India Markets Weekahead: Be greedy when street is fearful

November 15, 2015

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

A man looks at a screen across a road displaying the Sensex on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai, India, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

Markets posted their third straight weekly loss with the Nifty ending down nearly 2 percent at 7,762 on Friday.

Sentiment was affected by disappointing macro data and second-quarter earnings coupled with an enhanced probability of a U.S Fed rate hike next month. There were also concerns about internal strife in the ruling BJP after the Bihar election debacle.

Selling was prominent across global indices on risk aversion as sell-off in commodities increased. FIIs remained sellers in India with 21.65 billion rupees worth of outflows during the week, while DIIs were net buyers to the tune of 8.30 billion rupees. The rupee too continued to be weak, closing at 66.10 against the dollar.

After the drubbing in Bihar, the government has eased FDI norms in 15 sectors including defence, banking, construction, single brand retail, broadcasting and civil aviation. This was done to try and show investors that the country’s economic development process is not hampered by domestic political developments.

The government has also put more FDI proposals through the automatic route, signifying that it is trying to live up to the promise of minimum government and maximum governance. This is in line with my expectation of stepping up of the reforms and development agenda, which would not need a legislative nod. Expect more such announcements and implementation going ahead. However I am skeptical about the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) unless the government turns more accommodative.

On the macro data front, CPI accelerated to a four-month high of 5 percent in October 2015 compared with 4.4 percent in the previous month. The increase in prices of pulses was the key driver of food price inflation and is a major cause of worry for the government as it greatly affects the common man.

Growth in industrial production moderated to 3.6 percent in September 2015 from a revised growth of 6.3 percent in August 2015 due to muted manufacturing and the consumer non-durables sector. Though there is increased on-the-ground activity in the roads and power ancillary sectors, the effect on the economy may be felt only in the coming months.

In stock-specific action, pharma companies witnessed further selling with Cipla dropping 6 percent and Lupin falling 4 percent. Sun Pharma plunged 7.7 percent after its consolidated net profit fell 46 percent. Dr. Reddys’ continued its decline to lose over 6 percent during the week after a warning over quality controls from U.S. regulators. The U.S. FDA continues to hang like a Damocles sword over Indian pharma firms. However, such incidents provide investors an opportunity to buy into these stocks at a huge discount.

Airline stocks were in focus with the listing of InterGlobe Aviation (Indigo), which gained 30+ percent to close above 1,000 rupees on an expected fall in ATF prices and because of the airline’s proven ability to manage other operating costs.

The sugar sector is an odd one which has also been in action in the past few weeks. The beleaguered sector is witnessing a rise in demand and international prices have started moving northwards after a disastrous eight-year down cycle. Picking a stock here would be to find the best among the worst.

For the coming week, the dastardly attacks in Paris could result in global markets opening lower due to increased security threats and polarisation. Other than this, there are no major triggers so the focus will shift to the U.S for signs of an interest rate hike.

The corporate result season has been disappointing and management commentary has been discouraging in most of the sectors. The second half of the year will continue to remain subdued, considering that the ground reality for corporates in terms of business has not changed much apart from softer commodity prices. Hopefully, the roads and power sector should trigger an uptick in the last quarter of the financial year. I believe we have entered a stage of implementation but disappointments over the last 18 months have turned a number of believers into skeptics.

The key macro economic data expected during the week in India is the WPI data for the month of October, which is due on Monday. In the U.S., the FOMC will release on Wednesday minutes of its last policy meeting held on October 28. The U.S macro data will be closely watched for cues regarding a Fed rate hike, which is widely expected next month. Investors across the globe are worried that liquidity will be drained once the rate hike cycle begins.

Coming back to markets, the Nifty stayed in the important support zone of 7,750-7,800 but could go below this level on Monday due to the Paris attacks. The fall could, however, be a temporary aberration and we may see a bounce-back later. Any intermediate weakness is an opportunity to buy. It’s time to apply the oft-repeated market quote: “Be greedy when others are fearful”.

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