Markets end flat led by tech, Reliance fall

Markets end flat led by tech, Reliance fall

Mumbai: Indian shares snapped a 3-day winning streak on Thursday as weak global markets prompted investors take profits, while a firmer rupee and an expected increase in wages hit export-focused outsourcers.

The 30-share BSE index closed down 0.2%, or 28.31 points, at 16,971.70, with half of its components declining, after rallying 4.6% over three sessions. The 50-share NSE index closed 0.2% lower at 5,080.25.

“The market has to take a breather after rising so much so fast," said Gajendra Nagpal, CEO of Unicon Financial. “It is just a pause."

Traders said advance quarterly tax to be paid by companies around the middle of March would be the next trigger for the market, following the gains after last Friday’s national budget that aimed to boost consumer spending.

Foreign funds were net buyers of $570 million of shares in the two sessions after the budget, data showed.

Outsourcers were spooked after the rupee climbed to a six-week high. Infosys Technologies shed 1.4% to Rs2,623.40, also weighed down after a spokeswoman said the IT bellwether would raise wages across the board in April.

Rivals Tata Consultancy and Wipro dropped 0.7% each.

“The firm rupee is getting to be a worry. Besides, there was also a knee-jerk reaction to the wage hike reports," Nagpal said.

Reliance Industries, which has the highest weight on the main index, closed 0.8% lower at Rs1,013.75 after rising nearly 6% over three sessions on waning hopes of the LyondellBasell buy.

A source told Reuters the energy major has no plans to raise its bid for bankrupt LyondellBasell.

Financials were mixed after food inflation accelerated slightly in late February, adding to pressure on the central bank to raise interest rates in April.

Top private lender ICICI Bank and mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp shed 1.2% and 0.4% respectively.

Leader State Bank of India and HDFC Bank climbed 0.6% and 0.3% respectively as long-term economic growth was seen strong.

In the broader market, gainers led losers in a ratio of 1.5:1, with 359 million shares changing hands on the Bombay Stock Exchange, higher than last week’s daily average of 291 million shares.

Global stocks were weak with the the MSCI world equity index down 0.2% by 1041 GMT after hitting a five-week high on Wednesday.