Mumbai: Rumours about a government move to introduce long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax on stock investments, mainly to compensate for the loss in GST collections, spooked Dalal Street investors in the last hour of trade on Monday. This led to a sharp dip in stock prices in the first session of 2018. As a result, the sensex — after remaining range-bound for most of the session due to low institutional participation during the New Year holidays — lost over 200 points within an hour and closed 244 points lower at 33,813.
Since December 24, 2016, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi first said in a speech that those who are making profit from the stock market were not paying enough tax, talks have been surfacing at regular intervals about the Modi government's move to actually impose LTCG tax. Of late, even BSE chief Ashishkumar Chauhan had been professing a tax on LTCG.
Among the stocks that pulled the benchmark indices down were HDFC (which closed 1.4% lower), HDFC Bank (down 1.5%) and Reliance Industries (down 1%). The handful of winners included Wipro (which closed 1.4% up) and Coal India (1.3% up).
Of the 30 sensex stocks, 25 closed in the red. Data at the end of the session on the BSE showed that, while domestic funds were net sellers at Rs 1,300 crore, foreign funds were net buyers at Rs 326 crore.
Outside of the blue-chips, the stocks of Anil Ambanicontrolled Reliance Group were again in focus in Monday's session, with Reliance Naval closing 32% up and Reliance Power 21%. Reliance Communications, after more than doubling in the previous four sessions, closed 2.3% lower. Since December 23, the day RCom announced it will repay a large chunk of its debt, the group's stocks have been in the limelight.
In the bond market, the benchmark yield on 10-year gilts closed at 7.34%, nearly unchanged from its Friday close. During the day, the central bank also announced a gilt auction for Friday, in which it would borrow Rs 18,000 crore — Rs 3,000 crore more than scheduled earlier. This is part of the government's plans to borrow an extra Rs 50,000 crore from the market, dealers said.
Rupee at 5-month high
In the forex market, the Indian currency strengthened against the dollar to a fivemonth high as, globally, the greenback showed weakness against most other major currencies. The rupee strengthened 19 paise to close at 63.68 to a dollar, a level not seen since early-August 2017 when it had closed at 63.63. In less than a month, the Indian currency has strengthened by almost a rupee, from closing at 64.57 on December 7.
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