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Global Cues Weigh on Indian Indices
Mon, 26 Sep Closing

Indian equity markets extended losses in the afternoon session tracking weak international markets. At the closing bell, the BSE Sensex closed lower by 374 points, the NSE Nifty finished lower by 108 points. Meanwhile, the S&P BSE Midcap & the S&P BSE Small Cap also finished down by 0.5% and 0.6% respectively. Losses were largely seen in realty and auto stocks.

Asian markets finished sharply lower today with shares in China leading the region. The Shanghai Composite is down 1.76% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng is off 1.56% and Japan's Nikkei 225 is lower by 1.25%. European markets are also sharply lower today with shares in France off the most. The CAC 40 is down 1.80% while Germany's DAX is off 1.58% and London's FTSE 100 is lower by 1.27%.

The rupee was trading at 66.71 against the US$ in the afternoon session. Oil prices were trading at US$ 44.82 at the time of writing.

According to an article in The Economic Times, cost of around 100 medicines including those for Alzheimer's, diabetes and hypertension could rise up to 10% after the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) directed the pricing authority to withdraw its earlier order. The move comes as a relief to pharma companies reeling under stringent price regulation for over a year.

Earlier, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which monitors prices of medicines in the country on behalf of the government had prohibited price hike of such products for at least a year. The central government had allowed companies to increase the rates that are no longer part of the national list of essential medicines (NLEM).

This is for the first time in one and a half years when the Centre has allowed a hike in prices of a large number of medicines. In April 2015, it had done so for 500-odd drugs, based on an increase in the wholesale price index.

The government directly regulates prices of medicines that are part of NLEM by capping their ceiling prices at the simple average of all drugs in a particular segment with market share of at least 1%. For all other medicines, companies are allowed to hike prices by up to 10% in a year.

As per the reports, NPPA has revised prices for medicines (Subscription Required) on ten different instances this year bringing down prices of several commonly used medicines. Of the 875 drugs, the NPPA has so far capped prices of over 500 new drugs which are part of the revised list.

At present, around 30% of Rs 1 trillion pharmaceutical market is under direct price control.

Healthcare stocks finished on a mixed note with Wockhardt Ltd and Elder Pharma leading the gains while Sun Pharma and Glenmark pharma witnessed majority of the selling activity.

Moving on to news from steel sector. According to a leading financial daily, Tata Steel will hold talks with union representatives of its UK steelworks in an attempt to settle the barrier over a pension scheme for its workers. The scheme, which is worth over £15 billion, is a major hurdle in its merger with ThyssenKrupp.

Tata Steel has called for talks over a two-day period to try and secure the merger of its European operations with that of ThyssenKrupp. ThyssenKrupp and Tata have held talks on combining their European steel operations as global overcapacity weighs on prices and profits.

Tata Steel have reportedly insisted the Port Talbot plant, in south Wales, be included in the merger, and is prepared to guarantee to keep the site open for a set number of years.

Britain voted to leave the European Union in June, which raised concerns about the future of the country's steel industry that is under serious pressure. As per the reports, the British government has been trying to help Tata Steel by consulting on drawing up special legislation to lower pension benefits for many of the 130,000 members of the old British Steel pension fund. It has also offered hundreds of millions of pounds worth of loans and the taking of a potential 25% stake in the business.

In another development, Tata Steel has indicated to the Chhattisgarh High Court that it is pulling out of the proposed 5.5 million tonne per annum integrated steel plant in the Lohandiguda region of Bastar district.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Tata and the Chhattisgarh government in June 2005, with an estimated cost of Rs 195 billion. Hit with innumerable problems such as protests on the nature of acquisition, Naxal presence in the area, the company has now indicated to the Chhattisgarh High Court that it intends to pull out.

Tata Steel finished the day down by 0.3% on the BSE.

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Mar 16, 2018 (Close)