After trading below the dotted line for most part of the session today, Indian markets managed to cross over to the positive territory in the final hour. The final hour optimism was on the back of lower food inflation numbers as compared to those in the previous week. While the BSE Sensex closed higher by around 44 points (up 0.2%), the NSE Nifty gained around 3 points (0.3%). The midcap stocks ended the day higher by 0.3%, while those from the small cap index maintained status quo. Stocks from the telecom, commodity and software sectors were the ones that elicited investor interest.
As regards global markets, markets across Asia closed lower today. European indices have also opened lower. The rupee was trading at Rs 45.49 to the dollar at the time of writing.
As per a business daily, the world's largest steelmaker by output, ArcelorMittal, which had earlier proposed a greenfield steel plant in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand plans to relocate to another state. The primary reason for the same being dispute over land acquisition. The steelmaker will require around 8,000 acres of land for its plant. At the same time it had sought 70 m cubic meters of water a year from the Jharkhand state government for its proposed 12 m metric ton steel plant. Some big-ticket steel plants by global giants such as ArcelorMittal and South Korea's Posco have been stuck for several years due to opposition against land acquisition and lengthy approval procedure for mine leases.
The Indian steel ministry may now acquire land and secure the supply of raw materials such as iron ore for companies seeking to set up large plants with at least 10 m metric tons annual production capacity. The blueprint for the so-called ultra mega steel plants now will be based on the lines of the ultra mega power projects in the country. Already the delays in land acquisition for two projects of Tata Steel and Essar Steel will result in India missing its target to nearly double steel output capacity to 124 m tons by December 2012. India, currently the world's fifth-largest steel producer by volume, has annual capacity of 72 m tons.
The country's largest telecom company, Bharti Airtel has applied for third-generation (3G) mobile spectrum bid in all of the country's 22 telecom zones. The company, which recently entered the African market through acquisition of stake in Zain Telecom's African assets, is also looking to boost its ARPUs in the domestic market through the 3G space. Having said that, the competition will continue to be intense with several companies vying for a share of the pie. India will auction three slots each of 3G wireless spectrum in most of its telecom zones, including the lucrative Delhi and Mumbai regions. The stock of Bharti closed 1% higher.
Coming to global markets, the news that Greece may have to seek assistance from institutions like the IMF to carry out its planned deficit cuts has led to investors staying on the sidelines. Greece has expressed doubts on its ability to resolve its debt problems if it has to continue borrowing money at high interest rates. Greece, which routinely has to pay a premium of at least 3% more than benchmark rates to borrow money, acknowledged last year that it had cheated with its economic statistics to hide the depth of its fiscal problems. Greece's new austerity measures are intended to bring its deficit down from 12.7% to 8.7% of GDP this year, including cuts in public sector pay and tax rises.
In another news, the US has kept up pressure on China to let the yuan appreciate as the latter discussed possibilities with its exporters of coping with a stronger exchange rate. Apprehensions of China's artificially pegged currency rate leading to overcapacity problems and asset bubbles have led to several economies demanding China to unshackle its currency from a 20-month-old peg against the US dollar.