Indian benchmarks ended the range bound day of trade on a flat note with positive bias as investors remained cautious ahead of exit polls data for assembly elections in 5 states which will be released later in the day. Actual results will be announced on Saturday, and will help to shape the next two years of Modi’s government as it heads for the 2019 general election. Sentiments got some support after Prime Minister Narendra Modi express the hope of reaching a breakthrough on the goods and services tax (GST) bill in the Budget session of Parliament that resumed after a month-long break on Thursday. The government is looking to roll out the new tax regime from July 1. Further, some support also came with the report that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will chair a high-level meeting with Reserve Bank officials on Friday to address the issue of non-performing assets in the banking sector. The meeting, which will also be attended by Financial Services Secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal, will discuss ways of resolution of stressed assets urgently. However, gains remained capped with the ICRA’s report that India's current account deficit is expected to see a 50 per cent rise to $30 billion in 2017-18 from $20 billion in the current financial year on higher oil and gold imports. Since 2013-14, a combination of lower crude oil and gold imports has helped curtail India's current account deficit, absorbing the impact of declining merchandise exports, services trade surplus or remittances in some of these years.
On the global front, Asian equity markets ended mostly in red on Thursday as investors turned nerves after a strong private payroll report from the United States made a rate hike by the Federal Reserve a near certainty. U.S. private sector job growth recorded its biggest increase in more than a year in February amid a surge in construction and factory hiring, suggesting the economy stays on solid ground. Besides, lower commodity prices and mixed inflation data out of China also dampened investor sentiment. While copper hovered near a one-month low on selling triggered by a firmer dollar, oil prices recovered some lost ground in the early deals after plunging more than 5% overnight to their lowest levels this year, on data showing production cuts from OPEC and other exporters have not been enough to reduce US supplies. Meanwhile, European markets were trading in red as investors await cues from the ECB policy meeting due later in the day.
Back home, after getting weak start, the local benchmarks traded below neutral line for most part of the session, though some lower buying in final hour of trade helped the indices to end session in positive territory. Finally, the NSE’s 50-share broadly followed index Nifty, added single digit gains to settle above the crucial 8,900 support level, while Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index or Sensex gained around twenty-seven points and ended above the psychological 28,900 mark. The market breadth on the BSE was pessimistic, as there were 1188 shares on the gaining side against 1611 shares on the losing side, while 170 shares remained unchanged.
Finally, the BSE Sensex surged 27.19 points or 0.09% to 28929.13, while the CNX Nifty was up by 2.70 points or 0.03% to 8,927.00.
The BSE Sensex touched a high and a low of 28986.72 and 28815.02, respectively and there were 17 stocks on gainers side as against 13 stocks on the losers side on the index.
The broader indices ended in red; the BSE Mid cap index declined by 0.21%, while Small cap index was down by 0.09%.
The top gaining sectoral indices on the BSE were Auto up by 0.56%, Consumer Disc up by 0.36%, Consumer Durables up by 0.34%, Bankex up by 0.24% and IT up by 0.11%, while Oil & Gas down by 0.65%, Metal down by 0.65%, Healthcare down by 0.64%, Telecom down by 0.47% and Utilities down by 0.46% were the top losing indices on BSE.
The top gainers on the Sensex were Maruti Suzuki up by 1.67%, SBI up by 1.30%, Axis Bank up by 1.16%, Tata Motors up by 1.07% and Asian Paints up by 0.87%. On the flip side, Dr. Reddy’s Lab down by 5.01%, GAIL India down by 2.28%, Wipro down by 1.96%, Adani Ports & SEZ down by 1.96% and ONGC down by 1.56% were the top losers.
Meanwhile, in an effort to boost transparency and streamline public sector procurement, the government has made it mandatory for all the departments and ministries to source goods and services from its online procurement site- the government e-Marketplace (GeM). This portal also provides the tools of e-bidding and reverse e-auction as well as demand aggregation to facilitate the government users to achieve the best value for the money.
The GeM was launched last year and to make use of this portal, the Finance Ministry has amended the General Financial Rules (GFRs) as per which it is now compulsory to procure items and services from it. Currently, it sells over 9,000 products from 250 categories including computers, stationery and several services.
The Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D) who has developed this portal is working on increasing the number of services ranging from cleaning and plumbing services to the digitisation of records. GeM has an opportunity to emerge as the single platform for India’s National Public Procurement Program and is also expected to result in huge savings for the government.
The CNX Nifty traded in a range of 8,945.80 and 8,899.50. There were 27 stocks in green as against 24 stocks in red on the index.
The top gainers on Nifty were Maruti Suzuki up by 1.62%, SBI up by 1.20%, Axis Bank up by 1.18%, Tata Motors up by 1.04% and Ambuja Cements up by 1.04%. On the flip side, Dr. Reddy’s Lab down by 5.08%, GAIL India down by 2.45%, Idea Cellular down by 2.21%, Wipro down by 2.16% and Adani Ports & SEZ down by 2.04% were the top losers.
The European markets were trading in red; UK’s FTSE 100 decreased 36.6 points or 0.5% to 7,298.01, Germany’s DAX decreased 26.42 points or 0.22% to 11,940.89 and France’s CAC decreased 6.09 points or 0.12% to 4,954.39.
Asian equity markets ended mostly lower on Thursday as strong US private payrolls data added to expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week. Lower commodity prices and mixed inflation data out of China also dampened investor sentiment. While copper hovered near a one-month low on selling triggered by a firmer dollar, oil prices recovered some lost ground in Asian deals after plunging more than 5 percent overnight to their lowest levels this year, on data showing production cuts from OPEC and other exporters have not been enough to reduce US supplies. China's producer price index jumped more than expected by 7.8% in February from the previous year, the fastest pace since September 2008. In contrast, consumer prices slowed from a year ago, to 0.8%, its slowest pace since January 2015, largely due to falling food prices. Japanese shares snapped a four-day losing streak as upbeat US data from payroll processor ADP helped weaken the yen against the dollar and pushed exporter shares higher. Further, China stocks closed at two-week lows as energy shares tumbled on diving oil prices. Renewed weakness in the yuan and weaker-than-expected consumer inflation data also sapped investors' appetite for risk.
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