Indian markets had a lackluster day of trading today. There was not much activity on the bourses on account of the 'bandh' (strike) called by opposition parties. As a result for most part of the day, the indices oscillated to either side of Friday's close. While the BSE Sensex closed lower by around 27 points (down 0.2%), the NSE Nifty lost around 1 point. The BSE Midcap and BSE Smallcap notched gains of 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. While gains were largely seen in healthcare and FMCG stocks, oil & gas and metals stocks closed in the red.
As regards global markets, Asian indices closed mixed today while the European indices have also opened on a mixed note. The rupee was trading at Rs 46.82 to the dollar at the time of writing.
As per a leading business daily, telecom major Bharti Airtel has chalked out plans to invest US$ 100 m in Niger. This is part of the company's strategy to improve the reach and quality of its network in the West African nation by 2012. It must be noted that Bharti took over the mobile operations in 15 African countries after acquiring the African assets of Zain. The deal has made Bharti the fifth largest mobile phone company by subscribers in the world. Already Bharti has been facing severe competition in the Indian telecom market. Thus, it is looking to give its performance a boost through its operations in Africa. Africa presents more opportunities on account of lower mobile phone penetration at 32% compared to India's 50%. Also, competition is much lesser in Africa than what it is in India. The stock closed higher today.
Software stocks closed mixed today. While Tech Mahindra and Wipro found favour, TCS was at the receiving end. As per a leading business daily, TCS has envisaged hiring around 30,000 employees this fiscal. The management is of the view that the US economy is recovering and will sustain recovery more than Europe. Demand has started picking up and the share of IT services is expected to increase. Although the company has seen some decline in its revenues from the European markets due to the debt crisis there, North America still accounts for a larger chunk of revenues. The share of European revenues to total revenues of TCS has come down from 30% to 25%. Further TCS is also banking on its scale in the emerging markets such as Latin America, China, the Middle East and Africa. Not just that, TCS is beginning to see larger deals coming through in the traditional application development and maintenance space as well.
Textile stocks closed in the red with the key losers being Raymond, Arvind Ltd and Alok Industries. Things are not looking hunky dory for the textile sector in India. It is well known that the Indian textile sector has been facing challenging times due to the global financial crisis and volatility in foreign exchange. As reported in a leading business daily, a FICCI study has stated that the Indian textile industry is facing tough competition in the US. This is because exporters from smaller countries like Bangladesh are cornering the lucrative market at a faster pace. Fathom this. In the US, India's share increased by 0.17% in 2009 over the previous year but the share of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and China increased by 0.5%, 0.4%, 0.67% and 4.3% respectively. Not just that China accounts for about 37% of the US' textiles and apparel imports, while India's share is less than 6%. Indeed, India's textile sector will have to really pull up its socks if it wants to remain a competitive force in the US and bolster revenues in the longer term.