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A volatile day of trading
Mon, 20 Dec Closing

Indian indices had a rather volatile day of trading today. The morning session saw the indices languishing in the red. However, buying activity intensified post noon to push the indices above the dotted line. Although there was some paring of gains in the final hour, the indices managed to close barely into the positive. While the BSE Sensex closed higher by around 24 points, the NSE Nifty lost around 2 points. The BSE Midcap closed lower by 0.1%, while the BSE Smallcap closed higher by 0.4%. Gains were largely seen in IT and auto stocks.

As regards global markets, Asian indices closed in the red today while European indices have opened in the green. The rupee was trading at Rs 45.44 to the dollar at the time of writing.

As per a leading business daily, Tata Chemicals' UK subsidiary Brunner Mond (a manufacturer of soda ash and associated alkaline products) will be acquiring British Salt for £93 m (approx. Rs 6.5 bn). Tata Chemicals will not be funding this acquisition as Brunner Mond will be financing it entirely through debt. British Salt is the manufacturer of pure dried vacuum salt and owns brine wells in the UK which have a residual life of 50 years. The company is also active in the gas storage business. The rationale for Brunner Mond acquiring this company is that it will have long-term supply of brine for its operations. It must be noted that Tata Chemicals had acquired Brunner Mond (Europe's second largest producer of soda ash), for Rs 5.1 bn or US$ 113 m (63.5% stake) in December 2005 with the aim of leveraging on the latter's technological prowess in the ammonium soda process. The stock closed higher today.

Pharma stocks closed mixed today. While Cipla and Cadila Healthcare closed form, Dr.Reddy's and Glenmark led the pack of losers. As per a leading business daily, pharma major Glenmark has received final approval from the US FDA to manufacture and market the generic version of AstraZeneca's drug ‘Plendil.' This drug is indicated for the treatment of hypertension. Glenmark will be launching this drug in the strengths of 2.5, 5 and 10 mg. This drug generated revenues to the tune of US$ 97 m for the 12 month period ended September 2010 as per IMS Health. This is a positive for the company and will enhance its revenues from the highly competitive US generics market. US currently accounts for around 35% of Glenmark's overall revenues.

Mr. Rangarajan, who is the Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, expects inflation to come down to 6.5% by the end of December. He opines that it would also touch 5.5-6% by the end of March. It must be noted that inflation has in recent many months been a chief concern for the government and the RBI what with food prices escalating. Rangarajan also expects the economy to grow at around 9% led by the manufacturing and the services sector. India has grown at a strong pace in the last few years and although growth slowed down at the height of the financial crisis, it was still stronger than the growth witnessed by its peers in the West.

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