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Mumbai: Equity benchmarks darted up on Thursday after two sessions of losses as investors piled into banking and finance stocks even as the deteriorating COVID-19 situation remained a concern.

The benchmarks were propped up by bargain-hunting in select frontline counters as well as supportive global cues, traders said.

After skidding 501 points in the opening session, the 30-share BSE Sensex pared all losses to end 374.87 points or 0.79 per cent higher at 48,080.67.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty jumped 109.75 points or 0.77 per cent to finish at 14,406.15.

ICICI Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, spurting 3.60 per cent, followed by HDFC, Bajaj Auto, HDFC Bank, SBI, Kotak Bank, Bajaj Finance and Axis Bank.

On the other hand, Titan, HUL, Asian Paints, Nestle India, UltraTech Cement and Tech Mahindra were among the laggards, shedding up to 2.75 per cent.

“A persistent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country and enhanced mobility restrictions imposed by number of states are expected to remain as key drags for the market in the near term. This has certainly started posing as a threat to corporate earnings recovery.

“Notably, possibility of supply disruption and increased COVID-19 cases in hinterland area can further hurt economic momentum. We believe market is expected to remain volatile until we see a reversal in COVID-19 cases,” said Binod Modi, Head – Strategy at Reliance Securities.

India registered over 3.14 lakh new coronavirus cases in a day, the highest-ever single-day count recorded in any country, taking the the total tally of COVID-19 cases in the country to 1,59,30,965, as per the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

The oxygen crisis, precipitated by the second wave which has left tens of thousands hospitalised, appeared to intensify with complaints of shortage from several states.

Sector-wise, BSE bankex, finance, metal, realty and basic materials indices rose up to 2.14 per cent, while consumer durables, FMCG, IT and teck closed lower.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices rose up to 0.59 per cent.

Global markets were largely in the positive territory as investors monitored the vaccination progress and economic recovery in multiple countries, though the unabated rise in COVID-19 cases remained an overhang.

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

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

Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.51 per cent lower at USD 64.99 per barrel.

The rupee weakened further by 6 paise to close at 74.94 against the US dollar as a persistent rise in COVID-19 cases and enhanced restrictions imposed by a number of states weighed on investor sentiment.

Gold Falls Rs 168; Silver Gains Rs 238

Gold dipped Rs 168 to Rs 47,450 per 10 gram in the national capital on Thursday in line with weaker global precious metal prices, according to HDFC Securities.

In the previous trade, it had closed at Rs 47,618 per 10 gram.

Silver, however, gained Rs 238 to Rs 69,117 per kg, from Rs 68,879 per kg in the previous trade.

In the international market, gold was quoting lower at USD 1,791 per ounce and silver was flat at USD 26.45 per ounce.

HDFC Securities Senior Analyst (Commodities) Tapan Patel said, “Gold prices traded marginally down with spot gold prices at COMEX (New York-based commodities exchange) trading at USD 1,791 per ounce on Thursday.”

Rupee Drops By 6 Paise To 74.94 As COVID Caseload Surges

The rupee weakened further by 6 paise to close at 74.94 against the US dollar on Thursday as a persistent rise in COVID-19 cases and enhanced restrictions imposed by states weighed on investor sentiment.

Increased concerns over forex outflows weighed on the local unit, analysts said.

At the interbank forex market, the local unit opened sharply lower at 75.25 against the greenback and traded in the range of 74.82 to 75.26 during the day. On Tuesday, the rupee had settled down at 74.88 against the American currency.

Forex and equity markets were closed on Wednesday on account of ‘Ram Navami’.

Sriram Iyer, Senior Research Analyst at Reliance Securities, said that the rupee depreciated against the US Dollar as an alarming surge in coronavirus infections raised risks to the country’s near-term growth outlook and increased concerns about foreign fund outflows.

However, likely intervention from the Reserve Bank of India trimmed losses in the unit and kept volatility in check, Iyer added.

India registered over 3.14 lakh new coronavirus cases in a day, the highest-ever single-day count recorded in any country, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases in the country to 1,59,30,965.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.07 per cent to 91.09. Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, were trading 0.54 per cent down at USD 64.97 per barrel.

On the domestic equity market front, the BSE Sensex ended 374.87 points or 0.79 per cent higher at 48,080.67, while the broader NSE Nifty advanced 109.75 points or 0.77 per cent to 14,406.15.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net sellers in the capital markets, pulling out Rs 1,082.33 crore on Tuesday, as per provisional data.

“Indian rupee erased early morning loss and ended with minor depreciation following rebound in domestic equities. Risk-on sentiments, lower dollar index and dollar selling by exporters and central bank’s supported rupee in Thursday’s session,” said Dilip Parmar, Research Analyst, HDFC Securities.

However, the trend for rupee remains on the downside as domestic macro environments getting weaker with rising infections, short term consolidation cannot be ruled out after recent sell-off, Parmar noted.

“Rupee after opening lower against the US dollar rose in the latter half following suspected RBI intervention and gains in domestic equities,” said Gaurang Somaiyaa, Forex & Bullion Analyst, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

In the last few sessions, the reaction of the rupee has been determined by the increasing number of COVID cases in India. Announcements of stricter restrictions by many states have disturbed the overall market sentiment.

(This Story Is A Compilation Of 3 PTI Stories)

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