Barring Indonesia (down 0.1%), all the major Asian stock markets have opened the day on a positive note led by stock markets in Japan (up 0.6%), South Korea (up 1.0%) and Hong Kong (up 1.1%). The Indian stock market indices have also opened the day in green. Barring software, all sectoral indices are witnessing gains led by the stocks in the FMCG and realty sector.
The Sensex today is up by around 140 points (0.7%), while the NSE-Nifty is up by around 37 points (0.6%). Mid and small cap stocks have opened in the green as well with BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices up by around 0.6% each. The rupee is trading at Rs 55.47 to the US dollar.
Energy stocks have opened the day on a mixed note with Jindal Drill Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) leading the pack of gainers. However, Oil India Ltd and Castrol Ltd were facing selling pressure. As per a leading financial daily, the Government is planning to sell all LPG cylinders and kerosene at market rates by 2013-14. It intends to directly transfer cash to the bank accounts of cooking gas (LPG) and kerosene customers irrespective of Aadhaar identification. The implementation will start with a pilot project in Andaman and Nicobar Islands by April. It is likely to be extended to the rest of the country in a year. The twin proposals are likely to discourage diversion of subsidized cylinders for commercial use and adulteration of diesel with cheap kerosene and could save the exchequer Rs 150 bn a year. The ministry is also considering raising the cap on subsidized cooking gas cylinders as it believes that six cylinders are not enough.
As per a leading financial daily, the finance ministry is considering a proposal to raise excise duty and service tax by 2% to 14% each in the Union Budget for 2013-14. Such a move could help the ministry collect around Rs 300 bn. The Budget may also see roll back of certain exemptions. The customs duty on oil is also likely to be restored (done away with in June 2011) while peak customs duty might be retained at 10%.All these steps aim to improve government's tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio. An increase in taxes may also affect growth, which had already slipped to 5.5 % in the first quarter of this financial year. In 2011-12, too, the ministry had increased excise duty and service tax by two per cent each.