After a weak start and a subsequent choppy ride that lasted till an hour past noon, the Indian stock market ended on a positive note on Thursday, with the BSE benchmark Sensex hitting a new all-time closing high.
Asian markets ended mostly lower, with a weak report on Chinese manufacturing activity hurting sentiment. And European markets were subdued too. However, the mood back home was a bit positive, despite turning mildly cautious at times. A few good results from India Inc aided sentiment, and although buying interest was subdued, the market never really looked in danger of sliding sharply during the session.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which declined to 21,264.71 in early trades, ended the day at 21,373.66, off the day's high of 21,409.66, gaining 35.99 points or 0.17%. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange closed at 6345.65, up 6.70 points or 0.11% from its previous close. The Nifty touched a high of 6355.60.
In the forex market, the rupee opened at 61.94 against the U.S. dollar, down from Wednesday's close of 61.91. The rupee subsequently declined to 62.04, but regained some lost ground as it recovered to 61.89. A few minutes before the equity market ended, the rupee was trading at 61.96 to the greenback.
Capital goods stocks, thanks to strong results and an impressive order book from heavyweight Larsen & Toubro, turned in a good performance in the session. Consumer durables stocks were the other notable gainers. The BSE Capital Goods and Consumer Durables indices ended stronger by 1.8% and 2.3%, respectively.
Automobile, metal and oil stocks traded weak, while bank, information technology, FMCG and healthcare stocks ended on a mixed note.
Larsen & Toubro ended 2.8% up. After trading hours on Wednesday, Larsen & Toubro announced that its recurring profit after tax rose 12% to Rs 1136 crore on 12% growth in gross revenue to Rs 14534 crore in the October - December 2013 quarter, over the corresponding quarter last year. The company said the results are excluding the performance of the hydrocarbon business segment, which has been transferred to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company with effect from 1 April 2013.
The company said its order inflow rose 21% to Rs 21,722 crore in the third quarter of the current financial year, over the corresponding quarter last year. The international order inflow more than doubled at Rs 8237 crore during the quarter, on the back of some major orders secured in the Middle East, it added.
Axis Bank, GAIL India, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, HDFC and Bharti Airtel gained 1.5% - 2.5%. BHEL, State Bank of India, Infosys and ITC moved up by 0.5% - 1%.
Nifty stocks Ultra Tech Cement, Cairn India, BPCL and IDFC closed with notable gains.
Mahindra & Mahindra ended 2.8% down. HCL Technologies, ONGC, Punjab National Bank, Coal India, Tata Steel, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda and NTPC lost 1% - 2%. IndusInd Bank, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Consultancy Services, Hindalco, Cipla, Reliance Industries, Sesa Sterlite, Tata Motors and Kotak Bank also ended on a weak note.
Biocon, M&M Financial Services and KPIT Technologies saw some selling due to weak quarterly results. Essar Ports, Raymond, Amara Raja Batteries and Bharti Infratel saw some bright spells during the day thanks to fairly impressive earnings reports.
The market breadth was slightly weak. Out of 2840 stocks traded on BSE, 1453 stocks declined. 1255 stocks moved up and 132 stocks ended flat.