Sensex edges lower; banks down, metals up

Sensex edges lower; banks down, metals up

Mumbai: Shares were trading 0.1% lower on Friday, as their Asian peers edged lower, with financials leading the losses as traders booked profits.

Market participants were largely bullish on the prospects of Indian equities in 2011, backed by strong economic growth which has made it one of the preferred investment bets.

The banking sector index was down 0.3%, but is up 29.3% year to date, making it one of the best performing sectors.

Trading activity was low with only 62 million shares changing hands on the BSE.

By 10:38 a.m., the 30-share BSE Index was trading down 0.12% at 19,958.06 points, with half of its components declining.

In the broader market, gainers beat losers in the ratio of 1.4:1.

“Lacklustre is the word for markets right now. There is lack of interest which is typical as we approach a year end,’ said Neeraj Dewan, director of Quantum Securities.

“Market will consolidate until earnings pour in around second week of January. It is forming a good base and if earnings are good, we should see an upside."

Dewan expects the market to scale new highs in 2011, backed by strong economic and earnings expectations.

The benchmark index is up 14.3% so far this year, on robust foreign fund inflow into Indian equities at $28.5 billion, set to be the highest yearly inflow.

Leading private lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank declined 1% and 0.1% respectively while the top lender State Bank of India edged 0.3% higher.

Mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp dropped 0.6%.

Metal producers advanced on upbeat outlook for industrial metals, dealers said.

Sterlite Industries, Hindalco and Tata Steel were up between 0.6% and 1.9%.

The 50-share NSE index was down 0.2% at 5,970.75 points.

The MSCI’s measure of Asian markets other than Japan was down 0.3%, while Japan’s Nikkei was trading 0.7 % lower.

Stocks on the move

Patni Computer was up 0.9% at Rs485, following media reports that leading bids for a majority stake in the software services firm ranged from Rs530 a share to Rs600 a share.

State-run oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp and Hindustan Petroleum Corp dropped between 1.9% and 2.4%, as international crude oil prices firmed.

European benchmark Brent crude oil climbed to its highest price in more than two years, supported by unusually frigid weather that has fuelled demand and depleted supplies.