Markets close down 0.4% on investor caution

Markets close down 0.4% on investor caution

Mumbai: Indian shares snapped a four-day winning streak and fell 0.35% on Tuesday, weighed down by telecom stocks that dropped on a bleak out for the sector due to growing competition and a price war.

The market had initially rallied more than 1 %, adding to gains of 7.1 % in the past four days, but met with resistance on concerns the rise was too fast against uncertainties about outlook.

Reliance Industries rallied as much as 3.7 % after the energy major announced its first oil find in a western Indian block, boosting hopes the firm’s oil and gas exploration business will help offset some of the weakness in the refining sector.

The stock, with the most weight in the main index, ended up 1.4 % at 2,052.60.

Bharti Airtel, the country’s leading mobile operator, fell 4.5 % to Rs293.75, while rival Reliance Communications shed 2.9 % to Rs169.05.

JPMorgan cut its earnings estimates and share price targets for the sector companies and said it did not see a bottom yet.

“We believe that the fundamental issue for the sector remains overcompetition and high capital expenditure over last 2-3 years leading to empty network for several players," it said in a note.

The 30-share BSE index closed down 58.16 points at 16,440.56 after rising as high as 16,677.53 in the morning. Twenty-two of its components declined. The 50-share NSE index closed 0.2 % lower at 4,881.70.

“There was resistance as the market headed higher," said R.K. Gupta, managing director of Taurus Mutual Fund.

Gupta said he expected the Nifty to trade in a range of 4,550-4,950 over the next 3-4 months.

Leading lenders such as State Bank of India and ICICI Bank firmed on positive long-term outlook expectations, analysts said.

“I would still recommend a buy on banks. If the economy has to grow, banking is going to play a very vital role there," said Gajendra Nagpal, CEO of Unicon Financial.

State Bank firmed 2.1 % to Rs2,368.10 and ICICI climbed 0.7 % to Rs894.65.

India will focus on driving domestic demand until key developed markets recover and will not exit fiscal stimulus measures until necessary, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

In the broader market, losers outpaced gainers in the ratio of 1.1:1 on relatively better volume of 403 million shares.