MUMBAI The Sensex and the Nifty fell on Thursday, retreating from near 4-1/2 week highs, as recent out-performers such as Larsen & Toubro were hit by profit-taking on worries about budget negotiations in the United States and about Europe's economic troubles.
However, Tata Motors (TAMO.NS) rose 5.4 percent, marking its biggest single-day gain since June 15, a day after the auto maker reported July-September margins at its key Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) subsidiary improved from a year ago.
The Sensex however recovered from earlier falls of as much as 0.9 percent on growing opinion that worries over the U.S. fiscal cliff and slowing Europe makes markets like India a better place to invest if government follows up on its policy actions.
"Market were worried about fiscal cliff as its getting more attention than before," said Vaibhav Sanghavi, Director at Ambit Capital
With the quarterly earnings season nearing its end, focus would shift back to government policy action and sustained capital inflows, added Sanghavi.
The Sensex fell 0.3 percent, or 56.15 points, to end at 18,846.26, after gaining 2.55 percent over the previous six sessions, till Wednesday.
The Nifty fell 0.37 percent, or 21.35 points, to 5,738.75, falling for the first time in the last seven trading sessions.
Housing Development and Finance Corporation (HDFC.NS) settled 0.7 percent lower on profit booking, after hitting a 52-week high of 805.85 rupees on Wednesday.
Shares in United Spirits (UNSP.NS) rose 3.37 percent, after CNBC TV 18 reported top officials at the Indian liquor maker were expected to meet Diageo (DGE.L) on Thursday to continue discussing a potential stake sale, citing unidentified sources.
Larsen & Toubro (LART.NS) shares ended 2 percent lower on risk aversion. Credit Suisse also downgraded the stock on Wednesday to 'underperform' from 'neutral' on concerns about deteriorating order flow mix and rising working capital cycle, which could impact margins and cash generation.
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (SUN.NS) ended 0.5 percent lower after reporting a 46.5 percent drop in quarterly net profit after it set aside 5.84 billion rupees towards a possible compensation in a patent dispute case.
Drugmaker Cipla (CIPL.NS) ended 0.74 percent lower after it cut prices of three cancer drugs between 50 percent and 64 percent with immediate effect.
IPCA Laboratories Ltd (IPCA.NS) fell 6.3 percent after it said shipments to the U.S. from one of its units would stop until issues related to compliance are resolved.
However, State Bank of India rose 1.1 percent on hopes of better-than-expected results and lower non-performing loans in the September quarter, with results due on Friday.
The bank's chairman, Pratip Chaudhuri, said SBI's September quarter non-performing asset position was looking better than that of the June quarter.
L&T Finance (LTFH.NS) shares ended 5.4 percent higher after a senior ministry official said India hopes to have new banking licenses by the end of 2012/13 fiscal year.
(Additional reporting by Manoj Dharra; Editing by Sunil Nair)