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Stock markets may be steady; telecom, RIL shares in focus

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Indian stock markets are likely to be steady as the Supreme Court dismissing telcos’ plea on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues may offset likely gains following strength in global peers.

Asian shares inched higher on Friday after global stock indices and Wall Street touched records, with strong corporate earnings and upbeat US economic data adding to optimism after China and the US signed a partial trade deal.

Investors will closely watch key Chinese economic data for clues on whether a marked slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is starting to bottom out. China is expected to post its weakest annual growth rate in 29 years — 6.1% — due to anemic domestic demand and the damaging trade war with the US.

Data in the last few months have pointed to an improvement in Chinese manufacturing and business confidence as trade tensions eased, but analysts are not sure if the gains can be sustained and Beijing is widely expected to roll out more stimulus measures.

In early trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.19%, taking gains for the month to 3.4%. Australian shares were up 0.49% after setting four consecutive record closing highs in previous days. Japan’s Nikkei added 0.55%. MSCI’s global share index inched up 0.05%, just off new record highs set earlier in the session.

Analysts say global equities may find it difficult to maintain momentum from their recent rally as optimism over the US-China trade truce gives way to uncertainty over the next steps in trade talks.

While the phase one deal is seen as defusing the 18-month row that has hit global growth, experts say it is unlikely to provide much balm for broader frictions between the two countries. Most of the tariffs imposed during the dispute remain in place and a number of thorny issues that sparked the conflict are still unresolved.

Back home, telecom shares will be in focus. The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed pleas, including those of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd, to review its earlier judgement that had asked telecom operators to pay more than 1 trillion of dues to the government.

Bharti Airtel, which has to pay 35,586 crore to the government by 24 January, and Vodafone Idea, which owes the government 50,000 crore, said they were evaluating filing curative petitions.

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is likely to report muted earnings growth in the fiscal third-quarter on Friday as gains from its telecom and retail arm will be offset by weakness in its refining and petrochemicals business, analysts said.

According to a Bloomberg survey of 13 brokers, RIL’s consolidated net sales are expected to come in at 1.42 trillion and net profit is estimated at 11,181 crore.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.92% to 29,297.64 on Thursday, the S&P 500 gained 0.84% to 3,316.81 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.06% to 9,357.13. The US data also supported the dollar, which held steady on Friday. The greenback was up 0.05% against the yen at 110.19. while the euro inched 0.02% higher to buy $1.1137.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was flat at 97.320.

The rally in equities was mirrored in US benchmark 10-year Treasury notes, which saw yields tick up to 1.8214% from their close on Thursday at 1.809%. Yields rise as prices fall.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were 0.17% higher at $58.62 per barrel, while gold shed 0.07% to $1,551.50 per ounce on the spot market.

(Reuters contributed to the story)

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