The BSE Sensex edged lower on Thursday after an unexpected slump in industrial output exacerbated concerns about economic growth, while mobile carrier Bharti Airtel continued to drop, ending at its lowest close since late 2006 after poor quarterly earnings.
Industrial output in June shrank 1.8 percent, missing forecasts for 1 percent growth. The data is likely to add pressure on new Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to boost growth by announcing fiscal measures and action to attract foreign investments.
Analysts are already cutting their economic forecasts for the year, with Moody's Analytics saying it expected India to grow at 5.5 percent this year, in line with forecasts this week from Citigroup and CLSA.
Corporate profits are also raising concerns. Bharti Airtel slumped to its lowest close since October 2006, dropping for a second day after disappointing earnings results on Wednesday, while State Bank of India was hit by worries the lender would post weak earnings on Friday.
"Prolonging wait for government measures, coupled with recent worries on GDP is leading the market to book profits," Deven Choksey, managing director, K R Choksey Securities.
"GDP worries are, however, discounted to an extent, and market would present opportunities to buy on dips if government measures get materialised," he said
The 30-share BSE index fell 0.23 percent to end at 17,560.87 points, retreating from an earlier gain of as much as 0.6 percent.
The 50-share NSE index fell 0.28 percent to end at 5,322.08 points.
Both indexes are still up around 2 percent each for the week after Chidambaram promised forthcoming announcements on fiscal consolidation and appeared to call for lower interest rates.
However, the rally seen earlier in the week is threatening to run out of steam as no measures have been announced yet, while optimism for more global stimulus measures that had sparked a rally in Asian shares is also being kept in check.
ECONOMY, EARNING WORRIES
Shares seen sensitive to growth fell. State Bank of India slumped 4.5 percent to mark its biggest percentage fall since Feb 22, hit as well by worries the country's biggest lender would post disappointing earnings on Friday.
Bharti Airtel dropped 6.42 percent to 256.75 rupees, its lowest close since October 26, 2006, as banks including Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered cut their ratings on India's top telecoms carrier in the wake of disappointing quarterly earnings.
India's biggest telecom carrier has now dropped 12.61 percent over the past two sessions since posting its results on Wednesday.
Shares of Ranbaxy Laboratories , India's top drug maker by sales, lost 2.7 percent, after reporting a consolidated net loss of 5.86 billion rupees as foreign exchange losses ballooned despite a surge in sales.
Cairn India fell 2 percent a day after the company said its chief executive Rahul Dhir had resigned to pursue his entrepreneurial interests.
Dhir's departure sparked concerns about the leadership of the company after what analysts described as his vital role in negotiating thorny issues with the government, including approval for pipeline costs.
Tata Motors fell 0.9 percent after posting a smaller-than-expected rise in quarterly profit, though it pared losses as traders said operating margins themselves were not as bad as some had feared.
But Mahindra & Mahindra rose 2.82 percent, gaining for a second day a fter the utility vehicle maker posted on Wednesday better-than-expected profits.