The stock markets edged up steadily hovering near the day's high in afternoon trade with the Nifty crossing the 5,900 levels, buoyed by gains in Asian peers. Japanese shares surged 2.1 per cent and were on the brink of revisiting four-year highs tapped recently, as the yen slumped after Tokyo dodged direct criticism from G20 peers on its aggressive reflation plans that have weakened the currency.
At 12.42 p.m., the 30-share BSE Sensex was up 0.29 per cent at 19,524.49, while the 50-share NSE Nifty traded 0.24 per cent higher at 5,901.75.
Twenty of the 30 Sensex stocks traded in the green. HDFC, up 1.71 per cent, led the gains followed by Hindustan Unilever (1.41 per cent), Hindalco (1.32 per cent), Larsen & Toubro (1.18 per cent) and Tata Steel (1.04 per cent).
The DLF stock rose sharply (5.5 per cent) after the management's bullish commentary in its maiden analyst meet. Discussing the three-year outlook for the company, Rajiv Singh, vice chairman of the realty group, said it is targeting cutting its net debt by 50 per cent via an equity issuance over the next two or three years. DLF will soon return to surplus free cash flow territory, he added.
Brokerage CLSA upgraded DLF to outperform from sell with a target price of Rs 280 versus Rs 180 earlier.
Coal India was the biggest loser on the BSE benchmark index, shedding 1.8 per cent. The other losers included Jindal Steel & Power (1.4 per cent) and Dr Reddy's Laboratories (1 per cent).
IT stocks TCS and Infosys too fell 0.98 per cent and 0.19 per cent, respectively, while Wipro, which was down in early trade, recovered to gain 0.64 per cent.
Jet Airways continued to trade in the red falling as much as 6.8 per cent after Etihad Airways chairman said the Abu Dhabi-based carrier needs to revise its deal to buy a stake in the Indian carrier. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al-Nahayan also told Reuters it was too soon to say when a final agreement between the two carriers would be struck. At 12.42 p.m, the stock traded at Rs 585.90, 5.25 per cent lower. It has touched a high of Rs 605 and a low of Rs 572.20 in trade today.
DB Realty shares rose as much as 4.4 per cent after ICICI Bank released a part of the controlling stakeholders' pledged shares after the property developer repayed a portion of its loan from the bank. DB Realty has seen shares equivalent to 11.04 per cent of its paid-up capital returned to the property developer, according to an exchange filing. At 12.42 p.m., the stock was up 0.91 per cent.
Oil marketing companies gained after the upward revision in the price of petrol and diesel late Friday. Indian Oil was up 0.3 per cent, BPCL rose 1.26 per cent and HPCL was up 1.37 per cent.
Sugar stocks rose after Food Minister K V Thomas said on Friday that the Centre is likely to take a decision on decontrolling the Rs. 80,000 crore industry in the next 15 days. Balrampur Chini was up 2.16 per cent, Shree Renuka Sugars rose 4.19 per cent and Bajaj Hindusthan was up 5.11 per cent.
Sentiment remains cautious as all eyes now on the Budget which will be tabled in Parliament on 28 February.
Market participants are waiting to see if the Budget will provide fiscal reform measures or whether the government will increase spending ahead of the general elections in 2014.
With inputs from Reuters