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Indian Indices Maintain Momentum
Wed, 15 Jun 11:30 am

After opening the day on a positive note, the Indian stock markets have continued to trade in the green. Sectoral indices are trading on a positive note with stocks from the capital goods, telecom and power sectors leading the gains.

The BSE Sensex is trading up 105 points (up 0.4%) and the NSE Nifty is trading up 26 points (up 0.3%). The BSE Mid Cap index is trading up by 0.5%, while the BSE Small Cap index is trading up 0.8%. The rupee is trading at 67.19 to the US$.

As per a leading financial daily, wholesale price index (WPI) rose by 0.79% YoY (year-on-year) in May. This was as against 0.34% rise recorded in April, when it showed the first monthly rise after 17 months of contraction.

Official data released yesterday showed that WPI rose for the second consecutive month in May primarily due to a rise in food inflation. Food inflation rose 7.88% as against 4.23% in April. Vegetable prices increased 12.94% in May, while prices of pulses and potatoes rose 35.56% and 60.01%, respectively.

Further, prices of manufactured products rose 0.91% in May. Manufactured products form a bulk (65%) of the WPI index's weightage. The rise here suggests that the manufacturing sector is finally seeing some pricing power.

The above data was preceded by consumer price inflation (CPI) numbers that were released on Monday. Data showed that consumer price inflation (CPI) accelerated at the fastest pace in 21 months in the month of May. The CPI rose to 5.76% in May, from a revised 5.47% in April. The rise here was also driven by an increase in the food prices.

Rising fuel costs have also led to an increase in the inflation. The price of the Indian basket of crude oil has gone up by more than 71% between February and mid-May. This in-turn leads to increase in the prices of the food items because of the logistics cost involved.

Further, drought has played its part too. Reservoir levels are down in many parts of the country. This has affected the sowing of crops, leading to lower production and higher prices of food items.

All eyes are now on a normal rainfall to keep the inflation level in check.

Moving on to the news from currency space... The dollar is witnessing volatility ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meet that is going on. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) commenced its monetary policy meet yesterday to decide whether the US economy has recovered enough to be able to absorb an interest rate hike.

While many market participants have discounted a rate hike this month, they are looking ahead for the Fed Chair Janet Yellen's announcement today. Last week, Janet Yellen stated that the weak US jobs reports for May has caused the Federal Reserve to rethink its interest rate hike plans this year. However, she said that the report was just one piece of data, and positive economic forces have outweighed the negative for the US.

As per Yellen, if incoming data is consistent with strengthening labour market conditions and inflation, there would be further gradual increases in the federal funds rate. However, there was no hint about the timing of rate hike.

Such uncertainties, along with the Brexit concerns, have kept financial markets in stress. Stock markets in the US are headed into record low territory, gold has surged, and the dollar has fallen. A recent entry in Vivek Kaul's Diary shares an interesting perspective on interest rates and the long term impact of such policies on global economies.

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Jan 16, 2018 01:29 PM