A smart recovery in the fag-end of the session, aided by gains in private banks, metals, and pharma stocks, helped the benchmark indices reverse losses and end near day's high on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the benchmark Sensex and Nifty hit a low of 48,010 and 14,353, respectively as a record spike of over 200,000 daily Covid-19 cases, weekend curfew in Delhi, and WPI inflation at an 8-year high of 7 per cent made investors jittery, nudging them to take profits off the table on concerns of a delay in economic recovery.
The sudden rise in Covid cases and the micro-lockdowns imposed across key economic hubs in India have also made foreign brokerages trim their return expectation from Indian equities over the next 12 months.
After Nomura, that recently cut its March 2022 Nifty50 target to 15,340, analysts at Goldman Sachs have now tempered their expectation. They now see the Nifty at 16,300 levels in 12 months (16,500 earlier). However, they have retained their ‘overweight’ stance on India for now.
Against this backdrop, the BSE barometer Sensex recouped 800 points from the day's low and ended 260 points, or 0.5 per cent, higher at 48,804 levels. The NSE's Nifty50, meanwhile, settled at 14,581 levels, up 77 points or 0.5 per cent supported by gains in heavyweights like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, TCS, HDFC, Reliance Industries, ONGC, and Axis Bank. These stocks gained in the range of 1 per cent to 4 per cent.
Investors were quick to off-load shares of auto and PSU banks. That apart, profit booking was also seen in select FMCG and IT stocks such as Nestle India, Britannia, Infosys and Tech M.
Overall, the Nifty Bank, Pharma, Metal, IT, Financial Services, and Private Bank indices ended up to 1.4 per cent higher while the Nifty Auto, Realty, PSU Bank, and FMCG slipped between 0.04 per cent and 1.5 per cent.
In the broader markets, the S&P BSE MidCap and SmallCap indices ended 0.1 per cent and 0.03 per cent lower at 19,923 and 20,800 levels, respectively. In the intra-day deals, the indices had hit a low of 19,641 and 20,555, respectively.
Individually, shares of Infosys slipped 6 per cent to Rs 1,320 on the BSE in the intra-day trade on account of profit booking in the counter following the company's March quarter numbers. The IT bellwether on Wednesday posted a 17.47 per cent YoY growth, but a 2.3 per cent sequential fall, in net profit at Rs 5,076 crore in Q4FY21.
Yet analysts remain bullish on Infosys as they believe underlying metrics such as headcount addition, fresher hiring along with deal win momentum seen through FY21, should continue to aid the company's growth leadership in FY22 as well.
That apart, Dabur India joined the elite club of companies with Rs 1-trillion market capitalization on the BSE today, after its share price rose 3.5 per cent to a fresh high of Rs 580. With the market-cap of Rs 1.01 trillion by close, Dabur India is at 38th position in overall market-cap ranking, the BSE data shows.
Besides, shares of Finolex Industries rose 7.4 per cent to hit a 52-week high of Rs 150 on the BSE in intra-day trade on Thursday after they turned ex-date for stock split in the ratio of 1:5. The company has fixed April 16 as the record date for the sub-division of one equity share of the face value of Rs 10 into five equity shares of the face value of Rs 2 each.
On the earnings, Wipro on Thursday reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 2,972.3 crore for March quarter of financial year 2020-21, up 27.78 per cent YoY, as against Rs 2,326 crore posted in the same period last year. Its consolidated revenue from operations, meanwhile, climbed 3.4 per cent YoY to Rs 16,245 crore in the recently concluded quarter. Ahead of the results, the shares of the firm ended 2.95 per cent higher at Rs 431 on the BSE.
Asian shares slipped on Thursday dragged down by Chinese stocks as recent upbeat economic data raised fears of monetary policy tightening. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1 per cent while New Zealand's benchmark index fell 0.9 per cent. Japan's Nikkei, however, finished 0.07 per cent higher.
Chinese shares stumbled with the blue-chip CSI300 index down 0.9 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropping 0.8 per cent.
On the other hand, European shares hit a record peak on rising commodity prices. The pan-European STOXX 600 index and UK’s commodity-heavy FTSE 100 gained 0.3 per cent each.
S&P500 and Nasdaq Futures too gained 0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively, indicating a positive start on Wall Street later today.