Mumbai: Markets seesawed on Monday with risk-taking hurt by US debt woes, while mobile operators Bharti Airtel , Reliance Communications and Idea Cellular rallied on improving outlook for call tariffs.
Energy major Reliance Industries , which has the heaviest weight on the main index, climbed 1.5% after the government approved its plans to sell a stake in some oil and gas blocks to BP in a deal worth up to $7.2 billion.
The company is also set to release June quarter results on Monday, and a Reuters poll last week showed profit would have risen 18%.
Telecom shares were in demand after top mobile firm Bharti Airtel raised call tariffs in some of its telecoms zones, triggering expectations other firms will follow suit in a market that has one of the world’s cheapest call rates.
India’s 15-player mobile market is still the world’s fastest growing by subscriber additions, but stiff competition had led to sharp erosion in call prices in late 2009 and has strained mobile firms’ financials.
“There is a view being built that the worst could be over for telecom stocks and things should look up from here,” said Arun Kejriwal, director of research firm KRIS.
Bharti was up 2.4%, taking gains for the year to more than 17%, while rival Reliance Communications rose 4.6%.
Idea Cellular was the most-traded stock on NSE as it jumped as much as 10.5% to 94.40 rupees, its highest since July 2008. Around 8.5 million shares changed hands in around first 80 minutes of trade, around 2.5 times their 90-day daily average volume.
At 10:39am, the 30-share BSE index was up 0.05% at 18,731.19 points, with 17 components advancing.
Investors were circumspect ahead of expected increase in interest rates when the central bank reviews policy on Tuesday.
Foreign funds were sellers in three sessions last week, trimming the net inflow to $2.7 billion over the past one month.
“Why would someone make big investments when there is so much of uncertainty around,” said Kejriwal. “Risk appetite is definitely going to suffer, and holding on to cash is a better option for now.”
The 50-share NSE index was up 0.1% at 5,637.40.
Around 150 million shares were traded on the NSE, where gainers were nearly double the number of losers.
The MSCI’s measure of Asian markets other than Japan was down 1.2%, while Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.8%.
Non-ferrous metals producer Sterlite Industries was up 1.8% ahead of its quarterly earnings in the afternoon. A Reuters poll showed the company may post a 5.7% rise in profit.
Financials were mostly lower with the central bank expected to raise its key policy rate by a further 25 basis points.
Leading private-sector lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank were down 0.4% each, while the top lender State Bank of India edged 0.4% higher.