Heavy selling pressure subdues equities indices (Roundup)

Mumbai, March 2 (IANS) Indian equities markets were subdued on Thursday as heavy selling pressure was witnessed in banking, healthcare, and oil and gas stocks.

The key indices closed with losses of half a per cent each, despite a strong rupee and inflow of foreign funds.

The wider 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) slipped by 46.05 points or 0.51 per cent to 8,899.75 points.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 29,117.38 points, closed at 28,839.79 points — down 144.70 points or 0.50 per cent from the previous close at 28,984.49 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 29,145.62 points and a low of 28,784.31 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was skewed in favour of the bears — with 1,930 declines and 957 advances.

In terms of the broader markets, the BSE mid-cap fell by 1.41 per cent and the small-cap index was down by 1.30 per cent.

On Wednesday, positive domestic macro-economic data, firm global cues and upbeat quarterly automobile sales results lifted the benchmark indices.

The NSE Nifty rose by 66.20 points or 0.75 per cent to close at 8,945.80 points. The BSE Sensex was up by 241.17 points or 0.84 per cent at 28,984.49 points.

“Markets corrected sharply on Thursday after the rally seen in the previous session weighed by profit booking after hitting a fresh 52-week high in opening trade. The broader markets were also weak with the Nifty mid-cap and small-cap indices falling over 1.5 per cent,” Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

Other market observers pointed out that investors turned cautious before 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.

The payroll data assumes significance, especially given the impending rate hike scenario in March. The US Fed’s recently released FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes had indicated chances of an early rate hike in March.

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

“Markets have retracted to a risk-off mode ahead of electoral outcome as well as US Fed rate decision next week,” said Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.

However, a strong rupee and inflow of foreign funds provided some support to the benchmark indices.

The Indian rupee appreciated by 12-13 paise to 66.70-71 against a US dollar from its previous close of 66.83 to a greenback.

In terms of investments, the provisional data with exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased stocks worth Rs 122.94 crore, whereas the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrip worth Rs 83.21 crore.

Commenting on the sector-specific movement, Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, said: “Banking, pharma, auto, oil-gas, textile and aviation sector stocks traded with bearish sentiments due to profit booking.”

“Media-entertainment, FMCG and cement sector stocks traded with sideways to firm sentiments.”

Sector-wise, all the sub-indices of the BSE witnessed heavy selling pressure, except the automobile index, which edged up by 61.35 points.

The S&P BSE banking index plunged by 269.26 points, the healthcare index receded by 237.08 points, and the oil and gas index edged lower by 181.25 points.

Major Sensex gainers on Thursday were: Tata Motors, up 2.66 per cent at Rs 461.05; Bajaj Auto, up 2.12 per cent at Rs 2,831.80; Hero MotoCorp, up 1.37 per cent at Rs 3,227.55; Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 0.85 per cent at Rs 2,501.15; and Hindustan Unilever (HUL), up 0.35 per cent at Rs 877.55.

Major Sensex losers were: Adani Ports, down 3.07 per cent at Rs 293.70; Sun Pharma, down 2.63 per cent at Rs 676.05; NTPC, down 2.50 per cent at Rs 156.05; Dr Reddy’s Lab, down 1.98 per cent at Rs 2,869.10; and Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), down 1.90 per cent at Rs 1,322.15.