The BSE Sensex ended flat on Thursday, as Infosys and other software services exporters fell ahead of quarterly results, while cement makers slipped on near-term outlook concerns.
The BSE Sensex fell 0.02 per cent, or 3.04 points, to end at 19,663.55. The broader Nifty ended 0.05 per cent, or 2.85 points, lower at 5,968.65.
Oil stocks such as ONGC gained after government officials told reporters a long-awaited proposal to raise fuel prices would be submitted to the cabinet.
Citigroup also issued a cautionary note, saying a rebound in economic growth, corporate risk appetite and the investment cycle may not be as strong as current expectations, and downgraded India to “underweight” from “neutral” as part of its emerging markets review.
Infosys fell 0.4 per cent. The country’s second-largest software exporter’s October-December earnings could fall 1.8 per cent short of consensus expectations, while revenues may disappoint by 3.2 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine estimates.
Ambuja Cements fell 2.7 per cent and UltraTech ended 3.2 per cent lower, while India Cements slipped 2.5 per cent.
J P Morgan cautioned the near-term outlook for Indian cement companies remained “hazy”, in contrast with market consensus for a strong V-shaped recovery in infrastructure spending over the next 12 months.
Tata Consultancy Services ended down 1.43 per cent.
The December quarter is a seasonally weak one for technology companies, and analysts are awaiting management comments on customers and any changes in hiring targets, Deutsche Bank said in a note.
Shares of Colgate Palmolive India Ltd ended 1.1 per cent lower at 1,524.75 rupees after UBS downgraded the company to “neutral” from “buy”, saying the stock has well outperformed the consumer sector since October 1, 2012.
BHEL fell 2.11 per cent and Indiabulls Power Ltd was down 4.1 per cent after Barclays Capital and Citigroup raised concerns over two thermal power projects the companies were involved in.
However, ONGC posted its biggest single-day gain since November 30, 2012, after the oil ministry moved a proposal to the federal cabinet to raise diesel prices.
ONGC shares rose 3.44 per cent to their highest level since February 22, 2012, and Oil India ended 4.13 per cent up.
Tata Motors ended 1.9 per cent higher, extending gains from the previous day, following upgrades by CLSA and Credit Suisse. Earlier in the session, its market capitalisation crossed the Rs 1-trillion mark, putting in what is now a 14-member club that also includes Reliance Industries Ltd.