Markets in India corrected for the second week in a row due to geopolitical tensions as well as an earnings season that started on a mixed note. The Nifty ended the week with a loss of 0.3 percent to settle at 9,119.
Uncertainties about the outcome of the French presidential election kept global markets jittery. U.S. President Donald Trump signing an executive order on the H-1B visa programme also hogged the limelight, as did Australia abolishing its 457 visa programme.
In India, banking stocks were in focus after the Reserve Bank of India announced new guidelines on standard asset provisioning and disclosure of details regarding NPAs.
It has advised banks to consider setting aside higher provisions even for good loans in stressed sectors. The first round of fourth-quarter results from the banking sector showed an impact in the form of increased provisioning.
Results from India Inc were mostly mixed with the banking sector seeing an increase in net non-performing assets. Among the top gainers, HDFC Bank posted results in line with estimates with bad loans remaining stable.
ACC, Hindustan Zinc, Yes Bank posted better-than-expected numbers while IndusInd Bank results were surprisingly below expectations. However, TCS numbers were in line. Top losers included Sun Pharma and Coal India.
On the currency front, the rupee was down 0.3 percent, its second weekly decline. Bonds slumped and 10-year G-Sec yields surged as minutes of the April 5-6 Reserve Bank of India policy meet were released.
The six-member committee expressed concerns about inflationary pressures, with a member even contemplating a pre-emptive rise in repo rates. February’s surprise shift in stance from accommodative to neutral along with the April hike in reverse repo rate is probably signalling an end to the easing cycle that began in early 2015.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its first stage forecast of the southwest monsoon said it is likely to be 96 percent of the long period average (LPA) with an error of 5 percent and that rainfall in the second half will be relatively weak. The IMD noted the possibility of a weak El Nino condition.
The cleverly worded IMD statement leaves a lot unsaid - 96 percent of LPA is borderline since just a percent below would mean a “below normal” monsoon. We will need to keep our fingers crossed.
The French are voting in the first round on Sunday, at a time memories of last year’s Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential election are still fresh. Marine Le Pen has been vocal about leaving the European Union and the outcome will be closely monitored by traders. The new president is expected to be formally confirmed by May 11.
The coming week may see volatility as the derivative contract for April series is set to expire on Thursday. The Nifty is currently moving in the narrow range of 9,050 to 9,250. Global cues along with the next round of corporate earnings are likely to determine the near-term trend. A Nifty zone of 9,000-9,050 is crucial as a break below could have a cascading effect.
Prominent Nifty index companies set to declare March-quarter numbers include Reliance Industries, UltraTech Cement, Indiabulls Housing Finance, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Maruti, Wipro, Ambuja Cement and IDFC.
Confidence at the retail level, a growing list of monthly 50 percent gainers, and enthusiastic stock tippers promising multi-baggers in questionable stocks point to a disaster in the making.
This reminds me of an old proverb - “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Cash in hand is more valuable than booking profits in today’s scenario.
(Ambareesh Baliga has about 25 years of experience in the stock market and has worked with Karvy and Kotak groups in the past. He is a regular market commentator on various business channels. He is a commerce graduate from Calcutta University and a qualified cost accountant.)