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Banking, telecom lead the decline
Fri, 18 Dec 12:30 pm

After witnessing a weak start to the day's trades, Indian stock markets remained muted during previous two hours of trade. Though currently in the red, they are inching slowly towards the dotted line. Currently, stocks from the banking, telecom, and oil and gas sectors are trading weak. Stocks from the consumer durables, healthcare, and auto sectors are finding favour.

The BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty are trading in the red, marginally down by around 20 points and 10 points respectively. However, mid and small-cap stocks have managed to buck the trend. The BSE Midcap and BSE Smallcap indices are trading up by 0.4% and 0.9% respectively. The rupee is trading at 46.85 to the dollar.

As per a leading business daily, Indian FMCG major Marico is looking outfor acquisition targets in Asia and Africa. It plans to grow inorganically in the beauty and wellness segments particularly in the emerging markets where it can leverage its experience in India. It is also seeking options in more populated countries like Egypt and South Africa. However, markets like the UK are not on the cards as they are very difficult to operate in. The company along with its competitor Godrej Consumer Products is reported to be already scouting for a skin-care brand 'Simple' in the UK.

It may be noted that Marico witnessed a 16% YoY growth in revenues and 27% YoY growth in net profits during 1HFY10. This was supported by volume growth across categories coupled with decline in raw material costs. The company has been reinvestingits savings through falling raw material prices into brand building. This is showing in terms of further volume growth. We believe that in the domestic market, the company has significant growth prospects over the long run. In the international markets, while the company has been successful in acquiring new companies, the challenge lies in successfully assimilating them.

As per a leading business daily, Indian IT majors like Infosys, HCL Tech, and Wipro have joined the race with global IT giants like IBM and HP-EDS for US$ 500 m worth of outsourcing contracts from Westpac, Australia's second largest bank. The bank has embarked on an IT transformation project with the aim to save around US$ 400 m from operations by 2010. IT outsourcing is expected to be a big chuck of this programme. Apart from this, Westpac is also planning to dole out an IT application development and maintenance contract worth US$ 250 m.

This seems like a significant opportunity for Indian IT companies to strengthen their foothold in the US$ 39 bn Australian IT market. It may be noted that according to Forrester, a global IT research firm, Australian banks are expected to invest around US$ 4 bn in technology this year. Stocks from the sector are trading mixed currently.

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