BSE Sensex falls 140 points, Nifty down in early trade on profit-booking

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Investors are cautious ahead of the Union Budget scheduled for this month-end. (Reuters) Investors are cautious ahead of the Union Budget scheduled for this month-end. (Reuters)
SummaryInvestors are cautious ahead of the Union Budget scheduled for this month-end.

Snapping a three-day gaining streak, the BSE benchmark Sensex today declined by over 140 points in early trade, as funds and retail investors booked profits after recent gains amid a weak trend on other Asian bourses.

The 30-share index, which had gained 174.60 points in the previous three sessions, fell back by 140.52 points, or 0.71 per cent, to 19,502.23, with metal, consumer durable, realty, power and auto sector stocks coming under pressure.

In a similar fashion, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty shed 37.15 points, or 0.62 per cent, to 5,905.90.

Brokers said besides profit-booking by participants after three sessions of gains, a weak trend on the Asian bourses led to the fall in Sensex.

They said investors were also cautious ahead of the Union Budget scheduled for this month-end.

In the Asian region, Japan's Nikkei Index was down 0.80 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 1.62 per cent in early trade.

The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.77 per cent lower yesterday.

Stocks to watch

GLOBAL MARKETS ROUNDUP

* Nifty futures on the Singapore Exchange down 0.56 percent. The MSCI-Asia Pacific index, excluding Japan fell 1.27 percent.

* Asian shares fell and the Australian dollar eased on Thursday as risk sentiment was shaken by talk in global markets overnight that a hedge fund had been liquidating large positions in commodities, as well as worries the Federal Reserve could slow its bond buying programme.

* US stocks fell the most in three months and a key gauge of market volatility spiked on Wednesday after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's most recent meeting suggested the central bank may slow or stop buying bonds sooner than expected.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* The budget session of Indian parliament begins.

TOP NEWS

* India's auction of quotas allowing foreign investors to buy bonds attracted solid demand, reflecting expectations that the central bank will cut interest rates and that the government will deliver a fiscally disciplined budget. FINANCIAL/REGULATORY

* US private equity firm TPG Capital is to sell part of its stake in Indian commercial vehicle financier Shriram Transport Finance Co Ltd to raise about $300 million, according to a term sheet seen by Reuters.

* The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said in a draft report that there were serious irregularities, flouting of government norms and undue financial benefits to the private player in the Delhi airport Metro link.

ENERGY/COMMODITIES

* State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, along with Bharat Petroleum Corp and Mitsui Group of Japan, will invest about $1 billion (approximately 54 billion rupees) to set up a five-million tonne (mt) liquefied natural gas terminal (LNG) in Mangalore.

* The newly constituted cabinet committee on investment (CCI) granted its first big-ticket approval, clearing the 120 billion rupees North Karanpura power project of NTPC that had been stranded for more than a decade as power and coal ministries bickered over its location.

* Oil and Natural Gas Corp's over 80 billion rupees development of western offshore B-193 cluster fields will be completed this year that will add 28,000 barrels per day to peak oil production.

INFRASTRUCTURE

* Jaiprakash Power Venture raised 9.5 billion rupees in the largest primary issue in the power sector in nearly three years through a qualified institutional placement of shares.

* The Ruia family, promoters of Essar Ports and Essar Shipping, is planning to start offloading their stake in the respective companies in order to comply with the requirement of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) requirement of maximum 75 percent holding in companies, senior company officials told Financial Chronicle.

AVIATION

* The war over air fares intensified with all Indian airlines competing with each other to offer low ticket prices, as Air India also jumped into the fray.

IT

* Wipro is said to be contemplating laying off several hundred people in Wipro Infotech's business solutions division. This is because their work overlaps with those in a similar practice area in Wipro Technologies, three people familiar with the development said.

TELECOMS

* India's two biggest mobile phone operators, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone India, challenged in court a government move to auction airwaves in a band they already use.

* Asian shares fell and the Australian dollar eased on Thursday as risk sentiment was shaken by talk in global markets overnight that a hedge fund had been liquidating large positions in commodities, as well as worries the Federal Reserve could slow its bond buying programme.

* The US dollar held firm on Thursday, having enjoyed its biggest one-day gain in seven months against a currency basket as commodities and US equities slid on rumours of a hedge fund in trouble.

* Crude oil posted its biggest daily fall so far in 2013 on Wednesday, joining a sell-off in precious metals and copper as market rumours circulated that a hedge fund was forced to liquidate substantial commodity positions.

* U.S. Treasury debt prices rose on Wednesday, even after records of the Federal Reserve's January meeting showed policymakers discussed the slowing or stopping of Fed bond purchases that are aimed at reducing unemployment.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* The budget session of parliament begins with the President's speech at 1100 IST (0530 GMT), which coincides with the second day of a nationwide strike by trade unions angry with the government's inaction on price rise and alleged violation of labour laws.

* Sri Lanka central bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Colombo Stock Exchange Chairman Krishan Balendra, and Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka Chairman Nalaka Godahewa to be in Mumbai for an "Invest Sri Lanka" forum. They will give a media briefing at 12 pm (0630 GMT).

OVERNIGHT NEWS

* India's auction of quotas allowing foreign investors to buy bonds attracted solid demand, reflecting expectations that the central bank will cut interest rates and that the government will deliver a fiscally disciplined budget.

* Indian banks' advances continued to limp at the end of 10 months of the financial year 2012-13 compared with a year earlier, but bankers expect a late demand from corporates and loans to the farm sector to prop up growth before the year-end on March 31.

MAJOR DEALS/ACQUISITIONS

* Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd, Asia's largest budget carrier, plans to launch a regional airline in India in a venture with the Tata group, marking a return to aviation for India's biggest business house.

* The RBI said on Wednesday it accepted all 34 bids for 1.22 trillion rupees at its one-day repo auction, through which it injects cash into the banking system. It also accepted the sole bid for 400 million rupees at its reverse repo auction, through which it absorbs cash from the system.

* Indian banks' refinancing with RBI rises to 209.67 billion rupees.

* Indian banks' cash balances with RBI rise to 2.87 trillion rupees.

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