Indian shares fall; telecoms hit ahead of auction decision

Last Updated: Wed, May 23, 2012 11:50 hrs

* Indexes closes at lowest since January

* Outlook weak as rupee tumbles to record lows

* Telecoms hit ahead of ministry decision on auction

By Abhishek Vishnoi

Mumbai, May 23 (Reuters) - India's two main index fell on Wednesday, closing at their lowest since January, as the rupee hit a new record low below the psychologically key 56 level, while global stocks continued to be routed because of fears about the euro zone.

Telecom stocks such as Bharti Airtel were among the big decliners ahead of Thursday's meeting by the telecom ministry to decide on a controversial proposal from a regulatory body to raise spectrum prices in an auction of mobile airwaves.

Traders expect more weakness ahead for Indian stocks, given the rupee has dropped more than 13 percent since its 2012 peak in February, underscoring an urgent need of major reforms to get investors believing again in the India story.

The rupee dropped to a record low of 56.225 to the dollar amid renewed global risk aversion. Indian stocks and the rupee tend to track each other's directions.

"There is lot of uncertainty in the market partly because of European crises and partly because of inaction from of government and Reserve Bank of India," said R.K Gupta, managing director at Taurus Mutual Fund

India's main 30-share BSE index ended down 0.5 percent at 15,948.10 points, closing at its lowest since Jan. 9 and adding to the 1 percent loss it had clocked in previous session.

The broader 50-share NSE index, also known as Nifty, fell 0.51 percent to 4,835.65 points, its lowest since Jan. 12.

Gupta added market valuations are turning attractive and said he expected a recovery should the government address some of the investor concerns about its fiscal challenges, including about its spending.

Foreign flows to equities were slightly positive in May as of Tuesday's close, but overseas investors were net sellers of around 11 billion rupees worth in April.

Telecom stocks were among the big decliners ahead of the key ruling on Thursday.

The 2G airwave auction must be completed by August after India's top court ordered the cancellation of all cellular permits awarded in a scandal-tainted 2008 sale process.

Idea Cellular fell 3.7 percent, while Reliance Communications ended 1.8 percent lower.

Goldman Sachs downgraded Idea Cellular to "neutral" from "buy" and Reliance Communications to "sell" from "neutral", citing the regulatory overhang

Bharti Airtel dropped 4.4 percent, closing at its lowest since July 2010, hit as well by fears about the impact from a slumping rupee on its overseas debt exposure.

Among other decliners, Reliance Industries fell 0.6 percent after exploration partner Niko Resources said they have abandoned the D4 oil and gas block off India's east coast, underlining the production problems in the region.

India's auto shares fell on speculation the government could raise fuel prices, adding to worries about a sector facing uncertainty about future sales and rising raw material costs because of the falling rupee.

Tata Motors 1.4 percent, while two wheeler Bajaj Auto ended 1.3 percent lower.

India's Tata Power shares dropped 2 percent, a day after the company posted a consolidated net loss of 6.3 billion rupees.

FACTORS TO WATCH * Euro hits 21-month low vs dollar before EU summit * Oil falls on potential Iran deal, economy concerns * Doubts over EU crisis deal send shares,euro lower * Foreign institutional investor flows * For closing rates of Indian ADRs

ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS: Pan-Asia........ Japan....... S.Korea... S.E. Asia....... Hong Kong... Taiwan...

Australia/NZ.... India.... China.....

OTHER MARKETS: Wall Street .... Gold ....... Currency.. Eurostocks..... Oil ........ JP bonds... ADR Report ..... LME metals. US bonds.. Stocks News US.. Stocks News Europe

DIARIES & DATA: Indian Data Watch Asia earnings diary U.S. earnings diary European diary Indian diary Wall Street Week Ahead Eurostocks Week Ahead

TOP NEWS: For top Asian company news, double click on: U.S. company news European company news Forex news Global Economy news Technology news Telecoms news Media news Banking news

Politics/General news Asia Macro data

A multimedia version of Reuters Top News is available at:

LIVE PRICES & DATA: World Stocks Currency rates Dow Jones/NASDAQ Nikkei FTSE 100 Debt

Indian rupee LME price overview (Additional reporting by Manoj Dharra; Editing by Rafael Nam)

More from Sify: