While the Indian markets did witness some recovery in the final hour of trading, this buying activity was not sufficient to push the markets above the dotted line. The BSE-Sensex closed the day lower by about 160 points or 0.6%, while the NSE-Nifty ended with losses of about 67 points or 0.8%. Barring stocks from the oil & gas and pharmaceutical sectors, losses were seen across the board with FMCG and realty stocks leading the pack of losers. Midcaps and smallcaps ended the day on a weak note as well with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices closing lower by about 1.4% and 2.3% respectively.
Stock markets in other parts of Asia ended the day on a mixed note while European markets were trading firm at the time of writing. The rupee was trading at Rs 61.92 to the dollar at the time of writing.
Stocks of tobacco companies bore the brunt of profit booking today with shares of ITC, Godfrey Philips and VST Industries ending the day lower in the range of 1% to 10% at the time of writing. Weakness in these stocks was largely due to news that the Health Ministry has accepted the recommendation of banning the sale of loose cigarettes made by the expert panel earlier. As per reports, these recommendations will now be put before the Cabinet and will also require a Parliament nod before they are implemented. These are being brought in to curb the sale of such products to minors. In fact this recommendation, along with the other suggestions such as high fines for smoking in public, and upping the age limit of purchasing cigarettes have been made by the panel overtime. And it is due to these that stocks of cigarette companies have been quite volatile over the past few months. During the budget this year, the Finance Minister had upped the duties on cigarettes across all filter segments with the micro filter witnessing the steepest increase.
Banking stocks ended the day on a weak note today with IDBI Bank, Bank of India and Canara Bank leading the pack of losers. The stock of Kotak Mahindra Bank, which has been in the news ever since the announcement of the acquisition of ING Vysya was in the news for another reason today; that of it making its entry into the general insurance business. The bank is believed to have received approval from the RBI to form a 100% subsidiary to enter the general insurance industry. As per the company's management, this venture is likely to start operations by mid next year and that it would initially focus motor and health insurance while aiming to grab market share of 0.5% over a five year period. For the same, the bank is likely to hire about 250-300 people for the business.