Sensex closes flat; bank stocks plunge

Mumbai, Dec 17 : A benchmark index of Indian equities markets ended Tuesday's trade flat, a day ahead of the crucial Reserve Bank of India (RBI) meet to review the mid-quarter financial policy of the country.

The 30-scrip S&P Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 20,732.44 points, closed at 20,612.14 points - down 47.38 points or 0.23 percent from its previous day's close at 20,659.52 points.

The benchmark touched a high of 20,784.03 intra-day and a low of 20,594.99 points.

The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) also closed flat. It ended in negative territory, down 15.65 points or 0.25 percent at 6,139.05 points.

The RBI is slated to meet Wednesday amidst high retail and headline inflation, even as the country's industrial output contracted by 1.8 percent during October.

India's headline inflation based on wholesale prices rose to 7.52 percent in November due to high fuel and food prices. The country's main inflation measure based on the wholesale price index (WPI) was at seven percent in the previous month against 7.24 percent in the corresponding month of last year.

Food prices jumped by 19.93 percent year-on-year during the month under review. They increased by 18.19 percent in October.

The country's retail inflation measured in the consumer price index (CPI) for November rose to 11.24 percent as compared to 10.17 percent in the previous month, data released Thursday showed.

The country's industrial output contracted by 1.8 percent during October -- from a year-on-year growth of 8.4 percent in the corresponding month of last year -- due to poor performance of the mining and manufacturing sectors.

High retail and wholesale price inflation is expected to put pressure on the central bank not to ease the monetary policy as RBI's Governor Raghuram Rajan has said that though economy is weaker, inflation is also higher than what the RBI is comfortable with.

In Tuesday's trade, good buying was observed in healthcare, consumer durables and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) stocks. However, bank, oil and gas and power stocks decined.

The S&P BSE bank index was down 165.76 points followed by oil and gas index, which lost 45.15 points, and power index moved down by 11.88 points. However, healthcare index climbed up by 143.42 points, consumer durables index was 59.14 points, and FMCG index gained by 48.71 points.

Major Sensex gainers were: Bharti Airtel, up 4.27 percent at Rs.327.40; Cipla, up 2.82 percent at Rs.387.80; Sun Pharma, 2.15 percent at Rs.569; Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 1.43 percent at Rs.2,046.10; and Sesa Sterlite, up 1.17 percent at Rs.202.85.

The main losers were: HDFC Bank, down 3.55 percent at Rs.658.45; Coal India, down 2.89 percent at Rs.278.60; HDFC, down 2.53 percent at Rs.778.30; NTPC, down 2.14 percent at Rs.135.05; and Bajaj Auto, down 1.95 percent at Rs.1,866.70.

--IANS (Posted on 17-12-2013)

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