Sensex closes flat; choppy trade amidst interest rate cut hope

Mumbai, Jan 30 (IANS) A benchmark index for Indian equities markets closed flat in choppy trade ahead of the expiry of the futures and options series Thursday.

A day after the Reserve Bank of India cut the repo rate and cash reserve ratio, heavy buying was seen in interest rate sensitive consumer durables, banking and oil and gas stocks. Automobile, capital goods and power stocks came under selling pressure.

The RBI Tuesday cut the short-term lending rate to 7.75 percent after a gap of nine months, and reduced the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) to 4 percent -- which it hopes will translate into lowering of home, auto and corporate loans cost and improve liquidity in the system.

The 30-share Sensex, which opened at 20,014.80 points, closed 20,005.00 points, up 14.10 points or 0.07 percent from its previous close at 19,990.90 points.

The Sensex touched an intra-day high of 20,073.46 points and a low of 19,964.64 points. The midcap index was down 2.15 points, while the smallcap index was lower by 15.21 points.

The wider 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed 5.85 points or 0.10 percent up at 6,055.75 points.

The oil and gas index was up 98.79 points, followed by the consumer durables index, up 92.56 points, and bank index, up 52.97 points.

The capital goods index was down 132.36 points. And so were the automobile goods index, down 53.89 points, and the power index, down 13.37 points.

The Sensex gainers were Cipla, up 2.69 percent at Rs.407.75; Hindustan Uniliver, up 1.97 percent at Rs.477.75; Reliance Industries, up 1.87 percent at Rs.899.05; Tata Steel, up 1.75 percent at Rs.405.95; and Wipro, up 1.72 percent at Rs.414.65.

The main losers were Gail India, down 3.35 percent at Rs.338.95; Tata Power, down 2.73 percent at Rs.103.45; Larsen and Toubro (L&T), down 1.92 percent at Rs.1,564.00, Jindal Steel, down 1.61 percent at Rs.425.30; and Tata Motors, down 1.53 percent at Rs.299.00.

Among other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed 2.28 percent up, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.71 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index was trading 1 percent higher.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.02 percent, while the German DAX was trading 0.21 percent lower. The French CAC 40 was down 0.17 percent.

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