India Insight

Metal stocks top underperformers in 2013; outlook mixed

Shares of Indian metal companies are going through a rough patch in 2013 as a slowing economy at home coupled with rising input costs and weakness in Europe hurts demand.

Indian shares have had a mixed year so far, but the BSE metals index, which is a barometer of metal companies’ performance in India, has been the worst performer among sectors, data shows.

The 13-share metals index is down more than 33 percent this year, widely underperforming the benchmark BSE Sensex that has lost nearly 3 percent.

“Recovery is quite uncertain. China has slowed down. Once the demand slows down the pick-up in demand will take a lot of time,” said Sanjay Jain, senior vice-president at Motilal Oswal Securities.

Signs of slowing growth in China, which is the world’s top consumer of metals such as copper and steel, have dampened prospects, while weakness across Europe continues to weigh on the sector.

Tracking Sensex: Top losers, gainers of the week

Indian shares ended in the green in three of five trading sessions but jittery market reaction to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement of a gradual end to its $85 billion bond-buying stimulus took the BSE Sensex down 2.1 percent for the week. The broader 50-share Nifty lost 2.4 percent.

The U.S. central bank’s monetary programme has been a source of easy money for emerging markets such as India that used FII inflows to finance its current account deficit. The possibility of a liquidity drought and a consequent selloff by foreign investors spooked the markets with the rupee plummeting to a record low of 59.98 against the dollar on Thursday.

China factory activity, which shrunk to a nine-month low, also alarmed Asian markets this week.

Kejriwal’s party gears up for Delhi polls with election reforms

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

The Aam Aadmi Party (common man’s party), led by bureaucrat-turned-activist Arvind Kejriwal, is gearing up for state-level polls in Delhi this year with an array of candidates chosen for their honesty.

Kejriwal’s election plank is to cleanse India of corrupt politicians and bring more transparency to government. With graft scandals embarrassing the ruling Congress and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Aam Aadmi Party is taking a more grassroots approach to the problem: weed out the bad ones before they become candidates.

Anyone can hope to be a election candidate for the party if they are endorsed by 100 potential voters from the constituency they hope to represent. Political analysts say that’s not too difficult but makes the process more transparent.

Death toll in Uttarakhand monsoon floods crosses 150

Thousands stranded in parts of northern India awaited rescuers on Wednesday as floods caused by heavier-than-usual monsoon rains killed at least 150 people in worst-hit Uttarakhand.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a 10-billion-rupee aid package for the state after he and Congress president Sonia Gandhi did an aerial survey of the flood-hit region.

“The government will not spare any effort in rescue and relief operations,” Singh said on his official Twitter account, adding the large-scale devastation they witnessed was “most distressing”.

Tracking Sensex: Top losers, gainers of the week

By Ankush Arora and Aditya Kalra

Gains of 1.9 percent on Friday helped the Sensex recover some of its losses but the benchmark still ended down 1.3 percent for the week. The index ended in the red for three of five trading sessions this week.

Indian markets largely ignored Fitch’s rating outlook upgrade and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s pledge to do more for the economy. Ahead of Monday’s Reserve Bank of India policy review, data showed May inflation stood at 4.7 percent. However, recent weakness in the rupee and a high current account deficit are some of the factors that dampen hopes of a rate cut.

Here are the top five Sensex losers of the week:

JINDAL STEEL AND POWER (JSPL): Shares in JSPL, which ended with losses of 13.21 percent this week, were battered after the Central Bureau of Investigation registered a case against the company over coal mining rights. Shares of the company, controlled by Congress MP Naveen Jindal, have had a rough year so far, losing more than 45 percent.

Markets struggle: At least 100 stocks hit 52-week low on NSE

Indian markets struggled in trade on Thursday with the Sensex falling more than 200 points while the Nifty sank over 50 points. Weak Asian markets also weighed as the Nikkei slumped more than 800 points on worries the U.S. Fed would trim its stimulus programme in the coming months.

The rupee also remained weak, trading below 58 versus the dollar, as Finance Minister P. Chidambaram did not announce any concrete steps to arrest its fall.

At least 100 stocks had touched their 52-week low on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) during trade, data showed. Here’s a look at some stocks that hit a one-year low during Thursday’s trade:

Fitch revises India outlook; recent views of other rating agencies

Fitch Ratings revised India’s sovereign rating outlook to “stable” from “negative” on the back of measures taken by the government to contain the budget deficit, it said in a statement on Wednesday. The rating agency had cut India’s outlook to negative in June 2012 and currently has a BBB- rating for the country.

“Fitch expects the government to broadly meet its FY14 budget deficit target of 4.8 percent of GDP (including privatisation receipts) and to gradually reduce the high level of public debt over the medium-term,” the rating agency said.

An acceleration in economic reforms that leads to a material improvement in potential growth rate consistent with stable consumer price inflation and external balance could be one of the factors that could trigger a positive rating action, it added.

The biggest losers in India’s economic slowdown

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

The reaction to news that India’s economy grew at its slowest rate in over a decade was predictable. There was frustration over squandered potential, pleas for a rate cut, unshaken optimism and even an opportunity to indulge in clever wordplay. Yet as everyone from economists to businessmen had their say, the demographic affected most by this slowdown was silent – India’s poor.

One of the big successes of India’s economic growth has been its positive impact on poverty reduction. The percentage of the country’s population living below the poverty line declined from 37.2 percent in 2005 to 29.8 percent in 2010 (the last year when exact numbers were available). That translates to 52 million Indians who have been lifted above the poverty line. Encouraging as those gains are, the country still counts over 320 million poor among its citizens.

Real estate bill gets cabinet nod: what are the experts saying

The cabinet on Tuesday approved the much awaited Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill that proposes to make India’s largely unregulated and once booming real estate sector more transparent.

Ajay Maken, minister of housing & urban poverty alleviation, in a government statement said the bill provides for a uniform regulatory environment to protect consumer interests and ensure orderly growth of the real estate sector.

He expressed hope that the proposed legislation would significantly reduce frauds and delays. (Read the complete statement with highlights of the bill here)

L&T Infra Finance CEO upbeat on India’s economic recovery by 2015

India’s economy recorded its slowest growth in a decade in the fiscal year ending in March but the CEO of L&T Infrastructure Finance, that provides loans to companies such as Jaypee Group to develop roads and other infrastructure, is hopeful of an economic turnaround in less than two years that will boost business prospects.

The company, part of India’s largest engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro, will likely end up dealing with a slowdown in business growth in the current financial year, but might bounce right back next year if the winner of India’s federal elections due in 2014 starts spending on infrastructure projects.

Reuters spoke to Chief Executive Officer Suneet Maheshwari about his outlook for the industry and the Indian economy. Here are excerpts from the interview:

  •