Markets came off the day’s highs during the closing hours of trade but have nonetheless managed to end the day on a positive note. Thus, while Sensex edged higher by around 110 points (up 0.7%), NSE Nifty closed the day with gains of around 35 points (up 0.7%). BSE Midcap and Small cap indices saw some profit booking today, especially in the former as it lost around 0.6% whereas the small cap index was down only marginally today. On the Sensex, two stocks gained for every one that declined.
Asian indices closed in the red today whereas Europe is trading mostly in the positive currently. The rupee was trading at Rs 46.8 to the dollar at the time of writing.
Indian stocks were the only one amongst the major Asian indices to have ended the day on a positive note. In fact, even here, nearly 40% of the gains on the Sensex were driven by just one stock, ONGC. The public sector behemoth gained a massive 8% on the back of expectations that good sense of oil price deregulation seems to be finally dawning upon India’s political class. And rightly so! They do not look beyond their European counterparts to know the deadly consequences of reckless spending by the Governments. Thankfully, due to its growing economy and due to the fact that it can print its own currency, India has escaped the fate that has befallen the so called PIIGS group of nations. Hopefully, the ruling with respect to pricing of natural gas is just one of the many steps that the Indian government takes in the future and helps steer its finances towards fiscal sanity.
Cement and VSF major Grasim announced its 4QFY10 and full year results today. Led by growth in both its core businesses of cement and VSF, topline for the full year edged higher by 15% YoY whereas bottomline grew by 66% as margins expanded strongly. For the quarter, bottomline growth came in at 57% YoY on the back of a 16% YoY growth in topline, yet again signifying strong expansion in margins. If one considers the performance of just the VSF division, the only business that will be housed in Grasim going forward, then the bottomline for the full year has grown by 27% YoY whereas that for the fourth quarter has suffered a fall of 25% YoY. The stock closed lower by 2% on the bourses today.
Meanwhile, food inflation continues to torment and trouble the Indian populace. As per reports just coming in, food inflation has gone up a notch and has touched 16.5% for the week ended May 8. It should be noted that the same ruled at 16.4% levels in the previous week. Difficulty in maintaining the supply of perishables during the scorching summer months has proven to be the key reason behind the jump in food inflation. It is believed that situation would continue to remain like this at least for the next 2-3 months and it is only after the monsoons have progressed satisfactorily, will some clarity emerge. India’s Finance Minister has set an ambitious target, expecting inflation to fall below 5% by the end of the fiscal as against the 9.6% rate that ruled in the month of April.