Indian stocks edge higher in rangebound trade; GAIL, Power Grid rise

BENGALURU, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Indian shares rose modestly on Monday as blue-chip stocks moved in a tight range, with Power Grid Corp and GAIL Ltd gaining about 1.5% each.

In the penultimate trading session of the year, the NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.20% at 12,270.65 by 0438 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex was 0.21% higher at 41,661.65.

The Nifty has climbed 13% so far in 2019, while Sensex has gained 15.6%.

Asian stock markets hovered around an 18-month high on Monday, as Chinese equities gained after an upbeat forecast for retail sales and expectations that a new benchmark for loans could lower borrowing costs and boost growth.

Vodafone Idea Ltd was the outlier on the index with a nearly 7% gain. Rival telecom firm Bharti Airtel Ltd hiked prices on its prepaid plans starting Sunday, according to media reports here.

“Market (is) likely to stay rangebound ahead of the year end,” analysts at Motilal Oswal Financial Services said in a report.

Meanwhile, India’s small- and mid-cap stocks rose more than their larger peers. The S&P BSE MidCap index was up 0.42%, while the S&P BSE SmallCap index gained 0.56%.

“The fact that small- and mid-caps have started to perform has given some boost to sentiment,” said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at HDFC Securities in Mumbai. “Small- and mid caps have underperformed for two years and they do have value.”

Shares in Prince Pipes and Fittings fell 10.1% in their stock market debut. The polymer pipes manufacturer’s listing comes as Indian initial public offerings tumbled to a 4-year low by value in 2019 as the economy slowed.

Shares in cigarettes-to-hotels conglomerate ITC rose 1.1%, while those in Power Grid Corp of India and GAIL rose about 1% each.

The gains in the latter two stocks came even as the PTI news agency reported here that India's department of telecom had ruled out any relief from its side on the dues owed to it by Power Grid, GAIL and other non-telecom companies. (Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Rashmi Aich)