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Metal stocks lead markets down
Wed, 23 Jun 09:30 am

The Indian markets have started today's session on a negative note. The benchmark indices opened at the breakeven mark but soon slipped into the negative territory. However, they have managed to pare their losses since then. Other key Asian markets are in the red with Japan (down 1.7%) leading the pack of losers. The US markets closed lower by 1.4% yesterday.

Currently in India, heavyweights from the BSE-Sensex are trading weak with construction and banking majors facing the brunt of selling activity. The BSE-Sensex is trading lower by around 40 points, while the NSE-Nifty is down by about 10 points. However, buying interest is being witnessed among mid and small cap stocks as the BSE-Midcap and BSE-Smallcap indices are trading higher by 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. The rupee is trading at 46.03 to the US dollar.

Energy stocks have opened the day on a positive note. Gainers here include HPCL and Indian Oil. As per a leading business daily, Reliance Industries is close to buying a 45% stake in shale gas assets owned by US based Pioneer Natural Resources for US$ 1.35 bn. Pioneer has about 310,000 acres of shale gas plays in the Eagle Ford region of Texas, US. This would be Reliance Industries' second acquisition of shale gas assets in the US. The company had earlier bought 40% interest in Atlas Energy's Marcellus Shale acreage. This development once again highlights the position of shale gas as a promising filed in the energy sector in North America. It is likely to overtake both conventional gas as well as liquid fuels as a source of energy within the next decade. The Indian petrochemical giant aspires to build a significant position in the shale gas business as part of its strategy of having a larger footprint around the world.

Cement stocks have opened the day on a negative note. Losers here include ACC and Ambuja Cement. As per a leading business daily, Shree Cement will invest Rs 4.5 bn this year to set up a 1.5 m tonne clinker plant and a grinding unit in Rajasthan. The company plans to fund the expenditure through internal accruals. It may be noted that the company had cash reserves of Rs 20 bn as on 31st March, 2010. The company already runs the single-largest integrated cement factory in North India. The cement from these two units will cater to the North India market, which has been witnessing a 10% annual growth in consumption. Shree Cement now produces 12 m tonnes a year. Overall, India's cement industry is expanding capacity to meet the increasing demand ahead. In fact, the industry plans to invest around Rs 500 bn over the next two to three years in order to increase production to about 400 m tonnes from 240 m tonnes currently.

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