Markets end flat on profit-taking

Markets end flat on profit-taking

Mumbai: The BSE Sensex eked out a tiny gain on Thursday after profit taking in stocks such as leading vehicle maker Tata Motors and ICICI Bank erased most of the rise in late trade.

Firm metal prices boosted copper producer Sterlite Industries and steel maker Tata Steel 1.4% each and aluminium maker Hindalco rose 2.4%.

"Metals stocks have been on the rise, in line with firm global commodity prices which are dollar-linked," said Nitin Rakesh, CEO of Motilal Oswal’s asset management business.

The 30-share BSE index, or Sensex, closed up 0.1%, or 15.77 points, at 17,185.68, after rising as much as 1.1% during trade. Eighteen of its components advanced.

"Investors are booking profits in select counters which had run up a lot recently," said Kunal Sukhani, manager of institutional equities at Asian Markets Securities.

The benchmark index has rallied 78% in 2009 on the back of foreign portfolio inflows of almost $16 billion, and analysts expect more gains in the coming year.

"Our March 2011 Sensex target is 20,000," Suresh A Mahadevan and Philip Wyatt, analysts at UBS Securities said in a note dated Wednesday.

The market will continue to gain in 2010 as strong economic and earnings growth outlook are likely to attract institutional inflows, they wrote.

Tata Motors fell 3.3% to 705.40 rupees on profit taking. The stock is still up 12.1% this week on 65% jump in November vehicle sales and improving outlook.

Top private lender ICICI Bank dropped 1% to 883.90 rupees after it climbed 4.9% over three sessions.

In the broader market, gainers outpaced losers in the ratio of 1.5:1 on moderate volume of 466 million shares.

The 50-share NSE index closed 0.2% higher at 5,131.70.

"People are cautious as we move towards 5,200, which is a key resistance level," Sukhani said.

Reliance Communications, India’s second-largest mobile operator, climbed 2.5% and leader Bharti Airtel gained 0.7% after a recent sharp fall caused by call tariff war.

The stocks are still down 41.8% and 26.7% since the end of September.