Key benchmark indices trimmed gains and were trading in a narrow range in early afternoon trade. At 12:20 IST, the barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, was up 68.20 points or 0.20% at 34,008.64. The Nifty 50 index was up 7.25 points or 0.07% at 10,424.40. The Sensex was trading tad above the 34,000 mark. Metal shares declined. Shares of public sector oil marketing companies (PSU OMCs) slumped as crude oil prices rose further.
Key indices opened on a dull note and firmed up as the session progressed. Indices turned range bound in early afternoon trade as profit booking emerged at higher levels.
The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, once again turned negative from positive. On BSE, 1217 shares fell and 1150 shares rose. A total of 148 shares were unchanged.
Metal shares declined. Hindustan Zinc (down 2.23%), Steel Authority of India (down 1.76%), Hindustan Copper (down 1.62%), Vedanta (down 1.6%), Jindal Steel & Power (down 1.29%), JSW Steel (down 1.14%), Tata Steel (down 0.72%), Hindalco Industries (down 0.23%) and NMDC (down 0.12%), edged lower. National Aluminium Company was up 2.34%.
Shares of PSU OMCs slumped as crude oil prices rose further. BPCL (down 2.73%), HPCL (down 2.55%) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) (down 2.32%) edged lower. Higher crude oil prices could increase under-recoveries of PSU OMCs on domestic sale of LPG and kerosene at controlled prices. The government has already freed pricing of petrol and diesel.
IOC along with BPCL and HPCL incorporated a joint venture company named Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals (RRPCL) with equity holding of 50:25:25 to jointly develop and build an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. The announcement was made after market hours yesterday, 11 April 2018.
BPCL, IOC, and HPCL signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Saudi Aramco, a leading global integrated energy and chemicals company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to jointly develop and build the said project. The partnership would bring together the crude supply, resources, technologies, experiences, and expertise of these multiple oil companies with an established commercial presence around the world. Saudi Aramco may also bring in a strategic partner to co-invest in the project.
In the global commodities markets, Brent for June 2018 settlement was up 16 cents at $72.22 a barrel. The contract surged $1.02 a barrel or 1.44% to settle at $72.06 a barrel during the previous trading session. Spike in oil prices raises India's import bill as the country imports majority of its crude requirements.
On macro front, the government will announce industrial production data for February 2018 later today, 12 April 2018. India's industrial production rose by 7.5% year-on-year in January 2018.
The government will also disclose inflation data based on consumer price index (CPI) for March 2017 later today, 12 April 2018. The all-India general CPI inflation dipped to four-month low of 4.44% in February 2018, compared with 5.07% in January 2018.
Overseas, Asian shares declined after Syria tensions and hawkish statements from the US Federal Reserve dented investors' sentiment. US stocks declined on Wednesday, as worries about geopolitical developments deflated the buying mood on Wall Street. A tweet by President Donald Trump implied the possibility of a military strike in Syria and set the downbeat tone for the session.
Trump's tweet that Russia should "get ready" for a potential strike on Syria came after a likely chemical weapons attack over the weekend on a rebel-held town in the eastern Ghouta region of Syria. The newfound focus on geopolitics took the focus off a trade spat between the US and China.
Investors also digested the release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) March meeting, which reflected that all policymakers expected the US economy to continue growing and for inflation to rise. Those views strengthened the belief that more interest rate hikes lay ahead.
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