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Thursday, December 15, 2011

HEDGFX - 15-12-11

HEDGFX - 15-12-11

Rupee at 54

Rupee dropped to another record low versus the dollar on Thursday as concerns heightened slowing domestic growth will spur further capital outflows.

The partially convertible rupee hit an all-time low of 54.30 per dollar in early trading, taking losses to about 4 percent this week

India Property Sector

India Property Sector

Bear Hug

Bear Hug

Market may extend losses on weak Asian stocks; Q3 advance tax numbers eyed

The market may extend losses tracking weak Asian stocks. Trading of S&P CNX Nifty futures on the Singapore stock exchange indicates a fall of 59.50 points at the opening bell. On the macro front, the government will today, 15 December 2011, unveil data on some wholesale price indices viz. the food price index, the primary articles index and the fuel price index for the year through 3 December 2011.

The third advance tax installment is due today, 15 December 2011, which may provide cues on Q3 December 2011 corporate earnings. Advance taxes are collected in four installments -- 15% by 15 June; 40% by 15 September; 75% by 15 December and 100% by 15 March.

3i Infotech

3i Infotech

Daily News Roundup - Dec 15 2011

Larsen & Toubro has commissioned a 384-MW gas-based unit at GMR's 1,200 MW gas-based power plant at Vemagiri, Andhra Pradesh. (BL)

The CBEC has lifted the freeze on the bank accounts of Kingfisher and Air India. (BL)

MindTree has been selected by UK-based Millennium & Copthorne Hotel's to manage its e-business initiative. (BL)

Punjab National Bank has launched its ‘customer contact week'. (BL)

Reliance Industries Ltd has alleged that the petroleum ministry is violating coal bed methane contract by restricting price discovery which could lead to revenue loss for the central and state exchequers. (BS)

Sensex slips despite softer inflation…Rupee weighs

Tuesday’s relief rally was perhaps more of a flash in the pan. Indian markets resumed their southbound journey as fall in November inflation was not as sharp as anticipated. In addition, the rupee extended its recent slide, hitting a new all-time low versus the US dollar. The yield on the 10-year benchmark Government bonds spiked to 8.5%. Weakness in the euro also partly weighed on the sentiment amid lingering concern about the eurozone debt crisis. Most world markets were also down after the Federal Reserve refrained from announcing any new stimulus measures at its last meeting of 2011.

Dollar on a dream run

"A dollar saved is a quarter earned." - John Ciardi.

It’s a nightmare out there for most asset classes. Barring the dollar, almost all asset classes are down and cash seems to be the safest bet at the moment. The euro slumped below $1.30, an 11-month low, after Italy's borrowing costs surged. The dollar index is ruling well above 80. Brent crude has cooled off a bit after OPEC raised its output ceiling. Gold has slid below $1600. The yellow metal is below its 200-DMA for the first time in almost three years.

US stocks fell for a third straight day on worries about the euro area debt crisis and disappointment over Fed inaction. US treasury prices gained, pushing 10-year yields further below 2%, after strong demand at an auction of 30-year bonds. European stock indices were deep in red as well. Most Asian markets are also down this morning with Hang Seng pacing the decline.

Markets may see lower start as global risks rise

The start looks weak today on fears that Europe's debt crisis is still worsening. The outlook for the world economy is growing bleaker.

Headlines for the day:

SBI expects Rs 3,000-4,000 cr capital infusion this fiscal

Oil firms may hike petrol prices by 65 paise from Friday

Kingfisher, Air India make part-payment, accounts defreezed

RIL writes to FM against oil ministry

DLF set to ink Rs 900-cr Pune SEZ deal with Blackstone

Retail gets realty check: SMEs back multi-brand FDI

SGX Nifty Live Update - Dec 15 2011

4710.00 -45.00 (-0.95%)

Sensex ends below 16K on record low rupee, inflation concerns

The Indian markets erased previous session’s gains as higher monthly inflation and falling rupee weighed. The Sensex fell 121 points and the Nifty declined 37 points

Headlines for the day

November inflation at 9.11% vs 9.73% in October

Reliance Capital hits 52-week low on insurance FDI rejection

Areva T&D hits 52-week low on demerger of distribution business

Cable service providers rise as Lok sabha passes bill

Nifty settles at over 2-1/2-week low as hopes of early RBI rate-cut diminish

Key benchmark indices dropped in choppy trade as higher-than-expected inflation reading for November 2011 dashed hopes that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will advance a rate cut to early next year to stimulate the economy. Data showing selling by foreign funds recently and weak European shares also dampened sentiment. The barometer index, BSE Sensex, fell below the psychological 16,000 mark, having alternately moved above and below that mark in intraday trade. The 50-unit S&P Nifty settled at its lowest level in more than 2-1/2 weeks. The BSE Sensex was down 121.37 points or 0.76%, off close to 150 points from the day's high and up about 25 points from the day's low. Index heavyweight Reliance Industries edged lower in choppy trade. The market breadth was weak.


The Sensex has fallen 242.32 points or 1.5% so far this month. The Sensex has slumped 4,627.95 points or 22.56% in calendar 2011. From a 52-week high of 20,664.80 on 3 January 2011, the Sensex has lost 4,783.66 points or 23.14%. From a 52-week low of 15,478.69 on 23 November 2011, the Sensex has risen 402.45 points or 2.6%.

Coming back to today's trade, most metal shares declined as global commodity prices fell. Interest rate sensitive realty, auto and banking stocks fell as higher-than-expected inflation reading for November 2011 dashed hopes that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will advance a rate cut to early next year to stimulate the economy. Tata Power Company hit 52-week low. Shares of broadcasting companies and cable service providers were mixed after a Bill aimed at digitization of cable TV was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, 13 December 2011.

Intraday volatility was high. The market recovered after an initial slide triggered by weak Asian stocks. The intraday recovery gathered steam as the Sensex soon moved into positive zone. A bout of volatility was witnessed as key benchmark indices extended gains to hit fresh intraday highs in mid-morning trade. Intraday volatility continued as key benchmark indices which had jumped to hit fresh intraday highs ahead of inflation data slumped into the red to hit fresh intraday low after the data showed inflation in November rose more than the market expectations. Key benchmark indices bounced back after hitting fresh intraday lows in early afternoon trade.

Intraday volatility continued as the Sensex once again slipped into the red later. The Sensex alternately swung between gains and losses in mid-afternoon trade. The Sensex slumped to hit fresh intraday low in late trade.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold shares worth Rs 560.80 crore on Tuesday, 13 December 2011, as per the provisional data from the stock exchanges. FII outflow totaled Rs 1237.67 crore in three trading sessions from 9 to 13 December 2011, as per provisional data from the stock exchanges. The recent outflow followed sustained inflow early this month.

A news agency today, 14 December 2011, quoted an unnamed senior finance ministry official as saying that the government does not intend to curb capital outflow to help arrest the rupee's slide. The comments come even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today, 14 December 2011, admitted that capital outflows are a matter of concern. Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn recently said the central bank will use all possible measures, including strategic capital controls, if the risk of the rupee depreciating escalates. The RBI has said it will issue a "definitive statement" on the rupee at its mid-quarter monetary policy review on Friday, 16 December 2011.

Credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service today, 14 December 2011, said that the sharp decline in the value of the Indian rupee against the dollar is generally exerting only a moderate impact on rated Indian companies. Risks for companies holding large amounts of dollar denominated debt are also manageable in the near term, given that debt maturities are limited for this time frame, Moody's said in a new report. This means Indian companies rated by Moody's do not have a significant dollar outflow at a time when the Indian rupee is losing ground. Moody's latest assessment comes as the local currency continued its recent steep slide, recording a new all-time low against the dollar for a third straight day today, 14 December 2011.

The BSE Sensex lost 121.37 points or 0.76% to settle at 15,881.14, its lowest closing level since 12 December 2011. The index declined 147.39 points at the day's low of 15,855.12 in late trade. The index rose 130.90 points at the day's high of 16,133.41 in early afternoon trade, its highest level since 12 December 2011.

The S&P CNX Nifty shed 37.35 points or 0.78% to settle at 4,763.25, its lowest closing level since 25 November 2011. The Nifty hit a high of 4,839.55 in intraday trade, its highest level since 12 December 2011. The Nifty hit a low of 4,750.40 in intraday trade.

The BSE Mid-Cap index fell 0.95% and the BSE Small-Cp index declined 0.81%. Both these indices underperformed the Sensex.

BSE clocked turnover of Rs 1923 crore, lower than Rs 2066.59 crore on Tuesday, 13 December 2011.

The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, was weak. On BSE, 1,669 shares fell and 1,066 shares rose. A total of 138 shares were unchanged.

From the 30-member Sensex pack, 23 stocks fell and the rest of them rose.

Index heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) fell 0.12% to Rs 741.70. The stock was volatile. The stock hit a high of Rs 753.90 and a low of Rs 734. RIL late last month said that it has initiated arbitration proceedings against the government to seek an independent view of a tribunal on the issue of the company's entitlement of recovery of entire costs on KG-D6 gas blocks from the revenue generated from the blocks. RIL said it has initiated arbitration proceedings against the Government of India (GoI) in a bid to finally resolve the cost recovery issue so as not to hinder future investments in this block.

RIL said its investment in KG-D6 production facilities has been only partly recovered and the return on the investment so far is less than the cost of the capital. The production sharing contract (PSC) with the Government of India (GoI) contains no provision which entitles the GoI to restrict the costs recovered by the company by reference to factors such as the level of production or the extent to which field facilities are utilised, RIL said.

Tata Power Company declined 3.98% to Rs 86.90. The stock hit a 52-week low of Rs 86.20 today.

Interest rate sensitive bank stocks fell as higher-than-expected inflation reading for November 2011 dashed hopes that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will advance a rate cut to early next year to stimulate the economy. India's second largest private sector bank by net profit, HDFC Bank, fell 0.58%. India's largest bank by net profit and branch network State Bank of India (SBI) declined 0.14%. India's largest private sector bank by net profit, ICICI Bank fell 0.35% to Rs 702.85 in volatile trade. The stock had hit a 52-week low of Rs 690.25 on Tuesday, 13 December 2011.

Interest rate sensitive auto stocks declined as higher-than-expected inflation reading for November 2011 dashed hopes that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will advance a rate cut to early next year to stimulate the economy. Purchases of automobiles, including that of cars, utility vehicles and commercial vehicles are substantially driven by financing.

India's largest truck maker by sales Tata Motors shed 1.15%. The company's total sales rose 41% to 76,823 units in November 2011 over November 2010.

India's largest tractor maker by sales Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) fell 3.53%. The company's total auto sales jumped 52.7% to 40,722 units in November 2011 over November 2010.

India's second largest motorcycle maker by sales Bajaj Auto declined 0.75%. Bajaj Auto's total vehicle sales jumped 25% at 374,477 units in November 2011 over November 2010.

India's largest car maker by sales Maruti Suzuki India shed 0.88%. The company's total sales fell 18.5% to 91,772 units in November 2011 over November 2010.

India's largest motorcycle maker by sales Hero MotoCorp fell 1.84%. The company's sales rose 27.4% to 536,772 units in November 2011 over November 2010.

Ashok Leyland rose 0.2%. The company reported 53.36% jump in commercial vehicle sales at 7,878 units in November 2011 over November 2010.

Car sales in India rose in November, the first monthly rise in five, an industry body said on Thursday, 8 December 2011, as the industry rebounded strongly from the biggest fall in over a decade the month before. Domestic passenger car sales increased by 7% to 1,71,131 units in November 2011, from 1,59,939 units in the same month last year. According to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Thursday, motorcycle sales in the country grew by 22.67% to 8,69,070 units during the month from 7,08,476 units in the corresponding month last year. Total two-wheeler sales grew by 25.27% to 11,63,294 units last month from 9,28,660 units in November 2010, as per the data. Sales of commercial vehicles grew by 34.99% to 66,264 units in the month under review from 49,087 units in the year-ago period, SIAM said.

Engineering and construction major L&T declined 1.04% to Rs 1159.50. The company announced during trading hours today, 14 December 2011, that it has successfully commissioned a 384 megawatts (MW) unit of GMR's gas based power plant at Vemagiri, near Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh. Demonstrating its integrated execution capabilities, L&T completed the project in a record time of 24 months. The steam turbine for this unit was synchronized on 4 December 2011 and the gas turbine on 27 August 2011.

In September 2006, L&T had successfully commissioned the first unit of a similar capacity at the same location. Work is also in its advanced stage for the third unit of similar capacity in which a gas turbine is expected to be synchronised soon. The complete unit is scheduled to be commissioned in the next few months. On completion of all three units, the national grid will benefit from a total capacity of 1,200 MW gas based power plant at a single location.

This project has been executed by the Gas Based Power Projects -- Strategic Business Unit of L&T Power, based in Baroda. L&T's scope included design, detailed engineering, supply, installation and commissioning of the complete power plant on a turnkey basis. The plant incorporates state-of-art advance class gas turbines from General Electric and high efficiency steam turbines from Alstom.

Airline stocks extended losses as a weak rupee heightened concerns about its impact on operating costs. SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines fell by between 1.88% to 4.37%. A weak rupee impacts aviation sector adversely as almost a third of operational expenses of aviation firms are denominated in dollars. Among the payments made in dollars, include rentals of leased aircraft, maintenance, spare parts and salary paid out to foreign crew.

Interest rate sensitive realty stocks fell as higher-than-expected inflation reading for November 2011 dashed hopes that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will advance a rate cut to early next year to stimulate the economy. Purchases of both residential and commercial property are largely driven by finance. HDIL, Unitech, DLF and Indiabulls Real Estate fell by between 1.59% to 3.58%.

Most metal shares declined as global commodity prices fell. JSW Steel, Jindal Saw, Tata Steel, Sail, Sesa Goa, Sterlite Industries, Hindustan Zinc, Jindal Steel & Power, and Hindalco Industries fell by between 0.78% to 3.94%.

Shares of broadcasting companies and cable service providers were mixed after a Bill aimed at digitisation of cable TV was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, 13 December 2011. Hathway Cable and Dish TV rose by between 0.26% to 3.05%. Wire & Wireless India and Den Networks fell by between 1.71% to 4.86%.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 passed the second Bill to amend the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, which aims to replace the Ordinance promulgated in October 2011. The Bill is aimed at digitising the cable TV sector by 31 December 2014. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill 2011 will usher in a host of changes, which include systematic registration of cable operators, inspection of cable network services, use of standard equipment in the cable TV network, mandatory transmission of channels such as Doordarshan, prescription of interference standards by the Central Government and empowering the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to specify basic service tier and its tariff.

Digitisation of cable TV is expected to boost the subscription revenues for broadcasters as it will end the hefty carriage fee paid to cable TV operators. At the same time, the Government has assured the cable operators that digitisation would not hurt them.

Siemens fell 1.8%. The company announced during market hours today its entry into sustainable and innovative engineering, procurement and construction solutions for solar photovoltaic plants in India.

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) fell 2.16%. The company announced during market hours today that it has signed a contract agreement with Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh (EGCB) for providing operation and maintenance services for the 2x120 megawatt (MW) gas based Siddhirganj Peaking Power Plant located near Dhaka in Bangladesh. This contract is awarded against international competitive bidding and is valued at about 8.8 million dollars (Rs 43 crore). EGCB will be receiving loan from International Development Association (The World Bank) for this O&M Services. This is the largest single international order received by the company. The company has thus forayed in to becoming an "International O&M Operator", NTPC said in a statement.

Cairn India and Oil India rose 0.49% and 0.17%, respectively after crude oil futures gained 2.4% to settle at $100.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday, 13 December 2011. Higher crude oil prices will result in higher realizations from crude sales for oil exploration firms such as Cairn India and Oil India. Crude oil for January 2012 delivery gained $2.37 a barrel, or 2.42% to settle at $100.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Shares state-run oil marketing companies fell after crude oil price gained. HPCL (down 4.36%), BPCL (down 4.89%) and Indian Oil Corporation (down 2.32%) edged lower. Higher crude oil prices will increase under-recoveries of public sector oil marketing companies (PSU OMCs) on domestic sale of diesel, LPG and kerosene at controlled prices. A a weak rupee further impacts PSU OMCs as the crude oil that refineries process is either imported or priced on import-parity.

IT stocks rose after the rupee fell to a new record low versus the US dollar on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. India's third largest software services exporter by revenue Wipro gained 0.63%. India's largest software services exporter TCS was flat. But, India's second largest software services exporter by revenue Infosys fell 0.5%.

The rupee hit another record low on Wednesday as worse-than-expected inflation data and the US Fed's decision to refrain from new economy-boosting measures heightened concerns that capital outflows from riskier economies could accelerate. The rupee was at 53.67/68 to the dollar, after hitting an all-time low of 53.75, taking the drop since its July high to 18.4%. A weak rupee boosts revenue of IT firms in rupee terms as the sector derives a lion's share of revenue from exports.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries rose 1.68% on defensive buying.

Mahan Industries clocked highest volume of 2.36 crore shares on BSE. Cals Refineries (75.46 lakh shares), Triveni Engineering and Industries (48.37 lakh shares), Pennar Industries (45.44 lakh shares) and Jaiprakash Associates (34.63 lakh shares) were the other volume toppers in that order.

SBI clocked highest turnover of Rs 257.72 crore on BSE. RIL (Rs 82.82 crore), ICICI Bank (Rs 65.18 crore), Tata Steel (Rs 60.42 crore) and L&T (Rs 54.96 crore) were the other turnover toppers in that order.

The third advance tax installment is due tomorrow, 15 December 2011, which may provide cues on Q3 December 2011 corporate earnings. Advance taxes are collected in four installments -- 15% by 15 June; 40% by 15 September; 75% by 15 December and 100% by 15 March.

A government statement in parliament last month dashed hopes of a relief in securities transaction tax (STT). Junior finance minister S.S. Palanimanickam has said that the government has no proposal to lower the securities transaction tax (STT). There has been a speculation that the government will reduce STT in Union Budget 2012-2013 in a bid to revive sagging volumes on the bourses. Palanimanickam said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha that the securities transaction tax receipts had declined by around 18% to Rs 2960 crore during the first six months in the current fiscal year from a year ago period.

The annual inflation declined in November 2011 from the previous month but remained above the 9% mark, data released by the government showed on Wednesday. Inflation, as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI), was at 9.11% in November as against 9.73% in October, the Union Commerce & Industry Minister said today. Inflation figure for September 2011 was revised upwards to 10% from initial estimate of 9.72%.

Chief economic adviser Kaushik Basu today, 14 December 2011, said that he expects food inflation to drop to 3% within a month. His comments came before the announcement of the monthly inflation data for November 2011.

Industrial production shrank 5.1% in October versus 11.3% growth in the same period a year earlier, data released by the Commerce Ministry showed on Monday, 12 December 2011. It was the first decline in industrial production in more than two years. Industrial output last fell in June 2009, when it shrank 1.8%. Manufacturing output, which has a 75.5% weight in the index of industrial production, fell 6% from a year earlier in October, compared with a 2.4% rise the previous month. Mining output shrank 7.2%, after falling 5.6% in September. September's industrial production growth was revised upwards marginally to 2%, from 1.9% earlier.

The government last week cut its economic growth forecast to 7.25%-7.75% from the previous 8% for the current year through March 2012 (FY 2012), and it also warned of possible fiscal slippage caused by global uncertainties. In a mid-year economic review presented in parliament on Friday, 9 December 2011, the finance ministry said that commitments on account of additional requirement on various subsidies will make it difficult to adhere to the total expenditure target for the current year. However the government promised to keep the slippage to a minimum as it broadly adheres to its long-term fiscal rigor, the report added. The government had pegged fiscal deficit at 4.6% of gross domestic product when it presented the Union Budget 2011-2012 in February 2011.

The reduction in GDP growth forecast for FY 2012 comes after the economy grew an annual 6.9% in the quarter ending September 2011, its slowest pace in more than two years. The government said headline inflation would decline from December 2011, expecting it to ease to 7% by March 2012.

The government also said that the Rs 40000-crore stakes sale target in state-run companies would be hard to achieve this fiscal year, while tax receipts would suffer from the impact of the global slowdown. The government is considering options other than share sales to meet its divestment target in state-run companies for the fiscal year ending March, the junior finance minister said on Friday.

India's manufacturing sector expansion slowed in November as factory output grew at its slowest pace in nearly three years although export demand should provide some cheer for factories, a survey showed on 1 December 2011. The HSBC Markit India Manufacturing PMI fell to 51 in November from 52 in October, but has stayed above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction for 32 months. The PMI was 50.4 in September.

On the flip side, India's services sector expanded in November for the first time in two months as new business accelerated despite persistent inflationary pressures, a survey showed on Monday. The seasonally adjusted HSBC Markit Business Activity Index -- based on a survey of around 400 firms -- stood at 53.2 in November, above the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction. It had fallen to 49.1 in October after contracting for the first time in more than two years in September to 49.8. Despite tight monetary conditions, the sub-index for new business accelerated to 52.3 in November from 51 in October, driving the turnaround in the service sector.

India's November exports are seen at $22.3 billion while imports for the month are seen at $35.9 billion, leaving a trade deficit f $13.6 billion, Trade Secretary Rahul Khullar told media reporters on Friday. Exports between April and November are seen up 33.2 percent from a year earlier to $192.7 billion, Khullar said, citing provisional data.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced a 25 basis points hike in its key policy rate viz. the repo rate to 8.5% after half-yearly review of the monetary policy on 25 October 2011. The central bank cut its GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal year through March 2012 to 7.6% from 8% earlier. But it retained its March-end inflation projection of 7%. RBI said the projected inflation trajectory indicates that the inflation rate will begin falling in December 2011 (January 2012 release) and then continue down a steady path to 7% by March 2012. It is expected to moderate further in the first half of 2012-13. This reflects a combination of commodity price movements and the cumulative impact of monetary tightening. Further, moderating inflation rates are likely to impact expectations favourably.

Three key Bills relating to judicial accountability, protection of whistle blowers and Citizens Charter, which Anna Hazare wanted to be brought under the Lokpal, were passed by the Union Cabinet on Tuesday. The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010, widely known as the Whistleblowers' Protection Bill and Citizens' Charter and Grievance Redressal Bill 2011, were passed by the cabinet. However, the Union Cabinet has deferred a decision on an ambitious Food Security Bill. The food security program promises to give cheap food grains to 63.5% of the country's 1.2 billion population. It would guarantee seven kilograms of wheat, rice and coarse grains to each member of a poor family every month, and at least three kgs to those who are slightly better off. The grains would be supplied to the poor at a subsidized price of three rupees/kg for rice, two rupees/kg for wheat and one rupee/kg for coarse grains.

European stocks declined for the second day in three after the Federal Reserve refrained from taking new action to bolster the world's largest economy. Key benchmark indices in France, and Germany were down 0.48% to 1.39%. UK's FTSE 100 rose 0.54%.

Asian shares drifted lower on Wednesday, 14 December 2011, after the Federal Reserve failed to take any new steps to stimulate growth and offset the chilling effects of Europe's still-unresolved debt crisis. Key benchmark indices in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea fell by between 0.26% to 0.89%. Key benchmark index in Taiwan rose by 0.38%.

Trading in US index futures indicated that the Dow could gain 24 points at the opening bell on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. US stocks dropped Tuesday as Federal Reserve officials didn't take immediate action to bolster the economy and as domestic retail-sales data offered a disappointing view on the holiday-shopping season. US retail sales grew less than expected in November after solid gains during the two previous months. Another data showed that small-business optimism improved in December for a third straight month, as the outlook for the labor market improved and as expectations for real sales gains turned positive.

The Federal Reserve maintained a status quo on its monetary policy, keeping borrowing costs at record low and holding the stimulus measures. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted 9-to-1 for keeping interest rates at record lows at least through mid-2013, while also holding the line on ongoing stimulus policies. "The Committee will continue to assess the economic outlook in light of incoming information and is prepared to employ its tools to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability," the FOMC said in a statement.

US House voted 234 to 193 on Tuesday to approve a payroll tax-cut package that also includes an oil-pipeline provision opposed by the White House. The extension of the tax cut may remain in a limbo with about two weeks remaining until it expires. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate due to strong opposition from Democratic leaders, setting the stage for another political showdown ahead of the holiday recess. The White House says that President Barack Obama will veto the bill

HedgFX - Dec 14 2011

HedgFX - Dec 14 2011