Barring Indonesia (up 0.1%), all major Asian stock markets have opened the day in the red with stock markets in China (down 2.7%), Japan (down 1.0%) and Hong Kong (down 1.8%) leading the losses. The Indian share market indices have opened the day on a weak note. All sectoral indices have opened in the red with stocks in the metal and realty space leading the losses.
The Sensex today is down by around 120 points (0.6%), while the NSE-Nifty is down by around 38 points (0.6%). Mid and small cap stocks are also opened in the red with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices down by around 0.7% and 0.5% respectively. The rupee is trading at Rs 54.36 to the US dollar.
Telecom stocks have opened the day mainly in red with AGC Networks Ltd and Reliance Communications Ltd leading the losses. As per a leading financial daily, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone India Ltd have challenged the government's plan to auction spectrum in the 900 megahertz (MHz) band in March 2013. The companies have opposed the plan to auction on the grounds that their applications for extension of licences are still pending with the department of telecommunications (DoT). The government is putting the frequency on the block in three cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata - where existing permits are valid until November 2014. Both the companies use 900 megahertz frequency band in some service areas. As per clause 4.1 of the unified access service licence (UASL, or telecom licence), telecom operators are eligible for an extension of 10 years at a time if they apply in year 19 of the licence. The government has, however, changed the terms of the licences. It has made it a renewal rather than an extension and has delinked spectrum from the licences. It implies that the companies need to win back the airwaves to continue using that frequency band, or bid for the less-efficient 1800 megahertz band. The minimum bidding price for the 900 megahertz band has been set at double the price for the 1800 megahertz one. This also means they will have to build more mobile masts and invest more on technology.
The stocks in the Energy sector have opened mixed with Essar Oil Ltd and Jindal Drill Ltd leading the losses. However, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL) are leading the gains. As per a leading financial daily, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is negotiating a possible deal to buy Videocon out of a huge gas find in Mozambique. Videocon is planning to offload either fully or partly its 10% stake in the offshore gas find called Area-1, in Mozambique's Rovuma basin. ONGC intends to acquire the Videocon's stake provided a deal works out jointly with Oil India ltd. The two are now conducting due diligence together. Mozambique plans to set up a plant to turn gas into liquid for shipping to Asia and other markets. As such, a stake will benefit ONGC which is looking to set up a liquid gas import terminal at Mangalore where it runs a refinery. However, as per the sources, a high asking price of US$3 bn and associated liabilities are proving to be a hurdle to the deal. ONGC is also talking to other companies that have found gas in Mozambique.