Equities indices close flat on global cues (Roundup)

Mumbai, March 3 (IANS) The Indian equities markets closed on a flat note on Friday, as global cues and weak rupee eroded investors’ risk taking ability.

Besides, heavy selling pressure was witnessed in the banking, automobile, and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) stocks.

However, the key indices managed to pare most of their losses on the back of bargain hunting and inflow of foreign funds.

The wider 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed a tad lower by 2.20 points or 0.02 per cent, to 8,897.55 points.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 28,827.50 points, closed at 28,832.45 points — down 7.34 points or 0.03 per cent from the previous close at 28,839.79 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 28,860.13 points and a low of 28,716.21 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was slightly tilted in favour of the bears — with 1,484 declines and 1,355 advances.

In contrast, the broader markets outperformed the benchmark indices, with the BSE mid-cap index up by 0.23 per cent and the small-cap index by 0.34 per cent.

On Thursday, the benchmark indices were subdued as heavy selling pressure was witnessed in banking, healthcare, and oil and gas stocks.

The NSE Nifty slipped by 46.05 points or 0.51 per cent to close at 8,899.75 points, and the barometer BSE Sensex was down 144.70 points or 0.50 per cent at 28,839.79 points.

Investors remained cautious ahead of the release of ‘US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report on the non-farm payrolls, which is a key data to gauge the likelihood of next US rate hike.

A hike in the US interest rates can potentially drive away Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) from emerging markets such as India.

“Caution ahead of assembly elections results next week and US Federal Reserve policy meeting on March 14-15 resulted in the weak undertone,” Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

In addition, the Indian rupee depreciated by 10 paise to 66.81 against a US dollar from its previous close of 66.71 to a greenback.

On the contrary, the trade session witnessed inflows of foreign funds in the equities segment.

In terms of investments, the provisional data with exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased stocks worth Rs 1,529.48 crore, whereas the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrip worth Rs 737 crore.

Commenting on the sector-specific movement, Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, said: “Banking, auto, oil-gas and cement sector stocks traded with bearish sentiments due to selling pressure, while pharma sector stocks witnessed healthy buying sentiments throughout the trading session.”

“Textile, aviation, FMCG and power sector stocks traded with mixed sentiments,” Desai added.

Sector-wise, the S&P BSE banking index receded by 61.66 points, followed by the automobile index, which edged lower by 49.85 points, and the FMCG index, which slipped by 34.79 points.

On the other hand, the S&P BSE oil and gas index surged by 147.69 points, the metal index gained 83.14 points, and the consumer durables index rose by 78.28 points.

Major Sensex gainers on Friday were: Gail, up 3.47 per cent at Rs 520.35; Reliance Industries, up 2.04 per cent at Rs 1,258.45; Sun Pharma, up 1.44 per cent at Rs 685.80; Hero MotoCorp, up 1.33 per cent at Rs 3,270.55; and Axis Bank, up 1.28 per cent at Rs 512.80.

Major Sensex losers were: HDFC, down 1.89 per cent at Rs 1,371.35; Asian Paints, down 1.34 per cent at Rs 1,014.50; ITC, down 0.98 per cent at Rs 261.95; ICICI Bank, down 0.86 per cent at Rs 275.85; and State Bank of India (SBI), down 0.69 per cent at Rs 265.15.