Markets edge up 0.3%; RIL gains

Markets edge up 0.3%; RIL gains

Mumbai: Indian shares nudged 0.3% higher on Wednesday, with Reliance Industries leading the gains, helped by small gains in Asia.

The 30-share BSE Index closed 0.27% or Rs45.79 points higher to finish at 17,098.33, with 18 of its components gaining. The 50-share NSE index rose 0.3% to 5,116.25.

Investors remain cautious after the main index rose 3.4% last week, posting the best weekly gains so far in 2010.

“Market may consolidate for a while. It cannot have a one-way movement," said Naresh Kumar Garg, CEO of Sahara Mutual Fund referring to the steep rise after the 26 February federal budget.

Foreign funds have poured in around $1.8 billion in Indian equities, for the six sessions to March 8.

Investors await the January-March quarter earnings for further cues.

“While topline could show good growth, there could be some pressure on the margins due to higher input costs. These quarterly numbers could set the trend for the market to move subsequently," said Garg.

Energy giant Reliance Industries, which has the highest weight on the Sensex, rose 1.8% to Rs1,008.05. It had declined more than 3% over the last four sessions.

Earlier this month, Macquarie said in a note Reliance Industries is poised to witness strong and highly visible earnings growth over the next two years.

“We believe a recent tripling in GRMs (gross refining margins), further gas ramp up and shift to cheap in-house gas shall herald 4QFY10 as an inflection point," the brokerage, which has an “outperform" rating on the stock, noted.

Tata Steel, world’s eighth largest steelmaker by output, edged 0.4% lower after its vice-chairman told Reuters iron ore prices are headed as much as 35% higher this year and will likely pressure the profit margins of steel companies.

Auto makers raced on expectations of good sales growth.

India’s top vehicle maker Tata Motors rose nearly 1% while top utility vehicle maker and top motorbike maker Hero Honda rose 0.6% and 2.9% respectively.

Maruti Suzuki India, however, bucked the trend and closed 1.3% lower.

IT bellwether Infosys Technologies shed 0.9% as traders locked gains after the stock rose more than 2% over the previous three sessions.

In the broader market, gainers outpaced decliners in the ratio of 1.4:1, while 403 million shares changed hands on the Bombay Stock Exchange, lower than Tuesday’s volume.

World stocks were mute, with the MSCI’s measure of Asian markets other than Japan gaining 0.4% by 1010 GMT, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was almost flat.