Benchmarks witness consolidation ahead of budget session of parliament.

After two straight sessions of impressive rally, markets appeared in a consolidation mood on Wednesday. Though, the global cues remained jubilant but traders opted to take some breather ahead of the Budget session of Parliament which will start from February 21, 2013. Nevertheless, markets managed to keep their head above water led by oil & gas sector which remained the top gainer, led by rally in index heavy weight Reliance Industries (RIL) after the company announced its joint venture with BP plans to invest more than $5 billion in the next three-five years to boost gas output in the KG D6 block in the Krishna-Godavari basin.

Stocks of technology and software counters too remained on the buyers’ radar while  shares of three state owned oil marketing companies BPCL, HPCL and IOC also edged higher on renewed buying after they raised diesel prices by 45 paise a litre and petrol by Rs 1.50 per litre with effect from February 16, 2013. However, the gains in software and technology stocks were offset by selling pressure seen in telecom stocks which traded lower for second consecutive session after Department of Telecom (DoT) decided to auction 900 mhz spectrum as planned earlier.

Meanwhile, to encourage greater private participation in investment of infrastructure sector, Finance Minister P Chidambaram has called for more innovative financing solutions for the sector. For 12th five year plan (2012-2017), investment in the infrastructure sector has been pegged at around $1 trillion and the share of private participation in the total investment in infrastructure is projected at 47%.

Finally, the BSE Sensex gained 7.03 points or 0.04% to settle at 19,642.75  while the S&P CNX Nifty rose by 3.35 points or 0.06% to end at 5,943.05.

Most Asian markets extended gains for the third consecutive session and ended higher on Wednesday, amid signs of global economic recovery. Japan’s Nikkei ended on a positive note, touching 11,500 mark for the first time since September 2008.  Stocks in South Korea had their best day since September, gaining nearly 2%.  Chinese stocks ended higher by 0.6%.