The market, which plunged sharply after a weak start, continues to languish in negative territory with fairly sharp losses amid a moderate degree of volatility. Though select blue chips forced their way up after a sharp decline, lack of support at higher levels has pushed many of them back into the red.
At 17,548.71, around 35 points off the day's low of 17,513.76, the Sensex is now down 203.97 points or 1.15% from its previous closing mark. The Nifty, which declined to 5310.30, is down with a loss of 63.25 points or 1.2% at 5321.95.
Realty, capital goods, information technology, bank and oil stocks are among the notable losers. Consumer durables and FMCG stocks are also mostly down in negative territory. Select healthcare, PSU, automobile and metal stocks have edged up a bit on modest support.
Tata Steel, ITC, State Bank of India, Bajaj Auto, Bharti Airtel, GAIL India, HDFC Bank, Sterlite Industries and Jindal Steel are also trading notably lower. Jindal Steel and Tata Consultancy Services are also trading weak.
ONGC is down with a loss of 0.7% at Rs 291.50. The auction sale of a 5% stake in the company has evoked a somewhat lukewarm response from investors.
Maruti Suzuki is up nearly 4% at Rs 1304.50 thanks to impressive sales data. Maruti Suzuki today reported a 6.5% rise in February car sales at 118,949 units as compared to 111,645 units in the same month last year. The car sales were at 115,000 units in the month of January.
Domestic sales for February increase 6% with sales of 107,653 units as compared to 101,543 units in February last year, while exports for the month were up 11.8% year-over-year, at 11,296 units as compared to 10,102 units in the month of February last year. Total passenger vehicles sales rose by 7.1% at 94,118 unit sales against sales of 87,851 units in February, 2011.
Tata Communications is up with a gain of 3.5% at Rs 241. The company is reportedly eyeing Cable & Wireless Worldwide, a London-listed telecom giant with origins in the British imperialist days, signalling the return of the company to bulge-bracket global buyouts.
Dish TV India, Hindustan Copper, NMDC, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers, Wockhardt, Neyveli Lignite Corporation, Engineers India, Coromandel International, Bank of Baroda, Adani Power, IFCI and Power Finance Corporation are up 2% - 5.5%.
According to the data released by the government today, India's exports rose 10.1% to $25.347 billion in January, while imports rose 20.3% to $40.1 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $14.8 billion. The exports reached $242.8 billion between April and January, according to the data. Oil imports in January rose 26.78% to $12.32 billion
Meanwhile, the country's manufacturing sector expansion slowed slightly in February from a month ago, although the pace of growth remained healthy as new orders touched a 10-month high, a business survey showed on Thursday.
The HSBC manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by Markit, eased to 56.6 in February from 57.5 in January, which was an eight-month high. Strong growth in the new orders sub-index, which rose to 62.8 in February, and factory output drove the expansion in the sector.