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Published on 25/08/2019 11:11:07 AM | Source: HT Media

D-Street dilemma: Cheer FPI surcharge removal or worry about US-China trade war?

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It was turbulent week for the Indian stock market with hardly any positive triggers to buoy investor sentiment. Key benchmark indices the Nifty and the Sensex shed nearly 2% during the week.

Now that corporate earnings for the June quarter are out of the market's way, the focus has shifted to domestic and global macros. A slew of global central banks including the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released minutes of their latest policy meetings. Some of them suggested the need for increased fiscal stimulus along with rate cuts to boost global growth.

But for investors in Indian equities, the highlight of the week was finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing measures to boost liquidity and demand for ailing sectors such as automobile on Friday after market hours. Further, the much-awaited move of doing away with surcharge on foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) that was levied in the Union Budget was announced.

While this decision is sentimentally positive, with global and domestic economies on a weak footing, it remains to be seen how foreign investors react to it and to what extent inflows improve, analysts said. During the week, foreign institutional investors sold Indian equities worth $622 million. However, on a calendar year to date basis, they have remained net buyers in Indian stocks.

Unfortunately, even before investors could cheer the FM’s announcements, China unveiled a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of US goods on Friday. The re-escalation of the trade tussle between the two nations doesn't bode well for the already fragile global economy and raises downside risks to growth.

Speaking of growth, a key macro data point to watch out for in the coming week is India's June quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data. In the backdrop of ongoing consumption slowdown, expectations aren't very high.

Brokerage house Nirmal Bang Institutional Equities Ltd expects growth in June quarter to moderate from the previous quarter to 5.6%. “Manufacturing and mining activity is expected to be broadly flat. Services (including construction) is expected to slow sharply to 7% year-on-year from 8.2% in the previous quarter on lower government spending. Construction, real estate and financial services and trade, hotel and transportation activity also slowed from the previous quarter," it said in a report on 22 August.

It should be noted that Moody's Investors Service on Friday revised downwards India's GDP growth forecast for the current year to 6.2%. It said the economy remains sluggish due to a combination of factors such as weak hiring, distress among rural households and tighter financial conditions. This could also weigh on investor confidence in the coming week.

Last but not the least, the August futures and options contracts expire on coming Thursday, and will thus keep volatility high. In the week gone by, fear gauge, NSE’s India volatility index (VIX), rose 4.2%