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Indian markets up on good Asian cues
Tue, 21 Dec 09:30 am

Led by easing of tensions in Korea, the Asian stock markets have opened today on a strong note. Today's gains are being led by Hong Kong (up 1.3%), Japan (0.7%), and China (0.5%). As for the Indian markets, these have also opened in the positive. Metal and banking stocks are leading the gains currently. IT stocks are however trading with some losses.

The BSE-Sensex is trading higher by around 110 points (0.6%), while the NSE-Nifty is up about 20 points (0.4%). Mid and small cap stocks are also trading strong, with the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices up by 0.7% apiece. The rupee is trading at 45.35 to the US dollar.

The perils of depending on an international partner for all technology requirements has been clearly seen in the case of Hero Honda. The company's future has suddenly come under cloud owing to talks of a full and final separation from its Japanese partner Honda Motors, which has been the source of all technology for the Indian 2-wheeler major. However, the good part is that other Indian auto companies are taking a leaf out of this incident. The largest 4-wheeler manufacturer Maruti Suzuki for instance is now working aggressively to develop its in-house technology. After all, the company still sources a large part of its technical expertise from Suzuki. In fact, the company seems to be burning its midnight oil to launch a completely 'Made in India' car by the year 2012. As per reports, Maruti is looking to finalise the designs of this car over the next six months. The company has been focusing on its internal R&D (research and development) for quite some time now. In fact, it is already in process of spending roughly Rs 15 bn over the next 3-4 years for developing its own R&D. It seems like the right way to go for the company that brought the automobile revolution to India almost 27 years back. Anyways, the stock is trading with gains currently. Among other auto stocks, while Bajaj Auto and M&M are up, weakness is being seen in Hero Honda.

Telecom stocks have opened the day on a mixed note. While gains are seen in Idea Cellular and MTNL, selling pressure has marked trading in Reliance Comm. The trouble brewing in the Indian telecom sector is now seen spreading to the banking space as well. As per a leading business daily, if the government cancels the licenses of some smaller telecom companies if they are found guilty in the 2G spectrum scam, it might lead them to default on their bank loan repayment obligations. This will also make the banks even more cautious on lending to the sector that needs a huge does of money to fund expansion over the next few years. As per reports, some PSU banks have advanced loans of around Rs 140 bn to five of the companies that were allocated 2G licenses in 2008. These loans were in the form of short-term, working capital loans and bank guarantees. Anyways, we do not see the chances of cancellation of licenses of these companies as a good possibility. This is given that if that were to happen, it would affect customers in case these companies have already launched their services. In short, while the number of cockroaches spilling out of the 2G scam cupboard are increasing by the day, it's getting difficult to eliminate them as the stakes are high for everyone – fraudulent companies, scam tainted politicians, and poor customers.

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