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Power, banks gain in a choppy session
Mon, 24 Sep Closing

At the end of what was a very choppy session, taking cues from their peers in Asia, the indices in Indian equity markets closed the day well below the dotted line. Closing near the day's lows, the BSE-Sensex closed lower by around 79 points whereas losses on the NSE-Nifty came in at around 22 points (down 0.4%). BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices, however, bucked the trend, edging higher by around 0.3% each. Select power, banking and auto stocks managed to find investor interest.

Asian indices across the board, except China, closed lower today with Europe too trading in the negative currently. The rupee was placed at Rs 53.46 to the dollar at the time of writing.

After reforms in diesel pricing and FDI in retail and aviation, the government is expected to address some of the reform needs of India's beleaguered power sector today. Hence, power sector stocks registered smart gains in a choppy market today on the back of expectation of restructuring of loans of state electricity boards. The Chaturvedi panel's recommendations are likely to be implemented. This will entail 50% of the short term debt of SEBs to be taken over by the respective states and the balance 50% to be restructured by banks.

The government is set to offer a bailout to its cash-strapped power distributors that would help restructure more than US$35 bn in debt but do little to reform a sector whose dysfunction has exacerbated the country's growth-sapping energy crisis. A lifeline for power distributors (SEBs) would free up cash and help them buy more power to plug their energy gaps. However, the loan restructuring cold mean additional NPA burden for PSU banks.

Meanwhile, PSU banking major, Bank of Baroda is planning to hire around 20,000 people over the next four years and will add more than 500 domestic and international branches and offices in the current fiscal. The bank has a network of 4,000 branches in India and 96 foreign branches and offices. With its net NPA (non-performing assets) at 0.5% of advances, the bank has relatively lower NPAs among peer banks. However, the share of assets restructuring stood at 5.5% of advances. The bank is also targeting loan growth of 19% in FY13.

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