The market opened on a bright note this morning, but retreated from higher leves after the first hour, and then, drifted down into the red amid some listless trades and eventually ended the session on a flat note.
Weakness in global markets amid worries about falling earnings and caution ahead of Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy review on Tuesday rendered the market quite sluggish for a better part of the session.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which rose to 18,743.41 early on in the session, drifted down to 18,572.02 later in the day and finally settled at 18,635.82, netting a small gain of 10.48 points or 0.06%.
The 50-stock Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange settled at 5665.60, posting a slender gain of 1.30 points or 0.02%. The index touched a high of 5698.30 and a low of 5645.10 during the day.
The Capital Goods index ended 1.69% down, due largely to heavy selling in BHEL on the back of a disappointing show by the company in the July - September 2012 quarter. Realty, power and PSU stocks too mostly closed weak.
Bank stocks were subdued amid cautious trades ahead of the central bank's monetary policy review. Metal, FMCG, automobile and information technology stocks mostly ended flat.
Select pharmaceuticals, consumer durables and oil stocks moved up on fairly strong buying support. Midcap and smallcap stocks had a weak outing.
Wipro ended 2.6% up following a rating upgrade of the stock by Credit Suisse. Hero Motocorp moved up by nearly 2%. Tata Power (1.85%), Dr Reddy's Laboratories (1.65%), Reliance Industries (1.55%), Cipla (1.3%) and Bharti Airtel (1.2%) too closed on a firm note.
Mahindra & Mahindra, ITC, Bajaj Auto, Hindalco, Jindal Steel & Power, Tata Steel, HDFC Bank and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries gained 0.4% - 1%, while Infosys closed with a marginal gain.
Power Grid Corporation, Punjab National Bank, Siemens, ACC, Ambuja Cements, Reliance Infrastructure and DLF closed on a positive note.
BHEL lost more than 6% on disappointing results. The company reported a net profit of Rs 1274.45 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2012 as compared to Rs 1412.03 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2011.
Total income decreased from Rs 10,792.75 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2011 to Rs 10,692.22 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2012.
Sterlite Industries ended 2.2% down. Tata Motors, Coal India, Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Unilever, ICICI Bank, NTPC, GAIL India and Tata Consultancy Services also closed weak.
BPCL, Sesa Goa, Grasim Industries, Bank of Baroda, Jaiprakash Associates, Axis Bank and Kotak Bank lost 0.8% - 1.4%.
United Spirits tumbled after Vijay Mallya said that he was uncertain whether a deal to sell a stake in United Spirits to Diageo, the UK-based drinks giant, would be struck.
Bank of India, Uflex, SPARC and Gujarat Fluorochemicals attracted sellers on disappointing results. Muthoot Finance, JSW Steel and Finolex Industries saw some buying thanks to impressive quarterly numbers.
The market breadth was weak. Out of 2965 stocks traded on BSE, 1604 stocks declined. 1234 stocks moved up and 127 stocks ended flat.