Markets End Flat as Worries over Vaccination Drive Linger

Investor sentiment stays low with mounting Covid crisis; experts predict volatility in trade

After two sessions of deep declines, the BSE Sensex on Friday eked out marginal gains, as investors scooped up Asian Paints, RIL and FMCG stocks amid a rebounding trend in overseas markets.

A recovering rupee also propped up the market, though the COVID-19 situation and slow pace of vaccination weighed on investor sentiment, traders said.

The BSE benchmark swung between gains and losses during the session, before finishing 41.75 points or 0.09 per cent higher at 48,732.55. However, the broader NSE Nifty slipped 18.70 points or 0.13 per cent to 14,677.80.

Asian Paints was the top performer in the Sensex pack, rallying 8.51 per cent, after the company on Wednesday reported an 81.13 per cent jump in consolidated net profit to Rs 869.89 crore for the March quarter.

ITC, Nestle India, L&T, HUL, PowerGrid and Reliance Industries were among other winners, while IndusInd Bank, M&M, Dr Reddy’s, SBI, NTPC and ONGC led the losers’ chart, dropping up to 2.82 per cent.

Out of the 30 Sensex companies, 20 finished in red.

During the holiday-truncated week, Sensex slumped 473.92 points or 0.96 per cent, while the Nifty fell by 145.35 points or 0.98 per cent.

“Indian equity markets remained largely range bound over the last week. The Covid situation in India is no doubt grim, hence health issue is something that could keep markets volatile in the near term,” said Shibani Kurian, Senior EVP & Head-Equity Research, Kotak Mahindra AMC.

Going forward, market will likely track the pace of vaccinations, trajectory of active cases and management commentary of companies. Rollback of localised lockdowns and trend of inflation in many global commodities like crude oil and steel will be other key factors to watch out for, she noted.

Sectorally, BSE FMCG, capital goods and consumer durables ended on a positive note, while metal, realty, utilities and auto indices lost up to 3.61 per cent.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices skidded as much as 1.18 per cent.

Global markets followed Wall Street higher after the US Federal Reserve assured investors that higher commodity prices and resulting inflation are transitory in nature.

Across Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended on a positive note. Stock exchanges in Europe were also trading with gains in mid-session deals, while Brent crude was trading 0.92 per cent higher at $67.67 per barrel.

The Indian rupee strengthened by 13 paise to end at 73.29 against the dollar, tracking a weaker American currency in the overseas market.

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