Sensex ends flat as investors shun risk on US debt concerns

Sensex ends flat as investors shun risk on US debt concerns

Mumbai: Indian shares eked out a 0.2% gain on Tuesday after falling for two consecutive sessions, but trading was volatile and the near-term outlook seemed subdued as investors shunned risk after rating agency Standard and Poor’s lowered its US credit outlook to negative.

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HDFC Bank Ltd, the country’s third largest lender, climbed 1.5% after its quarterly profit rose a third, beating street forecast. ICICI Bank Ltd rose 0.6%.

HDFC Bank said late on Monday it expects credit demand to rise more than 20% in this fiscal year.

“Asset quality remains in a sweet spot as delinquencies have been sharply lower...," Kotak Securities Ltd said in a note on HDFC Bank, while maintaining an “add" on the stock.

“Earnings growth outlook remains strong in the current environment given its strong liability franchisee," the brokerage said.

The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) index rose 0.16%, or 30.66 points, to 19,121.83, with 18 components advancing. It fell as much as 0.6% at one stage.

The index had shed more than 3% over previous two sessions, but is up 7.3% since the start of March following the return of foreign funds.

“In the short run, the market is likely to be subdued with no big positive triggers in sight," said Prakash Diwan, head of institutional business at Networth Stock Broking Ltd.

“If there is a snowball effect from the outlook downgrade of the US, Indian market will be adversely impacted. But if it is a one-off case, emerging markets like India may actually benefit and attract flows," he added.

Foreign funds have poured $3.1 billion into Indian equities since the start of March after being net sellers in January and February.

The BSE index is down 6.8% in the year to date.

The 50-share National Stock Exchange (NSE) index gained 0.2% to 5,740.75.

Losing shares outnumbered advancing ones in the ratio of 1.1 to 1 on a volume of 605 million shares on NSE, lower than the 30-day average daily volume of 618 million.

Energy explorer Cairn India Ltd closed 2.4% higher after a source said India-focused miner Vedanta Resources Plc bought an 11% stake worth about $1.5 billion in the company.

This would ease the pressure on its open offer for the energy firm and bringing it closer to a majority stake in the unit.

Cairn Energy agreed in August to sell a majority stake in Cairn India to Vedanta, but the deal has been delayed due to a dispute over royalty payments by Cairn India’s partner, state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC).

Cigarette-to-hotels business ITC Ltd shed 1.4%. The stock is still up 7.4% so far in 2011.

Top power equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd slipped 2.3% on profit-taking. The stock has risen 6.5% since the start of March.

Bajaj Auto Ltd gained 1% after Macquarie upgraded the stock to “outperform" from “underperform", citing multiple growth drivers.

Globally, MSCI’s all-country world stock index was up 0.2% by 1017 GMT, while the emerging market sub-index traded barely changed.

State-run oil marketing companies such as Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd firmed between 2.7% and 3.2% as global oil prices eased.

Nymex crude futures fell by just over $1 per barrel due to a weaker economic outlook after S&P revised its US credit rating a day earlier and analysts said high oil prices could curb demand growth.

Wockhardt Ltd gained 5.1% to 363.65 after the company said it got the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval for anti-depression venlafaxine extended release tablets.

Pipavav Shipyard Ltd soared 9% to 88.95. A source said the shipbuilder was in advanced talks to sell stake to an international shipyard and a deal was likely within the next two weeks.

Graphic by Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint