Markets seesaw; Bharti, banks fall; techs up

Markets seesaw; Bharti, banks fall; techs up

Mumbai: Indian shares seesawed on Thursday as a lack of clear direction from regional markets kept investors wary.

Energy major Reliance Industries, leading telecom Bharti Airtel and state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp drifted into negative territory.

“There is disinterest ahead of the holiday season, people don’t want to take positions. Most triggers are over for now, there are none in the next fortnight," said Ambareesh Baliga, vice president at Karvy Stock Broking.

At 11:20am, the 30-share BSE index was up 0.1% at 16,928.61, with 17 components advancing. The index fell as much as 0.4% in early trade. The 50-share NSE index was down marginally at 5,041.40 points.

The benchmark has gained about three-quarters this year and gains in 2010 is likely to be less spectacular, a Reuters poll showed.

Traders said investors were also cautious ahead of the main stock exchanges’ plan to bring forward the start of trading hours by 55 minutes to 9:00am, from Friday.

“They have not given us enough time to prepare and all the infrastructure will have to work overtime initially," said Gajendra Nagpal, chief executive of New Delhi-based Unicon Financial Intermediaries.

Bharti lost 1.4% to Rs321.10, a day after news it plans to buy Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom for a reported $900 million from Abu Dhabi Group.

Bharti had risen 2.8% on Wednesday, as investors bet on a shift in focus by the company to smaller targets after its planned $24 billion merger with South Africa’s MTN failed.

Financial stocks extended their fall on fears the central bank may look to tighten monetary policy sooner than expected following rising inflation, that could touch 7% by March.

Top lender State Bank of India shed 0.8% to Rs2,136 and HDFC Bank dropped 0.7% to Rs1,681, while mortgage firm Housing Development Finance Corp fell 0.4% to Rs2,599.

Largest-listed developer DLF fell nearly 4% to Rs364.25 on worries higher mortgage rates would impact sales just when property demand had started recovering.

Stocks of export-focused technology firms were among the gainers on the back of the Federal Reserve’s confidence about the US economy and helped by a weaker rupee.

Tata Consultancy Services and smaller rival Wipro rose 1.6% each, to 725 and Rs682.55 respectively, while bellwether Infosys Technologies climbed 0.4% to Rs2,555.25.

In the broader market, advances led declines in the ratio of 2:1 on volume of 103 million shares.