Punjab National Bank : India Shares Down Early; ICICI Bank Falls Ahead of 3Q Earnings
01/31/2013| 12:31am US/Eastern
By Ashutosh Joshi
MUMBAI--Indian shares were trading lower early in the session, tracking general weakness in Asian stock markets, with banks due to report fiscal third-quarter earnings later Thursday in focus.
India's biggest private lender ICICI Bank was down 0.7% at 1206.00 rupees ($22.5) ahead of its earnings announcement, as traders booked profits. ICICI Bank had risen 1.1% Wednesday.
A Dow Jones Newswires poll of six analysts forecasts the private lender to report a 21% on-year rise in third-quarter net profit to INR20.89 billion.
At 0417 GMT, the Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensitive Index was down 54.79 points, or 0.3% to 19950.21 points. The National Stock Exchange's Nifty fell 11.00 points, or 0.2% to 6044.75.
In Asia, stocks traded mostly lower as Japanese, Hong Kong and Australian markets retreated after hitting multi-year highs recently.
Stock market losses came on the heels of the U.S. Federal Reserve's comments overnight that economic activity had paused in recent months. Wall street stocks fell from five-year highs on the remarks. Meanwhile, data showed that the world's biggest economy contracted in the fourth quarter, surprising markets as analysts had forecast growth.
State-run Indian lenders Punjab National Bank and Union Bank of India -- both not part of the Sensex -- will also report earnings later in the day. Punjab National gained 0.3% to 836.50 rupees, while Union Bank of India rose 0.9% to 243.25 rupees.
Index heavyweight Reliance Industries was down 1.0% to 890.00 rupees, while Infosys fell 0.5% to 2780.00 rupees.
Cigarette maker ITC was up 0.8% to 306.00 rupees. State-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp continued Wednesday's rally, rising 0.9% to 341.30 rupees.
Write to Ashutosh Joshi at email@example.com