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A Negative End to a Dull Day
Tue, 22 Dec Closing

Indian equity markets began the day's proceedings on a tentative note as the morning session saw them oscillate to either side of yesterday's close. However, post noon selling activity intensified and this was sustained till the closing bell. While the BSE Sensex today closed lower by 145 points, the NSE Nifty closed lower by 49 points. Meanwhile, the S&P BSE Mid Cap index and the S&P BSE Small Cap index too closed the day lower by 0.3% and 0.02% respectively. Losses were largely seen in IT and metal stocks.

Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.26% and the Hang Seng rose 0.18%. The Nikkei 225 lost 0.16%. European markets are higher today with shares in London leading the region. The FTSE 100 is up 0.65%, while Germany's DAX is up 0.42% and France's CAC 40 is up 0.12%. The was trading at 66.30 against the US$ in the afternoon session.

Stocks from oil & gas sector finished the day on a mixed note with Gujarat Gas Ltd and Gujarat State Petronet witnessing majority of the buying activity. According to a leading financial daily, India's fuel consumption in November stood at 14.8 million tonnes which is 6.4% higher than 13.9 million tonnes consumed in the same month a year ago. Diesel, the most consumed fuel in the country, however, saw a tapering in demand growth to 1.5%, rising from just over 6 million tonnes in November 2014 to 6.1 million tonnes this year.

According to reports, petrol sales surged 17% to 1.77 million tonnes, while naphtha consumption was up 39% at 1.05 million tonnes. LPG consumption was up 2.8% at 1.61 million tonnes but kerosene sales were down 13% at 518,000 tonnes. Petrol sales have risen in double digits every month this year except in May and June when it was 9% and 9.7% respectively. In September they had risen by a record 25.4%.

During the first six months of this year the total merchandise exports in the country fell by 16.4% in comparison to the same period in 2014. A major reason for the drop in the prices was due to the decline in oil prices. At the beginning November 2014, the price of Indian basket of crude oil was at around US$81 per barrel. Since then price of oil has fallen to US$34 per barrel a fall of around 58%.

Given the plunge in oil prices during the year, companies from the downstream segment (retail) have seen their stock prices rise, while those of the upstream segment (exploration and refining) have been battered. 2015 has been a mixed year for the stocks from the oil & gas sector. In one of our recent edition of The 5 Minute WrapUp Premium, we have discussed companies that have outperformed the Indian benchmark (Subscription Required) and how oil prices play an important role in determining the fortunes of companies in the energy space.

According to a leading economic daily, NTPC is likely to shelve the plan to take over Damodar Valley Corporation's (DVC) 2,520 MW Raghunathpur plant in West Bengal after the railways conveyed that it wasn't interested in buying power from the utility. This move could jeopardize the state-run thermal power producer DVC's debt reduction strategy.

Reportedly, the deal is unlikely to get the board's approval at this moment although NTPC had been conducting due diligence on the project for a final takeover for quite some time in December. The first phase of the Raghunathpur plant was scheduled for commissioning in 2010 but even after a delay of nearly five years and a revised cost estimate of Rs 75 billion, the utility continues to suffer from issues related to land acquisition for the rail and water corridors.

It may be noted that NTPC is the leading power generator of India. The total installed capacity of the company exceeds 45,000 MW which accounts for 25% of all India generation. The company is one of the seven Maharatnas and clocked the third highest profit amongst Public Sector Units (PSU) in FY15. Of its own capacity, 85% is coal based, operated through 18 coal power stations, 13% is gas based and the remaining 2% constitutes of solar and hydro power plants. Here is the detailed analysis of NTPC in our recent StockSelect report (Subscription Required).

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