Benchmarks end flat for 2nd day; ITC skids post results

Equity indices staged a smart recovery from intra-day lows to close flat for the second straight session on Wednesday as a spurt in market heavyweight RIL offset profit-booking in FMCG, finance and IT counters.

A continuously declining rupee also weighed on investor sentiment, traders said.

After dropping to a low of 51,450.58 in late afternoon trade, the BSE Sensex clawed back lost ground to finish 85.40 points or 0.16 per cent down at 51,849.48.

The broader NSE Nifty inched up 1.35 points or 0.01 per cent to close at 15,576.20.

ITC was the biggest laggard among the Sensex constituents, tumbling 2.88 per cent, a day after the company reported a net profit of Rs 13,389.80 crore for FY21, as against Rs 15,584.56 crore in the previous fiscal.

Tech Mahindra, Axis Bank, Asian Paints, Kotak Bank, TCS, HCL Tech, HDFC and Bharti Airtel were among the other losers, shedding up to 1.20 per cent.

On the other hand, IndusInd Bank, PowerGrid, Reliance Industries, Bajaj Auto and Maruti climbed as much as 1.81 per cent.

“Ahead of the MPC policy, domestic market continued its volatility with a mixed bias. Selling was witnessed in financials, IT and FMCG stocks but it reduced towards the close of trading,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

Weakness across US and Asian markets also added to the negative trend, he noted.

“PSU banks attracted buyers in hopes that the government will soon finalise the list for privatisation. In the policy, RBI is expected to focus on economic growth by maintaining the status quo on policy rates and ensuring liquidity while keeping an eye on the inflationary pressure due to rising commodity prices,” Nair said.

The Reserve Bank‘s rate-setting panel, Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), began its three-day deliberations on Wednesday amid expectations of a status quo on benchmark rate mainly on account of uncertainty over the impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sector-wise, BSE teck, IT, FMCG, bankex and telecom indices fell up to 0.56 per cent, while power, energy, auto and realty closed higher.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices rallied up to 1.75 per cent.

Global markets perched near record highs following encouraging macroeconomic data as countries re-emerge from the coronavirus lockdowns.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai and Hong Kong ended in the negative territory, while Tokyo and Seoul rose.

Equities in Europe were trading with gains in mid-session deals.

International oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.98 per cent higher at USD 70.94 per barrel.

Extending losses for the third straight session, the rupee fell by another 19 paise to end at 73.09 against the US dollar. The domestic currency has lost 64 paise in three days.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market on Tuesday as they offloaded shares worth Rs 449.86 crore, as per exchange data.

Meanwhile, India reported 1,32,788 new coronavirus infections, taking the country’s tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,83,07,832, while the daily positivity rate has further dropped to 6.57 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.

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