Indian equity markets had a relatively lacklustre day of trade as trading remained rangebound albeit above the dotted line. While the opening was in the positive, the indices managed to hold on to gains during the morning session before a bout of selling activity pushed them into the red. However, this was short lived as they were pulled back into the positive as buying activity intensified. The indices closed firm in the final trading hour. While the Sensex today closed higher by around 37 points, the NSE-Nifty today closed higher by around 17 points. The BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap also did well to notch gains of 1% each. Gains were largely seen in metals and healthcare stocks.
As regards global markets, barring China, Asian indices closed in the green today while European indices have opened mixed. The rupee was trading at Rs 56.03 to the dollar at the time of writing.
Auto stocks closed mixed today. While Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM) and TVS Motors found favour, Maruti Suzuki and Bajaj Auto closed in the red. As per a leading business daily, Bajaj Auto intends to ramp up production of its Pulsar and Discover bikes over the next quarter. Despatches of the new Pulsar 200NS and Discover 125 ST have just begun and the company expects the momentum to accelerate in the coming months. It must be noted that for FY13, Bajaj Auto has targeted overall production of 5 m units from its three facilities. The Pulsar and Discover range will account for a larger chunk of these numbers. During FY12, the company sold a total of 3.8 m motorcycles. Domestic motorcycles volumes stood at over 2.5 m units. The management expects the domestic market to grow at a pace of 6-7% on an overall basis this year. This 6% to 7% growth in volumes in the domestic market would translate to a total of 2.72 m to 2.75 m units. Therefore, to meet its target the company would have to go all out in selling motorcycles in the export markets this year, which could be a tall order.
Energy stocks closed firm today and the key gainers here were Castrol, Essar Oil and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). India and China have been in news together for row over oil exploration rights in South China Sea. However, thanks to high and volatile crude prices, the dispute is giving way to diplomacy. The two have now decided to join hands in their quest for oil and gas assets. The leading energy sector players in the two countries are planning to jointly bid for and explore oil and gas assets abroad. Essentially, ONGC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China's China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to explore business opportunities together.
However, too much of optimism on such development may be misplaced. This is not the first time that the two countries have decided to cooperate. Going by the past, a conflict of political and economic interests have over shadowed the steps taken to ensure energy security. That said, the decision makes sense as it will avoid aggressive bids and raising the value of energy assets abroad. Also, China is better off technologically in oil exploration. This can help India to make further inroads in deep water exploration and widen its geographical footprint.