Caution ahead of derivatives expiry subdues equity markets (Roundup)

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Mumbai, March 31 (IANS) Caution ahead of derivatives expiry, coupled with profit booking and weak crude oil prices, subdued the Indian equity markets on Thursday.

The key equity indices had briefly slipped into the red during the late trade session.

But later they recovered to close marginally in the green, as strong foreign funds inflow supported prices.

Further, investors were hopeful of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s apex bank.

Consequently, both the key indices of the Indian equity markets closed the day’s trade flat.

The wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) ended the day’s trade marginally in the green. It inched up by 3.20 points or 0.04 percent, at 7,738.40 points.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 25,364.75 points, closed at 25,341.86 points — up a mere 3.28 points or 0.01 percent from the previous day’s close at 25,338.58 points.

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During the intra-day trade, the Sensex touched a high of 25,479.62 points and a low of 25,223.22 points.

The BSE market breadth was marginally tilted in favour of bulls – with 1,307 advances and 1,247 declines.

The barometer index had gained 438 points or 1.76 percent on Wednesday.

Initially, both the key indices of the Indian equity markets opened on a flat-to-positive note, in-sync with their Asian peers.

Market observers cited that Wednesday’s healthy buying had dissipated as investors were cautious ahead of the derivatives expiry.

Besides, upcoming US non-farm payrolls data and key domestic macro economic data deterred investors from chasing prices.

In addition, weak crude oil prices due to supply side issues dented sentiments.

However, rupee strengthened during the day’s trade. It closed at 66.25 to a US dollar from its previous close of 66.37-38 to a greenback.

“Caution ahead of derivatives expiry and upcoming global and domestic macro data deterred investors from chasing prices. Weak commodities and strengthening dollar dented sentiments,” Anand James, chief market strategist, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, told IANS.

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Vaibhav Agarwal, vice president and research head at Angel Broking, pointed out: “Sensex slipped into the red in late trade but recovered to close marginally in the green.”

“With the F&O (futures and options) expiry over, we expect markets to shift focus towards the monetary policy and earnings expectations. Investors will also watch out for US jobs data later today for further cues on the rate hike.”

Furthermore, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net buyers during the day’s trade, while the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold stocks.

The data with stock exchanges showed that FIIs invested Rs.4,056.62 crore, while the DIIs sold stocks worth Rs.2,890.57 crore.

Sector-wise, healthy buying was witnessed in consumer durables, healthcare and IT (information technology) stocks, while scrip of oil and gas, metal and capital goods came under selling pressure.

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The S&P BSE consumer durables index increased by 136.78 points, followed by the healthcare index, which gained by 98.80 points; and the IT index rose by 74.97 points.

Whereas, the S&P BSE oil and gas index receded by 59.03 points, followed by the metal index, which declined by 58.27 points and the capital goods index fell by 23.54 points.

Major Sensex gainers during Thursday’s trade were Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 1.11 percent at Rs.2,516.05; Infosys, up 1.01 percent at Rs.1,217.95; Sun Pharma, up 0.97 percent at Rs.819.45; Hindustan Unilever, up 0.79 percent at Rs.869.50; and Adani Ports, up 0.75 percent at Rs.247.70.

Major Sensex losers during the day’s trade were State Bank of India (SBI), down 1.65 percent at Rs.194.30; Tata Steel, down 1.51 percent at Rs.319.50; Coal India, down 1.50 percent at Rs.292; Asian Paints, down 1.44 percent at Rs.868.70; and ONGC, down 1.42 percent at Rs.214.75.

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