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Oil & Gas Stocks Bear the Brunt Again
Wed, 10 Aug Closing

The Indian equity markets continued to languish in the red towards the final hours of trade, thus closing on a weak note. At the closing bell, the BSE Sensex stood lower by 310 points, while the NSE Nifty finished down by 103 points. The S&P BSE Mid Cap and S&P BSE Small Cap indices too closed the day lower by 1.1% and 1.2% respectively. Losses were largely seen in oil & gas, auto and healthcare stocks.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Hang Seng gained 0.12%, while the Shanghai Composite led the Nikkei 225 lower. They fell 0.23% and 0.18% respectively. European markets are trading lower today with shares in Germany off the most. The DAX is down 0.49%, while France's CAC 40 is off 0.28% and London's FTSE 100 is lower by 0.2%.

The rupee was trading at 66.74 against the US$ in the afternoon session. Oil prices were trading at US$ 42.23 at the time of writing.

Automobile stocks witnessed heavy selling activity today with Hero Motocorp and Maharashtra Scooters leading the losses. Car sales rose 9.62% in India last month, while overall passenger vehicles grew 16.78%. The growth was driven mainly by robust sales of utility vehicles. According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), domestic passenger vehicle (PV) sales stood at 259,685 units in July as against 222,368 units in the same month last year. Sentiments remained optimistic due to new models in UV segment, better rains and coming of the 7th Pay Commission.

Growth in overall PV sales was driven by UVs, which saw a jump of 41.85% to 64,105 units as against 45,191 units in the same month last year. The PV sales have grown at the fastest pace since October 2015 when it had posted a growth of 21.46%. The sales growth comes after two months of decline. But still the cumulative sales during the year remain sluggish.

In another development, Mahindra & Mahindra reported a 12.35% rise in net profit for the fiscal first quarter helped by strong sales of its sport utility vehicles and trucks. Net sales at India's largest utility vehicle maker rose 14%. Mahindra's total vehicle sales rose 11% to 121,530 units during the three-month period.

Sales of several carmakers including Mahindra, Tata Motors and Toyota Motor Corp have been impacted because of a temporary ban by India's top court on the sale of large diesel cars in the capital Delhi. Mahindra said it will introduce a petrol and diesel engine for all its major models over the next three to four years, and will launch hybrid cars by 2022.

Moving on to news from the telecom sector. According to an article in The Livemint, Idea Cellular Ltd and Vodafone India Ltd will look to outbid their rivals in the spectrum auction scheduled on 29th September. The current market leader Bharti Airtel holds 769.9 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum across the 22 circles into which India's telecom geography is divided. Reliance Jio, which is yet to launch its operations commercially, is also comfortably placed with 595.8MHz of spectrum across India. In contrast, Vodafone has 301.8MHz and Idea 270.7MHz.

Spectrum worth Rs 5.63 trillion at the base price and 2,354.55MHz of spectrum will go under the hammer in India's largest auction of mobile airwaves. The government expects telecom companies to bid aggressively in the auction as they seek to improve the quality of their service.

The telcos themselves are likely to be cautious on account of the debt on their books. As per the reports, Airtel and Idea had net debt of Rs 834.9 billion and Rs 376.57 billion, respectively, on their books as of the quarter ended 30 June.

Meanwhile, Idea's consolidated net profit during the quarter fell to Rs 2.17 billion down 62.29%. Total revenues remained stagnant at Rs 94.8 billion. The company's financials were hurt by higher costs and pressure on data growth.

During the quarter, Idea Cellular's realization per MB at 21.1 paise was the lowest in the last eight quarters. The same for Bharti at 22.31 paise. The slowing data growth does not indicate well for telecom companies as it could lead to a rise in customer acquisition. Further, with Reliance Jio's launch around the corner, there's the risk of an even further decline in realizations unless demand does not pick up dramatically (Subscription required). Idea Cellular finished the day down by 4.3%, while Bharti Airtel fell by 0.9% on the BSE.

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