Extending its fall for the third session, the BSE benchmark Sensex on Thursday ended marginally lower after investors squared-off their positions on February derivative contracts' expiry amid concerns over tension between India and Pakistan.Weak cues from other Asian markets and a lower opening of European equities too weighed on market mood, traders said.
The 30-share index took off on a strong footing, advancing to a high of 36,085.85 in early session largely on the back of sustained foreign fund inflows and covering-up of short positions by speculators.Sensex opened on a positive note on Thursday amid buying by domestic as well as foreign institutional investors ahead of February derivatives expiry. Investors, however, were cautious on concerns over the tension between India and Pakistan.
The 30-share index was trading higher by 81.45 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 35,986.88.However, selling activity re-emerged in line with weak domestic and global cues, pushing the index to a low of 35,829.15.
It finally settled 37.99 points, or 0.11 per cent lower at 35,867.44. "Clearly, the market appears to be suggesting that things will subside as both sides do not appear to want an escalation.
"The flip side of the event is that investors seem to be recognizing a greater likelihood of a victory for the current regime in upcoming elections; with the follow-on implication that while the near term may be fraught with tensions and a fear of escalation, the medium-term picture is possibly clarifying in terms of election outcome and that's a positive for the market," he said.
The gauge had lost 308 points in the previous two sessions. The 50-share Nifty also fell 15.70 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 10,792.50 after moving between 10,865.70 and 10,784.85 on alternate bouts of buying and selling
Top losers in the Sensex pack include TCS, Maruti, Hero MotoCorp, M&M, Axis Bank and Tata Steel, falling up to 3.38 per cent.On the other hand, ONGC, Coal India, Vedanta, NTPC, Yes Bank, SBI, L&T, ICICI Bank, Sun Pharma, RIL, PowerGrid and ITC rose up to 4.17 per cent.
Investors adopted a cautious approach and were seen squaring-off their positions instead of carrying forward to the March series in the wake of tension between India and Pakistan, brokers said.
Market participants were also cautious ahead of the release of GDP numbers and fiscal deficit data scheduled for later in the day.Meanwhile, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth a net of Rs 423.04 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) made purchases to the tune of Rs 66.81 crore Wednesday, provisional data showed.
(With inputs from PTI)