Despite opening on a firm note and seeing a bright spell around mid morning, the Indian stock market finished with just modest gains on Tuesday, as buying interest was somewhat subdued with investors choosing to tread cautiously ahead of key economic data due for release during the course of this week.
Some strong results from India Inc., data showing a drop in trade deficit and a firm trend in Asian and European markets ahead of the first testimony about monetary policy by the new Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen kept the mood positive right through the session.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which rose to 20,443.35 in early trades, dropped down to around 20,350 subsequently and eventually ended the day at 20,363.37, recording a gain of 29.10 points or 0.14%.
The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange settled at 6062.70, off the day's high of 6081.85, gaining 9.25 points or 0.15%.
According to the data released by the trade ministry, trade deficit for January came in at $9.92 billion compared to $10.14 billion in December last year. Exports were up 3.8% on a year-on-year basis at $26.75 billion. It was $26.35 billion in December last year, while imports were down 18.1% on a year-on-year basis at $36.67 billion. Gold and silver imports were down 18.9% at $1.72 billion (year-on-year), and crude oil imports declined 10.1% (year-on-year).
In the forex market, the rupee opened at 62.37 against the U.S. dollar, up slightly from Monday's close of 62.43 a dollar. After losing some ground early on, the rupee gained in strength and was last seen hovering around 62.25 a dollar.
Information technology stocks had a good outing. Automobile, bank, metal, capital goods, consumer durables and FMCG stocks turned in a mixed performance. Pharmaceuticals stocks were slightly weak. Power, oil and realty stocks too attracted sellers.
Tata Motors ended nearly 3% up thanks to buoyant results. Tata Motors said its consolidated net profit rose 195.23% to Rs 4804.80 crore on 38.37% increase in total income to Rs 64,034.30 crore in the October - December 2013 quarter, from the previous corresponding quarter. On standalone basis, Tata Motors posted a net profit of Rs 1251.40 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 as compared to net loss of Rs 458.49 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2012.
Tata Steel gained 2%. ONGC, HDFC and ICICI Bank moved up by 1% - 1.4%. Infosys, Tata Power, Sesa Sterlite, Bajaj Auto, Tata Consultancy Services, State Bank of India, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank closed with modest gains.
HCL Technologies, up 4.4%, was the top gainer in the Nifty index. Ranbaxy Laboratories ended nearly 3% up. BPCL ended 1.7% up. Jaiprakash Associates (up 1.6%) ended higher despite trading weak early on in the session due to disappointing results.
Reliance Industries ended more than 2% down following the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleging the company is charging double for gas from its KG -D6 gas block. Kejriwal said that he has instructed the anti-corruption branch to file FIRs against Veerappa Moily, V K Sibal and Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani and others.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories ended modestly lower on profit taking. The pharma major reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 618.42 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2013, up more than 70% from a net profit of Rs 363.31 crore it had recorded for the quarter ended December 31, 2012. Total income increased from Rs 2888.47 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2012 to Rs 3551.49 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2013.
NTPC, Punjab National Bank, Hindalco, Hero Motocorp, Power Grid Corporation, Ultra Tech Cement, Lupin, Ambuja Cements and DLF lost 1% - 3%.
Aditya Birla Nuvo, Hinduja Global Solutions, CEAT, Astrazenca Pharma and Entertainment Network of India surged higher on strong results.
The market breadth was slightly negative. Out of 2775 stocks traded on BSE, 1370 stocks declined. 1266 stocks moved up and 139 stocks ended flat.