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Sensex Opens Marginally Down; ONGC & Asian Paints Top Losers
Thu, 28 Sep 09:30 am | Rini Mehta, TM Team

Majority of Asian stock markets are lower today as Chinese and Hong Kong shares fall. The Shanghai Composite is off 0.23% while the Hang Seng is down 0.36%. The Nikkei 225 is trading up by 0.29%. US stocks closed higher Wednesday after the release of the GOP's tax plan framework and as investors eyed higher interest rates.

Back home, share markets in India have opened the day on a flat note with negative bias ahead of last day of expiry of September series derivative contracts. The BSE Sensex is trading lower by 51 points while the NSE Nifty is trading lower by 7 points. The BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap index opened the day on up by 0.1% & 0.2% respectively.

Sectoral indices have opened the day on a mixed note with stocks from FMCG sector and information technology sector leading the pack of gainers. While, energy stocks and PSU stocks have opened the day in red. The rupee is trading at 65.69 to the US$.

Oil & gas stocks opened the day on a mixed note with ONGC & IOC leading the losses. As per an article in a leading financial daily, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) is looking to sell its holding in Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and GAIL to fund the Rs 330 billion acquisition of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL). ONGC holds 13.8% stake in IOC and 4.9% in GAIL as of 30 June.

Reportedly, HPCL will remain a separate listed entity even after the completion of the acquisition but will become a subsidiary of ONGC.

Prior to the merger, HPCL is likely to take over Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) to bring all the refining assets of ONGC under one unit. ONGC currently owns 71.6% of MRPL while HPCL has 17% stake in it.

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Notably, ONGC will not have to make an open offer to minority shareholders of HPCL for the deal. Post the acquisition, HPCL will add 23.8 million tonnes of annual oil refining capacity to ONGC's portfolio, making it the third-largest refiner in the country after IOC and Reliance Industries.

Moving on to the news from the economy. India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) an arm of global rating agency Fitch has cut India's gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to 6.7% from earlier expected 7.4% in the current fiscal.

As per the report, lower forecast comes on the back of the disruptive impact of demonetisation and the new goods and services tax (GST) which will be slower than the 7.1% growth reported in fiscal 2017.

The agency revised its outlook following continued slowdown in the first two quarters of 2017. The GDP growth had reached a three-year low of 5.7% in the quarter that ended in June. In the first quarter of 2017, growth had slowed to 5.7% from 7.9% in the same period last year.

GDP at 3-year Low Post Notebandi and GST

The unorganised sector and small and medium enterprises have not yet recovered fully from the government's exercise to remove high-value currency notes last November, without quickly replacing them.

Further, the rollout of the GST was "fairly smooth" but destocking by manufacturers before it and the loss of liquidity for exporters due to delayed tax refund have affected business activity, according to the agency's report.

Recently, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development had also lowered its growth projection for India from 7% in 2016 to 6.7% in 2017.

As we have been saying, GST is a much-needed economic reform. It should eventually expand India's narrow tax base and increase government revenues.

After this decline, the upcoming few quarters will be critical. Growth is expected to normalise as businesses start aligning themselves to the post-GST regime. But only growth will determine how well the Indian economy has adapted to GST.

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