Indian shares fell on Wednesday as two-wheeler makers such as Bajaj Auto retreated after an industry body cut its estimates for motorcycle sales, while software services exporters fell ahead of earnings announcement.
After a strong start to the year, investors are turning more cautious ahead of third-quarter earnings reports. Infosys Ltd will kick off the blue-chip reporting season on Friday.
Even more important will be the corporate profit outlook for the year, at a time of optimism that an expected interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India on January 29 will help support economic growth.
“Third-quarter earnings growth should be better than second-quarter, or else the market is likely to show signs of nervousness,” said R K Gupta, managing director at Taurus Mutual Fund.
Any positive surprise cannot be ruled out, Gupta added.
The BSE index fell 0.38 per cent, or 75.93 points, to end at 19,666.59. However, the index is still up 1.63 per cent for the month. The broader NSE index ended 0.5 per cent, or 30.20 points, lower at 5,971.50.
Shares in two-wheeler makers were hit after the country's automobile industry association cut FY13 motorcycle sales growth forecast to three to five per cent from five to seven per cent earlier. Bajaj Auto shares fell 1.84 per cent while Hero MotoCorp lost 1.8 per cent.
Software services exporters also fell. The December quarter is a seasonally weak one for technology companies, and analysts are waiting for management comments on outlook.
Infosys fell 0.55 per cent while Tata Consultancy Services ended down 1.8 per cent. Larsen & Toubro Ltd extended its recent fall and ended 1.1 per cent lower. Citigroup and Barclays downgraded the engineering conglomerate on Tuesday on concerns over order cancellations and weak investment cycle.
Among gainers, Tata Motors Ltd closed 4.2 per cent higher after hitting a record high of Rs 330.35, as Credit Suisse and CLSA upgraded their ratings on the stock, citing expectations of improving sales.
Oil marketing companies, among the top performers this month, gained on hopes the government will announce diesel reforms soon. Hindustan Petroleum Corp rose four per cent while Bharat Petroleum Corp gained 1.3 per cent.
Shares in Havells India Ltd gained 4.82 per cent as analysts lauded the transfer of the brand name Havells from one of its promoters to the company at no cost, which is expected to save on royalty payments and improve corporate governance.