Some large cap stocks and several midcap and smallcap stocks saw some strong buying during the day, but price movements, by and large, were quite sluggish today, as investors appeared keen on taking some profits after recent strong gains.
Though Asian markets mostly ended higher, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, European markets drifted down a bit on profit taking.
Oil, information technology and realty stocks moved higher. Select metal and healthcare stocks too ended on a positive note. Automobile, power and bank stocks mostly ended flat, while capital goods, consumer durables and FMCG stocks were a bit weak.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which rose to 19,786.30 in early trades, but declined to 19,693.29 subsequently, ended the session with a gain of 50.54 points or 0.26% at 19,764.78.
The broader 50-stock Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange closed at 6009.50, off the day's high of 6017, recording a gain of 16.25 points or 0.27%. While the Sensex hit its best level since 6 April 2011, the Nifty touched its highest level since 7 January 2011, today.
The market breadth was positive. Out of 3101 stocks traded on BSE, 1713 stocks moved up. 1263 stocks declined and 125 stocks ended flat.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories ended 2.4% after the company announced that it has launched Finasteride tablets, a bioequivalent generic version of Propecia (Finasteride) tablets in the US market. The Propecia tablets brand has U.S. sales of approximately US$ 136 million MAT for the most recent twelve months ending in October 2012 according to IMS Health.
Bharti Airtel and ONGC gained nearly 2%. Reliance Industries (1.6%), Infosys (1.3%) and Tata Consultancy Services (1.3%) also closed on a firm note. State Bank of India, Wipro, Tata Steel, Bajaj Auto, Coal India and Sterlite Industries ended up 0.4% - 1%.
Cairn India moved up by nearly 2.5%. Power Grid Corporation, IDFC, DLF, Ambuja Cements, Asian Paints and Reliance Infrastructure also closed higher.
Tata Power, Punjab National Bank, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Lupin, Larsen & Toubro, Hero Motocorp and Maruti Suzuki lost 1% - 1.6%. Ultratech Cement, Cipla, HDFC Bank, Grasim Industries, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hindalco also closed weak.
Manappuram Finance, Muthoot Finance, Cholamandalam Finance, L&T Finance and M&M Financial, all moved up sharply today on reports of a likely upward revision on gold loan-to-value ratio.
Jet Airways moved higher on strong volumes after the company confirmed that it was in talks with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways for a potential stake sale. Geometric Ltd shares moved up sharply following the company acquiring 3 Cap Technologies.