The BSE Sensex started lower on Thursday tracking weakness across Asian markets. Indian equities are likely to be choppy ahead of the derivatives expiry later in the day.
The Sensex traded 36 points or 0.2 per cent lower at 19,969 while the broader Nifty declined 8 points to 6,048 as of 09.20 a.m. The rupee, however, strengthened and traded at 53.20 to the dollar.
Market analyst Sarvendra Srivastava advised investors to be cautious ahead of the expiry. 6,000-6,007 levels on the Nifty continue to remain crucial supports, he added.
IT major HCL Tech was the top Nifty gainer, up 1.3 per cent, followed by Bank of Baroda and Ambuja Cements. State Bank of India shares edged up (0.2 per cent) after the lender cut its base rate by 5 basis points.
Cement maker Jaiprakash Associates was the top Nifty loser, down 1 per cent. Miner Sesa Goa, Tata Motors and engineering and construction major L&T also traded lower.
Reliance Industries traded 0.6 per cent lower. This is the fifth day of losses for RIL over the last six sessions. ICICI Bank and Punjab National Bank traded lower ahead of reporting their quarterly earnings today.
Suzlon Energy said it had won a 350 MW Canada Order, its largest REpower contract to date. Shares in the turbine maker surged over 5 per cent on the news.
Asian shares took a breather from recent rallies on Thursday though sentiment was underpinned by the U.S. Federal Reserve's pledge to retain its stimulus policy and on signs of stabilisation in the euro zone.
Positive economic reports from Asia failed to lift markets as investors continued to assess regional earnings results and ahead of key data such as China's official manufacturing PMI and U.S. monthly nonfarm payrolls on Friday.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.4 percent after rising 1.3 percent over the past two sessions to nearly an 18-month high. The index was set for a monthly gain of about 2.4 percent.
(With inputs from Reuters)