Photographs: Reuters Manu Kaushik in Mumbai
It was yet another day of lackluter trades at the D-street as investors booked profits at higher levels in wake of impending market volatility ahead of poll results.
Volatility is likely to increase post exit poll results on May 16, say analysts.
Market ended almost flat as gains in heavyweight banking stocks such as ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and State Bank of India were offset by losses in ITC, Sun Pharma and Sun Pharma.
The 30-share Sensex ended 20 points higher at 22,344 levels after trading in a 216-point range of 22227-22443 and the 50-share Nifty closed 7 points higher at 6,660 after trading in a 50-point range of 6638-6688.
"Investors are cautious ahead of a crucial event that occurs once in every five years.
It was seen in 2004 and 2009 that actual poll outcome was different than what was being largely anticipated and market hit circuit limits on both occasions.
Investors anticipate an NDA-led victory this time, failing which a massive correction is expected.
So, they are extremely cautious this time ahead of May 16 and instead booking profits at higher levels now when they still can," said independent market analyst A K Prabhakar.
There are pockets of action despite an overall lull in market. A spate of earnings results released, kept individual counters buzzing.
Pharma major Lupin slipped 2.4% at Rs 979.30, falling nearly 6% from its record high of Rs 1,023 touched on the NSE on Wednesday, on profit booking.
The pharmaceutical company has reported a 35% year-on-year (yoy) growth in net profit at Rs 550 crore during the quarter ended March 2014 (Q4FY2014) on account of strong operating performance.
During the quarter, the company posted a revenue growth of 20% yoy at Rs 3,052, mainly driven by exports.
Union Bank of India shed a whopping 8.5% at 135.25 on the NSE after releasing its fourth quarter results for the financial year 2014.
The public sector lender posted 26.65% drop in net profit at Rs 578.96 crore in the fouth quarter ended March 2014, on sharp rise in provision for stressed assets and fall in non-interest income.
Its net profit for Q4 of 2013-14 was Rs 789.38 crore.
The gross non per performing assets stood at 4.08% in March 2014, up from 2.98% year ago.
Bank will work to bring down gross NPAs to 3.75% by March 2015, Tiwari said. the bank restructured assets worth Rs 1, 435 crore in Q4.
The outstanding restructured loan book was Rs 15, 000 crore.
The restructuring in pipeline is about 1, 700 crore Dor Fy 15.
Its capital adequacy was 10.80% with tier I of 7.54% at end of March 2014. It expects deposit to grow by 9-10%.
Asian shares got support on Thursday from U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's dovish comments and upbeat Chinese trade data that suggested some signs of stabilisation in the world's second-largest economy.
Globally investment sentiment improved as tensions in Ukraine eased after Russian President Vladimir Putin called on pro-Moscow separatists to postpone a secession vote.
Japanese Nikkei 225 share average added 1.1 percent while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent, inching away from five-week lows hit on Wednesday.
Chinese exports rose 0.9 percent in April from a year earlier, beating expectations of a 1.7 percent decline, while imports also overshot economists' estimate.