Clawing its way back from early losses, the BSE benchmark Sensex closed 17 points higher on Wednesday despite rising food inflation and a deepening euro zone debt crisis as investors clung to power, realty and oil and gas stocks while deserting IT, consumer durables and auto firms.
Opening on a weak note in the wake of a three-session losing streak that saw it shed by 340 points, the 30-share Sensex reversed the decline to close 17.08 points higher at 17,481.93 on fag-end buying in recently beaten down stocks of realty, power and oil and gas firms, which investors adjudged overdone.
The gauge saw an intra-day low of 17,278.03 as concerns over a rise in food inflation to 12.21 per cent for the week ended October 22 from 11.43 per cent in the previous week, coupled with renewed fears of an exacerbated euro zone debt crisis, gave investors the jitters.
In similar fashion, the broad-based National Stock Exchange Nifty index ended the day higher by 7.30 points at 5,265.75 after witnessing a low of 5,201.85 in early trade.
Out of the 13 BSE sectoral indices, the power (1.64 per cent), realty (1.55 per cent), oil and gas (1.08 per cent), consumer goods (0.68 per cent) and PSU (0.58 per cent) barometers ended the session with gains.
In contrast, the indices for the IT (-0.73 per cent), consumer durables (-0.58 per cent), auto (-0.39 per cent), metal (-0.35 per cent), FMCG (-0.19 per cent), bankex (-0.05 per cent) and teck (-0.01 per cent) sectors posted losses. The BSE Healthcare index ended flat.
The Sensex pack was given support by the most-weighted firm on the BSE, Reliance Industries, which spurted by 1.51 per cent to 884.60 during the session.
However, losses registered by software exporting companies on worries that escalating debt problems in Europe, their second-biggest market, might prompt clients to cut costs, offset the market leader's gains.
Auto and consumer durable stocks also declined on concerns over eroding corporate earnings in the wake of a series of interest rate hikes that have been blamed for a slowdown in economic growth and consumer spending.
Among the major gainers were BHEL (up 4.18 per cent), DLF (3.92 per cent), Tata Power (3.23 per cent), Bharti Airtel (2.15 per cent), Jaiprakash Associates (2.09 per cent), SBI (1.34 per cent) and NTPC (1.11 per cent).
In contrast, Hindustan Unilever (-2.08 per cent), Tata Motors (-1.74 per cent), Sterlite Industries (-1.70 per cent), Tata Steel (-1.23 per cent), ICICI Bank (-0.98 per cent), Wipro (-0.95 per cent) and Infosys (-0.94 per cent) registered losses, weighing down the Sensex.
Market analysts said the investor confidence remains jittery on increased outflows of foreign funds after Greece's shock move to call a referendum on its latest bailout plan prompted global investors to pullout from risky assets.