11.38 AM IST: The Sensex and Nifty pared gains after a bullish opening driven by investors cheering results of exit polls that gave the BJP a clear edge over rivals in the key state of Uttar Pradesh. The Sensex was up 24 points at 28,854.
Domestic car sales rose 4.9 percent in February to 1,72,623 units while overall passenger sales increased 9 percent to 2,55,359 units, the PTI reported, citing data released by automobile industry body Siam.
However, two-wheeler sales remained almost flat at 13.62 lakh units.
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The Auto index on the BSE was up 0.17 percent.
9.15 AM IST: Stock markets open with a bang, on expected lines in response to the exit poll predictions. The BSE Sensex gained 124 points to reach 29,053 while the NSE Nifty was trading 37 points higher at 8,964.
Top Sensex gainers were Hero Motocorp, Adani Ports, GAIL (India) and TCS.
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Wipro was trading 0.94 percent higher at Rs 488, GAIL was down 0.29 percent at Rs 378 after going ex-bonus on Thursday (ratio was 1:3), Dr Reddy's Labs was trading 0.29 percent higher at Rs 2,716 despite receiving more than 10 observations after inspection by the US FDA of its manufacturing unit at Duwada, Visakhapatnam.
Exit polls by various agencies give close to 180 seats to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recently-concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. This could trigger a rally on Indian stock markets. The actual results will be declared on Saturday (March 11), but the party seen as falling short of a clear majority could dampen sentiments for investors.
The best possible outcome for the BJP is 251-279 seats predicted by the India Today-Axis My India Poll, placing the saffron party far ahead of the Samajwadi Party-Congress coalition's 88-112 seats.
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The Times Now-VMR Exit Poll says the BJP could win 190-210 seats, while the Samajwadi Party-Congress is likely to bag 110-130 seats. The BSP may finish with 57-74, in the 403-member Assembly.
Another exit poll, by NewsX-MRC, predicted the BJP to win 185 seats with the Samajwadi Party-Congress finishing second at 120 and the BSP at 90 seats. ABP-Lokniti exit poll gave 164-176 seats to the BJP and 156-169 to the Samajwadi Party-Congress.
India TV-C Voter said the BJP will get 155-167 seats while the Samajwadi Party-Congress coalition would finish with 135-147 seats. The poll of polls gave the BJP 179 seats, SP-Congress 136 and the BSP 77 seats.
On Thursday, the BSE Sensex closed 27 points higher at 28,929 while the NSE Nifty gained 3 points to end at 8,927.
Top gainers on the BSE included Unichem Labs, Inox Wind, Balrampur Chini Mills, SpiceJet and Dish TV.
Foreign institutional investors (FIIs/FPIs) scaled down their purchases after spell of huge purchases in the past few days and were net buyers of Indian equities worth Rs 488 crore, according to provisional data published by the National Stock Exchange (NSE).
"There was a positive sentiment in the market as continued FIIs buying and hope of GST implementation. Global markets were not encouraging on expectation of US Fed rate hike in 15th March policy meeting. Both Hong Kong and China Index declined 1% each on account of China reporting poor CPI numbers," brokerage Motilal Oswal Securities said in a note on Thursday.
Another analyst advised caution ahead of results. "Tomorrow being the last day before the actual outcome, we would expect some volatility in the market. Hence, it's advisable to avoid the momentum trading as the market may give few whipsaws.," Sameet Chavan, Chief Analyst, Technical & Derivatives, Angel Broking.
On Wednesday, FIIs were net buyers of stocks worth Rs 3,573 crore, preceded by Rs 920 crore on Tuesday and Rs 564 crore on Monday.
The rupee closed at 66.71 to the US dollar on Thursday, unchanged from its previous close. Gold prices closed Rs 250 lower at Rs 29,250 per 10 gm.
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