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Sensex fails to keep early lead, down 145 points on late sell-off

Mumbai: Stocks frittered away a good beginning today as the Sensex stumbled and lost about 145 points to end at 28,840 after investors moved in to take profit towards the fag end amid a lower opening in Europe. Both key indices the Sensex and the Nifty retreated after touching their nearly 2-year highs (March 2015) in early session. Asia saw a mixed closing and Europe a lower opening amid increased hopes of a Federal Reserve rate hike this month, which may trigger outflows from the emerging market, traders said.

The US markets yesterday closed at a new high. The BSE index ended down 144.70 points, or 0.50 per cent, at 28,839.79 after moving between 29,145.62 and 28,784.31 intra-day. The BSE barometer had gained by 241.17 points in the previous session on the back of robust GDP data for the December quarter and positive global cues. As many as 22 stocks in the Sensex group fell and only 8 rose. Market commenced on a strong footing largely due to a firming trend in the global markets amid growing optimism over corporate tax cuts and other policy proposals reiterated by US President Donald Trump during his speech before the Congress.

Barring auto, all sectoral indices ended lower with realty, power, PSU, healthcare, oil & gas, FMCG and bank closing down by up to 4.34 per cent. The NSE Nifty closed lower by 46.05 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 8,899.75 after hitting a nearly two-year high of 8,992.50, highest since March 3 2015. It also touched a low of 8,879.80. Shares of Wockhardt fell sharply by 4.95 per cent to Rs 713.90 after the company said the US health regulator has issued a warning letter to its step-down subsidiary Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Adani Ports plunged by 3.07 per cent followed by Sun Pharma (2.63 per cent), NTPC (2.50 per cent), Bharti Airtel (1.71 per cent), Dr Reddy’s (1.98 per cent), M&M (1.90 per cent), SBI (1.82 per cent), BhartiAirtel (1.71 per cent) and ITC Ltd (1.51 per cent). Auto stocks remained at the centre of brisk activity for the second straight day after release of monthly sale numbers as the BSE auto index gained 0.28 per cent. Tata Motors shot up 2.66 per cent to Rs 461.05, the best among Sensex scrips after the company yesterday reported 1.93 per cent increase in total sales in February.

Bajaj Auto too rose 2.12 per cent to Rs 2,831.80 after the company today reported a marginal increase in total sales in February, while shares of the country’s largest two-wheeler maker. Hero MotoCorp surged 1.37 per cent to Rs 3,227.55 even as the company yesterday reported a 4.75 per cent decline in total sales in February. Broader markets put up a similar show, with the mid-cap index falling 1.41 per cent and small-cap dropping 1.30 per cent, as investors were seen booking profits in recent gainers.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 198.27 crore yesterday, showed provisional data. Regional markets were mostly mixed with China’s Shanghai Composite falling 0.52 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.20 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.88 per cent. Europe too was in the grip of weakness in their early session, with Paris CAC 30 falling 0.07 per cent and Frankfurt’s DAX down 0.16 per cent in their early session. London’s FTSE shed 0.08 per cent.

PTI