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Asian markets take a breather
Mon, 19 Dec 09:30 am

Most major Asian stock markets have opened the day with substantial losses. Losses are led by the stock markets in South Korea (down 4.2%) on the fears of political turmoil following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-II. Other stock markets leading the pack of losers are China (down 2.6%) and Hong Kong (down 2.5%). Following the cue,s the Indian stock market have also opened the day on a subdued note. Stocks in the realty, capital goods and banking space are the biggest losers.

The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by 216 points (1.4%), while the NSE-Nifty is down by around 71 points (1.5%). Mid cap and small cap stocks are trading in the red as well, with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices down by 1.2% and 1% respectively. The rupee is trading at 53.07 to the US dollar.

Mining stocks have opened the day on a weak note with Minerals & Mining Trading Corporation Ltd (MMTC Ltd), Sesa Goa Ltd and Manganese Ore India Limited (MOIL Ltd) trading in the red. MOIL Ltd, formerly known as Manganese Ore India Ltd, is mulling over building a kitty of Rs 5 bn for prospective acquisition of mining assets in Turkey and Indonesia. The mining company has floated expressions of interest for some smaller deposits in Turkey and Indonesia but is yet to finalise further plans. The company is also considering opportunities in South Africa, Gabon and Congo. Apart from oversea acquisitions, MOIL is also looking at expanding its domestic mining operations. From the current level of 1.1 m tonne, it aims to double its production to 2.2 m tonnes by 2020. These steps are in sync with the ongoing expansions of domestic steel companies.

Indian Pharma stocks have opened the day in the weak note with Aurobindo Pharma, Orchid Chemicals and IPCA Labs leading the losses. India's pharma leader, Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL) announced an offer for its Mexican employees for a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) as part of its cost-cutting measures. This move has come after the company completed its VRS for India and Germany. The managementof the company said that the VRS is aimed at trimming the overstaffing problem that DRL is facing. The company did not share the exact number of over-staffing. However, it said that the trimming keeps happening whenever they feel that there is ample overstaffing. The Mexican subsidiary, Industrias Quimicas Falcon de Mexico SA de CV, has announced an early retirement plan for its employees effective till 31 December, 2011. The company has received applications from a lot of employees.

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