Mumbai: Shares ended flat on Thursday after fluctuating in the day, as investors held back key decisions ahead the Union Budget on Friday.
The BSE 30-share index Sensex closed 0.01%, or 1.7 points, lower at 16,254.20, after flip-flopping through the day.
Sixteen of its components lost ground.
Volume was low with only 247 million shares traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange, compared with last week’s daily average of 331 million shares.
Reliance Industries, India’s top conglomerate, shed the most while engineering and construction firm Larsen & Toubro led the gainers.
Larsen & Toubro gained 2.5%, as a senior company official said the company expects a contract worth around Rs8,000 crore a joint venture to build a 1,600 megawatts power plant in central India.
The stock also cheered a 9.4% rise in the country’s infrastructure output for January.
Reliance Industries, which has the highest weight on the main index fell 1.3% to Rs964.35.
Banks and autos closed mixed ahead of the Budget announcement.
Top lender State Bank of India and private lender HDFC Bank shed 0.3% and 0.9% respectively, while ICICI Bank climbed 1.1%.
Top vehicles maker Tata Motors dropped 2.7%, while Maruti Suzuki India and Mahindra & Mahindra gained 2.2 and 0.2% respectively.
“People are waiting for the Budget tomorrow for any kind of directional call. It was a lacklustre market,” said K. K. Mital, head of portfolio management services at Globe Capital, New Delhi.
“Even the expiry (of derivatives contracts on National Stock Exchange), did not stir the market. People are waiting for tomorrow to build fresh positions,” added Mital.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will present the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2010-11 against a backdrop of strong economic rebound, which should set the stage
A finance ministry report released on Thursday said India should start rolling back its economic stimulus and impose a cap on government debt in coming years, making the case for fiscal discipline a day before the annual budget.
The report, presented ahead of Friday’s Budget, forecast economic growth at 8.25-8.75% in 2010-11, accelerating to over 9% the year after, compared with a projected growth of 7.2-7.5% in the current financial year that ends on 31 March.
“The GDP growth projections are promising and point to the fact that the government may come up with strong reforms to support them,” said Deven Choksey, managing director and CEO of K.R. Choksey Shares in Mumbai.
In the broader market, losers led gainers in a ratio of 1.2:1.
The NSE 50-share index Nifty closed up 0.02% at 4,859.75. World stocks fell on concerns over a potential downgrade of Greece’s debt, with the MSCI All-Country World Index falling 0.4% by 1045 GMT.