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Shares off the day's high; most Asian indices climb

Capital Market 

Key indices came off the early highs in mid-morning trade. At 11:23 IST, the barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, was up 154.42 points or 0.38% at 40,712.91. The Nifty 50 index added 45.40 points or 0.38% at 11,941.85.

In the broader market, the S&P BSE Mid-Cap index gained 0.41% while the S&P BSE Small-Cap index rose 0.59%.

The market breadth was strong. On the BSE, 1458 shares rose and 831 shares fell. A total of 124 shares were unchanged.

Coronavirus Update:

India reported 695,509 active cases of COVID-19 infection and 117,306 deaths while 6,948,497 patients have been discharged, according to the data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Total COVID-19 confirmed cases worldwide stood at 41,640,295 with 1,136,495 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir for the virus. The intravenous drug has helped shorten the recovery time of some hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Stocks in Spotlight:

Ambuja Cements slipped 1.73% to Rs 249.45. The cement major's consolidated net profit jumped 50.5% to Rs 803.50 crore on 1.5% increase in net sales to Rs 6,169.47 crore in Q3 September 2020 over Q3 September 2019. Consolidated operating EBITDA jumped 35.03% to Rs 1,349 crore in Q3 September 2020 compared with Rs 999 crore in Q3 September 2019. Consolidated EBIT soared 48.46% to Rs 1,060 crore in Q3FY21 compared with Rs 714 crore in Q3FY20.

On a standalone basis, net profit rose 87.66% to Rs 441 crore on 9.62% increase in net sales to Rs 2802 crore in Q2 September 2020 over Q2 September 2019. The company registered a strong volume growth of 8%, supported by positive price. Total operating cost per ton has declined by 8% on a year on year basis, on account of lower input costs and efficiency programs. In addition, network optimization has gained momentum due to acceleration of Master Supply Agreement (MSA) with ACC. Outbound logistics cost is lower due to favorable market mix and efficiencies.

The board of Ambuja Cements approved an interim dividend of Rs 17 per equity share of Rs 2 each. The record date is fixed on 5 November 2020.

Alembic Pharmaceuticals fell 2.54% at Rs 985.95. The drug maker reported 35.4% increase in consolidated net profit to Rs 333.37 crore on 17.4% rise in net sales to Rs 1457.1 crore in Q2 September 2020 over Q2 September 2019. EBITDA margin improved to 31% in Q2 September 2020 from 28% in Q2 September 2019.

Global Markets:

Most Asian stocks advanced on Friday as investors monitor coronavirus developments.

COVID-19 infections in Germany have risen to a record while Spain's health minister said that the spread is 'out of control' in certain parts of the country. Hospitalisations related to the virus have reached a two-month high in the U.S.

The US stock market finished higher after fluctuating in and out of the unchanged line throughout the session on Thursday, 22 October 2020. The gain was largely supported by better than expected economic data and the prospect of more fiscal stimulus to support a pandemic-damaged U.S. economy.

US House speaker Nancy Pelosi said a deal on new coronavirus aid was "just about there", despite continued opposition from the Republican-controlled Senate. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported progress in talks with the Trump administration for another round of financial aid and said legislation could be hammered out "pretty soon". However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow cautioned "significant policy differences" remained, which were unlikely to be resolved before the November 3 election.

The US leading economic index climbed by 0.7% in September after surging up by a revised 1.4% in August, the Conference Board reported on Thursday, suggesting the U.S. economy could be losing momentum heading into the final quarter of 2020. However, the continued increase by the leading economic index was driven primarily by declining unemployment claims and rising housing permits.

The existing home sales in the US soared by 9.4% to an annual rate of 6.54 million in September after jumping by 2% to a revised rate of 5.98 million in August, reflecting record-low interest rates and an abundance of buyers, the National Association of Realtors reported on Thursday.

US initial jobless claims fell to 787,000 in the week ended October 17th, a decrease of 55,000 from the previous week's revised level of 842,000, a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Fri, October 23 2020. 11:25 IST