The Indian markets have started today's session on a volatile note. The benchmark indices opened above the breakeven mark but soon fell into the negative territory. Other key Asian markets are trading in the red with Indonesia (down 0.6%) leading the pack of losers. The US markets closed lower by 0.4% last Friday.
Currently in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading a mixed bag with auto and software stocks witnessing buyers' interest. However, select banking heavyweights are in the red. The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by around 31 points, while the NSE-Nifty is down by about 11 points. However, buying interest is being witnessed among mid and small cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices are trading higher by 0.2% and 0.5% respectively. The rupee is trading at 46.39 to the US dollar.
Telecom stocks have opened the day on a mixed note. Gainers here include Spice Communication and MTNL. However, Bharti Airtel is in the red. As per a leading business daily, the Zain Telecom board has accepted a US$ 11 bn offer from Bharti Airtel to buy its African assets. Zain Telecom has over 70 m customers across 23 countries in West Asia and Africa. It has revenues of over US$ 7 bn. The deal will add 42 m customers to Bharti Airtel's 125 m subscribers placing it in the world's top five or six telecom operators. The details of the deal are likely to be worked out by the end of March. In our view, this development reflects the company's drive to ramp up its global presence. It has a foothold in Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has tried twice to strike a deal with South African telecom major MTN . The interest in Africa is not surprising given the continent is one of the world's fastest- growing telecom markets.
Cement stocks have opened the day on a mixed note. Gainers here include Madras Cements and Shree Cement. However, Ultratech Cement is in the red. As per a leading business daily, the Indian cement industry is implementing expansion projects worth Rs 500 bn to take its overall capacity to close to 300 m tonnes (MT) by 2012. Holcim, which owns ACC and Ambuja Cements, plans to invest over US$ 1 bn to add 10 MT to take its capacity to 60 MT. Similarly, the Aditya Birla Group, which owns Grasim and UltraTech, plans to invest US$ 3 bn to add 25 MT to take its capacity to 75 MT. The expansion plans are on the back of expected growth in the Indian economy. In fact, as per government estimates, India would require 600 MT of cement capacity by 2020. As a result, companies expect double digit growth in consumption demand for cement in the next five years.