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Markets inch lower HUL, RIL drop

Defensive sectors lead drop on BSE

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Indian shares traded in a range with a negative bias in late morning trades on selling pressure witnessed in the heavyweight stocks such as Hindustan Unilever, Reliance Industries, Larsen & Toubro and State Bank of India but buying in auto and technology stocks capped some of the losses.

At 11:30AM, the Bombay Stock Exchange's index was down 8 points to 18,300.69 while the National Stock Exchange's index slipped 12 points to 5,563.10 levels.

In the US, the first round of talks aimed at avoiding the "fiscal cliff" caused a temporary rise in equities on Friday. Mirroring the global optimism, Asian markets were trading marginally higher, while the yen fell to a near seven-month low against the dollar on expectations a new government after next month's election in Japan may deliver more stimulus.  The Nikkei was up 1.1% and the Hang Seng gained 0.2%. However, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.8%.

Back home, on the sectoral front, Auto, technology and PSU index on BSE rose between 0.2-0.8% each while defensives such as consumer durables and healthcare were among the laggards, falling over 0.5% in the late morning trades.

Among the losers, Hindustan Unilever and Reliance Industries dropped over 1% each. Tata Global Beverages and Tata Coffee, which were gainers last week, fell 4% and 1% respectively.

On the gaining side, Maruti Suzuki India, gained 3% on reports country's biggest carmaker is eyeing ramping up export of components to Suzuki plants.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, country's biggest sports utility vehicle maker, rose 1.3% on reports company is among the potential buyers for Aston Martin, James Bond's favourite car and is said to be eyeing a full or partial stake.

Telecom major, Bharti Airtel continued its rally since last week, rising nearly 2% today while Idea Cellular was up over 1% after 2G spectrum auction.

Strides Arcolab has rallied over 6% at Rs 987, also its record high, on back of heavy volumes. A combined around 150,000 shares have already changed hands on the counter in opening deals against an average 200,000 shares that were traded daily in past two weeks.

Disa India has tanked 10% to Rs 2,460 after the company said that its promoter - Disa Holding - has proposed to sell over 10% stake of the company through offer for sale route on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

The broader market was also indicating weakness with both the BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices down 0.3-0.4% each.

The overall market breadth was weak as 1,360 stocks are declining while 897 stocks have advanced.

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