Markets edge higher in choppy trade; banks up

Markets edge higher in choppy trade; banks up



* (Updates to morning)

Mumbai: Shares nudged up 0.4% on Monday led by gains in financials, amid an Asian session lacking in direction after the US July payrolls data signalled its economic recovery was losing traction and prompted investors to opt for safe-haven assets.

Financials led the gains, on expectations that the strong economic growth outlook for Asia’s third-largest economy would boost demand for loans. The Indian economy is seen growing 8.5% in the fiscal year to end-March 2011.

By 11:19 a.m. (0549 GMT), the 30-share BSE Index was trading up 0.38% at 18,213.78 points, with 22 of its components gaining.

“It is a boring market. Investors are cautious and indecisive," said Ambareesh Baliga, vice-president of Karvy Stock Broking.

“People are booking profits, but that said, there is no major selling pressure."

The benchmark index is up 4.2% so far in 2010, driven by foreign fund flows of $11 billion in Stocks.

In the broader market, gainers outnumbered losers in a ratio of 2.5:1, while 156 million shares changed hands on the BSE.

The 50-share NSE index was up 0.4% at 5,461.60 points.

“It’s as if the benchmark indices have gone into a slumber, showing an undecided kind of sideways movement in a very narrow range," brokerage Sharekhan said in a note.

Top lender State Bank of India was up nearly 1% while leading private sector lender ICICI Bank gained 1.7%.

Export-focused outsourcers dragged lower in a knee-jerk reaction that the US Senate’s vote to increase visa costs would bite into their margins, dealers said.

But, JPMorgan said in a note that the impact of US visa costs will be negative by 15 basis points to 25 basis points on the margins, lowering profi before tax by a negligible 0.6% to 0.8% and would not be a major concern.

Top software firm Tata Consultancy was down 0.3% while rivals Infosys and Wipro shed 0.5% and 1.1% respectively.

Tata Motors rose as much as 1.8% to Rs910.50 to test a fresh 3-“ year high on expectations the vehicle maker may post robust June-quarter results on Tuesday.

It is expected to swing to a net profit of Rs0.98 crore for the June quarter from a loss of Rs330 crore a year ago, a Reuters poll showed.

Robust auto sales for July also cheered the pack. Car sales in India rose an annual 38% in July, as a near-normal monsoon held out prospects of good economic growth and a fall in food prices, boosting customer sentiment.

Top car maker Maruti Suzuki was trading 0.2% higher at Rs1,224.