Nifty opens year on a subdued note; banks, infotech lead decline

India's national benchmark index ended at two-week low on Monday, the first trading day of 2018 while posting its biggest fall in a month on basket selling by large institutional investors amid thin volume trades.

Bharti Infratel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Bosch and IndusInd Bank led decline among the 50-share Nifty constituents.

“Probably, traders chose to take some money off the table in a hurry and hence, the index tumbled nearly 100 points before anyone could realise it,” said Sameet Chavan, chief analyst technical and derivatives, Angel Broking. “The banking space was the major culprit in the tail end decline and hence, one needs to keep a close watch on this basket as well.”

During intra-day trades on Monday, Nifty traded in a tight range on thin volumes amid lack of fresh triggers as global markets remain shut on account of the New Year holiday.

“Undoubtedly, this is not a kind of start most of the traders might have wished for after enjoying a good bull run in the year gone by and especially after having a fantastic close last Friday at record highs. But, this is how market functions as it mostly prefers to give surprises and likes to catch consensus’ view on the wrong foot,” Chavan added.

Data from the exchanges showed that the total traded volume of cash market eased to 2.87 billion shares at close of trade on the National Stock Exchange compared to 3.27 billion shares on Friday.

Investors remained on sidelines in stocks that logged gains recently in absence of cues from other Asian markets that were closed for public holiday.

Meanwhile, profit taking in the Nifty heavyweights such as State Bank of India and ICICI Bank drove the bank Nifty down thus putting pressure on the indices.

Locally, automakers such as Escorts and Mahindra & Mahindra reported robust set of sales.

Mahindra & Mahindra's sales grew 8 per cent to 39,200 vehicles in December 2017, led by robust demand for its commercial vehicles while Farm equipment maker Escorts’ sales rose 13.1 per cent in December on year basis, driven by strong domestic demand.

Many automakers offered huge discounts during the month, the impact of which was seen on the auto sales data today.

Globally, US stocks closed lower on Friday, the last trading day of the year, sectors ending higher while other indices remained shut on Monday for new year.

US composite trading volume for the session was more than 1 billion shares below its 50-day average.

Trading volume has been light all week as US markets were closed on last Monday for Christmas.

—TickerNews Service