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Sensex, Nifty extend gains to hit fresh highs; broader market still down

S&P BSE Midcap and the S&P BSE Smallcap indices snapped two-session long rally to lose 0.5% and 1%

SI Reporter  |  New Delhi 

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The benchmark indices extended gains to hit fresh highs in the afternoon trade thanks to gains in index heavyweights such as HDFC, ITC and Hindustan Unilever. However, a string of weak quarterly results, including from Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Reliance Communications, capped gains.

At 1:40 pm, the S&P BSE Sensex was trading at 31,190, up 162 points, while the broader Nifty50 was ruling at 9,630, up 35 points. 

In intraday trade, the 30-share Sensex rallied 186 points to hit its all-time high of 31,214, while the broader 50-share Nifty gained 42 points to touch its lifetime high of 9,637.

In the broader market, the S&P BSE Midcap and the S&P BSE Smallcap indices snapped two-session long rally to lose 0.5% and 1%, respectively. 

The breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, was weak. On the BSE, 1,569 shares declined and 865 shares rose. A total of 149 shares were unchanged.

Healthcare stocks were the biggest drag on the index, after Sun Pharmaceutical Industries fell as much as 13.2% to a near four-year low after the company on Friday reported a 14% fall in March-quarter profit.

The company said its US sales may fall this year on lower drug prices.

Shares of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) companies came under severe pressure, falling by up to 24% on BSE in intra-day trade on concerns whether the group would be able to repay the high debt to banks and poor March-quarter results. 

Reacting to poor Q4 results, the stock of RCom tanked nearly 24% to Rs 19.70, also its record low on the BSE. Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Capital, Reliance Power and Reliance Defence, the other ADAG group stocks, too have fallen in the range of 4% to 8% on BSE.

Meanwhile, construction company PSP Projects lost as much as 9.5% on a weak debut.

Software services provider Tech Mahindra hit over 3-1/2 year low after posting a 33% fall in consolidated profit for the March-quarter, missing analysts' estimate.

Overseas, Asian stocks handed back earlier modest gains and drifted lower. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2%. Taking cues after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq scraped to record closing highs, it had earlier risen towards a two-year peak marked on Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei edged up 0.1% while weaker commodities pushed down Australian shares 0.5%. The closure of Chinese, British and US markets on Monday deprived investors of potential catalysts and kept overall trading subdued.

Brushing aside a North Korean missile launch, South Korea's KOSPI initially touched an intraday record high before pulling back 0.1%.