Sensex posts worst weekly fall in three months
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex failed to hold on to earlier gains and ended slightly down for a fifth consecutive session to post its worst weekly performance in three months as investors continued to book profits in recent outperformers such as Larsen and Toubro.
Nifty and the benchmark BSE index each fell 1.3 percent for the week, retreating from the record highs hit a week ago to post their worst fall since the trading week ended on Jan. 31.
Sentiment has remained broadly cautious as the country awaits election results due in mid-May.
Meanwhile, although foreign investors have continued to buy cash shares, they have turned sellers in index futures, offloading 18.5 billion rupees worth of positions over four straight sessions till Wednesday, exchange and regulatory data show.
Risk factors including reports of fresh violence in Urkaine offset more positive ones such as comfort with the pace of the Federal Reserve's wind-down in monetary stimulus.
"Market is preparing for the election outcome. We can see selective position building happening in the market. We have completed a phase of correction," said Deven Choksey, managing director, KR Choksey Securities.
"Next week, probably we will see position building on the long side and 6,650 is a level on the Nifty which will act as a support," he added.
The benchmark BSE index ended 0.06 percent lower at 22,403.89. The broader Nifty closed 0.02 percent lower at 6,694.80.
Profit-taking was seen in most of the outperformers such as capital goods stocks. Larsen and Toubro ended 2.4 percent lower, but was still up 18.1 percent so far this year.
Bucking the trend, technology stocks gained with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS.NS) rising 0.88 percent and Infosys Ltd (INFY.NS) ending 1.22 percent higher ahead of the U.S. nonfarm payroll data later the day.
U.S. employment likely rose at its fastest clip in five months in April and the jobless rate probably dropped in a show of strong economic momentum after a gloomy winter.
Shares in Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.NS) gained 1.3 percent after the oil minister ordered that increases in gas prices, put on hold by the election authorities, be backdated to April 1.
Shares in metal companies were down. Tata Steel (TISC.NS) fell 2.7 percent, Hindalco Industries Ltd (HALC.NS) closed 2 percent lower and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JNSP.NS) ended 6.4 percent down.
Auto companies also lost ground, with Maruti Suzuki (India) Ltd (MRTI.NS) closing 2.1 percent lower after sales declined by 11.4 percent.
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (MAHM.NS) and Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAJA.NS) also ended lower.
Shares of Shriram City Union Finance Ltd (SHCU.NS) rose as much as 5.7 percent to a record high after Piramal Enterprises Ltd (PIRA.NS) agreed to take a 9.99 percent stake in the non-banking financial company. Shriram closed 4.3 percent higher.
(Reporting by Indulal PM; Editing by Anand Basu)
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