Equity markets at new seven-month closing high

Mumbai: Short covering, coupled with lower-level value buying and healthy macro-economic data, lifted the Indian equity markets to close at a fresh seven-month closing high on Thursday. The key indices witnessed heavy volatility but recovered in the latter half of the session to close with appreciable gains, as healthy buying was witnessed in banking, metal and capital goods stocks.  The wider 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) gained 39 points, or 0.48 per cent, at 8,218.95 points. The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 26,694.28 points, closed at 26,843.14 points -- up 129.21 points, or 0.48 per cent, from the previous close at 26,713.93 points. The Sensex during the intra-day trade touched a high of 26,835.16 points and a low of 26,641.02 points. In contrast, the BSE market breadth was tilted in favour of the bears -- with 1,401 declines and 1,230 advances. The key indices on Wednesday had closed flat -- marginally in the green -- led by healthy macro-economic data. The barometer index had edged up by 45.97 points or 0.17 per cent, while the NSE Nifty had risen by 19.85 points or 0.24 per cent. Initially on Thursday, the key indices opened on a weak note, in sync with their Asian peers and a lower close of the US stock on Wednesday. Asian stocks receded as investors were disappointed at the lack of further stimulus measures in Japan.  Further, lower crude oil prices ahead of the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) meet later Thursday dented key indices. Besides, the European stocks traded lower as caution prevailed ahead of the upcoming ECB (European Central Bank) meet, also later Thursday. Even the US jobs data scheduled for Friday release stroked concerns. The data assumes significance as it has potential to influence the US FOMC's (Federal Open Market Committee) rate decision.  A hike is expected to lead FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors) away from emerging markets such as India. However, a late afternoon bout of short covering triggered by lower-level value buying supported prices.  Furthermore, the recently released healthy domestic macro-economic data also aided the equity markets to pare some of their earlier losses. In addition, a strong rupee restored investors confidence. "It was an interesting day on the bourses today, as key benchmark indices languished in negative territory for most of the day before shrugging off all losses and climbing into the positive zone in the last 90 minutes of trade," said Shreyash Devalkar, Fund Manager - Equities, BNP Paribas Mutual Fund. According to Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, Nifty witnessed heavy volatility but recovered from day's low in the second half of the session.  "It managed to break the last three days trading range at higher side and settled above the same," Desai told IANS. "Banking sector stocks recovered mainly due to buying at lower levels, while IT sector stocks traded with mixed sentiments on profit booking." In the day's trade, the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) turned net buyers, while the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold stocks. Data with stock exchanges showed that the FIIs purchased scrip worth Rs 521.85 crore and the DIIs sold stocks worth Rs 576.86 crore. Sector-wise, healthy buying was witnessed in all the sub indices of the BSE, except the consumer durables and healthcare stocks which came under heavy selling pressure. The S&P BSE banking index surged by 183.48 points, followed by the metal index, which gained by 157.40 points; and the capital goods index rose by 114.64 points. On the other hand, the S&P BSE consumer durables index declined by 77.33 points and the healthcare index fell by 63.34 points. Major Sensex gainers during Thursday's trade were Coal India, up 3.20 per cent at Rs 306.40; Tata Steel, up 2.56 per cent at Rs 340.65; Axis Bank, up 2.14 per cent at Rs 524.35; Hero MotoCorp, up 1.62 per cent at Rs 3,137.30; and Hindustan Unilever, up 1.62 per cent at Rs 868.70. Major Sensex losers during the day's trade were Wipro, down 2.35 per cent at Rs 540.25; Sun Pharmaceuticals, down 1.13 per cent at Rs 746.85; Lupin, down 0.88 per cent at Rs 1,475.85; ITC, down 0.82 per cent at Rs 357.80; and Bajaj Auto, down 0.30 per cent at Rs 2,594.85.