MUMBAI: Indian shares edged higher as investors churn portfolio in favor of defensive stocks such as ITC Ltd on caution ahead of an event-heavy week.
The February derivatives contracts will expire on Thursday, while economic survey data will be released on Friday and the federal budget will be unveiled on Saturday.
Consumer companies such as India’s biggest cigarette maker ITC and Hindustan Unilever were among the best performers on the BSE benchmark index. Both gained over 1 percent on Tuesday.
Caution also prevailed after foreign portfolio investors sold index derivatives for a third consecutive session on Monday, totalling 26.49 billion rupees ($425.5 million), regulatory data showed.
Broader gains were limited due to falls in resource stocks such as Reliance Industries Ltd on fears lower crude oil prices would hurt margins, while coal users were down on profit-taking after recent rally amid coal block auctions.
“Traders are wary of taking any fresh positions ahead of derivatives expiry and budget,” said Deven Choksey, managing director at K R Choksey Securities.
The benchmark BSE index gained 0.19 percent, while the broader NSE index was up 0.22 percent.
Resource stocks led the decliners. Reliance Industries lost 1.7 percent, while Oil and Natural Gas Corp fell 3.6 percent.
Among metal and mining stocks, Sesa Sterlite lost 3.1 percent, Jindal Steel and Power fell 3.4 percent and Hindalco Industries was down 1.4 percent.
Indian metal and cement companies have bid aggressively for coal blocks in the country’s first auctions to sell mines as they look to cut imports and their dependence on inefficient government monopoly Coal India Ltd. ($1 = 62.2600 Indian rupees)