Markets at day's low; Sensex trades below 29,000
The benchmark indices on Friday pared initial gains to turn flat.
The S&P BSE Sensex reclaimed its crucial 29,000 mark in the early trade, while the broader Nifty50 also went above 8,950 after various exit polls suggested the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may comfortably cross the majority mark of 202 in the 403-seat UP Assembly, or come close to it.
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At 1:09 pm, the 30-share Sensex was up 50 points at 28,979, while the 50-share Nifty was ruling at 8,939, up 12 points.
In the broader market, the BSE Midcap was up 0.2%, while BSE Smallcap outperformed to rise over 5%.
"We expect the range for the forthcoming session at 8,993-8,891. Directionally, we continue with our positive stance and expect the index to give a breakout in the upwards direction quite soon. Today being the last day before the actual outcome, we would expect some volatility in the market. Hence, it’s advisable to avoid the momentum trading as the market may give few whipsaws. Rather one should stick with a ‘Buy on dips’ strategy for a near to medium term perspective," said brokerage Angel Broking in a research note.
BSE IT index (up 0.7%) was the top gainer, led by gains in Trigyn (up 3%), Mastek (up 2%) and Aptech (up 2%). Largecap IT stocks Infosys, TCS and Wipro also added over 1%.
Edelweiss Financial Services moved higher by 4.5% to Rs 140, bouncing back 10% from its early morning low of Rs 127, after a more than 8% of total equity capital of the company exchanged hands via multiple block deals on BSE.
Shares of Jindal Steel & Power surged over 6% to Rs 126 after falling nearly 4% in the previous session after the Delhi High Court (HC) on Thursday declared the company as the unsuccessful bidder for two coal blocks — Tara in West Bengal and Gare Palma IV/2&3 in Jharkhand.
Exit poll predictions
The BJP, along with ally Apna Dal, had bagged 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP in 2014, winning a staggering 337 of the 403 Assembly segments. At least two exit polls — India Today-Axis and Today’s Chanakya — could come close to that tally by winning up to 285 seats. However, two other exit polls predicted a hung Assembly with the BJP as the single-largest party but the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance not far behind and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in third place. As for other states, most exit polls said the BJP was likely to retain power in Goa and wrest power from the Congress in Uttarakhand.
US nonfarm payrolls data due today
The nonfarm payrolls report for February is expected to show 190,000 jobs were added in the US private and public sectors in February. The employment figures are drawing particular interest as chances of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates several times this year could improve if the data underlines US economic strength.
Oil prices at three-month lows
Crude prices inched up on Friday after dropping to their lowest in more than three months the session before, pressured by concerns that a global supply glut is proving stubbornly persistent. US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) was up 40 cents at $49.68 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 35 cents at $52.54 a barrel.
Asian markets edged higher. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.1%. Japan's Nikkei climbed over 1%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index bucked the trend to lose 0.2%. China's Shanghai Composite was little changed.
Overnight, Wall Street logged modest gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 2.46 points, or 0.01% to 20,858.19, the S&P 500 gained 1.89 points, or 0.08% to 2,364.87 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.26 points, or 0.02% to 5,838.81.
(With inputs from Reuters)