Indian indices managed to close the session firmly in the positive today backed by buying interest in heavyweights. Gains in excess of 3.5% were seen in the BSE realty and metal indices. The benchmark Indian indices closed nearly 1.3% higher today.
The BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty closed with gains of around 196 points (1.3%) and 63 points (1.3%) respectively. The BSE Mid and small cap indices saw gains of nearly 1.6% each. Hong Kong led the pack of gainers in Asian region. European markets have also opened on a positive note.
Banks that have so far been eager to lend to infrastructure related projects are now turning cautious. Bankers are planning to tread carefully before they lend money to telecom companies that have acquired spectrum to launch third-generation (3G) services. This is due to concerns about the ability of these firms to service debt. As per a business daily, banks have asked telecom companies to submit fresh business plans before they give loans to fund 3G businesses.
Telecom firms are expected to raise at least Rs 450 bn to Rs 500 bn from banks to start with and their loan requirements could double when they actually start rolling out next-generation telecom services across the country. Telecom stocks ended a mixed bag. Bharti Airtel ended the day marginally lower.
The maiden IDR (Indian Depository Receipts) of UK bank Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) was subscribed only 21% until mid-day today, which was the last day of the issue. SCB particularly focuses on the markets of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. At the end of December 2009, the SCB operated approximately 1,700 branches in more than 70 countries. The group employed over 75,000 employees worldwide. The bank has significant operations in the Asia region, which accounted for over 75% of its total profit before taxation for the year ended December 2009. SCB, India, which operates as a subsidiary of the Company is one of the country's largest foreign banks, in terms of branch network, with over 90 branches in 37 cities. At the end of December 2009, SCB India had approximately 17,500 employees accounting for over 20% of the group's headcount. Domestic banks both PSU and those in private sector closed higher today.
The lukewarm response to the issue of 240 m IDRs seems on the back of investor concerns over economic scenario in Europe, currency volatility as well as regulatory hurdles.
India's food prices once again showed signs of cooling off. Inflation in the food articles group fell to 16% in the week ended May 15 as against 16.5% in the previous week. This is however that the figure of 8.8% in the corresponding period last year. Wholesale prices eased in line with expectations to 9.6% YoY in April, stoking speculation that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would not increase interest rates too aggressively.
The Planning Commission expects food inflation to fall sharply to 4-5% by November 2010 on the back of higher agricultural production. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had also cited that he expects inflation (WPI) to come down to 5% to 6% by December 2010.