Sensex marginally up 18 points

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SummarySensex rose by over 18 points in early trade today, led by recovery in stocks of consumer durables.

The BSE benchmark Sensex rose by over 18 points in early trade today, led by recovery in stocks of consumer durables, power and healthcare sectors amid emergence of buying by funds.

The 30-share barometer recovered by 18.29 points, or 0.09 per cent, after yesterday's losses, to 18,864.55.

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index, Nifty moved up by 5.50 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 5,744.25.

Brokers said fresh buying by participants at select counters helped sentiments to improve but a weak trend in the in the Asian markets following overnight losses on the US market on worries over looming fiscal crisis restricted the gains.

Stocks of United Spirits shot up by 5.23 per cent to Rs 1,414 after reports that the Vijaya-Mallya led UB Group is understood to have reached a deal with world's largest spirit maker Diageo for a stake sale in the company.

In the Asian region, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell by 0.33 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei shed 0.86 per cent in early trade today.

The US dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.94 per cent lower in yesterday's trade.

GLOBAL MARKETS ROUND UP

Nifty futures on the Singapore Exchange fell 0.1 percent. The MSCI-Asia Pacific index excluding Japan also fell 0.3 percent.

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday and could be in line for more weakness as worries about Washington's ability to find a timely solution to the fiscal cliff dominate investor thinking in coming weeks.

Asian shares fell further on Friday, weighed down by worries over the risk of a recession in the world's largest economy as the United States faces a looming fiscal crisis, while Europe still awaits a bailout for Greece, keeping investor risk appetite subdued.

FACTORS TO WATCH

National and regional leaders of the ruling Congress party will meet outside New Delhi to look at party strategy ahead of state and national elections in 2013/2014.

Earnings on Friday: State Bank of India, Tata Steel, Coal India, Hindustan Petroleum Corp , Bharat Petroleum Corp, Indian Oil Corp

India's foreign reserves data (1130 GMT)

INDIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

TOP NEWS

Diageo Plc was close to a deal for a stake in Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya's United Spirits Ltd after months of talks, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, with a deal likely to be announced as soon as Friday.

Orient-Express Hotels Ltd rejected a $1.2 billion takeover offer from Indian Hotels Co Ltd as too cheap and appointed a new chief executive, saying that it was confident of its prospects as an independent company.

ENERGY/COMMODITIES

Oil & Natural Gas Corp.'s quarterly profit dropped more than 30 percent because of a sharp rise in the discount it has to give state refiners even as crude prices fell.

Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) lagged expectations despite a 12 percent rise in quarterly profit, as lower sales and higher input costs capped gains.

India will pay 300 billion rupees ($5.5 billion) to state-owned fuel retailers forced to sell at cheaper government-set rates in the first half of the year, said three sources who saw the finance ministry's confirmation letter.

Tata Power has bought a 26 percent stake in Indonesian coal producer Baramulti Sukses Sarana, which owns about 1 billion tonnes of coal resources in the South East Asian country, as it seeks to secure fuel supplies.

FINANCIAL/REGULATORY

Future Group has signed a non-binding agreement with Industrial Investment Trust Ltd to sell a controlling stake in its life insurance joint venture Future Generali, two people familiar with the development said.

Magma Fincorp Ltd Limited bought certain affiliates of GE Capital India, the unite of General Electric said in a statement.

PHARMA

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd will pay about $230 million for U.S.-based Dusa Pharmaceuticals Inc to gain access to the skin treatment market in the United States and complement the dermatology business of its Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd subsidiary.

Separately, Sun Pharma said it has raised its sales growth guidance to 20-22 percent for the fiscal year ending March 2013.

The Supreme Court on Thursday put on hold a Delhi High Court order that restrained domestic manufacturer Cipla from producing Sunitinib, a drug used in the treatment of renal cancer.

TELECOM

Reliance Communications Ltd reported a larger-than-expected 60 percent drop in quarterly profit, dragged down by the cost of its debt.

The government will allow telecom firms to borrow from overseas markets for buying second generation (2G) spectrum when auctions come up next week, economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram said Thursday.

RETAIL

Private equity firm Actis has joined the race to buy Cinemax India Ltd, a multiplex chain put up for sale by its promoters, expecting a valuation of close to 7 billion rupees, including a debt of 1 billion rupees, said a source close to the development.

Aditya Birla Nuvo's July-September net profit rose 42 percent to 3.04 billion rupees from a year ago.

U.S.-based Knoll has entered into a dealership and brand-licensing agreement with Godrej Interio, a unit of the Jamshed-Godrej-promoted Godrej & Boyce, to manufacture and market its home and office furniture.

AUTOS

Apollo Tyres is incurring a production loss of up to 50 million rupees per day at its Vadodara plant in Gujarat due to the ongoing labour unrest, which the firm hopes to end soon in the next few days, Apollo Tyres Chairman Onkar S Kanwar said.

Tata Motors may soon launch its mini commercial vehicle 'Ace' and passenger variant 'Magic' in South African, Asean and the Middle Eastern markets, Tata Motors Executive Director of its Commercial Vehicles Business Ravi Pisharody said.

Ashok Leyland's July-September net profit fell 7.1 percent to 1.43 billion rupees from a year ago.

TRANSPORT/INFRASTRUCTURE

Shipping Corp of India swung to a July-September net profit of 2.97 billion rupees from a loss of 1.41 billion rupees a year ago.

GTL Infrastructure completed the restructuring its foreign currency convertible bonds worth $300 million.

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