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Markets Recover to Finish Flat
Fri, 6 May Closing

Indian markets recovered in the afternoon session to finish the week on a flat note amid weak international markets. At the closing bell, the BSE Sensex closed lower by 34 points, the NSE Nifty finished lower by 2 points. The S&P BSE Midcap finished up by 0.4%, while the S&P BSE Small Cap finished down by 0.2%. Losses were largely seen in healthcare and IT stocks. Consumer Durables' stocks witnessed maximum buying activity.

Asian markets finished broadly lower today with shares in China leading the region. The Shanghai Composite is down 2.82%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng is off 1.66% and Japan's Nikkei 225 is lower by 0.25%. European markets are trading lower today with shares in France off the most. The CAC 40 is down 0.65%, while London's FTSE 100 is off 0.52% and Germany's DAX is lower by 0.46%.

The rupee was trading at 66.58 against the US$ in the afternoon session. Oil prices were trading at US$ 44.18 at the time of writing.

Shares of National Aluminum Company Limited (Nalco) finished the trading day on an optimistic note (up 1.5%) after it was reported that the company and Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) have entered into a joint venture at Chhatrapur in Odisha's Ganjam district. The two companies have agreed to set up a Titanium Slag project having 100,000 tonnes per annum. The joint venture company would be set up at an investment of Rs 7.5 billion.

Titanium is regarded as a high-end metal. Nalco aims to enter into a niche market with this venture. Nalco would also scout for other global suppliers in countries like Russia, Ukraine and the United States.

More recently, Nalco also agreed to buy back 25% of its shares from the government. The buyback, initiated by the finance ministry earlier this year, is part of the government's efforts to raise much needed funds by selling shares worth up to Rs 565 billion (US$8.5 billion) to curb the 2016/17 fiscal deficit.

Metal stocks finished the day on a mixed note with Hindustan Zinc and Hindalco leading the gains. After a prolonged weakness in commodity prices, metals stocks have been on the rise in the last three months. The BSE Metal index is almost up by 27% since mid-February. The recovery in the prices globally can be attributed to lower production and capacity curtailment.

Moving on to news from the telecom sector. According to a leading financial daily, Bharti Airtel Africa will sell 950 mobile towers in the Congo to telecom infrastructure company Helios Towers Africa (HTA). The divestment under the agreement between the two companies also includes towers currently under construction in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Reportedly, the deal will significantly reduce Bharti Airtel's capital expenditure (subscription Required) on passive infrastructure and also mitigate the proliferation of towers through enhanced sharing.

With this deal, Airtel will complete the sale worth over US$ 2.5 billion of mobile tower assets in Africa. The net debt of the company stood at around Rs 839 billion as on March 31. Bharti Airtel has decided to exit the tower business in Africa where it had around 14,000 towers.

Helios has also acquired its tower assets in Congo B. Airtel sold its mobile tower to ATC in Nigeria and another deal in Tanzania. Airtel also sold its mobile tower to Eaton in Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Burkina Faso and to IHS in Rwanda and Zambia. The script of Bharti Airtel finished the day up by 1% on the BSE.

In the last two years, the telecom sector has bounced back with a revival in subscriber additions (Subscription Required). As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the monthly average revenue per user has grown at an average of 5.7% in the last five years. Though the tariffs remained stable in FY15, the realizations for service providers fell due to higher competitive intensity pulling down profitability.

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Mar 19, 2018 (Close)