Markets end 0.4% up led by Reliance, ITC

Markets end 0.4% up led by Reliance, ITC

Mumbai: Indian shares climbed 0.4% to their highest close in more than five weeks on Wednesday, propelled by energy major Reliance Industries and IT bellwether Infosys.

Firmer global markets after US Federal Reserve officials raised their growth estimate for 2010 helped underpin sentiment.

However, trading volume was relatively light with fewer participation from foreign funds and the expiry of monthly derivatives contracts on Thursday, traders said.

Infosys, India’s No. 2 outsourcer, climbed to all-time high of Rs2,457.90, after its chief financial officer told the Reuters India Summit the company was focused on small acquisitions to boost growth.

The stock closed up 0.3% at Rs2,433.60.

The 30-share BSE index rose 67.87 points to 17,198.95, its highest close since 20 October. Seventeen of its components gained. The 50-share NSE index closed up 0.4% at 5,108.15.

“I think market is in a consolidation range as we move towards expiry," said Jigar Shah, vice-president of equity sales at Motilal Oswal.

Foreign funds, who have bought shares worth more than $15 billion this year, have been taking profits over the past three sessions.

Reliance, which has made an offer for bankrupt chemical company LyondellBasell, firmed 0.8% to Rs2,193.75.

Asia’s top oil refiner China Petroleum and Chemical Corp and US private equity firm TPG are not considering a bid to buy Lyondell, a source close to the situation said.

“It is good if there are no competitors for Reliance’s bid for LyondellBasell," said Prayesh Jain, research analyst with India Infoline.

The stock, which has the heaviest weight in the BSE index, also got a boost as it reopened 900 gas stations and neared the record date on Friday for its 1:1 bonus issue.

In the broader market, losers outnumbered gainers in the ratio of 1.1:1. Volume was low with 372 million shares changing hands on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Cigarette and hotel group ITC climbed 1.9% to Rs268.75 on better outlook, dealers said.

Telecom stocks continued their fall with sector leader Bharti Airtel, dropping 0.3% and rival Reliance Communications shedding 1.4%.

“Despite a meaningful de-rating of telecom stocks, we have a cautious sector view as we expect tariff pressures to continue and the competitive intensity to increase as more new players with deep pockets enter," HSBC securities said in a note.

It said faster-than-estimated progress on mobile number portability clouded the outlook further.