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Lackluster Start to the Week
Mon, 23 May Closing

After trading range bound for the majority of the day, Indian equity markets witnessed selling pressure in the final hour of trade to finish below the dotted line. At the closing bell, the BSE Sensex ended lower by 72 points, while the NSE Nifty finished lower by 19 points. The S&P BSE Midcap and the S&P BSE Small Cap finished down by 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. Barring power and consumer durables stocks, all the sectoral indices finished in red. Losses were largely seen in capital goods and healthcare stocks.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices with Japanese shares dropping amid renewed strength in yen as fresh data showed the country's exports continued to fall. The Nikkei 225 & the Hang Seng fell 0.49% and 0.22% respectively while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.64%. European markets are lower today with shares in France off the most. The CAC 40 is down 0.29% while London's FTSE 100 is off 0.10% and Germany's DAX is lower by 0.09%.

The rupee was trading at 67.35 against the US$ in the afternoon session. Oil prices were trading at US$ 47.81 at the time of writing.

Shares of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) plunged more than 2% today after it was reported that the company is facing a repeat of the Krishna Godavari (KG) basin fiasco in Iran. ONGC alleges that 11.12 billion cubic meters of natural gas worth Rs 110.55 billion has flowed from its idling KG basin blocks in Bay of Bengal blocks to neighboring KG-D6 fields of Reliance Industries. The same is now on the verge of repeating in the Farzad-B field with Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, which it had discovered in 2008 but no contract to exploit the 12.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable reserves has so far been concluded with Iran.

Reportedly, a portion of Farzad-B field extends into territorial waters controlled by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has already drilled wells on the area falling in its territory, which it has named Hasbah field, and has begun production. The two fields are connected, with the area falling in Iranian territory holding larger share of 12.5 Tcf of recoverable reserves while the Saudi territory has only 3 Tcf or so. But the two fields are connected and whosoever is able to move first would extract more benefits.

According to the reports, it was expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Tehran today and tomorrow may see finalizing of a contract, giving developmental rights of Farzad-B field to ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas subsidiary of ONGC. But Iran is yet to agree to US$ 4.3 billion development plan submitted by OVL.

Meanwhile, according to an article in The Economic Times, ONGC Videsh Ltd has taken a bridge loan of US$1.2 billion from a group of foreign banks at a highly competitive rate of about 1.3% to fund its acquisition of 15% stake in Russia's second biggest oil field of Vankor. The 15% stake will give OVL 3.3 million tonnes per annum of oil production.

Oil and gas stocks languished in red today, with ONGC and HPCL leading the losses.

Moving on to news from mining sector. According to a leading economic daily, Vedanta Resources plans to ramp up aluminum production from Jharsuguda and Korba smelters of Bharat Aluminum Co to 1.5 million tonnes (mt) from 0.9 mt this financial year.

Reportedly, the company is undertaking this on the back of a favorable order from Odisha power regulator. This will allow the company to use 1800 MW of the 2400 MW power it produces at its Jharsuguda Special Economic Zone (SEZ) without paying a cross-subsidy cost. Power from one 600 MW unit goes to the state grid.

Vedanta's costs are currently around US$1,450-1,500 a tonne, a maximum premium of $100 per tonne, and a thin margin. The struggle to manage costs will have captive bauxite supply from the state government. Low bauxite prices, however, are helping the company manage without captive supply for its refinery in Odisha. Vedanta finished the day up by 0.5% on the BSE.

Mining stocks finished the day on a weak note with NMDC and Gujarat NRE Coke leading the losses. After much deliberation and delay, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 had been recently revised and Rajya Sabha approved the amended Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Bill, 2016. In a recent edition of The 5 Minute WrapUp Premium, we looked at the impact of the Act on various mining and metal companies (Subscription Required).

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Feb 20, 2018 09:37 AM