BSE Sensex ends flat; deep caution ahead
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex ended flat on Friday, as gains in ICICI Bank after its better-than-expected results were offset by continued profit-taking in recent outperformers such as ITC, reflecting the deep uncertainty by investors.
The Sensex lost 1.4 percent for the week, with trading dominated by Standard & Poor's cut in India's sovereign ratings outlook to negative in light of the country's deep economic and fiscal challenges.
Equally worrying to traders, foreign flows have turned negative this month, driven as well by continued uncertainty over taxation for overseas investors under the so-called GAAR proposals.
Foreign institutional investors ended net sellers in each of the previous four sessions, for a total of 18.34 billion rupees.
"GAAR, S&P's rating cut, fear of slippage in fiscal deficit targets are adding fuel to fire," said Vivek Mahajan, head of research at Aditya Birla Money.
The benchmark 30-share BSE index rose 0.02 percent to 17,134.25 points, while the 50-share Nifty ended up 0.03 percent at 5,190.60 points.
Traders say stocks are vulnerable to more falls given all the uncertainty in markets, which has also been reflected by the falling trading volumes since peaking in late February.
"The volumes are pretty low on the futures side and is a concern right now," Alex Mathews, Head Research at Geojit BNP Paribas Financials Limited.
ICICI Bank gained 2.3 percent on Friday, helping the indexes end marginally higher, after posting a larger-than-expected 31 percent rise in quarterly profit.
Hexaware Technologies rose 1.92 percent after also posting a better that expected earnings. The software services provider also expects improving revenues and profits in the second quarter and year ahead.
Meanwhile, tea producer McLeod Russel India rose 3.5 percent, while travel company Cox and Kings gained 1.6 percent after Credit Suisse initiated coverage of both with "outperform" ratings, citing growth, cash flows, and valuations.
However, investors also booked profits in recent outperformers, sending down ITC 1.3 percent after the cigarette maker hit an all-time high earlier in the day.
Shares in Hindustan Construction Company lost 5.8 percent after posting a higher-than-expected net loss of 541.7 million rupees due to slowing order flows and the non-payment of claims.
(Editing by Rafael Nam)
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