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The BSE benchmark Sensex on Monday closed over 16 points lower with investors turning cautious after the first phase of voting in Lok Sabha elections got under way, amid weakness in global equities.
The 30-share barometer commenced stable but soon selling pressure emerged in realty, consumer durable and power shares. The bellwether index was down over 160 points by mid-session at 22,197.51.
Buying in select stocks later helped the index to recover most of the losses and end the day at 22,343.45, only 16.05 points or 0.07% lower than its previous close. This is the third straight day the Sensex is recording losses.
The NSE wide-based 50-issue CNX Nifty closed at 6,695.05, 0.70 points higher than weekend close.
Sun Pharmaceutical, which in the morning announced that it will fully acquire rival Ranbaxy Laboratories in an all-stock transaction valued at $3.2 billion, emerged as the top Sensex gainer with a rise of 2.68%.
Ranbaxy Laboratories, which resumed up by a huge 9.89% to new 52-week high of Rs 505 a share, settled the day fell lower 3.12% heavy profit-booking.
"The benchmarks were seen ending on flattish note after two days of successive decline. With the start of 36-day long Lok Sabha voting process, excessive rise in volatility was witnessed indicating building caution among investors," said Jayant Manglik, President, Retail Distribution, Religare Securities.
Markets had rallied to breach 22,500 levels on hopes of a stable government coming to power at the Centre. Voting started today in six constituencies of Assam and Tripura. The last phase of polling is on May 12 and results will come out on May 16.
State-owned power equipment maker BHEL was the top loser from the Sensex pack at 3.32%. The company reported weak results on provisional basis for 2013-14. Other losers were Cipla at 1.84%, ICICI Bank 1.73%, Dr Reddy's Lab 1.64%, Maruti Suzuki 1.20%, NTPC 0.83% and Axis Bank 0.75%.
Of 30 Sensex stocks, 16 scrips ended lower while 14 finished higher.
Gainers included SSLT 2.34 at%, M&M 1.26%%, Tata Steel 1.01%.
Meanwhile, foreign institutional investors bought shares worth net Rs 232.46 crore on last Friday, as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.
Among BSE sectoral indices, realty fell by 1.37%, consumer durables 1.24% and power 0.69%.
The market breadth continued to show positive trend as 1,408 stocks finished in the green, 1,180 stocks ended in the red and 103 ruled steady.
Most Asian stocks fell in the aftermath of a mostly disappointing US jobs report. Key indices in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan ended lower by 0.14-1.69%.
Indices in South Korea and China moved up by 0.08-0.74%.
European markets were trading lower as technology shares tumbled following a selloff in America. Key indices in France, Germany and UK eased by 0.33-0.93%.
NOTE: The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) will remain closed tomorrow, April 8. 2014, on account of 'Ram Navmi'.