Sensex, Nifty flat ahead of F&O expiry, Union Budget

Equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty on Wednesday ended flat as cautious investors refrained from taking any bets ahead of January derivatives expiry, U.S. Fed policy outcome and upcoming Union Budget.

The BSE Sensex ended marginally lower by 1.25 points and the NSE Nifty closed with a negligible loss of 0.4 point.

Heavyweights ICICI Bank and Tata Steel – both rising over 5% – saved the day for the Sensex. Also, mixed trading pattern in global shares as U.S.-China trade talks kicked off earlier in the day made domestic investors even more cautious.

After opening over 200 points higher, the 30-share Sensex swung 359 points to finally settle 1.25 points lower at 35,591.25.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty ended 0.40 points down at 10,651.80.

Sectorally, metal and banking stocks rallied the most, while FMCG and realty stocks came under selling pressure.

Broader indices, however, outperformed benchmark indices with BSE Smallcap index jumping 0.78% and BSE Midcap index rising 0.22%.

On a net basis, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net of ₹354.36 crore on Tuesday, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were net buyers to the tune of ₹81.27 crore, provisional data available with BSE showed.

Global investor sentiment was mixed as American and Chinese negotiators started two days of high-level talks aimed at settling a six-month trade war that has weakened both sides, shaken financial markets and clouded the outlook for the global economy, experts said.

Domestic investors turned cautious ahead of futures and options expiry of January series contracts and the upcoming interim budget, to be held on Friday.

Market is also awaiting the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting later in the day, they added.

Among the Sensex pack, ICICI Bank was the top gainer, rallying 6.05%, ahead of its quarterly earning scheduled for release later in the day.

Shares of Tata Steel soared 5.14% after S&P Global Ratings said the company’s plan to sell majority stake in its Southeast Asia business will help the company reduce debt by about 3% without impacting its business position.

Axis Bank shares also jumped 4.56% after the third largest private sector lender Axis Bank reported a 131% surge in net income for the December quarter.

Other gainers include HCL Tech, Bajaj Finance, SBI, L&T, Coal India and Vedanta, gaining up to 2.82%.

On the other hand, Bajaj Auto, Kotak Bank, HDFC, Yes Bank, Sun Pharma, Bharti Airtel, ITC, RIL, HDFC Bank, HUL, ONGC and Sun Pharma were the top losers, shedding up to 2.65%.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.40% and Korea’s Kospi surged 1.05%; while Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.07% and Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.52%.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX slipped 0.21%, while Paris CAC 40 rose 0.53% in late morning deals. While, London’s FTSE jumped 0.94%.

The Indian rupee, meanwhile, depreciated marginally against US dollar at 71.15.

The benchmark Brent crude futures rose 0.16% to $61.30 per barrel.

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