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Indian markets join weak Asia
January, 21st 2010

The Indian markets have started today's session on a weak note. The benchmark indices opened below the breakeven mark and have not managed to break in to the positive since then. Other key Asian markets are trading in the negative with Hong Kong (down 1%) leading the pack of losers. The US markets closed 1% lower yesterday.

Currently in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading in the red with banking and metal stocks facing the brunt of selling activity. However, select auto stocks are in the green. The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by around 50 points, while the NSE-Nifty is down by about 15 points. Selling is also being witnessed among mid and small-cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices are trading lower by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. The rupee is trading at 46.01 to the US dollar.

Pharma stocks have opened the day on a weak note. Losers here include Dr. Reddy's and Cadila Healthcare. As per a leading business daily, Lupin has received clearance from the US Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) for its plant at Mandideep, Madhya Pradesh. This will allow the company to start selling new products made at the plant in the US. The FDA has also approved Lupin's manufacturing facilities at Aurangabad and Indore following a recent inspection by officials of the drug regulator. The Mandideep plant has also got approval from both the UK and Australian drug regulators. In our view this is a positive development for Lupin given its plans to seek drug approval for about 30 to 35 new drugs in the US.

Auto stocks have opened the day on a strong note. Gainers here include M&M and Maruti Suzuki. As per a leading business daily, Indian automakers are expected to increase their expenditure on research and development (R&D) and new product launches by 25% to 30%. The move is expected on the back of fierce competition from global auto giants. They are keen on India, which is among the most promising auto markets. In fact, they have designed compact cars specifically for the Indian market. Toyota's Etios, Volkswagen's Polo, General Motors' Beat and Ford's Figo are prominent examples. It may be noted that the international giants have much higher R&D expenses as a percentage of sales than their Indian counterparts. As a result, barring Tata Motors' Nano, few Indian models have managed to grab headlines. However, Maruti Suzuki will soon launch its first fully India configured small car.

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