The benchmark indices ended the week with gains, even though their five-day winning streak snapped on Friday. The benchmark Sensex and Nifty ended the week with gains of 2.5 per cent.
On Friday, the Sensex opened gap-down and slid further during the first two hours of trade, but recovered most of its losses on the back of buying in software and banking heavyweights in the index. The Sensex ended the session at 61,223, a loss of 12 points or 0.02 per cent. The Nifty ended at 18,255, a decline of 2 points or 0.01 per cent.
The indices had gained this week amidst optimism surrounding early quarterly earnings announcements of some companies. The central government’s statement that the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus leads to fewer hospitalisations than the Delta variant also cheered investors. Besides, US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s statement to the US Congress, which was interpreted as less than hawkish, also aided optimism.
However, concerns about the US Fed rate hikes returned towards the end of the week after the US Consumer prices data showed that it grew at the fastest clip in four decades. The US consumer price index (CPI) rose 7 per cent year-on-year in December, the fastest pace since June 1982. This prompted some US Fed officials to join the chorus for more than three interest rate hikes this year if inflation surges higher.
On Thursday, Patrick Harker, president of the Philadelphia branch of the US Fed, became the latest official to throw his weight behind an increase in March.
“Global markets continued to witness a sell-off with hawkish comments from a slew of US Fed officials, indicating faster interest rate hikes to combat inflation. Record high inflation in the US is dampening the sentiments in an otherwise positive macro data environment. Moreover, markets have recovered sharply by more than 10 per cent from their recent lows of 16,400 in 20 days. Valuations are no longer cheap and require strong earnings delivery to sustain positive momentum in the market,” said Siddhartha Khemka, head of retail research, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.
Analysts said investors are grappling with how monetary tightening and rate hikes will pressure equity markets. Low-interest rates and aggressive bond purchases by many central banks had helped equity markets across the globe post some of the best returns in recent times.
Ajit Mishra, vice-president of research, Religare Broking, said there might be further consolidation in the index. However, the bias would remain positive. “Participants should continue with the ‘buy on dips’ approach and focus on sectors that are trading in sync with the benchmark,” he said.
The market breadth was highly positive, with 2,039 stocks advancing and 1,369 declining on BSE. Around 370 stocks hit their 52-week highs, and 515 were locked on the upper circuit on BSE. About two-thirds of Sensex stocks declined. Asian Paints fell the most amongst Sensex stocks and declined 2.6 per cent. Axis Bank fell 2.5 per cent. Eight of the sectoral indices on the BSE declined. Telecom stocks fell the most, and the sectoral index fell 1.2 per cent.