Mumbai: The Sensex ended lower on Friday in a volatile session, after both the houses of Parliament were adjourned on the second day of the winter session, raising questions about the fate of proposed legislation.
Markets will now focus on the government’s ability to push through reforms, while also paying close attention to the country’s efforts to contain its fiscal deficit, including a 4% stake sale in Hindustan Copper Ltd that was fully covered.
Global market developments will also be key as the US Congress continues budget negotiations over the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ and the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank meet again on Monday over aid to Greece.
“The focus over the next few weeks will remain on reforms and the fiscal cliff in the US,” said Phani Sekhar, fund manager-PMS, Angel Broking. “Even the GDP (gross domestic product) data is discounted, the key is reform measures,” he said.
The benchmark Sensex ended down 0.06%, or 10.77 points, to end at 18,506.57, gaining 1.08% for the week.
The broader Nifty ended 0.02% lower, or 1.15 points, to end at 5,626.60. It added 0.94% for the week.
The weekly gain was the first since the week ending 2 November, on value-buying for selective stocks.
Nonetheless, markets ended on a weaker note on Friday. Drug makers retreated a day after India approved a new drug pricing policy designed to increase the number of drugs deemed essential that are subject to price caps.
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd fell 3.2% after recalling its cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin in the US.
Cigarette maker ITC Ltd fell 0.8% on profit booking after gaining 3% in the previous two sessions.
Hindustan Copper fell by its maximum daily limit of 20%, after the government set a base price of Rs.155 rupees a share for its 4% stake sale, way below Thursday’s closing price of Rs.266.15.
Shares in NTPC Ltd, the state-run power producer, fell 2.75% after the cabinet approved on Thursday a 9.5% government stake sale in the company, a minister told reporters, to help rein in its ballooning fiscal deficit.
Among gainers, shares in biofuels technology company Praj Industries Ltd rose 9.6% and sugar firms Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd rose 1.5% after the government said it wanted to extend ethanol blending with petrol to all states in the country from the present 13.
Reliance Industries Ltd gained 1.03%, helped by a continued buy-back programme which ends on 19 January. REUTERS
Abhishek Vishnoi contributed to this story.