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The BSE Sensex and Nifty fell on Wednesday for a fifth session in six, with blue-chips such as Reliance Industries Ltd taking a hit as caution ahead of expiry of June derivatives on Thursday and fears of more violence in Iraq prompted investors to pare positions.
Auto stocks surged in the final minutes of trade after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters that India had extended excise duty concessions for automobiles, among other sectors. Mahindra and Mahindra rose 1.1%, while Maruti Suzuki India Ltd jumped 2.3%.
Investors remain hopeful of a pre-budget rally after the recent consolidation but say progress of the ongoing monsoon, deficient so far, holds the key. The Narendra Modi-led government is set to unveil its first budget on July 10.
Overseas investors bought Indian cash shares worth 2.84 billion rupees and 9.54 billion rupees in index futures and options on Tuesday, exchange data shows.
Falls also tracked weak global shares as concerns about escalating violence in Iraq eclipsed stronger U.S. economic data.
"Government's expectation management and the Iraq crisis will set the tone for the short term. Also, after a 4-5 year lull, investors have got a reason to chase (in the budget) and we are bullish at this point in time," said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, chief strategist at SMC Global Securities.
The Sensex fell 0.22%, or 55.16 points, to end at 25,313.74, after marking its biggest single day gain since June 6 on Tuesday. The Nifty lost 0.14%, or 10.95 points, to end at 7,569.25.
Reliance Industries shares fell 0.8%, while HDFC Bank ended lower 0.6%.
The Bank Nifty also lost 0.5%. Axis Bank fell 0.6%, while Punjab National Bank ended 0.7% lower.
Among other blue-chips, Oil and Natural Gas Corp fell 1.4%, while Bharti Airtel lost 1.2%.
Astrazeneca Pharma India Ltd fell 1.7% after India's market regulator said on Tuesday that stock exchanges would closely monitor the company's delisting process and promptly report any aberrations.
Sugar stocks fell on profit-taking following a two-session rally after the food minister said on Monday that India would raise import duty on sugar to 40% from 15%, as the government tries to revive business at mills that owe farmers around $1.84 billion.
Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd lost 2.4%, Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd fell 2.9%, and Balrampur Chini Mills Ltd ended 3.5% lower. Apart from auto stocks, road developers surged after local news agency NewsRise quoted roads minister Nitin Gadkari as saying India plans to raise road-building capacity to 30km per day in two years from the present 3 km.
IRB Infrastructure Developers jumped 5.8%, while KNR Constructions gained 9%.