Markets end flat on subdued global trade

Markets end flat on subdued global trade

Mumbai: Outsourcer Infosys Technologies and private sector lender HDFC Bank helped Indian shares stretch a winning run into a third day on Tuesday, after the market spent most of the day in negative territory.

Investors took profits in many stocks following a more than 7% rally this month in tandem with world markets that retreated from the previous day’s 2009 highs. US stock futures indicated a lower opening on Wall Street.

Infosys, the country’s second-largest software services firm, climbed 2% to Rs2,396.75 on improving prospects.

ICICI Securities said the current utilisation rate at 67% and composition of employees with less than three years experience at an historic low of around 53%, earnings visibility for Infosys was likely to remain superior versus peers.

The brokerage maintained a buy rating on the stock and raised its target price to Rs2,515.

Sector leader Tata Consultancy climbed 3.7% to Rs690.45 while rival Wipro closed nearly 1% higher at Rs642.30.

Reliance Industries shed 0.7% to Rs2,133.75 rupees, as the energy major did not make any major announcement at its annual general meeting.

“Most people were expecting a big announcement in terms of an acquisition or a discovery. That didn’t happen and the excitement came off," said Jigar Shah, senior vice-president of Kim Eng Securities.

Reliance said it plans an aggressive exploration campaign, investments in petrochemicals and overseas acquisitions, but did not elaborate on any particular plan.

The main 30-share BSE index closed up 0.1%, or 18.14 points, at 17,050.65 points, with half of its components rising. It had fallen as much as 0.9% during trade. The 50-share NSE index closed up 0.1% at 5,062.25.

“Our market is just reacting to what is happening globally," said Shah.

Foreign funds have been a key driver for the market, pouring in $15 billion so far this year and helping the benchmark jump more than three-quarters in 2009.

The BSE index has risen 7.3% this month, erasing its losses in October.

HDFC Bank climbed 1.5% to Rs1,747.35 as investors bet recovering economic activity would boost earnings.

“Besides being a geared play on the economic cycle, banks trade at a 22% valuation discount to the broader market, which makes them an attractive buy," HSBC Bank said in a report and added HDFC Bank was its top pick from the sector.

Top lender State Bank of India closed 0.3% higher while rival ICICI Bank ended little changed.

Energy explorer Oil & Natural Gas Corp fell 2.3% to Rs1,172.20 as investors booked profits after it rose 4.5% in the past two sessions.

In the broader market, gainers almost matched the number of losers on relatively low volume of 340 million shares.