Sensex rises on firm Asia; lenders lead

Sensex rises on firm Asia; lenders lead

New Delhi: Shares rose in Wednesday morning trade, taking cues from mostly higher Asian markets, but traders said gains would be limited with investors preferring to stay light as the year-end holiday season unfolds.

Trade could be choppy ahead of Thursday’s monthly derivatives contracts expiry, they added.

HDFC Bank and mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp led the gainers.

By 11:56 am, the main 30-share BSE index was up 0.59%, or 117.64 points, at 20,143.06, with 25 of its components rising.

“By and large, there is nothing negative except that there have been some selling pressure from the foreign institutional investors’ (FII) side," said R. K. Gupta, managing director at Taurus asset Management.

“But FIIs have been more or less dormant recently," he said, referring to the year-end holiday lull. “I feel markets will remain stable with an upward bias, but no big move (is expected) either way."

Foreign funds have been net sellers of about $500 million this month through Monday, but for the year, they have purchased a record $28.5 billion of Indian equities.

The main index is up about 15% so far in 2010, mainly driven by foreign fund inflows, and most investors are optimistic a robust growth outlook for the Indian economy bodes well for the domestic equities market in 2011.

Shares in HDFC were up 1.3% at Rs709.40, while energy major Reliance Industries, which has the highest weight in the main index, was up 0.1% at Rs1,048.50.

Banks were mostly up as investors were covering short positions ahead of the derivatives expiry, dealers said. HDFC Bank rose 1.9% to Rs2,300.20. Top lender State Bank of India was up 0.51% at Rs2,741.05, while No.2 ICICI Bank added 0.4% to Rs1,118.20.

Aluminium and copper producer Hindalco Industries gained 1.8% to Rs241.50 as copper prices hit a record high on the London Metal Exchange when trade resumed on Wednesday after the Christmas break.

Software services firm Wipro fell 0.8% after rising 1.3% in the previous session, but larger rivals Tata Consultancy and Infosys were up 0.6% and 0.2%.

In the broader market, gainers outnumbered losers in a ratio of 2:1, on a total volume of about 115 million shares.

The 50-share NSE index was up 0.54% at 6,028.50 points.

The MSCI’s measure of Asian markets other than Japan was up 0.5%, while Japan’s Nikkei closed 0.5% higher.