Sensex ends flat; awaits parliament logjam to clear
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex ended lower on Friday in a volatile session, after both the houses of parliament were adjourned on the second day of the winter session, raising questions about the fate of proposed legislation.
Markets will now focus on the government's ability to push through reforms, while also paying close attention to the country's efforts to contain its fiscal deficit, including a 4 percent stake sale in Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCPR.NS) that was fully covered.
Global market developments will also be key as the U.S. Congress continues budget negotiations over the so-called 'fiscal cliff' and the IMF and European Central Bank meet again on Monday over aid to Greece.
"The focus over the next few weeks will remain on reforms and the fiscal cliff in the US," said Phani Sekhar, fund manager-PMS, Angel Broking. "Even the GDP data is discounted, the key is reform measures," he said.
The benchmark Sensex ended down 0.06 percent, or 10.77 points, to end at 18,506.57, gaining 1.08 percent for the week.
The broader Nifty ended 0.02 percent lower, or 1.15 points, to end at 5626.60. It added 0.94 percent for the week.
The weekly gain was the first since the week ending November 2, on value-buying for selective stocks.
Nonetheless, markets ended on a weaker note on Friday. Drug makers retreated a day after India approved a new drug pricing policy designed to increase the number of drugs deemed essential that are subject to price caps.
GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd (GLAX.NS) fell 0.7 percent, while Cipla (CIPL.NS) was down 1.4 percent.
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd (RANB.NS) fell 3.2 percent after recalling its cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin in the United States.
Cigarette maker ITC Ltd (ITC.NS) fell 0.8 percent on profit booking after gaining 3 percent in the previous two sessions.
Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCPR.NS) fell by its maximum daily limit of 20 percent, after the government set a base price of 155 rupees a share for its 4 percent stake sale, way below Thursday's closing price of 266.15 rupees.
Shares in NTPC Ltd (NTPC.NS), the state-run power producer, fell 2.75 percent after the cabinet approved on Thursday a 9.5 percent government stake sale in the company, a minister told reporters, to help rein in its ballooning fiscal deficit.
Among gainers, shares in biofuels technology company Praj Industries Ltd (PRAJ.NS) rose 9.6 percent and sugar firms Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd (BJHN.NS) rose 1.5 percent after the government said it wanted to extend ethanol blending with petrol to all states in the country from the present 13.
Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) gained 1.03 percent, helped by a continued buy-back programme which ends on Jan 19.
(Additional reporting by Abhishek Vishnoi; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)
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