Indian equity markets began the day's proceedings on a positive note. The buying momentum was sustained throughout today's session, although trading remained largely rangebound. While the BSE-Sensex today closed higher by 330 points, the NSE-Nifty closed higher by 104 points. The BSE Mid Cap and the BSE Small Cap also did well and gained around 0.5% and 0.4% respectively. Gains were largely seen in banking and auto stocks.
As regards global markets, most Asian indices closed firm today while European indices have opened mixed. The rupee was trading at Rs 61.05 to the dollar at the time of writing.
Telecom stocks closed mixed today. While Bharti Airtel found favour, Idea Cellular closed into the red. As per a leading business daily, Bharti Airtel is looking to invest Rs 40 bn in Punjab over the next 5 years. This is for the expansion of the optic fibre network and 4G services. This is according to the agreement that was signed by the company with the Punjab government. As per the deal, Bharti Airtel will lay an additional 10,000 km of optic fibre across Punjab. It will also expand its 4G footprint to cover majority of the state's population over the next few years. In addition to this, the company will also invest in its existing 2G mobile operations, wire-line and DSL broadband. According to the company, till date it has invested Rs 48 bn on operations in the state and its mobile network covers 94% of the population. Given the quantum of investment required by all operators including Bharti Airtel towards expansion and rollout of networks and spectrum charges among other things, overall pricing is expected to remain under pressure.
Most FMCG stocks closed weak today with the key losers being Marico, Hindustan Unilever and Pidilite Industries. As per a leading business daily, tax incentives have played an important role for FMCG companies when it comes to setting up plants. For instance, tax incentives announced by the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh around 10 years back attracted a lot of investments from the FMCG sector. Thus, Uttarakhand saw influx of investments to the tune of Rs 360 bn between 2003 and 2010, out of which FMCG accounted for around Rs 40 bn. With these 10-year tax holidays now coming to an end, many of the FMCG companies are shutting down plants or are setting these plants elsewhere such as Andhra Pradesh. For instance, Marico had stopped manufacturing at its Selakui plant near Dehradun. While Marico has not stated its reasons for the same, it could be attributed to the expiry of the 10-year tax holiday. Because of this and the withdrawal of excise duty waiver and the central investment subsidy, investments in both the states have slowed down.