Key benchmark indices were trading with small gains in morning trade as buying in IT stocks was offset by selling pressure in pharmaceutical shares. At 10:30 IST, the barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, was up 54.58 points or 0.16% at 33,995.02. The Nifty 50 index was up 3.80 points or 0.04% at 10,420.95. The Sensex pared gains after briefly crossing the 34,000 mark.
The Sensex rose 91.74 points, or 0.27% at the day's high of 34,032.18 in morning trade, its highest intraday level since 13 March 2018. The index fell 15.56 points, or 0.05% at the day's low of 33,924.88 in early trade. The Nifty rose 13.10 points, or 0.13% at the day's high of 10,430.25 in morning trade, its highest intraday level since 13 March 2018. The index fell 21.90 points, or 0.21% at the day's low of 10,395.25 in early trade.
The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, turned positive from negative. On BSE, 1081 shares rose and 984 shares fell. A total of 87 shares were unchanged.
IT shares were in demand. TCS (up 2.63%), Hexaware Technologies (up 2.29%), HCL Technologies (up 2.26%), Tech Mahindra (up 1.76%), Persistent Systems (up 1.55%), MindTree (up 1.53%), Oracle Financial Services Software (up 1.43%), Wipro (up 1.10%) and MphasiS (up 0.74%), edged higher.
Most pharmaceutical shares declined. Dr Reddy's Laboratories (down 1.91%), Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (down 1.12%), Lupin (down 1.11%), Aurobindo Pharma (down 1.1%), Wockhardt (down 0.99%), Alkem Laboratories (down 0.69%), Cipla (down 0.46%), GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (down 0.44%), Strides Shasun (down 0.44%), Glenmark Pharmaceuticals (down 0.36%) and Piramal Enterprises (down 0.1%), edged lower. Divi's Laboratories (up 0.6%), Cadila Healthcare (up 0.67%) and IPCA Laboratories (up 2.29%), edged higher.
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. An early morning 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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