Market round-up: Healthcare, EM exposure buoy hedge funds gains
In other news, Increase in acreage of kharif crops; major ports handled more cargo in June quarter
Hedge funds gained in June, aided by various factors such as interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve, sharply declining oil prices and low volatility in equity markets. Data released by Hedge Fund Research showed that the HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index surged for the eighth consecutive month, rising 0.4% in June. This was led by gains seen in funds focused on emerging markets (EMs) and healthcare. Also, this is the first time the index saw consecutive monthly gains in 15 out of 16 months since April 2004. In June, HFRI outperformed the US Nasdaq and European equities, ending the first half of 2017 with gains of 3.7%.
Increase in acreage of kharif crops
Data from the agriculture ministry as on 7 July shows a 9% increase in acreage of kharif crops sown over the same period a year ago. Brokerage firm Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt. Ltd forecasts the uptrend in sowing to continue given that monsoon rains for fiscal year 2018 are expected to be about 98% of the long-period average. The highest increase in acreage so far has been in pulses and cereals. A month ago too, acreage for most crops was higher as compared to a year earlier, with cotton reflecting a significant jump.
Major ports handled more cargo in June quarter
Major ports handled 5% more cargo in the June quarter compared with the same period last year. Paradip registered the highest growth at 18.6%, followed by Cochin at 18.3%, helped by an increase in POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants) and iron ore traffic. “Iron ore traffic at major ports was up 33.4% with increase in ore handling from Kolkata and Mangalore as both these ports saw a drastic growth of 21x and 7x, respectively,” wrote analysts from Dolat Capital Market Pvt. Ltd in a report on 11 July. POL traffic showed an overall growth of about 10% year-on-year with Paradip, Kolkata and Cochin registering growth of 40%, 37% and 25%, respectively, added Dolat Capital.