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Perspective

“What, Me Worry?”
If there is one thing that spooks investors, it is uncertainty. And, the coming months has plenty

N Mahalakshmi

In January, it seemed like nothing could go wrong in the market. The benchmark indices were on a tear and were trading at their all-time highs. That was true not only of India but of almost every major market in the world. It is often said that markets climb a wall of worry and it has done that effortlessly for a while now. Of late though, the bulls seem to be taking a breather.

If it was North Korea’s sabre-rattling that played spoilsport earlier, now President Trump’s protectionist trade measures has set the cat among the investing pigeons. Domestic investors not only have to deal with that but a lot more. Given that yields on the 10-year government bond have been hardening, the narrative has changed from an easy-money stance to one where interest rates might possibly head up. Then, there is the political uncertainty flowing from multiple state elections and, of course, the general elections in about a year.  

That said, investor optimism has far from ebbed. At an index level of 34,000, a 700-point fall in the Sensex is viewed as just another day. Retail investor optimism hasn’t been dented and equity flows into mutual funds continue to be robust. Every large fall is still being viewed as a buying opportunity and most brokerages are penciling in a positive return for CY18. In fact, Goldman Sachs has a 12-month target of 11,600 for the Nifty. The trend might be your friend but if there is one thing that spooks investors, it is uncertainty. And for investors, the coming months has plenty. What exactly is spooking investors and what might be the possible outcome, is the focus of this issue’s cover story.

Among other stories, we have a feature on Eveready which is diversifying into confectionery and FMCG. Investors don’t tend to take unrelated diversifications kindly but for now have given the management a long rope. There is also a feature on Milkbasket, a start-up which operates in the early-morning grocery delivery space. It has got off to a great start but scaling up could be an entirely different ballgame. 

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