Sensex falls for second day; Bharti Airtel, ICICI Bank hit

The BSE Sensex fell for the second day on Friday led by declines in Bharti Airtel after its December quarter results missed estimates by a wide margin, while ICICI Bank fell on profit booking, after rising 4.65 percent in January.

Bharti Airtel ended down 3 percent, while ICICI Bank ended 1.7 percent lower.

The BSE Sensex closed down 0.57 percent, while the 50-share Nifty ended down 0.59 percent.

Jet Airways was very active in trade, after India's second biggest carrier swung to a quarterly profit on rising fares in an under-serviced market and on lower costs.

Sources say the much-awaited Jet-Etihad deal is likely to be announced today. Top officials from the companies met the finance minister to apprise him on the deal.

Jet fuel prices are hiked by 2 percent, reversing the two month declining trend in rates.

Mumbai-headquartered Marico's consolidated net profit rose by 21.4 percent year-on-year, slightly lower-than-expected  and consolidated net sales grew by 10 percent. The stock closed trade up 1.21 percent.

It was a mixed bag so far for auto companies January sales numbers. Maruti total sales dip 1.1 percent to 1.14 lakh units, but M&M sees total sales accelerate 11 percent. Maruti ended up 1.65 percent, while M&M closed up 0.48 percent.

Two-wheeler maker TVS Motor's third quarter net profit slipped 9 percent year-on-year to Rs 52 crore, as costs rose and sales remained sluggish. It's revenue rose 1.4 percent from a year ago. The stock was up 2.52 percent.

Tata Motors and UltraTech Cement shares briefly dropped as much as 10 percent each, before sharply cutting losses, after a series of shares were sold at lower prices, traders told Reuters.

The block sales took place in the National Stock Exchange (NSE) at much lower prices than either company was trading at at the time, sending the shares crashing and sparking speculation of a freak trade.

An NSE official said the falls appeared to have come from a single broker and the exchange was looking into the matter. The official declined to be identified.

The falls were within the exchange's limits, the official also said.

The pace of fall picked up in the late afternoon trade with benchmarks threatening to topple key psychological levels.

The 50-share Nifty slipped below the 6,000 mark briefly, but quickly moved over it and stayed in the vicinity. At 14.43 PM, the Sensex was down 123.06 points at 19771.92, and the Nifty fell 36 points at 5998.75. Volumes too, on the first day of the series, remain muted.

Auto pack continue to help the indexes with Maruti, Bajaj Auto and Ashok Leyland gaining between 1 and 1.5 percent. BPCL gained 3.06 percent while JP Associates and DLF fell over 4 percent.

Top losers include banking stocks like SBI, Axis Bank, PNB, HFDC Bank, ICICI Bank and HDFC; all trading with a cut of 1 around percent.

Key equity benchmarks are trading flat after up gains seen in the morning. At 12.04 PM, the Sensex is down 4.65 points at 19890.33, and the Nifty down 3 points at 6031.75.

About 1277 shares have advanced, 1107 shares declined, and 1110 shares are unchanged.

Shares of Bharti Airtel slipped 1.05 percent after the telecom major's third quarter  profit declined significantly due to higher forex. The company's Africa operations continue to remain sticky.

From the auto space, Maruti Suzuki is the top gainer on the Sensex rising 1.37 percent after posting a slight uptick in January sales. Bajaj Auto is also up more than a percent ahead of its monthly sales data. Motherson Sumi and Eicher Motors are also up more than a percent.

Pharma stocks are also performing well with Cipla, Lupin and Dr Reddys Labs rising between 1-2 percent.

Meanwhile, engineering major BHEL tanked 4% post dismal third quarter earnings. Its net profit slipped 17.5 percent year-on-year - higher than expected - to Rs 1,182 crore in the December quarter. Revenues dropped by 4.8 percent to Rs 10,041 crore from Rs 10,548 crore during the same period.

Mirroring the trend of last few sessions, and led by poor global cues, equity benchmarks opened flat-to-stable on the last day of the week and first day of a new series. The January contract closed with bears choosing not to roll over short positions. FIIs were net buyers while domestic mutual funds being net sellers.

Action was noted in a couple of infrastructure and telecom stocks in the first 15 minutes of trade. GMR and GVK were up 1.85 percent and 2.72 percent, respectively. Bharti Airtel, and Bharti infratel opened up over 1 percent ahead of the former's quarterly number announcement. Oil India opened down 2 percent as its OFS gets launched today; experts say the stock is likley to gravitate lower.

At 09.22 AM, the Sensex gained 48.47 points to trade at 19943.45, and the Nifty rose 11.00 points at 6045.75.

Midcaps were bustling in the morning trade after staying lacklustre for a couple of sessions. Suzlon remained the topper on the index with 6.7 percent appreciation, backed by a hefty order win by its arm on Thursday. The stock will discontinue trading in Futures post Feb expiry. The other big midcap gainer was Videocon Industries, which also climbed 6.7 percent as race to buy out the company's 10% stake in Mozambique's Rovuma offshore block hots up. Rovuna is the world's biggest gas discovery in a decade.

Essar Oil started well but tapered off. Expectation of final closure of the deal with Etihad has kept Jet Airways in the green. The stock was up 2.48 percent in the opening trade. Continuous fall in HDIL was arrested and the stock moved up over 1 percent. BSE small cap too opened in the green and was trading amid heavy volumes.

Globally, the US stocks fell in trade after a batch of disappointing corporate earnings and a rise in initial jobless claims eventually overtook investors' impulse to buy. All eyes would be on the key jobs data from US today - the non-farm payrolls data for January. The unemployment rate is seen declining marginally to 7.7% from 7.8%. The January consumer sentiment might show a slight up tick to 71.5 from 71.3. Meanwhile PMI manufacturing index wa seen rising to 55.5 from 54 levels last month.