Snapping two days of gains, the BSE benchmark Sensex today erased early gains to end the day with a moderate loss of 11 points at 18,506.57 on investor concern over economic reforms as Parliament adjourned for the second day amid government kick-starting divestment plans.
Fall in blue-chip stocks ITC, ICICI Bank, NTPC, Infosys, Bharti Airtel, GAIL India, Cipla and SBI mainly kept the market under pressure after the morning session. However, the rise in RIL, HUL, TCS, HDFC and Tata Motors limited the downslide.
Meanwhile, the government's 4% stake sale in Hindustan Copper was over-subscribed, marking the start of the ambitious Rs30,000 crore divestment programme.
Shares of Hindustan Copper Ltd, however, were battered and ended with a heavy loss of 20% from its last close. Market players attributed the fall to the huge 41% discount offered in share sale. The government had yesterday set the base price at Rs155 a share, a 41% discount over yesterday's closing price.
Tracking Asian cues, the BSE barometer resumed better and touched a high of 18,556.50 in morning deals. Later, it started to decline and dropped to a low of 18,402.38 when the news of adjournment of the Lok Sabha for the second day of the winter session after an uproar over FDI and other issues.
Finally, it closed at 18,506.57, a fall of 10.77 points or 0.06%. In the last two days, the Sensex had risen by 188.02 points or 1.03%.
"The winter session of Parliament began but no business was transacted in the first two days, raising concerns over the fate of various bills which are proposed to be presented and passed in the session," said Dipen Shah, head of PCG Research, Kotak Securities.
"If some of the proposed bills are taken up and passed, we can see the sentiment turn bullish and markets trending higher over the next few weeks," he added.
A total of 3,89,12,793 shares of Hindustan Copper, worth Rs603.14 crore, were bid for by close of trading hours, according to data available from the stock exchanges. A total of 3,70,08,720 shares, or 4% stake, were put on offer in the first tranche.
Dragged down by Hindustan Copper, BSE-PSU declined by 0.85%, the worst among all indices. The market breadth turned negative as 1,498 stocks ended in the red while 1,315 finished in the green.
The total market turnover rose to Rs2,101.35 crore from Rs1,931.18 crore yesterday.
Meanwhile, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) had picked up shares worth Rs114.75 crore yesterday as per provisional data with stock exchanges, over their purchases of Rs262.60 crore on November 21 as per data from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
The broader 50-issue Nifty of the NSE also softened by 1.15 points or 0.02% to 5,626.60. Asian markets, barring Japan, which was closed, finished higher between 0.09% and 3.10% as Taiwanese shares rallied after the finance minister said government-controlled funds should buy equities.
European stocks covered their morning losses and were trading narrowly mixed in the afternoon deals. The CAC was down 0.07% while the DAX was up 0.06% and the FTSE 0.17%.
In all, 17 out of 30 Sensex-based scrips ended with losses while 12 settled with gains and Maruti Suzuki held stable. NTPC dropped by 2.57%, GAIL India by 1.95%, Cipla by 1.62%, Wipro by 1.38%, ITC by 0.95%, Bharti Airtel by 0.91%, Sterlite Ind by 0.87%, ICICI Bank by 0.74% and SBI by 0.47%.
However, BHEL rose by 1.51%, Hero MotoCorp by 1.21%, Tata Power by 1.14%, HUL by 1.04%, Sun Pharma by 1%, RIL by 0.89%, TCS by 0.78% and Tata Motors by 0.71%.