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Sensex scales 45,000-mark for first time on RBI boost

Equity benchmarks rallied to record highs on Friday after the RBI left the policy rates unchanged but maintained its accommodative stance and revised upwards the growth forecast for this fiscal.

Breaching the 45,000-mark for the first time, the 30-share BSE Sensex surged 446.90 points or 1 per cent to finish at 45,079.55. Intra-day, it touched a lifetime peak of 45,148.28.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty touched a new high of 13,280.05 during the session, before finishing 124.65 points or 0.95 per cent higher at 13,258.55 — its record closing high.

Earlier in the day, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left interest rates unchanged for the third straight time amid persistently high inflation, but said the economy was recuperating fast and would return to positive growth in the current quarter itself.

The central bank now expects a milder 7.5 per cent contraction in the fiscal year to March 2021 as opposed to its October forecast of a 9.5 per cent shrinkage of the GDP.

Rate-sensitive banking, financials, realty and auto stocks rallied after the policy announcement.

ICICI Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, spurting 4.20 per cent, followed by UltraTech Cement, Sun Pharma, Bharti Airtel, HUL, SBI, L&T, Axis Bank and IndusInd Bank.

On the other hand, Reliance Industries, Bajaj Finserv, HCL Tech, HDFC and NTPC closed in the red, slipping up to 0.86 per cent.

During the holiday-truncated week, the Sensex rallied 929.83 points or 2.10 per cent, while the Nifty jumped 289.60 points or 2.23 per cent.

“RBI’s decision to keep policy rates unchanged and maintain an accommodative stance for the current and upcoming year is well taken by the market. The possibility for a further rate cut in the near term can be ruled out considering the elevated levels of inflation.

“However, positively RBI has ensured ample liquidity support on a timely basis in the form of open market operation, TLTRO and reverse repo. Globally, renewed US stimulus negotiation and vaccine roll-out has underpinned optimism, this will help the domestic market to maintain its euphoria,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

Sector-wise, the BSE bankex, telecom, consumer durables, FMCG, metal, industrials, finance and realty indices climbed up to 2.14 per cent, while energy ended with losses.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices advanced up to 0.44 per cent.

The RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) “decided to continue with the accommodative stance of monetary policy as long as necessary – at least through the current financial year and into the next year,” Governor Shaktikanta Das said.

The central bank’s stance is “to revive growth on a durable basis, and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward,” he added.

On the global front, equities remained near record levels amid hopes of a fresh stimulus in the US.

In Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul ended on a positive note, while Tokyo was in the red.

Stock exchanges in Europe were trading with gains in early deals.

Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude futures advanced 1.81 per cent to USD 49.59 per barrel.

The rupee snapped its two-day losing streak to close 13 paise higher at 73.80 against the US dollar.

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