Asian equity markets have opened the day on a mixed note. On one hand markets in China (up 0.8%), Japan (up 0.5%) and Hong Kong (up 0.3%) are witnessing buying interest. On the other hand markets in Singapore (down 0.2%) are trading in red. The Indian equity markets have opened the day on a negative note as well. Stocks in the consumer durables and capital goods sectors are witnessing maximum losses.
The Sensex today is down by around 22 points (0.1%), while the NSE-Nifty India is down by around 5 points (0.1%). However, mid and small cap stocks are witnessing buying interest with the BSE Mid cap and BSE Small cap indices up by around 0.2% and 0.4% respectively. The rupee is trading at Rs 55.81 to the US dollar.
Oil and gas stocks have opened the day on a positive note with Petronet LNG, Indraprastha Gas and Indian Oil corporation leading the gains. Indian oil refiners have decided to cut down their imports from Iran. The US had given a statement that it would not penalise countries that have cut their purchases from Iran. But despite this, the pressure from US continues to haunt oil supply. Indian companies have stated that they are looking for alternative sources of supply. US has given an exemption of 180 days to countries that have shown significant cuts in their oil imports from Iran and these include India. The exemption is expected to benefit Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL), which is the largest importer or Iranian oil. Other large importers include Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and Essar Oil.
Auto stocks have opened the day on a weak note with Maharashtra Scooters, Eicher Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra leading the pack of losers. The oil ministry is planning to impose a special tax on diesel vehicles. This tax would raise the prices of these vehicles by nearly Rs 2.55 lakhs. The gap between petrol and diesel prices in the country has led to a surge in demand for diesel powered vehicles. To control this dieselisation, the government plans to impose a tax of Rs 170,000 on small diesel cars. It also plans to impose a tax of Rs 255,000 on medium and large vehicles. The car manufacturers have vehemently opposed this tax for quite some time. The Managing Director of the country's largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, has expressed concerns that the tax would lead the demand for cars to taper off. Car sales have slowed down in recent times. But even then the demand for diesel cars was intact. The tax would change this.