Indian shares ended a volatile session modestly higher on Friday, as investors kept an eye on surging crude oil prices amid worries that price pressures could make it difficult for the RBI to ease monetary policy. Also, investors await the state election results due next week for clues to the market's near-term direction.
Brent crude came off an 11-month high in late Asian trading, falling over 1 percent below $125 a barrel after Saudi officials denied an Iranian media report of a pipeline explosion in the world's top oil-producing nation.
The benchmark 30-share BSE Sensex moved in the range of 17,732-17,504 before ending up 53 points or 0.3 percent at 17,637, with 16 of its components advancing. SBI, Bharti Airtel, NTPC, Larsen & Toubro, ICICI Bank, Jindal Steel and Sun Pharma led the gainers, rising 1-3 percent, while DLF, ONGC, Hindalco and Bajaj Auto bore the brunt of the selling.
The broader Nifty index rose 20 points or 0.37 percent to 5,359, but the BSE mid-cap and small-cap indexes edged down around 0.1 percent each.
Banks rebounded from early losses, with HDFC Bank, State Bank of India and ICICI Bank rising 1-2 percent as a retreat in oil prices eased inflation worries.
Automakers ended narrowly mixed as investors booked profits after they reported better-than-expected February sales numbers. Maruti Suzuki gained 0.7 percent, but Hero MotoCorp and Tata Motors edged down 0.1 percent each. Bajaj Auto lost 1.6 percent after reporting a modest 5 percent rise in February motorcycle sales.
Sterlite Industries edged up 0.2 percent while Sesa Goa shed 0.4 percent. Anil Agarwal's Vedanta Group, which has proposed reorganization of its holding in India, said it has offered to pay Rs 16,000 crore to purchase the government's stake in Hindustan Zinc and Bharat Aluminum Company .
Larsen & Toubro rose 1.7 percent on saying it has bagged new orders worth Rs 1,306 crore across various business segments in February.
Property developer DLF plunged 5 percent on reports the Corporate Affairs Ministry has ordered an inquiry into its books of accounts following complaints received from numerous investors against the company.
State-run ONGC lost 2.2 percent as its offer for share sale just got through following intervention by the Life Insurance Corporation of India. Kingfisher Airlines, which is standing on the brink of collapse, fell 1.4 percent. MTNL slumped 4.3 percent on saying it has no plans to shut down its CDMA business.
Global cues remained positive today, with Asian markets rallying and European shares rising to their highest level in more than a week, as successful government bond auctions in France and Spain, the ECB liquidity injection and signs of an improving labor market in the world's largest economy helped investors to overlook the inflationary threat of high oil prices.
European Union leaders gave provisional approval to second bailout for Greece and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, a panel convened by a derivatives market trade organization, said the restructuring of Greek government bonds is not a credit event, easing concerns that Europe's debt crisis will be a drag on the global economy.
Italian, Spanish and French bond yields fell to new lows for the year, supported by a second massive cash infusion by the European Central Bank, adding to confidence that the region's debt crisis will be resolved.
by RTT Staff Writer
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