Barring South Korea (down 0.6%) and Malaysia (down 0.4%), Asian stock markets have opened the day on a firm note with stock markets in Japan (up 0.8%) and China (up 1.7%) leading the gains. The Indian share markets have also opened the day on a firm note. Barring banking sector, all sectoral indices have opened in the green led by the stocks in the metal and consumer durables space.
The Sensex today is up by around 74 points (0.4%), while the NSE-Nifty is up by around 28 points (up 0.5%). Mid and small cap stocks have opened in the green with the BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap indices up by around 0.5% and 0.4 % respectively. The rupee is trading at Rs 54.12 to the US dollar.
Indian Pharma stocks have opened the day on a mixed note with Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd and Aurobindo Pharma Ltd leading the gains. However, Panacea Biotech Ltd and Torrent Pharma Ltd are leading the pack of losers. As per a leading financial daily, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has alleged a number of drug makers for overcharging consumers for many essential medicines, amounting to a total of Rs 236 bn over the past few years. Those alleged include firms such as Cipla, Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL) and Ranbaxy Ltd etc. As per the regulator, the pharma companies have been selling medicines at retail prices higher than what was fixed by NPPA. The amount overcharged by Cipla has been estimated at Rs 16 bn and spreads over around 10 years. As per a government official, the alleged overcharging by DRL and Ranbaxy spans across the last 5 - 6 years and is estimated at around Rs 13.5 bn and Rs 3.9 bn respectively. Most of these companies have challenged the claims made by the regulator in court. Since almost 95% of the cases are subjudice, no action has been taken against them yet.
Telecom stocks have opened the day on a mixed note with Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications leading the gains. However, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular are facing selling pressure. As per a leading financial daily, the GSM operators lost 1.97 million subscribers in February. This compares to the addition of 0.4 million users in January 2013. The total subscriber base now stands at 655.59 million. As per the director of GSM operators' body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the decline is due to shutting down of services by certain operators, while the subscriber verification initiatives have almost stabilized. Among the key operators, Bharti Airtel Ltd continued to be the country's leading operator by subscribers and has added 2.43 m subscribers, increasing its market share to 28.5 % during the month. Vodafone India added 2.2 m users taking its total user base to 149.9 m, while Idea Cellular added 2.9 m subscribers increasing its subscriber base to 119.3 m.