The Indian stock market opened on a bright note on Thursday on positive cues from Asian peers, and after moving in a narrow range till some time past mid afternoon amid alternate bouts of buying and selling, drifted down into the red before closing flat.
Most of the markets in the Asian region pared early gains and settled just modestly higher. European markets edged up marginally, but then, with no significantly positive triggers around to warrant heavy buying, investors chose to take some profits during the fag end of the session.
The BSE benchmark Sensex, which declined to 17,792.87 from the day's high of 17,972.54, ended the day at 17,850.22, up 3.36 points from its previous closing mark. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange settled at 5415.35, recording a gain of 2.50 points. The Nifty touched a high of 5448.60 and a low of 5393.85 during the day.
Information technology stocks had a good session. The BSE IT index, mirroring fairly impressive gains posted by key stocks in that space, ended stronger by 1.8%. The BSE Teck closed 1.4% up.
Select FMCG and healthcare stocks ended on a firm note. Bank, realty and power stocks started off on a firm note but lost their way midway through the session and ended mixed. Capital goods, automobile and oil stocks mostly closed weak.
IT heavyweights Wipro (2.7%), Tata Consultancy Services (2.3%) and Infosys (1.8%) ended on a high note. HCL Technologies closed with a gain of 1.3%.
Tata Steel and Hindustan Unilever gained around 1.5%. Coal India moved up by nearly a percent. ITC, Jindal Steel, Cipla, Tata Power, BHEL and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries also closed higher.
Cairn India ended nearly 3.5% up on strong buying at the counter amid reports that company is betting on big gas discoveries in its Barmer block in Rajasthan, after producing 1,75,000 barrels of oil per day.
Ranbaxy Laboratories moved up by over 2.5%. Punjab National Bank gained 1.2% and BPCL surged 0.8%. Bank of Baroda, Siemens and Asian Paints also closed on the positive side, albeit with modest gains.
Reliance Infrastructure lost over 2%. Reliance Industries, Mahindra & Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro, Power Grid Corporation, Axis Bank, Tata Motors, ONGC, Ambuja Cements and ACC drifted down by 1.2% - 1.8%. HDFC, SAIL, ACC and Bajaj Auto also closed weak.
Videocon Industries, Rolta India, GVK Power, Shree Cement and Alstom T&D attracted buyers on stock specific news.
Midcap and smallcap stocks saw a lackluster session. The market breadth was slightly weak. Out of 2956 stocks traded on BSE, 1458 stocks declined. 1357 stocks moved up and 141 stocks ended flat.