All Asian markets have opened the day on a strong note on the back of easing in the oil prices. Markets in Japan (up 1.6%), Hong Kong (up 1.3%) and Singapore (up 1.2%) are the leading gainers. Indian markets have also opened the day on a firm note. Banking, auto and IT stocks are leading the gains.
The BSE-Sensex is trading higher by around 178 points (1.0%), while the NSE-Nifty is up by around 54 points (1.0%). Mid and small cap stocks are also trading firm, with the BSE Midcap index and BSE Small cap index up by 0.9% and 0.8% respectively. The rupee is trading at 44.96 to the US dollar.
Telecom stocks have opened the day on a firm note with Tech Mahindra, Tata Tele and Reliance Communication trading firm. However, Bharti Airtel is facing some selling pressure. Incumbent telecom service provider, Bharti Airtel has launched its 3G services in the metro city of Delhi. This takes the total tally of circles where 3G has been launched by Bharti to seven. The company plans to roll out its 3G services in all of its 13 circles by the end of this month. The company's management is optimistic that the 3G services would help to improve its ailing average revenue per user (ARPU) figures. Bharti's ARPU has declined to Rs 198 at the end of the December 2010 quarter as compared to Rs 230 seen during the same period in the previous year. The company is now relying on the higher-end 3G related data services to help improve the ARPU going forward. The company is also in talks with other operators to be able to offer its 3G services on a nationwide basis. The company currently has 500,000 3G subscribers. It has won the 3G spectrum and license for 13 out of the country's 22 circles.
Bank stocks have also opened the day on a firm note with Axis Bank, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank Leading the pack of gainers. State-owned lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) is planning to buy equity stake and enter into a corporate agency tie-up with one of the 10 life insurers it has shortlisted of the 42 applications that it has received. PNB is keen to buy stakes in life as well as non-life insurance firms. Currently, PNB has a referral arrangement with the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for selling insurance products whereby it receives commissions for selling insurance products. PNB had earlier joined hands with Vijaya Bank for a life insurance foray but the proposal was later dropped.