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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why is the stock market so excited about an unexciting budget?

These are the irreverent views of a non-economist. Take them with a pinch of salt.

It isn’t bad, so it must be good

There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the budget this year. Rising inflation was not contained even after several interest rate hikes by the RBI. Higher interest rates were beginning to slow down Indian Inc’s growth momentum. Some tough tax measures were expected from the Finance Minister (FM). None came. The markets heaved a collective sigh of relief.

Shorts got trapped

The four months long correction in the stock markets had turned sentiments negative. All attempts at pullback rallies were getting sold into. The FIIs were selling heavily and redeploying in their home markets. Several experienced players were shorting the market. The unexpected surge in the indices on Budget Day was mainly due to short covering.

Auto sector gets an indirect boost 

A 2% excise duty cut was offered to auto makers a couple of years back as part of the economic stimulus. A roll back was discounted by the market. The FM left the excise duty unchanged. Feb ‘11 auto sales numbers have shown decent growth. Auto stocks soared on this twin good news.

Smart move from ITC

An increase in excise duty for cigarettes and other tobacco-related products was widely expected. In anticipation, ITC had increased the prices of some of its most popular brands prior to the budget. No such increase was announced by the FM. Don’t expect your pack of smokes to get cheaper. ITC’s bottom line will be a direct beneficiary.

Not so great for Mukesh Ambani

By transferring his shareholding in Reliance to a clutch of Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) companies, Mukesh Ambani ‘legally’ avoided paying income and other taxes (such as dividend distribution tax). LLPs have been brought under the purview of 18.5% MAT. Bad luck for big brother – he has to now pay taxes like a mere mortal! If only he had known earlier, he may not have built the ostentatious eyesore he calls home.

Reduced surcharge on corporate taxes

This would reduce cash outflows, and is a definite positive. Hopefully, the extra cash will get channeled into expansion activities and help to increase GDP growth. Investors may get rewarded with higher dividends.

Tax benefits for senior citizens

By reducing the qualifying age for a senior citizen from 65 to 60, several lakh tax payers will be able to avail higher tax exemptions. Some of the extra tax savings are likely to find their way into MFs and equity.

Does all this justify a 600 point rise in the Sensex today? Is the correction over? Should investors start buying again? Answers to these questions will become clearer over the next few days – now that the uncertainty about budget proposals are behind us.

Don’t let relief cloud reality. There has been little change in the global or local situations. Uprisings continue in the Middle East. Higher oil prices will further stoke the fire of inflation. Get set for another interest rate hike. FIIs were net sellers on Budget Day. The Sensex and Nifty are near strong resistance zones.

Stick to your asset allocation, and don’t get swayed by short-term index moves.


alphabet1 said...

why cant we hv more posts like this from you. Cryptic to the point , like bullet points. This was probably the best post on the web on the budget reaction by/on the market.

Please keep yr other posts short, rather very short and let the charts speak.

Subhankar said...

Appreciate the feedback.

I get new visitors every day. Many don't know how to interpret chart patterns. The detailed explanations help investors to get interested in learning more about technical analysis.