India Insight

Markets this week: ITC, Infosys top Sensex losers

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Ankush Arora

Brokers trade on their computer terminals at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai May 13, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/FilesThe benchmark BSE Sensex fell in three of five sessions this week, as higher crude prices hurt sentiment and the cabinet’s decision to delay a hike in gas prices disappointed investors. Caution also prevailed ahead of the June derivatives’ expiry on Thursday and fears of more violence in Iraq prompted investors to pare positions.

A Reuters poll on Thursday forecast the 30-share Sensex hitting 27,750 points by the end of December, following a brief correction after the budget.

For the week, the BSE Sensex ended 0.02 percent lower. Investors are now awaiting the new government’s first budget on July 10.

While investors remain hopeful of a pre-budget rally, the progress of the ongoing monsoon is key. Monsoon rains, which continue to be below average, are expected to revive early next month.

In its biannual Financial Stability Report on Thursday, the Reserve Bank said prospects of India’s economic recovery look bright following the formation of a stable government.

Markets this week: Mahindra and Mahindra, RIL top Sensex losers

By Ankush Arora and Sankalp Phartiyal

The BSE Sensex and Nifty, India’s main stock indexes, both fell 0.5 percent this week as worries over escalating Iraq tensions, a weak domestic monsoon and profit-taking weighed on sentiment.

On Friday, global oil prices inched towards a nine-month high on increased risks of supply disruption from Iraq. Investors fear spiraling crude prices and a weak monsoon could add to inflation woes and hurt India’s current account deficit.

The monsoon has covered half of India four days behind schedule, failing to recover from a late start that has slowed the sowing of summer crops.

Movie Review: ‘Humshakals’ is best avoided

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

In the opening scene of director Sajid Khan’s “Humshakals” (lookalikes), Ashok Singhania (Saif Ali Khan) rattles off a series of unfunny jokes at a club as unamused guests flee. In a way, the scene is a sign of things to come, portending a long-winded tale with dull, contrived and ineffective humour.

Humshakals With “Humshakals”, Sajid Khan returns with his particular brand of slapstick comedy (remember “Housefull?). The plot is predictably threadbare. Ashok is taking care of his comatose father’s business empire; he’s an amateur comedian, a devoted son and a caring lover. Kumar (Riteish Deshmukh) is his best friend. Then there is Kunwar Amar Singh (Ram Kapoor), Ashok’s scheming maternal uncle who wants to seize his property by proving he is mentally unstable.

Confusion arises when Ashok and Kumar are admitted to the ‘Cray G. Mental Asylum’ (you read that right) and are mistaken for a pair of doppelganger patients with the same names. If that isn’t bizarre enough, there is a third patient called Joe in the same institution who is a lookalike of the scheming uncle.

Vijender Singh enters the Bollywood ring with ‘Fugly’

Vijender Singh, the pin-up boy of Indian boxing, made his Bollywood debut on Friday, starring in a thriller about four youngsters who get into trouble with the police.

Singh, whose middleweight bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics helped raise the sport’s profile in India, is training for next month’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games at a boxing camp in Patiala and was yet to watch “Fugly”, a film produced by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, when we interviewed him.

Singh, a strapping 28-year-old with boyish looks, told India Insight in a phone interview that he was up for new challenges and making a movie was just one of them. Excerpts from the interview:

Highlights – President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to parliament

The new government will pursue an economic reform agenda that foresees introducing the goods and services tax, encouraging foreign investment and speeding approvals for major business projects, President Pranab Mukherjee said in a parliamentary address on Monday.

Mukherjee also said the focus of the Modi government would be to:

- contain food inflation

- improve supply side of agro-based products

- prepare contingency plans for sub-normal monsoons

- increase public and private investments in agriculture

- address issues in farm pricing and procurement

- set up IITs and IIMs in every state

- have zero tolerance against violence against women and will strengthen criminal justice system

- tackle illegal immigration and infiltration in the north east region

- roll out broadband highways in every village in next five years

- vigorously follow up issue of black money with foreign governments

- focus on social media as a tool for participative governance

- provide predictable, fair and stable policy environment

- make every effort to introduce goods and services tax

- encourage investment through foreign direct investment

- promote labour-intensive manufacturing, tourism for job creation

- move towards a single-window system of clearances to promote manufacturing

- fast-track investment friendly public, private partnership

- liberalise foreign direct investments in defence

- encourage private investments in defence production

- implement reforms in defence procurement

- take up modernisation and revamp of railways on priority

- chalk out infrastructure development programmes for high-speed rails, roads and airports

Markets this week: Sensex surges 5 percent on hopes from Modi, ONGC rallies

By Ankush Arora and Aditya Kalra

The BSE Sensex ended at a record closing high on Friday, rising 5 percent during the week, as Indian shares rallied on hopes of faster economic recovery after Narendra Modi became India’s prime minister last month.

Markets have high hopes that the new Modi-led government would push for policy reforms and end bottlenecks that have stymied growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

On Friday, the Sensex hit a new life high of 25,419.14 while the broader Nifty index touched its all-time record high of 7,592.70. Both indexes are now up about 20 percent this year.

Brokerages bullish on Sensex, revise targets after Modi win

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Aditya Kalra

Indian stock markets rallied to record highs in May with the benchmark BSE Sensex breaching the 25,000 mark for the first time after Narendra Modi won a clear mandate to govern Asia’s third-largest economy.

Markets surged as Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies stormed to power on promises to revive India’s struggling economy, which is growing below 5 percent, and create more jobs for its 1.25 billion people.

The Sensex touched a record high of 25,375.63 on May 16, the day election results were announced, while the broader Nifty hit a life high of 7,563.50 the same day. The Sensex is up 18.1 percent so far this year.

Telemedicine in India might be just what the doctor ordered

Between surgeries and hospital rounds one recent day, Dr. Rajiv Parakh made a dash into his Gurgaon office for an appointment he couldn’t miss: a consultation with a patient who lives hundreds of kilometres away.

Seated before his laptop in this city on the outskirts of India’s capital, the surgeon listened as a patient in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka described his swollen legs. For the next 20 minutes, Parakh examined the patient via Web camera, made a diagnosis and prescribed treatment.

The bespectacled Parakh, a practising doctor for nearly 30 years, spoke in Hindi during the session, enunciating his words for clarity.

Aam Aadmi’s party isn’t over yet, Bhagwant Mann says

The one-and-a-half-year-old Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) poor performance in this year’s parliamentary elections in India was a big letdown for the anti-corruption party’s members and its leader Arvind Kejriwal. One of the party’s newly elected parliamentarians, Punjabi actor-comedian Bhagwant Mann, is doing his best to keep spirits high. Following are excerpts from two phone conversations with India Insight about the future of the AAP.

 (This interview was conducted in Hindi and translated into English)

Q. Why didn’t the “Modi wave” work in Punjab?

A. There was nothing like a Modi wave in Punjab. Punjab is already affected a lot by drugs and unemployment. So Punjab’s problems are not about [BJP slogan] “Ache din aane waley hain” (“Good days are coming”) or “Har Har Modi” (Hindu religious chant, modified for Modi). Punjab wanted a third alternative, it wanted to get out of the two-party mill – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress.

Q. What is your reaction to the party’s performance in Punjab and the rest of the country?

India equity funds ride Modi rally in May, post best month in five years

India’s diversified equity funds outperformed the broader markets in May and recorded their best monthly performance in five years, as stocks rallied on hopes of an economic revival after the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a decisive election mandate.

Equity funds clocked an average return of 11.57 percent in the month, the highest since May 2009 when funds rose 30.2 percent, data from fund tracker Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company, showed. In comparison, the BSE Sensex rose 8 percent.

Though blue-chip stocks gained, high exposure to better performers in the mid- and small-cap segment, and sectors such as financials and infrastructure, helped schemes outperform the broader markets, experts said.

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