Dovish US Fed outlook buoys markets, Sensex up 309 points

Mumbai, Dec 17 (IANS) Bargain hunting, coupled with a dovish US Fed’s monetary outlook and broad-based buying propelled Indian equity markets on Thursday, leading to a barometer index gaining 309 points — its sharpest rally in over a month.

Initially, both the bellwether indices of the Indian equity markets opened on a positive note in sync with their Asian peers, as suspense cleared on the US Federal Reserve’s move on a rate hike.

Investors breathed a sigh of relief as the US Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) early on Thursday (India time) raised key interest rates by only 25 basis points.

The interest rate rise was widely expected and factored-in by investors. A higher rate hike would have led to a massive pull-back of foreign funds from emerging economies like India.

In addition, a dovish outlook by the US Fed, which said that it will maintain an accommodative stand and that the future rate hikes are likely to be gradual, soothed investors’ nerves.

Moreover, US Fed’s comments led some investors to even factor-in an increase in chances of more monetary easing by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

Apart from the rate hike, the FOMC projected an improved US economic outlook, lower unemployment and stable inflation. This was a major positive trigger for the Indian markets, as the US is India’s key export market.

However, both the key indices ceded their initial gains during the mid-afternoon session, as profit bookings subdued markets.

Furthermore, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comments that the GST (Goods and Services Tax) bill might get delayed due to parliament’s logjam eroded investors’ confidence.

Nevertheless, value buying brought back investors and again lifted the markets.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) ended the day’s trade higher by 309 points.

Similarly, the wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed higher during the day’s trade. It ended 93.45 points or 1.21 percent up at 7,844.35 points.

The Sensex of the S&P Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 25,596.63 points, closed at 25,803.78 points — up 309.41 points or 1.21 percent from the previous day’s close at 25,494.37 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 25,831.31 points and a low of 25,448.32 points during the intra-day trade.

On Wednesday, the Sensex gained by 174 points or 0.69 percent, while the Nifty rose by 50 points or 0.65 percent.

“Initially the markets rose on the back of positive bias after the US rate hike came along expected lines. However, profit bookings and the finance minister’s comments subdued sentiments,” Anand James, co-head, technical research desk with Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, told IANS.

“However, value buying and clarity given by the FOMC decision lifted the markets again.”

Vaibhav Agarwal, vice president and research head at Angel Broking said the markets gained positive momentum after trading flat in the first half of the session led by strength in global markets.

“Markets reacted positively to the rate hike as it is a sign of strength in the US economy and the rate hike finally reduces uncertainty as to when the US Fed would have acted,” Agarwal told IANS.

Nitasha Shankar, vice president for research with YES Securities, said that broader markets outperformed as high beta stocks witnessed buying.

“Market breadth favoured the bulls throughout the day with 1,925 advances and 764 declines. All major sectors ended in the green with handsome gains in excess of 1 percent each,” Shankar told IANS.

Besides equities, even the Indian rupee, too, gained in the day’s trade. It strengthened by 31 paise at 66.42 to a US dollar from its previous close of 66.73 to a greenback.

The foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net buyers in the day’s trade, whereas the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were net sellers.

According to data with stock exchanges, FIIs invested about Rs.638.01 crore, while DIIs sold stocks worth Rs.366.23.

Sector-wise, healthy buying was witnessed in automobile, healthcare, banking, metal and capital goods sectors.

The S&P BSE automobile index augmented by 240.72 points, healthcare index gained by 227.75 points, banking index increased by 194.42 points, metal index rose by 173.71 points and capital goods index was higher by 145.11 points.

Major Sensex gainers during Thursday’s trade were Tata Steel, up 4.76 percent at Rs.256.55; Vedanta, up 3.75 percent at Rs.87.15; Hindalco Industries, up 3.44 percent at Rs.81.25; Reliance Industries, up 3.10 percent at Rs.1,008.35; and Bajaj Auto, up 2.96 percent at Rs.2,524.20.

The major Sensex losers were ONGC, down 0.97 percent at Rs.224.35; Axis Bank, down 0.45 percent at Rs.435.35; Gail, down 0.28 percent at Rs.343.10; Lupin, down 0.14 percent at Rs.1,823.85; and Coal India, down 0.06 percent at Rs.316.15.

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