Sensex snaps 6-day rally ahead of RBI’s rate decision; bank stocks slide

Mumbai: The Sensex and Nifty snapped their six-session rally to close marginally lower on Thursday as investors booked profit in banking, finance and energy counters ahead of the RBI’s policy decision.

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The Reserve Bank of India’s rate-setting panel will announce its bi-monthly monetary policy on Friday amid expectations of at least a 35-basis-point hike in the interest rate to check high inflation.

A depreciating rupee further weighed on sentiment, traders said.

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In choppy trade, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 51.73 points or 0.09 per cent lower at 58,298.80. The broader NSE Nifty dipped 6.15 points or 0.04 percent to 17,382.

NTPC was the biggest laggard in the Sensex pack, slipping 3.10 per cent, followed by SBI, Reliance Industries, Axis Bank, PowerGrid, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank and HDFC.

In contrast, Sun Pharma, Nestle India, Infosys, Dr Reddy’s, Wipro, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Steel were among the major gainers, climbing up to 2.46 percent.

“Profit-taking finally came into play after 6-session gains, as rate-sensitive sectors like banking and realty faltered ahead of the RBI‘s policy meet outcome on Friday.

“Key indices pared most of their losses towards the end as strength in other Asian and European indices aided sentiment,” said Shrikant Chouhan, Head of Equity Research (Retail), Kotak Securities Ltd.

In the broader market, the BSE midcap gauge went higher by 0.29 percent and the smallcap index advanced 0.25 percent.

From the BSE sectoral indices, telecom declined by 1.14 percent, followed by realty (1.11 percent), utilities (0.70 per cent) and power (0.64 percent).

Among the gainers were healthcare (1.93 percent), IT (1.23 per cent), metal (1.01 percent) and teck (1.05 percent).

“Markets will be closely eyeing the outcome of MPC’s monetary policy meet on Friday. Before that, the performance of the global indices amid the fresh developments on China-Taiwan tension would dictate the trend in early trades.

“On the index front, the Nifty has been seeing consolidation on expected lines. However, rise in volatility is making life tough for the traders. We recommend preferring hedged positions and focusing on the defensive pack as well,” said Ajit Mishra, VP – Research, Religare Broking Ltd.

World stocks were largely positive as investors monitored corporate earnings as well as US-China tensions over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile visit to Taiwan.

In Asia, markets in Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong ended in the green.

European stocks were trading mostly higher during mid-session deals. The US markets had ended significantly higher on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude dipped 0.28 per cent to USD 96.51 per barrel.

The rupee depreciated by 17 paise to close at 79.32 (provisional) against the US dollar on Thursday.

Foreign institutional investors remained net buyers in the capital markets as they bought shares worth Rs 1,474.77 crore on Thursday, as per exchange data.

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