Mumbai: Shares were steady in rangebound trade on Thursday, amid slightly firm Asian shares, but activity was subdued ahead of the holiday season.
Optimism over the outlook for loan demand in a fast-expanding economy drove financials higher, while software majors have been supported by upbeat earnings and outlook from global peers such as Accenture and Oracle this month.
By 10:35am, the 30-share BSE Index was trading down 0.04% at 20,007.07, with 14 of its components declining. It traded in a narrow range of around 100 points.
“Market will be choppy for now as FIIs (foreign institutional investors) generally aren’t around at this time due to holidays,” said Prasanth Prabhakaran, president of retail broking at IIFL. “But then, we are bullish on the long-term as the economic growth story holds good.”
The benchmark index is up 14.5% in 2010, backed by foreign portfolio investment of $28.5 billion.
Leading lenders State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank were up between 0.6% and 0.7%.
Top outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services was up 0.3% while smaller rivals Infosys and Wipro gained 0.5% and 1.2% respectively.
Explorers Oil & Natural Gas Corp and Cairn India were up 0.2% and 0.5% respectively, helped by firm crude oil prices.
Oil prices climbed near a two-year high on an unexpected surge in global demand that has fueled the biggest drop in US crude stockpiles in more than a decade.
Prices in 2010 are on track to average $80 a barrel, with that expected to rise to $86 next year. Only 2008 has averaged more at $99 a barrel, when prices hit almost $150 before crashing as the economic downturn took hold.
State-run oil marketing companies -- Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp, and Bharat Petroleum Corp were down between 0.6% and 0.8%.
In the broader market, gainers outpaced losers by 1.2:1 in a volume of 99 million shares.
The 50-share NSE index was barely changed at 5,984.50 points.
The MSCI’s measure of Asian markets other than Japan was up 0.3%, while Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.
Metal producers declined as base metal prices drifted lower. Copper prices fell nearly one%, dragged down by a sluggish performance in Shanghai amid a liquidity drain towards the year-end and a bout of profit-taking after the recent rally.
Hindalco and Tata Steel shed nearly 1% each while Sterlite Industries bucked the trend and rose 1%.
Koutons Retail India rose 2,4% to Rs 59.20 on a news report in The Economic Times that the apparel retailer is in talks to sell 15-percent stake to raise cash and pay out debt, two dealers said.
A2Z Maintenance & Engineering Services listed at Rs 385 on the BSE, down 3.75% from its issue price of Rs 400 a share. The stock extended losses and was trading at Rs 322.80.