Reform hopes lift stocks from day's lows, Sensex ends flat

Reform hopes lift stocks from day's lows, Sensex ends flat

Recovering from early losses of over 220 points, the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex today ended 3 points lower at 19,345.70 as the rupee came off a near-record low and the government announced plans for further liberalisation.

Realty, FMCG, banking and power stocks declined, while metal, teck, refinery, IT and consumer durable shares gained.

The 30-share Sensex resumed lower and fell to a one-month low of 19,126.82 as the rupee fell below the 61 level and Asian stocks weakened. The index wiped out most of the losses and closed at 19,345.70, a fall of 2.64 points.

The broader CNX Nifty index on the NSE declined 13.05 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 5,742.00. The SX40 index on the MCX-SX fell 0.44 per cent.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the FDI policy would be liberalised further and public sector undertakings encouraged to raise funds from overseas.

The government is considering raising import duty on non-essential, luxury items and promoting exports to contain the current account deficit. Chidambaram said he was confident the economy would grow 5.5 to 6 per cent in the current fiscal, up from 5 per cent in the previous fiscal.

Chidambaram's comments came a day after the RBI left key policy rates unchanged and asked the government to take urgent steps to contain the CAD. The central bank cut its GDP growth estimate to 5.5 per cent from 5.7 per cent.

The RBI also said liquidity tightening steps taken to support the rupee would be rolled back in a calibrated manner as stability is restored to the foreign exchange market.

The rupee, however, plunged past 61 per dollar, just shy of the all-time low of 61.21, before trading at 60.88 when the stock market closed.

"Benchmark indices opened gap down and continued to trade in a narrow range for most of the day as rupee traded weak below 61," said Amar Ambani, head of research at IIFL.

Telecom giant Bharti Airtel was the top gainer on the Sensex, climbing 7.3 per cent. The company posted a 9.6 per cent fall in first-quarter net profit. ICICI Bank reported a 25 per cent growth in Q1 standalone net profit to Rs 2,274.21 crore. The stock fell 1.86 per cent.

Most Asian stocks ended lower amid caution as they waited to hear from the US Federal Reserve after its two-day meeting. Key indices in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan fell, while China's Shanghai Composite index inched up.

European markets were mixed in early trade as indices in France and UK moved up, while Germany's Dax was quoted lower.

In the domestic market, 14 shares fell, including NTPC (5.33 pc), HDFC Bank (2.54 pc), ITC (2.52 pc), HUL (1.97 pc), Cipla (1.87 pc), Sun Pharma (1.86 pc), ICICI Bank (1.86 pc), Gail India (1.71 pc), Hero MotoCorp (1.54 pc), Jindal Steel (1.31 pc) and Maruti Suzuki (1.14 pc).

Sensex gainers were Dr Reddy's Lab (4.73 pc), Hindalco (4.34 pc), Wipro (4.18 pc), BHEL (3.67 pc), ONGC (3.58 pc), Sterlite Ind (3.21 pc), Tata Steel (2.91 pc), Coal India (2.33 pc), Tata Power (2.21 pc), Tata Motors (2.16 pc), M&M (1.69 pc) and RIL (1.48 pc).

Among sectoral indices, S&P BSE-Realty dropped 2.3 per cent, followed by S&P BSE-FMCG (2.26 pc), S&P BSE-Bankex (1.84 pc) and S&P BSE-Power (1.67 pc). The S&P BSE-Metal rose 2.39 pc, S&P BSE-Teck (2.23 pc), S&P BSE-Oil&Gas (1.88 pc), S&P BSE-IT (1.29 pc) and S&IP BSE-CD (1.2 pc).

The market breadth continued to show a negative trend as 1,393 stocks finished lower, 837 ended higher and 140 ruled steady. The total turnover rose to Rs 2,372.69 crore from Rs 1,753.18 crore yesterday.

Foreign institutional investors turned net buyers of Rs 256.45 crore yesterday, according to provisional data with the stock exchanges.

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