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Heavyweights drag indices lower
Tue, 26 Feb Closing

With no reform measures announced in today's Railway Budget, investors seem to be sitting on the sidelines ahead of the Union Budget to be announced on 28th February. As a result profit booking was seen across index heavyweights since the start of the trading session today. Major sector indices across the board except IT closed lower today. While the BSE Sensex closed lower by around 317 points, the NSE-Niftyclosed lower by 93 points. The BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap lost almost 2% each in today's trade.

As regards global markets, most Asian indices closed lower today while European indices have also in the negative. The rupee was placed at Rs 54.14 to the dollar at the time of writing.

As per a business daily, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC's) 1,980 MW super-thermal power plant in Jharkhand, has received the Prime Minister's Cabinet Committee on Investment's (CCI) nod, to resume operations. This power project's proposal has been pending for more than a decade, as in 2003, Coal India had raised the issue that NTPC's power plant would be sitting on an area with nearly six billion tonnes of reserves. But now it has investigated that, this thermal power plant in Jharkhand will not impact mining activity at Coal India's Karanpura mines, located close by. Hence both Coal India and NTPC have agreed to work on their respective projects. The power plant will be operational for 35 years. After that, the land will be available for mining. NTPC has invested Rs 2.5 bn in the project and obtained various clearances. The project, in fact, has received support from the Ministry of Environment & Forests as well.

Tobacco major, ITC's Agri Business Division - ILTD, which works with the tobacco farmers in Mysore and Hassan districts, has developed affordable farm mechanization solution for small tobacco farmers. In order to develop farm solutions, ILTD imported the technology from a manufacturer in Italy. With the help of this solution, the company can save 50% of the labor requirement in tobacco cultivation. This solution is likely to benefit 60,000 farm families and laborers, as labor shortage always hinders operations timeline, impacts crop quality and the export potential.

While regulatory headwinds have led to a moderation in ITC's cigarette business, the impact has been partially offset by the brisk growth in its FMCG business. Despite a structural rise in taxation, ITC has been able to expand margins in its core cigarette business, thanks to the huge pricing power enjoyed by it. Even cigarettes launched in the new filter segment (cigarette length not exceeding 65 mm) have met with reasonable success and the company is rolling out the products across the country. The company has been consistently reducing losses in the FMCG segment. All these factors have enabled ITC to grow its topline as well as earnings at a robust pace.

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Mar 21, 2018 12:47 PM