After a positive start and a subsequent retreat to lower levels, the Indian stock market was quite sluggish amid lackluster trades on Monday, as investors stayed wary of building up positions due to a lack of prominent triggers.
Asian markets ended on a mixed note and the trend in the European region was weak, rendering the mood back home quite cautious. Though expectations that the U.S. government would work out a plan to bring in fiscal stability there, worries on the domestic economic front weighed in. The statement from finance minister P Chidambaram that the government has finalised amendments to the General Anti Avoidance Rules did cheer investors a bit early on, but the mood turned cautious swiftly thereafter.
Capital goods, consumer durables, healthcare and metal stocks drifted lower, even as select stocks from automobile and FMCG sectors posted strong gains. Bank, realty, information technology, oil and power stocks turned in a mixed performance. After showing some strength early on, midcap and smallcap stocks lost their way and mostly ended in negative territory.
The 30-share BSE sensitive index Sensex ended the session with a gain of 29.63 points or 0.16% at 18,339, around 80 points of the day's low of 18,256.07. The barometer touched a high of 18,386.78 in early trades.
However, the broader 50-stock Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange settled in negative territory at 5571.40, netting a loss of 2.65 points or 0.05%. The Nifty touched a high of 5592.75 and a low of 5549.25 during the day.
Maruti Suzuki ended nearly 4% up on sustained buying almost right through the session. Bajaj Auto moved up 2.3%, while Mahindra & Mahindra and Hero Motocorp gained 1.6% and 1.4%, respectively.
Bharti Airtel ended nearly 3% up. ITC notched up a gain of 2.7%. NTPC ended more than a percent up, while HDFC Bank, Infosys and Cipla gained 0.6% - 0.9%.
HCL Technologies, Cairn India and Power Grid Corporation also closed on a positive note.
Tata Power declined by about 2.5%. Tata Consultancy Services lost 1.9% and Tata Steel eased by 1.6%. HDFC, Larsen & Toubro, GAIL India, Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Hindalco lost 1% - 1.2%. Hindustan Unilever, Sterlite Industries, State Bank of India and ONGC also drifted lower.
IDFC, down by a little over 3%, was the most prominent loser in the Nifty index. Lupin ended lower by 2.8% and Jaiprakash Associates lost a 2.1%. Ambuja Cements, Asian Paints, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Sesa Goa, Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda and Reliance Infrastructure also closed notably lower.
Panacea Biotec and Honeywell Automation moved higher on stock specific news. While Panacea Biotech attracted buyers following the company forming a strategic alliance with Kremers Urban Inc., Honeywell Automation shares vaulted on reports that the company's parent firm Honeywell Asia Pacific is considering delisting of the Indian entity from the stock exchanges.
The market breadth was weak. Out of 2969 stocks traded on BSE, 1766 stocks declined. 1062 stocks moved up and 141 stocks ended flat.