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A Positive Day for Indian Indices
Thu, 5 May Closing

After witnessing buying interest in the post-noon trading session, the Indian equity markets closed their day on a firm note. Stocks from sectors such as capital goods, realty and FMCG were leading the gains. The BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap indices however ended flat.

The BSE Sensex closed higher by about 160 points (up 0.6%). The NSE Nifty ended higher by about 29 points (up 0.4%).

On the global front, most of the Asian indices closed their day on a negative note with Hang Seng ending lower by 0.37%. The European indices witnessed a mixed performance. The FTSE 100 is down 0.1%, France's CAC 40 is down 0.08% and Germany's DAX is up 0.15%. The rupee was trading at Rs 66.56 to the dollar at the time of writing.

Crude oil is trading up by 3.6% at Rs 3,005 per barrel. Crude oil is in the limelight of late as prices for the commodity surged to 2016 peaks last week. The uptick in prices was led by signs of easing oversupply and falling US output. Also, the Fed's stance to keep its benchmark rates unchanged have aided this rally.

The above buying interest is preceded by fears two weeks ago that a sustained price rally would be damaged by the failure of the major oil producers to agree to limit oil production. Oil prices witnessed volatility after the summit in Doha among the world's largest oil producing countries turned out to be a complete wash. This came as oil producers failed to agree on a production cap that could have tightened supply.

However, the recent developments have provided some relief to the ongoing volatility in the crude oil prices. All eyes are now on June's meeting of OPEC countries that will decide the fate of crude oil production levels ahead.

Tanushree Banerjee, co-head of research at Equitymaster, has stated the impact of crude on oil and gas stocks in one of the editions of The Equitymaster Research Digest (subscription required).

Moving on from crude oil to gold, as per a leading financial daily, India's gold imports fell by 67.3% YoY to 19.6 tonnes in April 2016. The data from gold and silver refiner MMTC Pamp stated that gold imports declined to 19.6 tonnes in April, 2016 as against 60 tonnes in the year-ago period due to poor demand. Of the total imports, bullion shipments were at 13.14 tonnes in April this year, down from 54 tonnes in the year-ago period.

The fall in imports was seen as jewelers' strike opposing one per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery significantly hit demand for the metal. Jewelers went on a strike on March 2, 2016. This lasted for nearly three weeks. The strike was against an excise duty of 1% on 'articles of jewellery [excluding silver jewellery, other than studded with diamonds and some other precious stones]' that the finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed in the budget of the government, for 2016-2017. The jewelers also protested against the mandatory quoting of the Permanent Account Number (PAN) for cash transactions of Rs 2 lakhs or more. Vivek Kaul, editor of Vivek Kaul's Diary, wrote an insightful piece around this issue that stated the reasons why the government should ignore jeweler's strike.

One shall note that India imports around 800 to 900 tonnes of gold annually. In FY16, the country is estimated to have imported 750 tonnes of gold, as against 971 tonnes in the preceding year.

The data has provided some relief for government's rising concern regarding the trade deficit. The country's current account deficit is likely to widen modestly to US$25 billion in the current fiscal from US$20 billion last year on rising demand for gold and sluggishness in exports. And this has helped to keep India trade deficit at manageable levels. In fact, in FY16 the trade deficit fell by 14% YoY.

Having said so, is this a good thing? Can we tolerate falling exports just because the trade deficit is in check due to falling imports? One of our editions from The 5 Minute WrapUp answers these questions.

In another news update, it was reported that severe water crisis in many parts of the country has forced several thermal power plants to shut down production. Power Minister Piyush Goyal said that many thermal power generating units in different states are temporarily under shut down due to non-availability of water.

Goyal said a number of steps have been adopted to overcome water shortage at such plants. These include installation of dry ash handling system, installation of ash water recirculation system and installation of zero water discharge system.

The above issue comes amid Indian Government's target of producing 175 GW of renewable energy capacities by 2022 with a capital outlay of US$ 160 billion including equity of US$ 40 billion. (1 gigawatt = 1,000 megawatts)

One shall note that the issue of water shortage comes as many parts across country are going through a water crisis on the back of below normal monsoons for two consecutive years. Recent data suggests that about 120 million hectares of India's total geographical area of 328.73 million hectares are endemically susceptible to droughts. This area spans through 185 districts in 13 states.

One of our article discusses how India can resolve the issue of water crisis.

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Mar 16, 2018 (Close)