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Sensex ends flat; Bharti Airtel, RIL lead gains

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Indian markets ended on a flat note today, with gains in pharma, auto and energy stocks offsetting losses in banking stocks. The Sensex ended 12 points higher at 41,945 after hitting a new intraday high of 42,063. The broader Nifty ended flat at 12,352. Telecom stocks were in focus today after the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the pleas of telecom majors, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, seeking review of certain directions of the apex court on recovery of past dues amounting to 1.47 lakh crore from telecom service providers.

Vodafone Idea has said it is exploring further options, including filing of a curative petition after the Supreme Court dismissed its review plea on AGR matter.

Bharti Airtel shares surged 5% while Vodafone Idea slumped 25%. “Irrespective of the outcome, Bharti is well prepared and, along with Reliance Jio, appears poised for strong market share gains,” domestic brokerage Motilal Oswal said in a note.

“Vodafone-Idea will continue to lose market share in the interim as it battles the dual challenges of financial and operational pain,” said Himanshu Shah, research analyst (Telecom) at Dolat Capital.

Data published by telecom regulator Trai on Thursday showed Reliance Jio has become the largest telecom player with 36.9 crore mobile subscribers in November 2019. Shares of RIL, which also announces its Q3 earnings later today, were up 3% today.

Banking stocks were under pressure on concerns over their exposure to the telecom sector.

Among the decliners, IndusInd Bank shares fell 2.5% to extend losses to the fourth day. SBI, India’s biggest lender, fell 1.5%.

Pharma shares saw strong buying action today. Among the gainers, Piramal Enterprises, Dr Reddy’s, Glenmark and Aurobindo Pharma shares gained between 2% and 5%.

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