Indian shares reversed early gains to end slightly lower on Wednesday, weighed down by weak global cues as disappointing Japanese trade data added to evidence that the global economy is slowing.
A lack of clarity on the mechanisms for ECB intervention in debt markets and caution ahead of the release of the FOMC minutes from the August 1st meeting due later in the day and the meeting of European leaders over the weekend also rendered the underlying mood a little bit cautious.
The benchmark 30-share Sensex moved in the range of 17,912-17,800 before ending down 38 points or 0.21 percent at 17,847, with 18 of its components retreating. The broader Nifty index fell by 8 points or 0.15 percent to 5,413. Second-line stocks also ended modestly lower and the overall market breadth remained slightly negative.
Telecom major Bharti Airtel led the decliners, tumbling 4 percent, while NTPC, Sterlite, Gail India, Reliance Industries, HDFC and Tata Power fell about a percent each. Coal India, Infosys, Dr Reddy's, Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp, Tata Motors and Hindalco were among the prominent gainers, with gains ranging between half a percent and 1.4 percent.
Banks ended little changed amid reports that the finance ministry has approved 49 percent foreign direct investment in insurance and pension sectors. SBI and ICICI Bank eased marginally, while HDFC Bank edged up 0.04 percent, reversing an early loss.
Aviation stocks rallied ahead of a meeting of newly-formed United Progressive Alliance coordination committee in the evening, which may discuss the issue of allowing FDI in the aviation sector. Kingfisher rose 2.7 percent, Jet Airrways jumped 4.4 percent and Spicejet soared 4.7 percent.
Retail stocks fared badly, with Trent, Shoppers Stop and Pantaloon Retail declining between 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent. Sugar stocks lost ground on profit taking after recent steep gains. Bajaj Hindusthan, Shree Renuka and Balarampur Chini fell 3-5 percent.
Amara Raja Batteries fell 2.7 percent on profit taking, snapping a four-day rally. Rolta India eased 0.3 percent as it reported a 29 percent fall in quarterly consolidated net profit.
Shasun Pharmaceuticals climbed over 10 percent after Sundaram Mutual Fund raised its stake in the company to 5.16 percent from 4.67 percent earlier. Ranbaxy Laboratories rallied 4.1 percent after the company said the withdrawal of its approved 27 abbreviated new drug applications, detailed in the US Federal Register, will have "negligible commercial impact".
Alstom India rose 0.6 percent on winning a new contract from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. NMDC jumped 3.3 percent on the buzz that is has raised iron ore prices.
On the global front, Asian markets ended mostly lower, European stocks retreated and the euro pulled back against the dollar as investors exercised caution ahead of a crucial meeting between Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
Samaras is expected to seek at the meeting a two-year extension for the country's fiscal adjustment program. He will also visit French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel later this week.
by RTT Staff Writer
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