Shares ease as Reliance falls 3.4%

Shares ease as Reliance falls 3.4%

Mumbai: Mumbai: Mumbai: Indian shares shed 0.6% on Thursday after a two-day rise, weighed down by Reliance Industries on concern the energy major would have to pay more if it wants to buy LyondellBasell.

Reliance, the country’s largest-listed firm with the most weight in the main index, dropped 3.4% to Rs997.40. It was the biggest one-day fall in two weeks.

“Today, the speculation that Reliance may have to hike its bid for LyondellBasell is doing the damage to the stock price," said Prayesh Jain, a research analyst with India Infoline.

“I believe Reliance will not go beyond $15-$16 billion and possibly the deal may not even go through," he said.

Reliance may be forced to raise its offer for LyondellBasell or abandon its bid all together after the target settled a dispute with creditors that paved the way for an exit from bankruptcy.

The 30-share BSE index dropped 0.62%, or 101.07 points, to 16,327.84, after rising 2.4% over the last two sessions. Twenty-one of its components closed in the red.

“It will continue to be rangebound in the near term," said Daljeet Kohli, head of research for private client group at Emkay Global, adding demand from foreign funds was reviving but the buying was relatively small.

“More clarity should emerge post budget for investors to take calls," he said.

The government is widely expected to start rolling back fiscal stimulus measures in the Budget on 26 February, but should also push ahead with key reforms such as asset sales.

“After many years, we have a stable government presenting the Budget without any internal pressures. I think they will use this opportunity to send a strong reform message," Kohli said.

Foreign funds have bought $178 million of equities in the last three days, after dumping $2.2 billion over 16 sessions.

Tata Steel, the world’s eighth-largest steel maker by output, declined 1.3% after climbing nearly 12% in the last four sessions.

Non-ferrous metals producer Sterlite Industries fell 2.6%, as copper prices eased on a stronger dollar and worries that China might return as a seller of metal after week-long holidays.

Top mobile operator Bharti Airtel gained 0.7% to Rs281.10 as investors bet the price was a bargain on long-term prospects.

The stock is down more than 10% this week on its planned $9 billion deal to buy Kuwaiti firm Zain’s African assets, on worries the debt to finance the transaction may strain its finances over the near term.

“I believe we will see consolidation happening in the telecom sector, and Bharti is here to stay as it has the strong muscle and experience to sail through the tough times," Kohli said.

In the broader market, losers outpaced gainers in the ratio of 1.7:1 on volume of 319 million shares, lower than last week’s daily average of 351 million shares.

The 50-share NSE index dropped 0.5% to 4,887.75.