Sensex ends flat in quiet trade

Sensex ends flat in quiet trade

New Delhi: Shares closed slightly lower on Tuesday as the holiday season before the year end kept investors at bay, with little direction coming from mixed overseas markets.

Top private sector firm Reliance Industries and second-largest lender ICICI Bank led the decliners in the main index, while telecoms stocks gained ground following Monday’s profit sales in India’s leading mobile operators Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications.

Tata Steel, the world’s seventh-largest steel maker and the largest shareholder in Riversdale, added 0.2% after it said late on Monday that it was yet to decide whether to counter Rio Tinto’s $3.9 billion bid for the Africa-focused miner.

Tata Steel also said it had no discomfort with Rio buying into Riversdale.

The main 30-share BSE Index closed 0.02% down at 20,025.42 points, but 19 of its components ended positive. The benchmark traded in a narrow 109-point range.

“Many of the larger players are not participating in the markets because of the holiday season," said K.K. Mital, head of portfolio management at Globe Capital.

“This should continue for the rest of the week and the market should hover in a range. You could see some stock-specific action, but the broader market should not move much," he said.

The main index is up 14.7% so far in 2010, helped by record 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.

Reliance Industries, India’s most valuable firm, fell for a second straight day on Tuesday to close 0.8% down at Rs1,047.15. ICICI Bank ended 0.9% down at Rs1,113.70 after rising 0.5% in the previous session.

Top mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel, which had lost 2% on Monday, closed 0.2% higher at Rs342.20 on Tuesday. Second-ranked mobile firm Reliance Comm added 1.7% after losing 3.6% on Monday.

Top Indian outsourcers Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Technologies added 0.4% and 0.1% respectively, while third-ranked Wipro gained 1.3% on optimism about the sector’s growth.

In the broader market, 1,459 gainers were marginally ahead of 1,442 losers on relatively low volume of about 237 million shares.

The wider 50-share NSE index fell 0.04% to close at 5,996 points.

The MSCI’s measure of Asian markets other than Japan was up 0.2%, while Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.6%. By 0410 pm, European shares were up 0.17% with London markets still closed. The MSCI world equity index was trading 0.34 percent higher.