Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

India Market Weekahead – Time to start buying

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

May is typically a bear month for the stock markets as players often look to take advantage of the adage, ‘sell in May and go away’. Before going on vacation, I was expecting the markets to correct to levels of 5000/5050 but was pleasantly surprised to see the crack leading to around 4800 levels. All the negative factors compounded over the past few weeks gave momentum to the ‘sell’ sentiment which remained jittery over the fate of Greece after an inconclusive election.

Weighing on sentiment is a growing sense among investors that the euro zone debt crisis is aggravating, further fuelled by fears of a Greek euro exit and the deteriorating health of the Spanish banking system. There will be fears surrounding any contagion effect if Greece did exit the European Union. Investors continued to reduce positions in riskier assets, leading to a fall in oil prices and a drop to a 4-month low for spot gold, while lifting the dollar which tends to be seen as a safe haven in times of heightened uncertainty.

Facebook Inc priced its initial public offering at $38 per share, giving the world’s No. 1 online social network a $104 billion valuation in the third largest offering in U.S. history. However, it disappointed investors with a tepid market debut on Friday. Shares rose a scant 0.6 percent — nowhere near expectations for double-digit gains on the first trading day.

Dark clouds hover as Indian parliament turns 60

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Despite the mounting criticism and steady loss of faith in democratic institutions and the many questions being raised by Indians about the personal integrity of those in public life, it was a proud moment for India when its parliament convened a special session on Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the first sitting of the Indian parliament on May 13, 1952. The luminaries at the time included Rajendra Prasad, S. Radhakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and B.R. Ambedkar amongst others.

Slow death for push marketing of insurance?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Just five of the 23 life insurance companies in India (I have excluded Edelweiss Tokio as they are new entrants) could increase their premium collection in 2011-2012 over the previous year. In fact, none of the top 10 premium collectors of 2010-2011 could increase their sales in 2011-2012. Why so?

How stable is South Asia 14 years after Pokhran II?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

On May 11, 1998, India carried out a nuclear test and became a de facto nuclear weapon power. A few weeks later, Pakistan followed suit and demonstrated its own nuclear weapon capability. The covert nuclear weapon status of the South Asian region had become unambiguous. India had crossed the nuclear Rubicon after it had first signalled its technological ability to do so in May 1974 — with what was described as a Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE).

Myanmar: The milestones ahead

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The latest craze amongst destinations for the diplomatic community globally seems to be Myanmar. The deluge started with Hillary Clinton flying down in November 2011. However, is all the enthusiasm, easing of sanctions and ambassadors being deputed going to enhance the avowed objective of the democratisation of Myanmar? Is there a possibility of reforms slowing down with too much being offered too early?

GAAR: Irrational tax laws or misplaced arrogance?

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(Rajan Ghotgalkar is Managing Director of Principal Pnb Asset Management Company. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of either Principal Pnb or Reuters)

The congratulatory press clippings proclaiming the ‘rollback’ of measures in Finance Bill 2012 have suddenly cleared the air and even the stock market cheered on Monday.

Hillary Clinton’s farewell visit to Delhi: from prickly estrangement to empathetic divergence

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will rank as the most accomplished, poised and successful woman politician in American history. She has pierced many glass ceilings with tenacity and grace. She almost made it to the White House and future sociologists and historians will be able to more objectively assess the misogyny index that still lurks deep within American society and its relevance in the Obama-Clinton Democratic party tussle. The U.S. demonstrated in late 2008 that it had evolved to a point where it could accept a coloured President but not a woman.

Osama bin Laden’s ideology thriving a year after his death

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

One year after the elimination of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in the daring Abbottabad operation of May 2, 2011, it is evident that while the terror group has been considerably weakened, it has been consolidating over the last few months and the ideology that bin Laden espoused is thriving in the Af-Pak region.

Is the economy drifting towards a crisis?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Standard & Poor’s India outlook downgrade was expected. What is disturbing — the government managed to do that in less than two years. It was in March 2010 that India was upgraded to ‘stable’ — and now it’s down to ‘negative’. It was not because the government took a wrong step but because it did not take any step at all. And if this continues, the economy will be confronted with a crisis.

India Market Weekahead – Time to “sell in May and go away”?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Markets were jolted this week by news that Standard & Poor’s cut India’s long-term rating outlook to negative from stable, citing slowing growth and a ballooning current account deficit. The negative outlook signals at least a one-in-three likelihood of the downgrade of India’s sovereign rating within the next 24 months.

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