Shares of rate-sensitive stocks were trading mixed after the bi-monthly credit policy meeting of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which left the repo rate unchanged at 6%. Repo rate is the rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Market players were of the view that the stance of the central bank was far softer than expected and this calmed the bond markets. However, banking stocks took a knock as the commentary clearly highlighted the inflationary risk and underlined a higher interest rate regime. Banks have already been at the receiving end on marked-to-market losses and the RBI governor’s saying that yields will stay firm seems to have triggered some unwinding. The BSE Bankex fell by 0.43% on Wednesday to end the session at 29,072.19. Six out of the ten stocks in the BSE Bankex ended the session in the red. Punjab National Bank fell the most by 2.18%, followed by Yes Bank (1.58%) and HDFC Bank (1.37%). Shares of Axis Bank, IndusInd Bank and Bank of Baroda fell by 0.96%, 0.52%, and 0.42% respectively. The benchmark Sensex, which over the past six sessions had lost 5.4%, declined a lesser 0.33% to end the session at 34,082.71.
The BSE Realty Index, on the other hand, rose by 1.54% and ended the session at 2,400.99. Unitech rose by 4.24%, Godrej Properties by 3.94%. Phoenix, India Bulls Real Estate, and Oberoi Realty rose by more than 2%. Sobha and HDIL rose by 1.80% and 1.68% respectively. DLF rose marginally by 0.13% and ended the session at Rs 225.20. Auto stocks also rose marginally. The BSE Auto Index rose by 0.15% to end the session at 24,992.01. Ashok Leyland rose by 4.77%, Cummins India and Eicher Motors rose by more than 1%. Tata Motors, which reported quarterly results below market expectations, too gained 0.81%. Hero MotoCorp, which reported a revenue growth of 15% in Q3, on Tuesday, rose by 0.61%. Realty and auto stocks gained on relief that interest rates had not been hiked. An increase in rates on home and auto loans would have dented sales.
In a note to investors, Nomura said RBI’s maintenance of the status quo and its neutral policy stance are largely in line with expectations. The brokerage noted: though statements suggest that RBI is growing more confident on the growth recovery, its inflationary concerns are also rising. “We expect the RBI to leave rates on hold through 2018 because of an ample real rate cushion. Having said that, government policies on food (trade policy changes and the new MSP formula) signal upside risks to food inflation, in our opinion, though we also need more clarity on MSPs to assess the impact on both inflation and monetary policy. In Q2, when both growth and inflation are likely to be higher, we expect slightly more hawkish rhetoric from the RBI, possibly via a change in policy stance,” the note added.
Commenting on the monetary policy Motilal Oswal, chairman & MD, Motilal Oswal Financial Services said RBI has twin challenges to tackle, transmission of lower interest rates in the economy through banking system, so that growth can be incubated at this juncture, and to protect the economy from global interest rates tightening started by the US. “Markets were expecting no change in the policy stance and this will be considered a non-event.