The BSE Sensex, which yesterday snapped a five-day losing run to mark its first positive close in 2014, ended with a loss of 16.01 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 20,713.37. Trading in a narrow 125-point zone, the index rose to a high of 20,778.13 and a low of 20,652.69 during the session.
Gains in Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Sesa Sterlite marginally outweighed losses in Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Axis Bank as twelve stocks in the 30-share Sensex advanced while 18 counters declined.
Shares of Infosys gained 0.66 per cent on selective buying ahead of quarterly earnings tomorrow.
Another bluechip, Reliance Industries (RIL) ended the day in positive zone after it added the first production well on the eastern offshore fields in four years.
Similarly, the 50-share NSE Nifty fell 6.25 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 6,168.35. Also, SX40 index of MCX Stock Exchange slipped 8.59 points lower to end at 12,366.83.
All major Asian indices, including Nikkei, Hang Seng and KOSPI, closed in the red. However, European benchmarks were trading in the green in afternoon trade.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi today convenes the first rate-setting meeting of 2014 in Frankfurt.
Additionally, a US initial jobless claims report is expected to guide global markets.
Back in the domestic markets, shares of gold financing firms Muthoot Finance Ltd and Manappuram Finance surged up to 20 per cent after the RBI allowed NBFCs to lend up to 75 per cent of the value of metal from 60 per cent at present.
Sectorally, the BSE Realty sector index fell the most by 2.31 per cent. Capital Goods index dropped by 2.03 per cent as Larsen and Toubro fell 2.68 per cent and Punj Lloyd slid 2.39 per cent. The Banking index fell by 0.74 per cent after SBI, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank declined.
* BSE index falls 0.08 pct; NSE ends 0.1 pct lower
* Gold-based lenders surge after RBI relaxes norms
* Jubliant Foodworks falls; RBI limits foreign investment
Indian shares record sixth decline in seven sessions of 2014
(Reuters) - Indian shares fell slightly on Thursday, recording their sixth decline in seven sessions so far this year, as blue-chips such as Larsen & Toubro fell on anxiety ahead of the quarterly earnings season and inflation data.
Caution was seen ahead of the start of the corporate earnings reporting season, with Infosys Ltd announcing its results on Friday.
India is also due to post wholesale and consumer price data on Tuesday, which will help determine whether the Reserve Bank of India will resume raising interest rates after tightening monetary policy by a total of 50 basis points over September and October.
However, India's inflation rate will probably ease in December to 7.00 percent from the 14-month high of 7.52 percent in November helped by waning food prices, a Reuters poll of 22 economists showed.
Falls also tracked lower global shares ahead of policy meetings at the European Central Bank and Bank of England on Thursday and the U.S. jobs report due on Friday.
"We remain bullish on Indian shares. December quarter would mark the second straight quarter of recovery in earnings for India Inc," said Abhay Laijawala, managing director and head of research at Deutsche Equities India Pvt. Ltd.
The benchmark BSE index fell 0.08 percent, or 16.01 points, to end at 20,713.37, marking a total fall of 2.2 percent for 2014.
The broader NSE index lost 0.1 percent, or 6.25 points, to end at 6,168.35.
Among blue-chips, Larsen & Toubro Ltd fell 2.7 percent, while Housing Development Finance Corporation ended 0.3 percent lower.
Caution ahead of key inflation data next week also hit bank stocks. Axis Bank Ltd fell 2.2 percent while State Bank of India lost 1.1 percent.
Among other rate-sensitive stocks, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd fell 1.6 percent while Maruti Suzuki India Ltd lost 1.4 percent.
Jubilant Foodworks Ltd, which operates the Domino's Pizza franchise in India, fell 3 percent after the central bank on Wednesday said aggregate net purchases of equity shares in the company by foreign institutional investors had reached the prescribed limit.
Biocon Ltd fell 2.4 percent after brokerage CLSA downgraded the stock to 'sell' from 'outperform' citing a run-up in valuations.
HCL Infosystems Ltd fell 4 percent, Aban Offshore Ltd ended 3.6 percent lower and Opto Circuits (India) Ltd lost 2.2 percent after index compiler FTSE removed them from its Global Equity Index series.
However, software stocks rose a day ahead of bellwether Infosys' October-December earnings.
Infosys gained 0.7 percent, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd rose 0.4 percent while HCL Technologies Ltd surged 3.2 percent.
Gold-based lenders also surged to their maximum daily limit after India's central bank on Wednesday relaxed gold lending rules.
Muthoot Finance Ltd surged 20 percent, while Manappuram Finance Ltd jumped 19.8 percent.
FACTORS TO WATCH
* Dollar index buoyant near seven-week high; ECB eyed
* Oil up towards $108 on as caution on Libya prevails
* Asian shares ease, dollar firms; US jobs in focus
* Foreign institutional investor flows