As the stalemate continued in the Winter Session of Parliament for the second consecutive day, market sentiment took a hit and closed marginally lower. Investors are nervous about the ability of Parliament to pass key reform bills related to foreign direct investment in insurance, pending and retail sectors.
The benchmark indices opened higher, but could not sustain gains and quickly slipped in the red, before staging a recovery and ended flat. The Sensex closed 0.06 per cent lower at 18,506.57, while the Nifty ended at 5,626.60, down 0.02 per cent. However, the indices managed to hold on to 1 per cent gain for the whole week.
Vibhav Kapoor, group chief investment officer at IL&FS, said the Winter Session of Parliament is “very important for the markets…” The markets expect the Reserve Bank of India to start cutting rates in January and that if it happens, it would be a pretty positive signal. The Parliament session, interest rates in India, the US fiscal cliff and the Greece situation are the four issues which the markets will have to grapple at this point of time.”
According to Sushil Choksey, director of Rosy Blue Securities, politics will decide near-term fortunes of the market. He further expects positive surprise form global cues.
Banking stocks continued their decline with the Bombay Stock Exchange’s Bankex down 0.34 per cent and the Bank Nifty down 0.28 per cent. ICICI Bank fell 0.74 per cent. However, HDFC Bank, which had traded 1.4 per cent lower, ended 0.04 per cent higher.
Cigarette maker ITC fell close to 2 per cent in trade after gaining 3 per cent in the previous two sessions, but recovered to end lower by 0.88 per cent.
Broader losses were capped by gains in Reliance Industries Ltd that rose 0.9 per cent.
Shares of Bharti Airtel shed 0.91 per cent. The Indian joint venture of Wal-Mart Stores has suspended its chief financial officer and other employees as it investigates alleged violations of US anti-bribery laws, a development that could hamper India's efforts to open its domestic supermarket sector to foreign investment. Separately, a spokeswoman for the joint venture confirmed the suspensions and said the venture was "committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation." Wal-Mart's partner in the venture is Bharti Enterprises.
Ranbaxy Laboratories shares ended 3.27 per cent lower after it recalled its cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin in the United States, which largely drove the company's sales in the first of half the year.
Pharma stocks Cipla and GlaxoSmithKline too fell over 1 per cent each on the back of Cabinet clearance for the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy that will bring 348 essential drugs under price control. This is expected to lead to a reduction in prices. The BSE healthcare index too ended 0.37 per cent lower. However, few of the Pharma stocks recovered, with Sun Pharma and Wockhardt gaining 1 per cent and 1.57 per cent respectively.
Bucking the trend was Jet Airways which rose steadily gaining more than 15 per cent on talk that there could be investor interest in the airline. SpiceJet was up 7.8 per cent.
BSE’s Auto index too jumped 0.33 per cent, with Hero Motocorp gaining 1.21 per cent. Tata Motors too rose 0.71 per cent. However, Maruti Suzuki (-0.14 per cent) and M&M (-0.02 per cent), which have been rallying this week, ended flat with a negative bias. Bajaj Auto too ended 0.03 per cent lower.
NTPC was one of the biggest losers on the Sensex, after the government approved divestment of 9.5 per cent stake in the company along with reallocation of three of its coal blocks. State-owned peer Hindustan Copper plunged more than 18 per cent. The government set the base price at Rs 155 a share for its 4 per cent stake sale, way below Thursday's closing price of Rs 266.15.
Sugar stocks buzzed as the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs has made it mandatory for oil marketing companies to blend 5 per cent ethanol with petrol, effective across the country from next month. The price of bio-ethanol will be market linked, and the government has allowed the import of ethanol to compensate any shortfall. India’s 330 distilleries have the capacity to produce 4.20 billion litres of rectified spirit (alcohol) per year.
Theatre chain-owner Cinemax India rose nearly 5 per cent hitting the upper-circuit, after reports that Ajay Bijli-led PVR is buying out the the Kanakia Group-owned multiplex chain. The deal is expected to close next week. The PVR stock fell over 2 per cent.