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Sensex falls ahead of rate decision; tech stocks hit

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Dec 18, 2012 01:00 hrs
Traffic travels past the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai

By Abhishek Vishnoi

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex fell on Monday, led by a decline in Tata Consultancy Services, which was hit by worries over its outlook ahead of a meeting with analysts, while Bharti Airtel fell after a unit priced its upcoming IPO at the lower end of an indicative price range.

Caution also set in a day before the Reserve Bank of India's policy review. The central bank is widely expected to hold off on easing interest rates but may signal a more dovish stance.

Interest-rate sensitive stocks such as ICICI Bank and Tata Motors gained as a result, with some analysts also expecting the RBI to cut the cash reserve ratio for banks.

Goldman Sachs, however, said it expects RBI to cut interest rate by 25 basis points on Tuesday after inflation was data was much lower than expected. The contrarian view was not widely shared by other analysts.

"The market are in a wait-and-watch mode ahead of monetary policy and larger picture of U.S fiscal "cliff" related negotiations," said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, head of research at SMC Investments and Advisors Ltd.

The probability of a CRR cut is much higher on Tuesday, added Thunuguntla.

The benchmark BSE index fell 0.38 percent, or 72.83 points, to end at 19,244.42, falling for the sixth session in seven.

The broader NSE index fell 0.37 percent, or 21.70 points, to end at 5,857.90, closing below the psychologically important 5,900 level, for a fifth day.

Tata Consultancy Services fell 3 percent on caution ahead of a scheduled meeting between the management and analysts later in the day amid concerns the software services provider will deliver a downcast view on the sector.

Infosys fell 0.55 percent. India's no. 2 software services provider may may cut its revenue forecast next month as U.S. business clients defer spending and balk at signing big deals.

Bharti Airtel shares ended 3.8 percent lower on Monday after unit Bharti Infratel's initial public offer received a lower-than-expected response from investors.

Although Bharti Airtel did not sell any of its shares as part of the planned listing of its telecommunications tower unit, traders expressed disappointment that the pricing had been set at the lower end of earlier suggested bandŸ.

Stocks in non-banking financial companies such as L&T Finance Holdings fell 1.4 percent, while Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Services fell 1.8 percent, on profit-taking after surging this year on hopes parliament will approve a bill laying the groundwork to issue banking licences.

However, some rate-sensitive stocks rose, with State Bank of India up 1 percent and ICICI Bank up 0.7 percent ahead of the central bank's policy review on Tuesday.

Tata Motors gained 0.7 percent, up for a third day , after stronger-than-expected November sales at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) reduced concerns about the outlook for the key unit of the Indian auto maker.

Among other gainers, Fortis Healthcare soared 6.9 percent on Monday to a 13-month high after announcing the sale of its 64 percent stake in its Australia dental business for A$270 million.

India's Jet Airways rose 2.4 percent after earlier jumping as much as 4.7 percent to its highest in nearly two years on hopes Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways will buy a stake in the carrier.

India's Mint Newspaper reported on Monday that Etihad may decide as early as this week whether it will invest in Jet Airways or in grounded rival Kingfisher Airlines , citing two people familiar with the matter.

Mint also quoted one of the people as saying Jet Airways had the edge in terms of attracting Etihad's investment.

Kingfisher Airlines ended 4.8 percent lower.

(Additional reporting by Manoj Dharra; Editing by Sunil Nair)




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