank's scope for further rate cuts.

    Lastly, low crude prices were a positive growth impetus through higher discretionary incomes for households and lower input costs for manufacturers and farmers. Part of this benefit is likely to be eroded as retail fuel costs rise. As for corporations, expansion in gross margins caused by falling commodity prices is also likely to wane, pressurising profitability.

You can read the entire article here.

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