Now that the dust has settled a bit on the budget front, it is a good time to look into the fine print to check how the different asset classes will be impacted with the budget plans. Since there hasn’t been much changes on the taxation front, all investors will be hoping that the budget proposals will have a positive impact on their asset classes.
Let us start with equity then. The following are the most notable:-
- The FM did not touch LTCG exemption for this asset class and that in itself came as a huge relief to the markets. A lot of the up move was due to this factor.
- Reduction of corporate taxes for companies having less than 50 crores turnover in 2015-2016 will definitely increase their profit margins and consequently contribute to the elusive earnings growth that all are seeking.
- The monetary policy is definitely looking at reduction of rates and companies can look forward to cheaper credit. This will hopefully push up profit margins.
- The infrastructure push will be positive news for many companies linked to this area of business. Easier credit will help consumer product companies.
- Banking industry will get some much needed support for the NPA problem.
Based on the above, it will be logical to assume that the performance of our companies will start to get better over time, quite possibly from the next quarter. The discipline shown on the fiscal deficit front as well as the seemingly firm deadline on GST implementation should help our credit ratings. Over the past few months FII money has been going away from our markets to other developed and emerging markets. With the above changes and the rally which has been largely driven by domestic liquidity, it is conceivable that some FII buying may resume in our markets, at least in specific stocks. Equity therefore, seems to be the asset class of choice for investors this year. Our markets have not really gone anywhere in the last 2 years though several stocks have given good returns. This can be a year when the markets do well overall and this gets reflected in an up move of the indices.
What about Debt in that case? Some changes to note are as follows:-
- As with equity the LTCG treatment has been kept unchanged.
- Availability of huge amounts of cash with the banks may push interest rates further down. This may happen as early as the monetary policy of February 8th.
- LIC scheme of 8 % returns for senior citizens is actually an indication that interest rates may well fall further.
- The rate reduction will happen but the cycle is close to bottoming out too, maybe another 50 basis points overall will be there.
Based on these, I think Debt will not really be the asset class where investors should invest fresh in 2017. It makes sense to only look at mandatory debt such as PF and PPF. For the rest try to invest as much into equity as possible, both through MF and stocks. For any of your existing debt products that may get redeemed this year, look at equity again.
What about Real Estate? Well, that presents an interesting scenario. Look at the following:–
- Home loan rates are definitely going down and announcements of discounts on lower amount of loans will help the housing industry.
- Demonetisation has definitely impacted the prices though Real Estate companies will fight hard to resist any downgrades of pricing.
- Builders will be helped by the one year window to sell the property without getting into the Deemed income stiff.
- 2 year duration for LTCG can make investment in homes easier.
- Capping the interest deduction at 2 lacs for the second home makes sense but it is a blow for people who were looking to get a second home as an investment.
Based on the above, it does seem that buying the first home is a great idea now and doing so for a second investment property is a not so good idea. Unless you are really flush with funds, avoid the investment idea. You can easily get caught into an increasing cycle of interest rates 2-3 years down the line and the income from your investment may not be that great due to the generally low rental yields.
Conclusions then? Buy a first home if you are interested, keep debt only at PF / PPF level and put all the rest into equity. This is the year of equity, get started even if you feel hesitant. If you are already into it then go on to take a deeper plunge.