Photographs: Reuters Tulemino Antao in Mumbai
Markets ended lower, amid a rangebound trading session on Monday, tracking weakness among Asian peers. Further, uncertainty of the election outcome despite opinion polls indicating victory for the BJP-led NDA government weighed on market sentiment.
The 30-share Sensex ended down 56 points at 22,632 and the 50-share Nifty ended down 22 points at 6,761.
The rupee was trading flat at Rs 60.59 to the US dollar compared with its Friday close of 60.60.
Asian markets ended lower as investors turned cautious amid the rising tensions in Ukraine and the upcoming meetings of central banks in Japan and the US. Further, investors are adopting a wait-and-watch stance ahead of US jobs data due on Friday.
The Nikkei ended down 1% at 14,288. The Shanghai Composite ended down 1.6% on talk that additional stimulus to boost the economy is unlikely, Hang Seng slipped 0.4% and Straits Times closed 0.8% lower.
However, European markets were trading firm with pharma shares among the most active following the merger and acquisition news among global pharma majors Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The CAC-40 was up 0.5%, DAX was up 0.9% and FTSE-100 was up 0.3%.
BSE FMCG, Capital Goods and Auto indices were among the top losers down 0.1-1.0%. However, the Healthcare index was the top gainer up 1.65% followed by Realty and Bankex.
Lupin ended higher by 0.7% at Rs 999, extending its 4% gain in the past three trading sessions, after the company said it had entered into a strategic joint venture with Japanese pharmaceuticals company Yoshindo Inc.
Wockhardt surged by 11.7% to end at Rs 722 after the pharmaceutical company said the regulator in Himachal Pradesh has revoked the suspension of the manufacture and sale of three drugs.
Capital goods majors BHEL and Larsen & Toubro ended down 1.6-2.1% each as investors booked profit after recent gains.
FMCG major Hindustan Unilever ended flat at Rs 581 post its March quarter earnings. The FMCG major reported a 10.6% increase in net profit at Rs 871 cr for the quarter ended March 2014. It was Rs 787 crore for the same period a year ago. The total income from operations rose 17% to Rs 7,094 crore from Rs 6,466 crore in March 2013.
ITC, HDFC, TCS, Tata Motors and Hero MotoCorp were among the other Sensex losers.
Meanwhile, positive corporate announcements from select pharma firms improved sentiment in the sector. Sun Pharma ended up 2%, Cipla gained 3.1% and Dr Reddys Labs ended up 1.8%.
Idea Cellular ended flat at Rs 141 ahead of its March quarter results to be released later today.
Among other shares, Fulford India ended in 20% upper circuit at Rs 823 after the company said it has received a letter from Dashtag, the promoter of the company, expressing his intention to make a voluntary delisting offer to the public shareholders of the company.
Deepak Nitrite ended up 15% at Rs 528 after the company said its board will meet on May 2, 2014 to consider issue of maiden bonus shares. The board will also consider the sub-division of face value of equity shares from Rs 10 per share to a lower denomination.
UPL (formerly United Phosphorus) has surged 20% to end at Rs 277 after reporting a robust 28% year-on-year growth in adjusted consolidated net profit at Rs 405 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2014 (Q4FY2014), mainly due to higher operational income and lower employee costs. The agrochemicals maker had reported profit of Rs 317 crore in the year-ago quarter.
The BSE Mid-cap index ended up 0.9% and Small-cap index closed 0.3% higher.
Market breadth was positive with 1,448 gainers and 1,339 losers on the BSE.