Mutual funds, investors and brokerages are slowly increasing their expectation from the upcoming Budget to reverse the current bearish tide.

Though most believe that the Budget has little room to play, from investors’ perspective, slowly and steadily, expectations are creeping in, especially post the steep correction in the market since the beginning of the year. 

Both big and small investors expect some kind of stimulus from the Budget that can not only arrest the current downtrend but also revive the fortunes of some of the mid-cap and small-cap stocks that cracked over 15 per cent in FY2023. 

The expectation is high as 2024 will see a general election and the government will do its best to win back people’s confidence once again within a short span of time. 

Three key points

Amidst all this, the focus will mainly be around three key points — fiscal deficit number, growth projection and spending, and capital gains tax. 

Global advisory firm UBS, in a note, said the government is expected to support growth by boosting welfare spending, albeit within fiscal boundaries, which will also help it manage macro-stability risks amid the rising global uncertainty. 

Bringing down the fiscal deficit to 4.5 per cent of the GDP by FY26 looks ambitious, UBS India economist Tanvee Gupta-Jain said. A figure above 6 per cent will disappoint the market, believe market participants.  

Tanvee Gupta also expects a slowdown in nominal GDP growth to 10.5 per cent in FY24 from an estimated 15.4 per cent in FY23. But this is possible only if the tax collection remains buoyant. 

Emkay Global says the Centre should ensure the expenditure-to-GDP ratio remains healthy and also front-loaded investment-focused stimulus, especially amid its larger multiplier effect on growth and employment. 

Most brokerages expect the government’s policy reforms such as Atmanirbhar Bharat, Make in India and the PLI scheme to continue in FY24 as well and they could receive further impetus. The consequent higher government spending on infrastructure development will help the economy accelerate its prevailing growth momentum. 

Brokerages also said investors are expecting a uniform tax structure for capital gains which might help taxpayers to have more disposable income. But either an increase in duration of long term for equity (to two years from current one year) or hike in tax rate from current 10 per cent (for gains above ₹1 lakh) will affect the stock market instantly.

Besides, there is a silent hope on the part of some brokerages that the government may tweak securities transaction tax rate or altogether withdraw in case of tweaking capital gains tax. However, the chance of touching STT is remote, they opined. 

Asset management companies make one common demand every year from the Budget. This year also, they are hopeful that the Finance Minister may do them a favour by way of uniform taxation for capital gains from mutual funds and Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) issued by insurance companies.