Despite stong GDP data and steady Asian markets, the Indian stock market stayed sluggish till around mid afternoon and then edged down on weak cues from Europe to end on a negative note on Thursday, snapping its four-session winning streak.
Activity was mostly stock specific. A sharp rise in global crude oil prices after the OPEC agreed for its first oil output reduction since 2008 after Saudi Arabia accepted “a big hit” and dropped a demand that arch-rival Iran also slash its output, lifted refinery stocks.
The BSE benchmark Sensex ended down 92.89 points or 0.35% at 26,559.92. The Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange ended at 8192.90, down 31.60 points or 0.38%.
In the forex market, the rupee was trading at 68.33 against the U.S. dollar around late afternoon, after opening at 68.49 a dollar, 10 paise down from its previous close of 68.39.
Data released by the government after trading hours on Wednesday showed India's GDP to have grown an annual 7.3% in the fiscal second quarter, up from 7.1% growth registered in the previous three months, boosted by a stronger performance in the agriculture sector and higher government comsumption. However, the pace of growth was slower than the expected 7.5%.
Bank, metal, realty and power stocks declined. Automobile stocks too traded weak. Pharma stocks were in focus following the Delhi High Court quashing the central government’s order to ban 344 Fixed Dose Combinations (FDC). Information technology, capital goods, oil and FMCG stocks turned in a mixed performance. The market breadth was negative.
The Delhi High Court today quashed the central government's order to ban 344 Fixed Dose Combinations. After the government issued a notification banning these combinations, leading pharmaceutical manufacturers including Pfizer, Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline and Cipla challenged the move in the Delhi High Court. The Kokate committee, which recommended the ban to the government, had observed that these Fixed Dose combinations did not have any therapeutic justification.
Among the pharma stocks in the Sensex, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries gained 1.7%, Dr Reddy's Laboratories advanced 1.3%, Lupin gained 0.7% and Cipla added 0.3%.
Among other stocks in the healthcare space, GlaxoSmithkline Pharmaceuticals ended 1.4% up. Aurobindo Pharma, Cadila Healthcare and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals edged up marginally, while Divi's Laboratories and Piramal Enterprises declined sharply.
GAIL India (2.9%), ONGC (1.2%) and Reliance Industries (0.5%) traded firm right through the session, with higher crude oil prices prompting investors to pick up these stocks.
Hero Motocorp ended 1.5% up and Bajaj Auto edged up marginally, while other automobile majors in the Sensex, Tata Motors (down 2.4%), Mahindra & Mahindra (down 2.1%) and Maruti Suzuki (down marginally) ended weak.
HDFC and Wipro posted modest gains, while ITC and Larsen & Toubro edged up marginally.
Eicher Motors, up 3.2%, topped the Nifty gainers list. Bharti Infratel gained 2.3%. Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Grasim Industries ended modestly higher.
The market breadth was negative. Out of 2816 stocks traded on BSE, 1562 stocks declined. 1118 stocks moved up and 136 stocks ended flat.