Savings schemes revived to boost infrastructure growth
Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the ambitious financial inclusion scheme Jan Dhan Yojana from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day with the objective of reaching out to all those that have remained beyond the folds of official financial channels. While the idea is to take banking to unbanked areas, the new government has a bigger agenda to boost financial savings. A stark decline in household savings has been a big headache for policymakers but concrete steps that could pull them to financial sector from gold which had gained traction in the wake of high inflation had been lacking. Gross domestic savings had fallen to 30.1% of the GDP in 2012-13 from 33.7% in 2009-10. The decline in financial savings due to high inflation had caused current account deficit (CAD) to widen to a record 4.8% of GDP in 2012-13 as households rushed to buy gold to hedge against rapid price rise. Massive curbs on gold drastically reduced imports and helped narrow CAD to about 2% of GDP in13-14
Few women manage Indian funds
Sixty years after India launched its first mutual fund and about 20 years after the launch of its first private mutual fund, women continue to be under-represented in the country’s fund management space. A Business Standard analysis of data from Value Research shows 19 women fund managers collectively manage only Rs 1.31 lakh crore of the total assets of Rs 10.06 lakh crore (about 13 per cent). These funds include passively managed ones such as exchange-traded funds, as well as those managed along with male fund managers. Countries such as the US, too, have seen debates on the participation of women in management. The scant representation in that country was pointed to by a National Council for Research on Women report, ‘Women in fund management: a road map for achieving critical mass, and why it matters’. “Women represent a scant 10 per cent of traditional mutual fund managers and a lower percentage in alternative investments fields. (BS)
Life insurance cos await Irda nod on infra bonds
Life insurance companies are awaiting a nod from Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (Irda) to invest in infrastructure bonds issued by banks. Currently, infrastructure bonds have not been given ‘infra’ status by Irda. Aneesh Srivastava, chief investment officer at IDBI Fortis Life Insurance, said there has been an ongoing dialogue between the government and the insurance regulator and bank infra- structure bonds will be given infrastructure status soon.(FE)
Is foreign investor interest in India likely to wane?
India has attracted the maximum amount of foreign institutional inflows among countries in the Asia Pacific region so far this year. But a number of factors suggest that foreign inflows may not be quite so robust in the near future. The purchase of local stocks by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) has fallen in the past month. Net inflows have totalled about $700 million so far in August compared with fund injections of close to $2 billion in each of the previous two months. India is no longer among the most loved countries for global emerging market investors, said this month’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch fund manager survey. Investors have moved from “overweight” on India in July to “underweight” in August, indicating that they think the market is overbought. China is the new favourite as its June quarter economic growth beat forecasts. The change in FII appetite for Indian stocks could be due to a couple of factors. (Mint)
What will be the impact of a US Fed rate hike on Indian markets?
The biggest external risk the markets are facing, although you wouldn’t really know it by looking at their elevated level, is that of interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve. Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan has waxed lyrical about this risk, as have the Bank for International Settlements and even the International Monetary Fund.Perhaps a look at previous episodes of interest rate raises in the US might be useful. A recent research note on Asia strategy by BNP Paribas does precisely that. It looks at earlier occasions when the yield on the US 10-year treasury note went up and checks how it affected Asian equities (see chart).Consider 1993-94, when higher US rates shook emerging markets and precipitated a crisis in Mexico, named the Tequila crisis. After the initial scare, note that the MSCI Asia ex-Japan Index didn’t do too shabbily, rising 22.5%, while the Indian market did even better. (Mint)
Insurance firms face new consumer liability issue
Bankers had earlier said that insurance was not a core competence of their personnel and, hence, they were not in a position to take liability for policies being sold through their network. If the Reserve Bank's proposed charter of customer rights takes effect, banks will be liable for the policies they sell on behalf of insurance companies. Under the current bancassurance norms, banks are not responsible for the policies sold as a corporate agent. RBI's charter proposes that a customer have a right to hold the financial services provider accountable for the products offered, And, to have a clear and easy way to have any valid grievance redressed.(BS)
Sensex, Nifty close at new highs on euro zone stimulus talk
The 30-share benchmark S&P BSE Sensex and the National Stock Exchange’s 50-share barometer CNX Nifty closed at fresh peaks on Wednesday as expectations of further monetary stimulus in the euro zone raised hopes of continued foreign inflows, lifting blue-chips such as ICICI Bank Ltd. The Sensex closed 0.44%, or 117.34 points, up at 26,560.15 points, while the Nifty ended 0.40%, or 31.30 points, up at a fresh high of 7,936.05 points. Among gainers, ICICI Bank rose 2.05% to Rs.1,540.95, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) added 2.31% to Rs.427.75 and Tata Motors Ltd advanced 1.70% to Rs.521.60. Among losers, Sesa Sterlite Ltd fell 1.67% to Rs.276.55, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) retreated 1.29% to Rs.229.20, NTPC Ltd declined 1.45% to Rs.138.95. The S&P BSE Auto index was the top sectoral gainer, up 0.81%.(Mint)
Soon, you can trace unclaimed amount on insurers' websites
Insurance customers and nominees of deceased policyholders will be able to access details of their unclaimed amounts on the websites of insurance companies from early next year. Last week, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) issued a revised circular on the procedure for allowing policyholders or their nominees to access details of unclaimed amounts on insurers' websites. It includes death benefits, maturity proceeds, premium due for refund and indemnityclaims that have been unclaimed for over six months. Earlier this year, the insurance regulator had expressed concern over the rising unclaimed amounts that had gone up to Rs 4,865 crore in 2012-13 from Rs 3,037 crore in 2011-12. As per the original plan, insurers were supposed to offer this facility from April this year. They have been granted additional time till January 31, 2015 to upload the information as at December 31, 2014. The details will be updated in April and October every year. (ET)
Debt funds can also help achieve goals
Some debt fund investors and their financial advisors have been devising ingenious methods to beat the higher capital gains tax proposed in the Budget. Arbitrage funds, rolling over investments in fixed maturity plans (FMPs), balanced funds... every week, a new avenue to tackle the new tax regime was floated and debated. The finance minister hiked the longterm capital gains on non-equity funds to 20% from 10%. He also increased the holding period of investments to three years from one year. However, many advisors feel that investors must now focus on planning their debt investments just like they plan their equity investments. "I think it is time we stop trying to devise ways to overcome the higher taxes, and start focusing on planning debt investments. The trouble is that most individuals don't plan their debt investments. Parking surplus funds in liquid funds or FMPs was a debt mutual fund investment for many individuals, or chasing the interest rates to earn better returns. (ET)
Changes that need to be brought into the mutual fund industry
It is seminar season in the mutual fund industry. The angst that a good product cannot achieve wide spread acceptance is a nagging problem discussed virtually every year, but simply won't go away. There is perhaps a serious gap between what the common investor wants and what the industry is able to offer. There are two simple questions that investors ask: is the return better than bank deposits? And, will the capital be safe?
The conceptually correct answers are: a mutual fund tries to do better than the benchmark and, therefore, should not be compared to a bank deposit; an MF is subject to market risks and there is no guarantee on the invested capital. There is decent long-term performance to showcase, but a large swathe of investors remains unimpressed. (ET)
Equity MFs bounce back after elections
The investors' base of equity mutual funds (MFs) are on the rise as stock indices scale new highs. On an average 1,500 new equity accounts are being opened on a daily basis since the Narendra Modi-led government took charge in office this May. This is a big relief for the MF sector. It had seen an exodus of investors from its equity category over recent years, losing upwards of 11 million equity folios in since March 2010. There were periods when account closures had reached 700,000 on a monthly basis.That tide seems to be turning. In the first two months of the Modi takeover, June and July, the MF sector added 93,415 folios in its equity category. This is a remarkable improvement.(BS)
Sensex earnings growth on fast track
India Inc’s earnings seem to have gathered momentum with a surge in the BSE Sensex over the past two quarters. In view of improved profitability during these quarters, Bloomberg’s consensus earnings per share (EPS) estimates for the Sensex for 2015-16 have been raised 4.2 per cent to Rs 1,873 from Rs 1,791 at the end of the June quarter. There had been an upgrade in EPS estimates in the June quarter as well — of a little less than one per cent over mid-May (the end of the January-March earnings season). Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, the EPS is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.2 per cent —nearly double the 8.7 per cent between 2011-12 and 2013-14. This implies strong earning growth will continue and should reflect on the market as well.(BS)
Foreign investors net buyers here when US yields rise
Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) have been net buyers every time yields have risen in the United States, according to an analysis of data over the past 20 years. They have been net buyers by a total of Rs 3.94 lakh crore in Indian markets over the past five occasions that yields in the US have headed north. They were net buyers by Rs 8,361 crore in 1993-94, when yields rose from 5.38 per cent to 7.91 per cent. They invested a further Rs 6,495 crore in 1998-2000, when yields rose from 4.42 per cent to 6.67 per cent. They also pumped in Rs 86,695 crore as yields rose from 3.37 per cent to 5.14 per cent between 2003 and 2006. Yields had risen from 2.21 per cent to 3.83 per cent in 2008-2010. Foreign investors pumped in Rs 1,04,077 crore. They also put in Rs 1,88,658 crore in 2012-2013 as yields rose from 1.47 per cent to 3.03 per cent.(BS)
Mutual funds get costlier
An expense ratio of 3.25 per cent sounds small, especially when the stock market is hitting a new high almost every day. But it impacts returns substantially over the long term. Consequently, financial planner Gaurav Mashruwala says one should look carefully at expense before investing in a scheme. "Expense ratio is like the inflation rate. Like inflation impacts the real return of investors, if the expense ratio is high, the returns will fall significantly and pinch over the long term." What it means
It means a serious loss in money. For example, you invest Rs 1 lakh in an exchange-traded fund charging 20 basis points (bps) more vis-a-vis a diversified equity fund charging three per cent in annual fees. Assuming a return of 15 per cent compounded over a 15-year period, the return from the ETF would be Rs 7.5 lakh. The return from the equity diversified fund would be Rs 5.2 lakh. A huge Rs 2.3 lakh difference. Even if the return is 10 per cent annually, for expenses of three per cent,
Bond trading gains traction
Trading in corporate bonds at the nation's top stock exchanges - BSE and NSE - picked up by 22.3 per cent at about Rs 83,612 crore in July over the preceding month, latest data by market regulator Sebi showed. Dealings worth a total of Rs 68,381.37 crore in corporate bonds was reported on the two bourses during June. The Rs 83,611.81 crore trading in July was the second highest for a month after Rs 93,946 crore in May in the current fiscal 2014-15. However, the value in July 2014 was 24.45 per cent lower than Rs 1.10 lakh crore witnessed in the same month last year. (ET)
SIP registrations double on market rally
Retail investors are joining the equities party with a renewed zest. With the markets rallying sharply in the past three months, registration of new systematic investment plans (SIPs) have more than doubled compared to the monthly average of 2013-14 as well as on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis in July. New SIP registrations stood at 2.76 lakh in July, data sourced from CAMS MFDex that represents about 90% of the industry showed. Registrations surged 109% on a y-o-y basis and 116% over the monthly average of 2013-14 in July. Fund houses saw 1.27 lakh new SIP registrations on an average for a month during 2013-14. They have registered 7.02 lakh new SIPs in the last three months alone. The monthly inflow of Rs 94.2 crore through new SIPs is also the highest in more than two years. new SIPs is also the highest in more than two years. New SIPs have brought inflows of Rs 245.5 crore in the past three months. (ET)
Equity buying by MFs picks up momentum
Mutual funds (MFs) are upping the ante when it comes to investing in stocks, even as the market is registering fresh record highs. Fund managers are on course this month to pump in the highest-ever monthly flow into the stock market in a little over six years. In the 13 trading sessions till Wednesday, MF houses had invested Rs 3,700 crore into stocks, shows data from the Securities and Exchange Board of India. If this pace of buying continues, MFs could surpass the Rs 5,064 crore invested last month to invest the most since January 2008, when they had pumped in Rs 7,700 crore.(BS)
Reserve Bank of India notifies increased PPF deposit limit of Rs 1.5 lakh per year
The Reserve Bank today notified the increase in deposit money under Public Provident Fund (PPF) to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh earlier. "We forward herewith a copy of the Government of India Notification...The Government of India, vide this Notification, has enhanced the individual subscription limit under the Public Provident Fund (PPF) Scheme, 1968, from existing Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 1,50,000 in a financial year," RBI said in a communication to banks. Earlier, this week, the government had notified the same in pursuance to an announcement made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley this month. After the new ruling, people can now deposit up to Rs 1.5 lakh annually in their Public Provident Fund (PPF) account. RBI asked the banks to communicate the same to their branches operating the PPF scheme. (ET)
FIIs poured in record money into govt bonds on Wednesday: Sebi
Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bought a record $2.64 billion of Indian government bonds on Wednesday, according to data released by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Thursday. The demand for the government securities ensured that the limit of such bonds available for sale to foreign investors has almost been exhausted, which means FIIs will now have to bid for the bonds through a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) auction. Bank treasurers said the huge demand for government bonds is good news because it’s a vote of confidence on the country’s improving macroeconomic fundamentals.(Mint)
Household savings in deposits rise, but dip in mutual funds
Savings in deposits and small savings of individuals increased in 2013-14, while there was a drop in savings in mutual funds and currency.
The RBI’s Annual Report reveals that savings in deposits by the household sector increased by Rs. 1-lakh crore to Rs. 6.91-lakh crore in 2013-14 from Rs. 5.91-lakh crore in 2012-13. The saving deposits are about 59 per cent of the gross financial savings, of which, about 53 per cent constitute deposits with commercial banks.
Net financial savings of the household sector grew 13 per cent to Rs. 8.19-lakh crore as against Rs. 7.22-lakh crore in the previous year.
This is the first time the RBI released data on financial savings of the household sector.(BL)