Markets hit a hat-trick, Infy rallies on Nilekani buzz

Nandan Nilekani

Mumbai: Stock indices settled almost at a flat level today, but with gains for the third straight session, as domestic investors provided crucial support.

The rise came despite an overnight decline on Wall Street and mixed Asian leads after President Donald Trump at a rally warned that he could risk a government shutdown to go for necessary funding to build a wall along the Mexican border.

There is also considerable interest in the central bankers’ conference in Jackson Hole, which begins today, for more policy pointers.

The 30-share Sensex gained 28.05 points, or 0.09 per cent to close at 31,596.06 after shuttling between 31,678.19 and 31,546.05. The gauge had rallied 309.16 points in the previous two days.

The NSE Nifty to closed higher 4.55 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 9,857.05. Intra-day, it moved between 9,881.50 and 9,848.85.

Both the Sensex and the Nifty registered their seventh weekly gain in eight by rising 71.38 points, or 0.22 per cent, and 19.65 points, or 0.19 per cent, respectively.

Domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were the major movers as they picked up shares worth Rs 929.84 crore for the 12th day in a row. FPIs continued with their selling momentum, offloading equities net worth Rs 1,157.52 crore yesterday, showed provisional data.

“Market was range-bound as investors curbed their risk appetite ahead of the Jackson Hole economic symposium starting today. However, short covering persisted on a mild footing in the recently trampled sectors like pharma, which upheld the positive sentiment,” said Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit Financial Services Ltd.

The session saw almost a washout after investors locked in gains in banking shares after the Cabinet’s yesterday decision to set up an alternative mechanism to fast-track consolidation among public sector banks.

Investors played it safe and kept their portfolio restricted ahead of a long weekend as markets will be shut tomorrow for ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’.

Infosys moved further up by over 2 per cent to Rs 912.50 on speculation frenzy that former CEO Nandan Nilekani may be asked to join the board to defuse the current leadership crisis.

Healthcare stocks led by Dr Reddy’s, Lupin and Sun Pharma were on a roll. In fact, the first four slots of the Sensex chart went to healthcare firms. Lupin topped the list by surging 3.87 per cent, followed by Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s and Cipla.

Tata Motors, Tata Steel, SBI, L&T and PowerGrid too made their mark.

Cadila Healthcare climbed 7.02 per cent after the drugmaker announced that Zydus Cadila received final approval from the USFDA to market anti-hypertension drug.

Shares of liquor companies were back in the limelight after the Supreme Court clarified that the liquor ban on highways did not apply to licensed establishments falling within municipal areas. United Spirits, Globus Spirits and Tilaknagar Industries rose up to 11.26 per cent.

The broader markets turned up better as both mid and small cap indices beat the benchmarks.

Apart from the healthcare index, which gained the most by 2.53 per cent, IT, technology and capital goods advanced.