BSE Sensex edges higher; defensive stocks surge

By Abhishek Vishnoi
A man looks at a screen across the road displaying the Sensex on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai
A man looks at a screen across the road displaying the Sensex on the facade of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building in Mumbai February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal/Files

By Abhishek Vishnoi

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex and Nifty rose on Friday as defensive stocks such as Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Ranbaxy Laboratories jumped on the U.S. regulator's approval for a key drug while IT stocks gained after rival Accenture Plc reported robust quarterly revenue growth.

Broader gains were however capped as Asian shares were mostly in the red on Friday, weighed down by a weak performance on Wall Street and doubts about the strength of the U.S. economy, which pushed bonds higher.

Also, overseas investors sold shares worth 6.01 billion rupees ($100.67 million) on Thursday, marking their biggest single day of sales since March 10, provisional exchange data showed.

Traders said markets may remain range-bound in the near term amid the backdrop of government deferring a key gas price hike decision while a lagging monsoon and the newly-elected government's maiden budget on July 10 also added to uncertainty.

"Volatility will be higher as we move closer to the federal budget day. We may see investors reallocating portfolio ahead of the budget and fresh buying could emerge in infrastructure, power and capital goods stocks," said Suresh Parmar, head of institutional equities at KJMC Capital Markets.

The benchmark Sensex rose 0.15 percent, or 37.25 points, to end at 25,099.92, notching up a weekly fall of 0.02 percent.

The Nifty rose 0.21 percent, or 15.60 points, to end at 7,508.80, closing above the psychologically important 7,500 level and marking a decline of 0.03 percent for the week.

Both indexes posted a third consecutive weekly fall.

Infrastructure output data for May, due on Monday, and manufacturing PMI on Tuesday would also be watched, traders said.

Ranbaxy Laboratories rose 5.2 percent after the company received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to launch a cheaper copy of Novartis AG's blood pressure pill Diovan, bolstering its outlook.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, which is in the process of acquiring Ranbaxy for $3.2 billion, also ended 4.1 percent higher.

Software companies gained as a better-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue by Accenture Plc sparked hopes of a robust demand environment, dealers said.

While bellwether Infosys Ltd gained 1.3 percent, others big names such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd , Wipro , HCL Technologies and Tech Mahindra gained 2-4 percent.

Among defensives, India's largest cigarette manufacturer ITC Ltd rose 1.1 percent.

Century Textile and Industries Ltd rose 2.4 percent after Derive Investments, a company owned by high net worth individual Radhakishan Damani, bought a stake in the company in a block deal on Thursday.

However, among decliners, Aban Offshore Ltd ended 1.5 percent lower ahead of a likely share sale to raise as much as $150 million on Friday.

Gail (India) Ltd ended 0.7 percent lower after 14 people were killed and 20 injured on Friday in a blast and fire at a gas pipeline in Andhra Pradesh, again raising safety concerns over the country's energy projects.

(Additional reporting by Indulal PM; Editing by Sunil Nair)