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Straight from the Specialists

A shortcut to industrial recovery

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

A worker sprays water over piles of coal at Mundra Port Coal Terminal in the western Indian state of GujaratThe rate of growth in infrastructure industries falling to 2.6 percent in FY2013-14 came as a shock. That’s because these industries had been consistently growing at relatively high rates in the previous three years, in spite of the drop in production in other industries.

Infrastructure industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizer, steel, cement and electricity. Production of natural gas has been shrinking since FY2011-12. Even so, the infrastructure group maintained steady growth between 5 percent and 6 percent. The sharp drop last year was caused by lower growth in the steel and cement industries.

That apparently is an indication that construction activity is on the decline and steel-consuming industries such as capital goods and automobiles had cut production. Construction had been a stimulant for industrial growth because it generates demand for a variety of goods and services.

Construction activity was expanding at about 11 percent until 2011 but slowed drastically to less than 2 percent in the last two years. Demand for housing was affected by inflated EMIs from the rise in interest rates.

India market weekahead – Partial profit-booking may be prudent before election results

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

The so-called “rally of hope” stuttered during the week as Indian markets turned volatile. The Nifty closed at 6695, down 1.30 percent. The fear of the El Nino effect and the IMD forecast of below-normal rainfall seems to have made investors cautious.

With election results two weeks away, investors need to take a stand in the next few days. Although there can be a number of outcomes, only two would be termed positive for the markets – a landslide victory or a comfortable majority to form a stable government. The other scenarios such as a fractured mandate, a third front coalition or a weak UPA or NDA coalition would deflate the sentiment built up till date as the markets have already discounted a favourable outcome.

India’s next foreign policy

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(This piece comes from Project Syndicate. The opinions expressed are the author’s own)

A guest holds the flags of the United States and India and a program in the East Room at the White House in Washington, November 24, 2009.     REUTERS/Jim Young/FilesNext month, India will complete its marathon election. A new government is expected to assume power at the end of May, and, if the polls prove correct, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has named Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, will lead that government.

In defence of the defensives: Why IT, pharma stocks are not pariahs

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

Expectation that the ongoing general election will throw up a stable government has spurred a return to risk in domestic equities. The consequent rally has meant those favoured defensives of the sluggish times – information technology and pharma stocks – received a shearing.

The CNX IT index shed 7.8 percent and CNX Pharma 10.1 percent in March – even as the benchmark Nifty surged 6.8 percent.

Third party premium for motor insurance increased

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

It is compulsory for every vehicle in India to have a third party insurance, which covers risks involving damage or loss to others caused by the vehicle you drive.

Since it is mandatory, the pricing has traditionally been administered by the insurance regulator, IRDA. With the price controlled and risk unlimited, the portfolio is bound to look messy.

The reform club

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

That custodian of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary, describes a bubble as “anything fragile, unsubstantial, empty or worthless; a deceptive show”. Could this description apply to the current frenzy for “reform” that is seemingly sweeping the global economy? The answer is “yes, in part”. While there are some genuine attempts at reform, market expectations for reform will inevitably be disappointed in some parts of the world.

The global financial crisis has prompted politicians to advocate economic reform in two ways. First, the crisis demonstrated that the status quo needed to be changed — and in many cases that change required sizeable structural change. Second, as the structure of the world economy has changed (lower global capital flows, slower global trade, etc.) so economies have had to adapt the way that their economies are structured.

India Market Weekahead: Time to take some profits off the table

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

A rally of hope tempered by caution pushed the Nifty 1.2 percent up to 6,776 for the week. Investors believe the worst is over and a new government would be the catalyst for a sustained economic upturn. In election season, hope for a better tomorrow helps the market ignore ground realities.

A record turnout in the ongoing general election is being seen as an anti-incumbency vote. As the market continues moving up, investor hopes for a stable government get priced in, leaving hardly any room for a disappointment. On the other hand, fence sitters who got left out of the rally will join the fray, adding to the momentum already built by investors.

Steps the next government should take

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

India’s economy is tottering, inflation is too high and growth too low. The Congress-led UPA government allowed the economy to drift during its second term. Why? Because it did not focus on real issues, failed to govern effectively and did not carry out any significant reforms.

New legislation became almost impossible, with coalition partners such as the TMC and DMK threatening to pull out (and they eventually did). On top of that, successive scams made it impossible for the government to function normally.

India Market Weekahead: Ride the election rally with some caution

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

The Nifty touched a high of 6758 during the week, part of a market rally for 10 consecutive sessions – the longest streak in five years.‎ An overdue correction set in towards the end of the week with the Nifty ending flat at 6694.

Advance-decline data suggests that interest is shifting to the small and mid-cap space where advances outpaced declines. Although we are touching new highs, the missing euphoria indicates investor caution  that is good for the health of the market.

The election question

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(This piece comes from Project Syndicate. The opinions expressed are the author’s own)

With street protests roiling democracies from Bangkok to Kyiv, the nature and legitimacy of elections are once again being questioned. Are popular elections an adequate criterion by which to judge a country’s commitment to democracy? Beginning next month, elections in Afghanistan and India will throw this question into even sharper relief.

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