Markets end flat; Sensex slips from 18k mark

Markets end flat; Sensex slips from 18k mark

Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) benchmark Sensex on Wednesday tested the 18,000 level after a gap of over two years, but ended flat amid mixed global cues.

The Sensex gained 28.65 points, or 0.16%, to end the day at 17,970.02 points. During trade, the BSE 30-share index touched 18,047.86 points, the highest level in more than 25 months.

The last time Sensex attained this level was on 27 February 2008.

The market has been posting gains for the past four sessions on expectations of strong earnings by corporate, who will start reporting quarterly numbers beginning next week. But analysts said the valuations were high as the index has moved up quite fast so far in 2010.

“Upbeat investor sentiment helped market clock gains. Positive outlook from companies would help it extend the gains," Unicon Financial CEO Gajendra Nagpal said.

After gaining nearly 7% in March, the Sensex has already recorded a gain of 3% in just three trading sessions in April so far.

The National Stock Exchange’s 50-share Nifty ended with a rise of 0.16% to 5,374.65 points.

The market sentiment was positive in early trade but the index saw heavy profit booking towards the mid-session, which analysts said was on account of weak European markets.

“Investors were expecting that European market would open in green but it actually opened flat which triggered a profit booking here. However, final hour purchasing helped the market to settle in green with modest gains," Nagpal said.

The gain in market was helped by the buying in the scrip of heavyweight Reliance Industries which rose 0.70%.

Also telecom major Bharti Airtel gained 1.41% and diversified firm ITC which moved up 1.30%.

Auto stocks helped the market close in the green, while financial sector stocks saw selling pressure.

Among the major gainers in the index, Grasim was up 2.75%, Tata Motors (2.42%), Reliance Infra (1.92%), Maruti Suzuki (1.75%) and DLF (1.20%).

Among the 30 Sensex shares, 19 ended in the green and 11 in the red.

“After being continuously battered for the past two weeks, IT stocks seemed to be attracting some buying interest as the rupee retreated from its 19-month high. The space was also in focus as Infosys will announce its results on April 13", India Infoline VP (Research) Amar Ambani said.

A major chunk of the earnings of the Indian IT firms mainly comes from exports to the US and a weak dollar could squeeze their profit margins.

While the country’s largest software exporter TCS gained 0.48% and Wipro 0.08%, Infosys was down 0.21%.

The loser pack, which limited the gains, included HUL (2.07%), Sun Pharma (1.62%), ICICI Bank (1.12%), HDFC (0.67%) and SBI (0.54%).

Of the regional peers, China’s Shanghai was down 0.33%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1.82%.

European markets were in the negative with Britain’s FTSE down 0.07%.