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Fresh buying lifts equities, key indices touch new closing highs

Mumbai, Feb 17 (IANS) Indian equities markets on Friday surged to new five-month closing high with gains of around half a per cent each, as healthy buying was witnessed in banking, healthcare, and oil and gas stocks.

Besides, a strong rupee and substantial inflow of foreign funds buoyed investors' sentiments, although some gains were capped on the back of negative global cues and profit booking.

The wider 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) edged up by 43.70 points or 0.50 per cent to 8,821.70 points.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 28,670.43 points, closed at 28,468.75 points -- up 167.48 points, or 0.59 per cent, from the previous close at 28,301.27 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 28,726.26 points and a low of 28,410.91 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was marginally in favour of the bulls -- with 1,425 advances and 1,392 declines.

On Thursday, healthy macro-data and value buying lifted the benchmark indices.

The NSE Nifty edged up by 53.30 points or 0.61 per cent to close at 8,778 points, and the BSE Sensex was up 145.71 points, or 0.52 per cent at 28,301.27 points.

"Markets rose on Friday and gave up some of the gains towards the end, but still ended in the positive for the week. Both the Sensex and the Nifty closed at their highest levels since the last week of September 2016," Deepak Jasani, Head - Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

"Major Asian markets ended on a negative note, whereas European indices like FTSE 100, DAX and CAC 40 traded lower."

Market observers pointed out that the market rally was led by banking stocks, particularly the HDFC Bank stocks, which surged initially on Friday after the Reserve Bank of India removed the ban on purchase of its stocks by foreign institutional investors (FIIs).

According to the RBI, the holdings of foreign investors in the private-sector bank had fallen below the threshold limit prescribed under the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy. In a reaction, foreign investors bought the stock, then crossing the limit.

"The stock pushed banking stocks higher with the Bank Nifty closing the day 1.52 per cent higher. It helped both the BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty to close the week with gains," explained Vijay Singhania, founder and Director of Trade Smart Online brokerage firm.

The Indian rupee strengthened by six paise to 67.01 against a US dollar from its previous close of 67.07 to a greenback.

In terms of investments, the provisional data with exchanges showed that FIIs purchased stocks worth Rs 8,043.14 crore, whereas the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrip worth Rs 5,631.99 crore.

Commenting on the sector-specific movement, Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, said: "Banking, pharma, auto, oil-gas, textile, media-entertainment and aviation stocks traded with firm sentiments, while FMCG, cement and power sector stocks also traded firm due to buying support."

Sector-wise, the S&P BSE banking index augmented by 279.23 points, followed by the healthcare index, which surged by 247.14 points, and the oil and gas index, which increased by 179.62 points.

On the other hand, the S&P BSE IT index plunged by 105.12 points, the metal index fell by 79.70 points and the Teck (technology, media and entertainment) index slipped by 49.73 points.

Major Sensex gainers on Friday were: Sun Pharma, up 4.03 per cent at Rs 675.45; HDFC Bank, up 3.75 per cent at Rs 1,377.15; Cipla, up 1.58 per cent at Rs 592.60; Tata Motors, up 1.53 per cent at Rs 452.70; and ICICI Bank, up 1.52 per cent at Rs 283.05.

Major Sensex losers were: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), down 1.58 per cent at Rs 2,408.15; Hero MotoCorp, down 1.29 per cent at Rs 3,085.65; Infosys, down 1.21 per cent at Rs 999.70; Wipro, down 1.10 per cent at Rs 475.30; and Asian Paints, down 0.91 per cent at Rs 960.95.

--IANS

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