Indian equity benchmarks gave up initial gains to end a choppy session on Thursday on a flat note, as financial stocks weakened ahead of the expiry of monthly derivatives contracts. Gains in oil & gas and consumer stocks countered losses in automobile, metal, healthcare and PSU bank shares.
The market erased most of its intraday gains but strength in heavyweights such as Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank and Hindustan Unilever saved it from deeper losses.
The S&P BSE Sensex index ended 4.89 points higher at 55,949.10, and the broader NSE Nifty50 benchmark settled at 16,636.90, up 2.25 points from its previous close.
Among blue-chip stocks, Britannia, Tata Consumer, BPCL, HDFC Life, RIL and M&M, closing with gains of between 1.26 percent and 2.67 percent, were the top gainers. On the other hand, Bharti Airtel, JSW Steel, Maruti Suzuki, Hindalco and Power Grid, -- ending between 1.31 percent and 4.42 percent lower -- were the worst hit among the 28 laggards in the Nifty50 basket.
RIL, ICICI Bank, HDFC and Axis Bank were the boosts for Sensex.
Reliance Industries shared rose 1.29 percent to Rs 2,230.65 apiece on BSE as the conglomerate set up an energy council with marquee names to help it emerge a major player by adopting the right technologies and business models.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation ended 1.35 percent higher on the buzz that global oil majors may be teaming up with investment funds that are already in the race to acquire the state-run oil market company.
Auto stocks continued to remain under pressure amid concerns over a global shortage of semiconductors. Investors also assessed the growth prospects of a sector struggling against high taxes and raw material prices.
Metal stocks continued to face selling pressure. The Nifty Metal index fell 1.27 percent, falling the most among NSE's sectoral gauges. All but one of its 15 components finished lower. APL Apollo Tubes bucked the trend with a gain of 5.29 percent.
Bharti Airtel was the top loser on both indices ahead of the telecom major's board meeting scheduled on Sunday to consider fund-raising through a variety of instruments.
The 30-scrip index finished the August futures & options series with a gain of 6.1 percent while Nifty rose 5.3 percent. The banking index -- Nifty Bank -- rose 2.7 percent. Nifty IT rose 11.9 percent and Nifty FMCG 7.2 percent.
Focus shifted to Friday's annual Jackson Hole Symposium, which analysts hope might offer hints about when the US central bank may start trimming its massive stimulus.
"Renewed tensions between China and the US along with the fear of a rise in the Delta variant infections capped the gains in Asian markets. Investors globally are awaiting the Jackson Hole symposium to gain insights on asset tapering plans and economic outlook," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.
Analysts also awaited data on India's economic performance for domestic cues. Official data on the country's GDP is scheduled to be released on August 31. A poll of analysts by news agency Reuters found economic growth in India likely touched a record high in the quarter through June, reflecting a very weak base last year and a rebound in consumer spending.
Meanwhile, European shares started Thursday's session on a weak note. The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 0.5 percent in the first half of the day. S&P 500 E-Mini futures were fell 0.14 percent, signalling a dull start ahead on Wall Street.
First Published: IST