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Market Update

Sydney, Mumbai Listless in Light Session

Australian and Indian equities finished a lacklustre session near the flat-line even as other bourses in the region remained closed for holidays.

The S&P/ASX All Ordinaries slipped 0.2% at close while the Sensex finished down 0.1%.

Markets in Japan remained closed in observance of the National Foundation Day while those in mainland China and Hong Kong were shut for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

In economic news, data released earlier today showed home loan approvals in Australia declined for a third straight month despite the central bank's decision to slash its main interest rates.

Stocks on the move

In Mumbai, stocks continued their downslide for the eight straight session. Among the losers, auto maker Maruti Suzuki, oil and gas firm ONGC and steel player Jindal Steel lost 1.6% each while  telecom giant Bharti Airtel erased 1.5%.

In banks, ICICI Bank lost 0.7% but HDFC Bank and SBI managed to push into the positive territory, up 1% and 0.4% respectively.

Some defensive picks also found support. Drugmakers Cipla and Dr. Reddy Lab enhanced around 3.5% and 2.5% respectively while FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever gained 1.9%.

In Sydney, retailers were in focus after home consumer products retailer JB Hi-Fi Ltd. reported a 3% rise in first half profits and said it expected fiscal year profit to come in 7% higher. Shares of JB Hi-Fi soared over 17% in wake of the news.

That optimism rubbed on others in the sector too. Harvey Norman Holdings jumped 6%, Myer Holdings gained 3.1% and David Jones improved 2.7%.

On the other side, however, miners mostly lagged on the resource-heavy index. BHP Billiton declined 0.6%, while Rio Tinto lost 0.2%.

Banking firms were also mostly lower. Westpac Banking lost 0.4%, ANZ eased 0.3% but ANZ managed to hold up 0.2%.