The Sensex today is up by around 9 points (0.03%), while the NSE-Nifty is up by about 6 points (0.07%). The mid cap and small cap stocks have opened in the green with BSE Mid Cap index and BSE Small Cap index up by 0.4% and 0.3% respectively. The rupee is currently trading at Rs 63.72 to the US dollar.
Auto stocks have opened mixed with Tube Investments Ltd and Force Motors Ltd leading the gains. However, Bajaj Auto Ltd and Hero Motocorp Ltd were facing selling pressure. As per a leading financial daily, the Government is likely to roll back the sops offered to the automobile industry in the Interim Budget early this year.As such, it is likely that the excise duty relief to small cars, large and mid-segment cars and SUVs will be withdrawn and restored to pre-Interim Budget level. It is noteworthy that in the interim Budget, the UPA Government had reduced the excise duty on small cars to 8%, SUVs to 24% and large and mid-segment cars to 24% and 20% respectively till June 30. While the sector has improved as per the November figures, as per the senior officials, the exchequer is losing over Rs 7 bn per month on account of the excise relief to the auto sector. Hence, the ministry is planning not to extend the benefit.
In a key economic development, the Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to amend the contentious land acquisition act and ease restrictions including a "consent clause" which was seen as roadblock for power, highways, and housing, defence and infrastructure projects. Bringing some relief to the industry, the consent clause and social impact assessment is waived if land is acquired for these key projects. Earlier, the Act mandated 70% approval of land owners for PPP (Public private partnership) and 80% for private projects. The government has tried not being 'anti-farmer' by keeping intact the increased compensation provided for under the Act, and also extending them to the acquisitions under certain exempted laws.