Equity market volatility: Debt may be a safer bet

Sep 23 2013, 08:19 IST
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The uncertainty in the market is unprecedented and investors need to look at staying safe with debt. The uncertainty in the market is unprecedented and investors need to look at staying safe with debt.
SummaryPrudent action for retail investors is to wait for tide to settle down before venturing into equities.

account of the brightening prospects for agriculture due to kharif output and the upturn in exports.

Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation, which had eased in Q1 of 2013-14, has started rising again as the pass-through of fuel price increases has been compounded by the sharp depreciation of the rupee and rising international commodity prices.

The negative output gap will exercise downward pressure on inflation, and the process will be aided as supply side constraints, especially relating to food and infrastructure, ease. However, the current assessment is that in the absence of an appropriate policy response, WPI inflation will be higher than initially projected over the rest of the year.

What has been raised a worrisome is that inflation at the retail level, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has been high for a number of years, entrenching inflation expectations at elevated levels and eroding consumer and business confidence.

On the external side, weakening domestic saving, subdued export demand and the rising value of oil imports most recently due to geopolitical risks emanating from West Asia have led to a larger current account deficit (CAD).

Concerns about funding the CAD, amplified by capital outflows precipitated by anticipated tapering of asset purchases by the US Fed, increased the volatility in the foreign exchange market.

The causes for uncertainty

On the global front, the Fed will meet in December again and one will have to wait to see if it takes a call on tapering (or scaling back) of bond purchases worth $85 billion every month and the global crude prices continue to remain at elevated levels.

The reason for the Fed putting off its tapering schedule was because the US economy continues to remain weak and there are a few potentially significant risks in doing so. The biggest impact of the Feds tapering schedule is likely to be felt by financial markets in emerging markets, which have become so accustomed to the Feds easy money policy that the addiction is deeply ingrained in the stock valuations.

What is certain, though, is that the Fed cannot continue expanding the money supply at the current rate. The question, then, is when will the Fed begin to taper? Experts say December, but thats during the peak of the holiday season, a period when the economy typically does well.

US-based fund analysts say this seasonality makes it difficult to determine if the economy is really improving or just

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