India’s benchmark equity index fell, trimming the weekly gain as the nation prepares to start one of the world’s biggest inoculation programs today.
The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 1.1%, closing at 49,034.67, cutting its advance this week to 0.5%. The measure’s pull-back comes after it rose within a whisker earlier this week of reaching the 50,000 level for the first time. The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined 1.1% yesterday.
“While we are seeing some kind of weakness, this doesn’t mean it is negative news per se, because earnings are going to be pretty good at least for next one or two quarters,” said Abhimanyu Sofat, head of research at IIFL Securities Ltd.
India’s key stock gauges have touched successive new highs in recent weeks as foreign funds piled into the nation’s equities, buying $2.2bn of stocks this month through January 13 after last year investing the most since 2012. As local companies begin reporting quarterly earnings, the vaccination drive offers hopes of a path to recovery in a country that remains the world’s No 2 coronavirus hotspot after the US. “We are in a mega-bull market triggered by liquidity, and the market will be heading higher until the budget, and we don’t expect a major decline,” said A K Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Market Services Ltd in Mumbai. With the budget due on February 1, there has been “no disappointment” so far in company results.
Shares of Bharti Airtel Ltd headed for a record close and gave both the Sensex and Nifty their biggest boost. MSCI Inc said it will consider the firm’s new foreign investment limit to determine the stock’s weighting in the MSCI India Index in the quarterly review of benchmarks next month.
All four of the Nifty 50 companies that have announced results so far have beaten estimates. HDFC Bank Ltd is scheduled to report earnings today.
The rupee was little changed at 73.0663 per US dollar, while the yield on 10-year government bonds climbed five basis points to 5.94%.
Eighteen of the 19 sector indexes compiled by BSE Ltd fell, led by a gauge of oil and gas companies. Infosys Ltd contributed the most to the Sensex decline, and decreased 1.9%, while Tech Mahindra Ltd had the largest drop, falling 4.4%.
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