The key Indian equity indices closed on a flat-to-negative note on Wednesday, as profit booking and heavy selling pressure in oil and gas stocks eroded investors' risk-taking appetite.
According to market observers, an improvement in the macro-economic industrial production data, along with broadly positive Asian markets had given a push to key indices -- the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty 50 -- during the initial trade session.
However, heavy selling pressure in oil marketing companies' (OMCs) stocks over reports of a government proposal to curb their pricing powers and profit booking capped gains dragging the two indices lower.
Consequently, the wider 51-scrip Nifty 50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at 10,079.30 points -- down 13.75 points or 0.14 per cent.
The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 31,188.95 points, closed at 32,186.41 points -- up only 27.75 points, or 0.09 per cent, from its previous close at 32,158.66 points.
The Sensex touched a high of 32,348.30 points and a low of 32,126.77 points during intra-day trade.
"Markets closed with divergent trends on Wednesday after a volatile session. While the Sensex ended with marginal gains, Nifty ended with marginal losses," Deepak Jasani, Head - Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.
"Broad market indices like BSE Mid-Cap and BSE Small-Cap indices fell more, thereby underperforming the main indices. Market breadth was negative on the NSE," he said.
On the currency front, the Indian rupee strengthened by four paise to 64 against the US dollar from its previous close at 64.04.
In terms of investments, provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold scrip worth Rs 826.77 crore while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) purchased stocks worth Rs 725.90 crore.
Sector-wise, stocks of realty, metal, auto and oil and gas showed weakness.
"Most Indian equity benchmarks declined as shares of oil marketers sold off on reports that the government may ask these companies to absorb fuel price increase," Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, told IANS.
"OMCs such as BPCL (Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd), HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited) and IOC (Indian Oil Corporation Ltd) tanked as much as eight per cent following news reports that the OMCs may be told to absorb increase in oil prices due to inflation risks."
Major Sensex gainers on Wednesday were: Sun Pharma, up 4.02 per cent at Rs 502.95; Reliance Industries, up 3.13 per cent at Rs 849.10; DrReddy's Lab, up 2.09 per cent at Rs 2,210.10; Lupin, up 1.10 per cent to Rs 992.10 and Tata Motors, up 0.67 per cent at Rs 389.80.
Major Sensex losers were: ITC, down 2.18 per cent at Rs 271.50; HDFC, down 1.12 per cent at Rs 1,777.30; Bharti Airtel, down 0.96 per cent at Rs 401; Cipla, down 0.91 per cent at Rs 554.30; and Wipro, down 0.74 per cent at Rs 296.05.
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