Markets edge lower; Infosys at all-time high

Markets edge lower; Infosys at all-time high

Mumbai: Indian shares were trading marginally lower on Thursday morning, facing resistance after having gained more than 6 percent so far in March, and as Asian stocks dropped slightly.

Top engineering and construction firm Larsen & Toubro dropped 1%, after rising 4.5% over 2 previous sessions.

Cigarette-to-hotel business ITC was 0.9% lower, after having gained 7.5% in eight earlier sessions.

By 10:59am, the 30-share BSE Index was trading down 0.12% at 17,468.82, with 17 of its components declining. The 50-share NSE index was down 0.1% at 5,228.50.

“There is resistance coming in as we move close to highs we saw in January. There is no clear sectoral trend today," said Kunal Sukhani, manager of institutional equities at Asian Markets Securities.

In January, the main index had risen to its highest level since February 2008.

“However, the overall scenario is positive and expectations are that fourth-quarter earnings should be good," added Sukhani.

Foreign funds have poured in around $2.8 billion in Indian equities since the start of this month to March 16, data from markets regulator showed, and a part of this was absorbed by issuances in the primary market.

The benchmark Sensex is expected to rise to 18,000 points by end-June and end 2010 at 19,250, driven by earnings optimism and supported by robust economic growth, a Reuters poll found.

IT bellwether Infosys Technologies led the gains and touched a record high of Rs2,777.50, as the stock was one of the best picks in the sector, dealers said.

The stock pared some gains and was up 1.1% at Rs2,769.90.

Mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp rose 0.6% to Rs2,743.20.

In a note on Wednesday, BNP Paribas Securities said it expects strong loan growth and earnings momentum for HDFC in the fourth quarter.

BNP Paribas has a “buy" rating on the stock and said it was a “defensive bet for a volatile market."

Energy giant Reliance Industries which has the highest weight on the Sensex, rose 0.3% to Rs1,069.70.

Non-ferrous metals producer Sterlite Industries fell 1.5% as copper prices drifted lower. In the broader market, gainers almost equalled losers in a ratio in a volume of 139 million shares.