The benchmark indices opened with a positive gap on strong Asian cues but were unable to sustain at higher level and soon slipped into red. Market breadth was weak. Banking stocks declined. Reliance Power edged higher after its bonus issue approval. Later, the 30-share BSE Sensex was down by 70.61 points or 0.41 per cent at 17,278.46 points. It opened 174.74 points up, also the day's high at 17,523.81 points. It later slipped to hit a low of 17,262.91 points. At the day's low, the Sensex lost by 86.16 points.
The broader based S&P CNX Nifty index of NSE went up by 15.15 points or 0.3 per cent at 5,125.90.
The BSE Mid-Cap index rose by 0.39 per cent to 7,624.29 and BSE Small-Cap index increased by 0.38 per cent to 9,631.79.
India's largest private sector firm by market capitalisation and oil refiner, Reliance Industries (RIL) hiked by 0.3 per cent to Rs 2,437. As per reports, Reliance Retail is locked in ''substantial'' discussions to float an equal joint venture with iconic UK fashion retailer Marks&Spencer (M&S) for apparel, gourmet food and cafes.
The deal, slated to be clinched in the next three weeks, would see the UK retailer bringing in new formats like food and cafes into India.
Reliance Power increased by 3.39 per cent to Rs 430.55. It announced that its board approved a proposal for issuing free bonus shares to all categories of shareholders, excluding the promoter group (comprising of Reliance Energy and the ADA Group), in the ratio of three shares for every five shares held. The proposed bonus offering will result in reduction of the cost of Reliance Power shares below the IPO price.
India's largest IT exporter by sales, Tata Consultancy Services rose by 1.4 per cent to Rs 909.80. The Company and the Nasdaq-listed Cognizant are reportedly in a race to acquire the billion-dollar systems integration business (SIB) of Germany-based T-Systems, which is the IT solutions unit of Deutsche Telekom, Europe's telecommunications giant.
India's biggest power equipment maker by sales, Bharat Heavy Electricals gained by 1.51 per cent to Rs 2,094.90.
India's largest truckmaker by sales, Tata Motors rose 0.82 per cent to Rs 700.40. It has reportedly started the process of raising nearly USD 2.5 billion, mostly from the overseas markets, by giving the mandate to a group of banks. A large chunk of this fund is expected to be utilised to purchase luxury British brands Jaguar and Land Rover from the US carmarker Ford, a report said.
Banking stocks fell in opening trade. Indian bank unions called off a planned two-day strike that was due to start on Monday after the unions and banking officials decided to meet next month to resolve their differences.
HDFC Bank declined by 1.43 per cent to Rs 1,453. The Board of Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP), at the meeting held on February 23, has given an in-principle approval for the merger of CBoP with HDFC Bank. The Board of CBoP will meet today to consider the terms of the merger including swap ratio after receipt of the valuation reports.
Centurion Bank of Punjab declined by 8.95 per cent to Rs 51.35. ICICI Bank was also down by 2.67 per cent to Rs 1,070.05 and State Bank of India eased by 0.07 per cent to Rs 2,113.25, brokers said.