Healthy macro - economic data nudged the Indian equity markets higher on Wednesday, even as profit booking, lower crude oil prices and a weak rupee capped gains.
The key indices continued to trade in a narrow range on thin volumes for a second consecutive session.
They closed the day's trade flat - - marginally in the green.
The wider 51 - scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) edged up by 19. 85 points, or 0. 24 per cent, at 8, 179. 65 points.
The barometer 30 - scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 26, 684. 46 points, closed at 26, 713. 93 points - - up 45. 97 points or 0. 17 per cent from the previous close at 26, 667. 96 points.
The Sensex touched a high of 26, 857. 25 points and a low of 26, 671. 86 points during the intra - day trade.
The BSE market breadth was evenly poised between the bears and the bulls - - with 1, 327 declines and 1, 313 advances.
The key indices on Tuesday had closed flat - - marginally in the red - - led by profit booking.
The barometer index had edged down by 57. 64 points or 0. 22 per cent, while the NSE Nifty had slipped by 18. 40 points or 0. 22 per cent.
Initially on Wednesday, the key indices opened on a higher note, following the release of healthy domestic macro - economic data.
Major domestic macro - economic data points like the fourth quarter GDP (gross domestic product), fiscal deficit and eight core industries (ECI) were released after market hours on Tuesday.
Despite the positive opening, the key indices ceded some of their initial gains on the back of sluggish Asian markets and lower close of the US stocks on Tuesday.
The US indices had closed lower on the back of disappointing consumer confidence data which stroked growth concerns in the world's largest economy.
The US data also cast a doubt over the economy's ability to withstand a speculated interest rate hike in June.
The European stocks traded lower as investors were impacted by China and Japan's latest purchasing mangers index (PMI) reading.
Further, lower crude oil prices and profit booking dented investors' risk taking appetite.
In addition, a week rupee depressed the equity markets.
The Indian rupee weakened by 20 paise during the day's trade.
It closed at 67. 45 - 46 against a US dollar from its previous close of 67. 26 to a greenback.
Some sections of currency traders blamed the volatility in rupee's value on a vernacular newspaper's report that Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan does not want an extension of his term.
Market observers on the other hand said that the news had little or no impact on the equity markets.
"Indian market remained subdued on the back of global markets.
European markets were trading in red and our market gave up gains despite better - than - expected Q4 GDP data, " Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, told IANS.
"Highly volatile price movement of USD/INR restrict the upside in Nifty. "
Anand James, Chief Market Strategist at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, pointed out that investors were seen reluctant to chase higher prices due to negative global cues.
"Gains were capped due to caution ahead of the release of major global macro - economic data points and sluggish global markets on the back of disappointing US consumer confidence data, " James said.
"However, the equity markets were able to pare some of their losses on the back of value buying at lower levels. "
According to Nitasha Shankar, Senior Vice President for Research with YES Securities, broader markets ended on a muted and mixed note.
"PSU banking stocks dragged the bank index lower ending in the red led by profit booking.
FMCG, IT and realty indices lent support, while metal, auto and pharma indices dragged markets lower, " Shankar noted.
In the day's trade, the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) turned net buyers, while the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold stocks.
Data with stock exchanges showed that the FIIs purchased scrip worth Rs259. 90 crore and the DIIs sold stocks worth Rs160. 49 crore.
Sector - wise, healthy buying was witnessed in stocks of FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), IT (information technology), and technology, media and entertainment (TECK), whereas scrip of banking, automobile, and capital goods came under heavy selling pressure.
The S&P BSE FMCG index surged by 128. 33 points, followed by the IT index, which gained by 96. 44 points; and the TECK index rose by 70. 15 points.
On the other hand, the S&P BSE banking index plunged by 240. 06 points, followed by the automobile index, which declined by 116. 09 points; and the capital goods index fell by 88. 47 points.
Major Sensex gainers during Wednesday's trade were Adani Ports, up 4. 98 per cent at Rs 202. 20; Asian Paints, up 3. 54 per cent at Rs 1, 018. 95; Bharti Airtel, up 3. 17 per cent at Rs 362. 80; ITC, up 2. 60 per cent at Rs 360. 75; and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 2. 20 per cent at Rs 2, 631. 85.
Major Sensex losers during the day's trade were State Bank of India (SBI), down 3. 39 per cent at Rs 197. 90; ICICI Bank, down 2. 08 per cent at Rs 240. 10; BHEL, down 2. 03 per cent at Rs 118. 25; Tata Motors, down 1. 96 per cent at Rs 449. 20; and Cipla, down 1. 49 per cent at Rs 465. 35.