The Indian markets have started on a choppy note as the benchmark indices opened above the breakeven mark but have moved back and forth towards the dotted line since then. Asia is currently trading a mixed bag with Taiwan (up 1.5%) leading the pack of gainers, while Hong Kong (down 0.7%) is in the red. The US markets closed 0.2% higher last Friday.
Currently, in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading a mixed bag with telecom, banking and software stocks leading the pack of gainers. However, select metal stocks are in the red. The BSE-Sensex is trading higher by 25 points, while the NSE-Nifty is up by 6 points. Buying interest is also being witnessed among mid and small-cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices are trading higher by 0.4% and 0.6% respectively. The rupee is trading at 46.44 to the US dollar.
Banking stocks have opened the day on a strong note. Gainers here include IDBI Bank and SBI. As per a leading business daily, ICICI bank is about to receive a banking licence in Singapore. That will enable the bank to set up branches, ATMs, take deposits and disburse loans like a local bank. It will the second Indian bank to do so after public sector behemoth SBI. It may be noted that ICICI bank also has licences in the UK and Canada. Revenues from foreign operations contributed to 7.5% of the bank’s consolidated revenues in FY09. At the same time, foreign assets formed 13.5% of the bank’s assets. In our opinion, foreign banking licences will help Indian banks raise dollar deposits and lend them to Indian companies. However, they will encounter tough competition from the well established local banks.
Steel stocks have opened the day on a negative note. Losers here include Tata Steel and SAIL. As per a leading business daily, Tata Steel has reaffirmed that its expansion of capacity from 7 m tonnes (MT) to 10 MT by 2011 is on track. The product mix will be 6.5 MT of flat products and 3.5 MT of long products. Flat products are used by the auto and consumer durable sectors. Also, flat steel is used by the construction sector. Tata Steel is set to introduce the construction package of Corus in India in the next six months. The company believes steel prices will take at least three years to reach the peak of 2007. It is in the range of US$ 585 to US$ 590 per tonne currently. That explains why Tata Steel is focusing on controlling costs through captive raw materials, especially for Corus.