Business

Markets likely to be range-bound; Bharti Airtel, IndusInd Bank in focus

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Indian equity markets are likely to move in a range on Thursday, while trends in SGX Nifty suggest a flat opening for Indian benchmark indices. On Wednesday, the BSE Sensex ended at 51,703.83, down 400.34 points or 0.77%. The 50-share index Nifty closed at 15,208.90 , down 104.55 points or 0.68%.

Asian markets were mixed at Thursday’s open as lingering pandemic concerns pushed against stronger economic data, and with little firm direction from Wall Street.

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Strong retail sales out of the United States, coupled with new indications the Federal Reserve will maintain its accommodative stance and an ongoing push for further US stimulus, helped drive expectations the world’s largest economy will continue to post gains coming out of the pandemic. But concern at the rapid spread of new variants tempered enthusiasm.

While investors eyed inflation, minutes from the January Fed meeting showed policymakers willing to push further accommodation to boost the pandemic-scarred US economy.

Back home, Bharti Airtel Ltd said on Wednesday it will buy back US private equity firm Warburg Pincus’ 20% stake in its direct-to-home television unit for 3,126 crore. Warburg Pincus had in December 2017 acquired the 20% stake in Bharti Telemedia Ltd for 2,258 crore.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Wednesday relaxed public issue norms to make it easier for the government to sell a part of its stake in Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC) through a mega initial public offering. The markets regulator said companies with a size of over 1 trillion will now be required to achieve at least 10% public shareholding in two years and at least 25% within five years from the date of listing.

Meanwhile, Cairn Energy Plc’s chief executive Simon Thomson will meet senior Indian officials on Thursday to discuss a tax dispute, even as India prepares to appeal a $1.2 billion arbitral award the British company recently won.

IndusInd International Holdings Ltd (IIHL), a promoter entity of IndusInd Bank, said it plans to get itself listed overseas by September, having completed its capital raise through a rights issue. IIHL held a 11.24% stake in the bank as of 31 December, with another promoter entity, IndusInd Ltd, holding 3.43%.

Persistent optimism spread to the U.S. dollar, which rose against other currencies. The dollar index, a measure of the currency’s strength against six other major currencies was last 0.25% higher.

An ongoing deep freeze in Texas continued to drive up oil prices, as the unusually cold weather hampered output at the largest U.S. crude producing state. Brent crude gained 1.6%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled up 1.8%, both levels not seen since January 2020.

Safe-haven U.S. Treasury yields were down slightly Wednesday amid the stronger economic data. The benchmark 10-year yield, which touched 1.333%, its highest level since Feb. 27, 2020, later dropped to 1.2720%. The 30-year U.S. yield also dropped.

Spot gold edged 0.2% lower to $1,815.80 per ounce pressured by higher benchmark U.S. Treasury yields. U.S. gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,815.70 per ounce.

(Reuters contributed to the story)

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