Benchmarks eke out slim gains; close lower for the week

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Mumbai, Apr 16 (PTI) The Sensex and Nifty ticked higher for the third session on the trot on Friday but could not wipe off weekly losses amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

A strong recovery in the rupee, which zoomed 58 paise, and a bullish trend in global equities supported the bourses on Friday, traders said.

After a choppy session, the 30-share BSE Sensex closed 28.35 points or 0.06 per cent higher at 48,832.03.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty rose 36.40 points or 0.25 per cent to 14,617.85.

Asian Paints was the top performer among the Sensex components, spurting 3.07 per cent, followed by UltraTech Cement, ONGC, M&M, Sun Pharma, HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra and Nestle India.

On the other hand, ICICI Bank, L&T, Bajaj Finance, TCS, SBI, Infosys and Reliance Industries were among the losers, declining up to1.55 per cent.

During the holiday-truncated week, the Sensex sank 759.29 points or 1.53 per cent, while the Nifty tumbled 217 points or 1.46 per cent.

A continued surge in second wave of COVID-19 cases in the country, which already crossed 2 lakh daily cases, has certainly posed a risk to sustainability of rebound of earnings momentum, said Binod Modi, Head-Strategy at Reliance Securities.

While the government's strong effort to expedite vaccination progress and absence of complete lockdown in Maharashtra and Delhi offered some comfort to equities, the risk of other states taking steps of wider economic restrictions continues to persist, which may weigh on investors’ sentiments in the near term, he noted.

'Unlike last year, states seem to be reluctant this time for complete lockdown due to wider ramification on economic activities.

'Further, current level of mobility restrictions imposed at different states and government's focus to improve supply of vaccine in the country should be helpful to contain outbreak in coming weeks and essentially should not lead to large economic damage,' he stated.

India added a record 2,17,353 new coronavirus infections in a day, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,42,91,917, while active cases surpassed the 15-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

This is the second consecutive day that the country has reported over two lakh cases.

Sectorally, BSE healthcare, utilities, consumer durables, power and basic materials indices rose up to 1.88 per cent, while bankex, capital goods, realty, energy and finance nursed losses.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices outperformed the benchmark and rallied up to 1.17 per cent.

On the global markets front, US stock benchmarks Dow Jones and S&P 500 soared to record highs in the overnight session, buoyed by sliding bond yields and positive macroeconomic data.

Asian markets rallied after China posted a record 18.3 per cent GDP growth in the first quarter of 2021, aided by a low base effect as well as strong domestic and foreign demand.

Stock exchanges in Europe were also trading with gains in mid-session deals.

Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.40 per cent higher at USD 67.21 per barrel.

The rupee strengthened by 58 paise to end at 74.35 against the US dollar.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 979.70 crore on Thursday, according to exchange data. PTI ANS ABM ABM