Buying interest seems to have returned to Indian stocks as the index heavyweights led the benchmark indices well above the dotted line in the final hours of trade. Stocks from the telecom, auto and banking sectors were the lead gainers. The BSE Sensex edged higher by around 116 points whereas NSE Nifty witnessed a 33 point gain (both up 0.6% each). BSE Midcap and small cap indices also performed well as they edged higher by 1.4% and 1.9% respectively.
Majority of the Asian indices closed weak today whereas Europe is trading mixed currently. The rupee was trading at Rs 46.07 to the dollar at the time of writing.
The projections of higher GDP growth numbers for the fiscal seem to have assuaged some of the profitability concerns with regard to India Inc. in the minds of investors. As per a leading business daily, companies in China and India are increasingly moving higher on the innovation space. The report states that in less than 15 years, China has moved from 14th place to the second place now just behind the United States. Also 8 of the 10 global companies with the largest R&D budgets in the world are establishing R&D facilities in China or India or both. Thus the focus on now just low cost manufacturing but also innovation could help Indian companies focus on margins along with growth.
Coming to innovation in the Indian pharma space, the government is in the process of setting up a Rs 20 bn venture capital fund to support drug discovery. Initially the corpus would be about Rs 5 bn and it would grow over a period of time. This initiave will be the first of its kind in India for promoting R&D in the pharma space. In addition, India will also set up 740 low-cost medicine stores in the country over next two years
It may be noted that these initiatives are at a time when scores of big patent expiries are looming large on global pharma companies. Many have begun taking drastic measures to shore up profitability. These include cutting tens of thousands of jobs, slashing marketing expenses heavily and so forth. As reported in a leading business daily, more than 45,000 job cuts were announced by the global pharmaceutical industry this year through October. Some of the high profile drugs set to lose patents very soon are 'Lipitor' and 'Plavix' which are presently the top 2 biggest drugs in terms of sales. Indian pharma companies closed a mixed bag today.
While the RBI continues to focus on financial inclusion, bankers have been going slow due to lack of funding and viability. However as per RBI deputy governor Dr, Chakrabarty, the overall cost of financial inclusion will not be more than Rs 30 to 40 bn per year. He believes that the same can be borne by banks provided they have the adequate technology to make the projects viable.
RBI is pushing banks to achieve financial inclusion and the initial plan is to provide basic banking services to villages with a population of above 2,000 in the next two years. The regulator had asked banks to submit their financial inclusion plans for the next few fiscal. According to the plans submitted by the banks, close to 0.2 m business correspondents and customer service points to be deployed over the next two-and-a-half years. In addition, more than 4,000 branches will be opened in unbanked villages, besides over 100 m no-frills accounts. Stocks from the PSU banking space closed higher today with IOB, SBI, PNB and Bank of Baroda featuring amongst the lead gainers.