After starting Samvat 2069 - the new Hindu calendar year - on a positive note, the key benchmark indices slipped on the back of profit booking by traders. The special 75-minute Muhurat trading was organised by the stock exchanges on the Diwali day.
The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) benchmark Sensex fell 0.28 per cent, or 51 points, to close at 18,618. The broader 50-share National Stock Exchange (NSE) benchmark Nifty fell 0.29 per cent, or 16 points, to close at 5,666.
The Sensex had gained 60 points in the opening trade today. Since the 2068 Muhurat trading, while the Sensex has managed to gain 7.6 per cent, the Nifty has risen 9.05 per cent. On the Diwali day last year, the Sensex was at 17,289 and Nifty at 5,191. Brokers said buying activity in select stocks picked up as investors and funds opened their new accounts in the first session of Samvat 2069. The Diwali day is considered auspicious for trading and opening new accounts.
They, however, said a weak closing on the Asian markets and a lower opening in the European markets capped the gains on the domestic bourses too.
"Markets will continue to give positive returns as we step into new year. The Sensex and Nifty could rise by around 15 per cent by Samvat 2070," said Dinesh Thakkar, promoter and managing director of Mumbai-based Angel Broking. IIFL Chairman Nirmal Jain said: "Turbulent market of the past few years would give way to confident and bullish market conditions next samvat. There are more factors that are in favour of a bull market than a bear one."
Thakkar, however, said attracting retail investors was still a challenge for the market. "A majority of retail investor portfolios has given negative returns in the past five Samvat years. But, if markets rise further from the current levels, retail investors could be attracted and even mutual fund flows could improve," Thakkar said.
However, experts say, high volatility will be the hallmark of equity markets next year, due to economic and political concerns facing the country. While high inflation rates still remain a worry, recurring corruption charges have made it difficult for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government to function smoothly.
Axis Direct's Nilesh Shah said: "We remain bullish for next year, even as we believe the markets will continue to remain volatile. Macro concerns appear to be bottoming out. We believe next year will be better in terms on liquidity and interest rates will be more supportive." A silver lining for equities is that the Reserve Bank of India has already indicated a cut in key interest rates may come by January.
Metals, FMCG and oil & gas led the gainers pack in today's trade while the technology, realty and automobile sectors declined.
Mobile operator Bharti Airtel was the top gainer, up 1.02 per cent at Rs 282. The poor response to the auction for 2G telecom spectrum is seen as a positive for the company, as spectrum prices could be revised downwards. Cement maker Jaiprakash Associates was the top loser, down 2.42 per cent, after its second-quarter profit fell 48 per cent.
The highlight of the trading session was a surge in UB group shares. The Kingfisher Airlines scrip gained 4.5 per cent, despite news reports that the debt-laden carrier had again missed the deadline to pay May salaries to its employees. Vijay Mallya-promoted United Breweries surged nearly 16 per cent, while United Breweries Holdings closed 4.6 per cent higher.
However, United Spirits shares saw some profit booking. The stock traded 1.5 per cent lower after it rose 35 per cent on Monday. Last Friday, UK-based Diageo plc had announced a $2.1-billion deal to acquire 53.4 per cent stake in United Spirits. Volumes were thin in the special trading session. Transactions done during the Muhurat trading session will be settled as a separate settlement. Trades done yesterday and today will be settled together on Friday. The timings for pay-in schedule for stocks sold yesterday and today will be at 09.30 am and 1.30 pm, respectively. The daily mark-to-market settlement for futures and premium settlement for options, for trades done in the F&O segment today, will take place on Thursday.