Due to persistent selling in index heavyweights, Indian equity markets continued to hover below the dotted line in the last two trading hours. Barring pharma, all the sectoral indices are trading negative with metal, power and auto stocks leading the pack of losers.
Cement stocks are trading mixed with Birla Corp and Heidelberg Cement being the biggest gainers and India Cement and Ambuja Cement being the biggest losers. As per a leading financial daily, Ultratech Cement is planning to scale up capacity from 52 m tonnes to 62 m tonnes by FY13. According to the company, while the short-term prospects of the cement industry appear challenging, the sector holds good potential in the medium to long term. The cement companies have been facing a double-whammy as slowdown in housing and infrastructure development has impacted demand on one hand, while margins have contracted due to rising input and fuel costs. To further add to the sector woes, the Competition Commision of India (CCI) has imposed a fine on 11 cement companies, including Ultratech Cement, for price cartelization. Ultratech Cement is down 1.1%.
Most of the public sector banks are trading in the green with Union Bank and Central Bank leading the pack of gainers. To benefit from high credit offtake during the festival season, largest public sector bank, State Bank of India (SBI) will be starting a special home loan campaign from the 1st of September. Under the campaign, the processing fee for home loans has been slashed to Rs 1,000 per loan irrespective of the size. The loan processing fee currently stands at 0.25% of the loan amount subject to a cap of Rs 6,500 for loans up to Rs 75 lakhs. For any higher loan amount, the maximum fee ceiling is Rs 10,000. The new offer will however end on 30th November, 2012. Earlier, SBI cut the interest rates on home and auto loans by over 50 basis points, effective from the 7th of August, without changing the base rate (remains at 10% p.a.), the benchmark rate below which the Reserve Bank of India does not allow any bank to lend. SBI stock is up 0.6%.