Indian markets made a positive start and strengthened to trade with gain of over half a percent in the very first hour of the day. Though the regional peers were showing some cautiousness on increased geopolitical risk after reports surfaced that North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. However, on the domestic front, traders were getting encouragement with the GST council moving a step closer towards implementing the goods and services tax (GST) from 1 July, approving two crucial supporting legislations of central GST law (CGST) and the integrated GST (IGST) law for this ambitious tax reform. It will again meet on 16 March to clear the state GST law (SGST) and the union territory GST law (UTGST). Traders will also be getting some support with the news that foreign investments in the services sector increased 77.6 percent to $ 7.55 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal, helped by government steps to improve ease of doing business. Once all the bills are passed by the council, the Union government will collectively take the bills to the Union cabinet for its approval.
The IT sector stocks were under pressure after the United States announced that from April 3 it would temporarily suspend the ‘premium processing’ of H-1B visas that allowed some companies to jump the queue as part of its efforts to clear the backlog. The Industry body Nasscom has said that US decision to temporarily suspend the expedited premium processing of H-1B visas will lead to process delays for Indian IT firms too. However, Nasscom feels that the move will not be a 'significant impediment' for the over $110 billion outsourcing industry. Infosys, TCS and Tech Mahindra were down by about a percent.
The BSE Sensex is currently trading at 29018.24, up by 185.79 points or 0.64% after trading in a range of 28856.12 and 29049.05. There were 24 stocks advancing against 6 stocks declining on the index.
The broader indices too were trading in green; the BSE Mid cap index was up by 0.51%, while Small cap index was up by 0.55%.
The top gaining sectoral indices on the BSE were Energy up by 1.38%, Auto up by 1.13%, Oil & Gas up by 0.96%, Bankex up by 0.95% and Power up by 0.92%, while IT down by 0.64%, TECK down by 0.47% and Consumer Durables was tad down by 0.01% were the few losing indices on BSE.
The top gainers on the Sensex were Reliance Industries up by 2.11%, NTPC up by 1.48%, Mahindra & Mahindra up by 1.38%, Axis Bank up by 1.37% and Coal India up by 1.35%. On the flip side, TCS down by 1.01%, Infosys down by 0.82%, Sun Pharma down by 0.56%, Hindustan Unilever down by 0.26% and Wipro down by 0.20% were the top losers.
Meanwhile, moving a step closer towards implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1, the GST council chaired by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley approved two crucial supporting legislations of central GST (CGST) and the integrated GST (IGST) laws, for this ambitious tax reform. The council will take up for approval the State GST (SGST) and Union Territory-GST (UT-GST) laws at its next meeting on March 16. It has also decided to levy a 5 percent GST (2.5 percent by Centre and 2.5 percent by state) on small hotels, restaurants and dhabas with an annual turnover of up to Rs 50 lakh.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the CGST, which will give powers to Centre to levy GST on goods and services after union levies like excise and service tax are subsumed, and IGST that is to be levied on inter-state supplies, will go to Parliament for approval in the second half of the Budget session beginning March 9. He further said that the SGST, which will allow states to levy the tax after VAT and other state levies are subsumed in the GST, will have to be passed by each of the state legislative assemblies and UT-GST will also go to Parliament for approval.
Jaitley also said that the model GST Law will have a clause to enable levy of up to 40 percent tax (20 percent by the Centre and an equal amount by the states) but the effective tax rates will be kept at the previously approved levels of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent. He added that this is being done to obviate the need for going to Parliament in case the levy is to be raised on certain goods and services. This will also help in a scenario where the cess on de-merit goods being proposed to compensate states for loss of revenue from GST, is to be merged with the tax rate itself.
The CNX Nifty is currently trading at 8952.25, up by 54.70 points or 0.61% after trading in a range of 8914.00 and 8960.25. There were 39 stocks advancing against 12 stocks declining on the index.
The top gainers on Nifty were Reliance Industries up by 2.56%, Eicher Motors up by 1.62%, Coal India up by 1.43%, Maruti Suzuki up by 1.37% and Axis Bank up by 1.34%. On the flip side, Idea Cellular down by 1.54%, Grasim Industries down by 1.37%, Aurobindo Pharma down by 1.03%, TCS down by 1.00% and Infosys down by 0.83% were the top losers.
The Asian markets were mostly in green barring Nikkei 225 which was down by 92.09 points or 0.47% to 19,377.08 and Jakarta Composite which was tad lower by 0.09 points to 5,391.13.
On the other hand, KOSPI Index gained 2.07 points or 0.1% to 2,080.82, FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI was up by 8.95 points or 0.52% to 1,717.33, Shanghai Composite increased by 11.79 points or 0.37% to 3,230.10, Taiwan Weighted up by 23.84 points or 0.25% to 9,672.05 and Hang Seng was higher by 77.15 points or 0.33% to 23,629.87.