After an early setback and a subsequent smart recovery, the market has faltered into the red again with investors choosing to tread cautiously at higher levels due to a lack of positive triggers.
Short-covering and bargain hunting after recent heavy losses had lifted the market to a buoyant close on Tuesday. However, amid lingering worries about the global economic outlook and on lack of positive news for the market from the budget, investors are mosty seen using rallies to cut down positions to an extent.
The Sensex, which rose to 17,687 after declining to 17,522.24 in early trades, is now down 10.02 points or 0.06% at 17,591.69. The Nifty index of the National Stock Exchange is down 11.95 points or 0.22% at 5353.
In the currency market, the rupee eased to its lowest level in more than two months this morning, due to increased dollar demand from importers. About an hour ago, the rupee was trading at 50.88 to the U.S. dollar, down from Wednesday's close of 50.66
Metal, realty and power stocks have drifted lower on selling pressure. Information technology, oil and capital goods stocks are also off their highs now. Bank, pharma and automobile stocks have pared most of their gains. Select FMCG and PSU stocks are trading firm.
Jindal Steel has plunged by 5.8% to Rs 555. Maruti Suzuki, Tata Steel, Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Power, Bharti Airtel, Infosys and Cipla are down 0.5% - 1.2%.
Manappuram Fiance (down 17.2%) and Muthoot Finance (down 11.5%) are down sharply on sustained selling pressure following the Reserve Bank of India tightening norms for NBFCs engaged in lending funds against Gold.
The Reserve Bank of India said on Wednesday that all non-banking finance companies that lend against gold collateral should maintain a loan-to-value ratio not exceeding 60% for loans granted against gold jewellery. Such NBFCs should not grant any advance against bullion/ primary gold and gold coins, the RBI said.
The central bank said that the prudential norms have been imposed considering the rapid growth of such firms and nature of their business model which has increased dependence on public finance. All NBFCs with such loans comprising 50% or more of their financial assets shall maintain a minimum tier-1 capital of 12% by 1 April 2014, the RBI said.
JSW Energy, Shree Renuka Sugars, IDFC, JSW Steel, Videocon Industries, CESC, Godrej Industries, Max India, HDIL and Adani Power are down 2% - 3%.
Suzlon Energy is down by around 2% at Rs 28.60. The company has announced that its subsidiary REpower Systems SE and Belgian offshore project development company C-Power NV have completed installation of the first 6M - the world’s most powerful offshore turbine - 28 kilometres off the port of Oostende.
Coal India is trading firm with a strong gain of 2%. ITC, Sun Pharmaceuticals, ONGC, Hindustan Unilever, Hero Motocorp, HDFC Bank, Tata Motors, GAIL India, HDFC and Tata Consultancy Services are also trading notably higher.
PSU stocks Hindustan Copper (9%), MMTC (7.5%), Neyveli Lignite Corporation (3.2%) and MOIL (1.6%) are up with strong gains.
Ashok Leyland is up nearly 5%. Tech Mahindra is up 3.5%. Zee Entertainment, Voltas, Tata Global Beverages, Apollo Tyres, Tata Chemicals, Pidilite Industries, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services and Sun Pharmaceuticals are trading higher by 1% - 3%.