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Sensex, Nifty maintain record run; RBI decision eyed

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Equity indices defied gravity for the fourth straight session to close at fresh lifetime highs on Thursday as FMCG and banking counters saw robust demand amid encouraging quarterly earnings.

Participants shrugged off weak Asian cues and kept accumulating stocks ahead of RBI’s policy decision on Friday, traders said.

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After touching an all-time high of 50,687.51 during the day, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 358.54 points or 0.71 per cent at its new closing record of 50,614.29.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty finished 105.70 points or 0.71 per cent higher at its closing peak of 14,895.65. It touched an all-time high of 14,913.70 during the session.

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ITC was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, soaring 6.11 per cent, followed by SBI, Bajaj Finance, ONGC, M&M, Kotak Bank, Bajaj Finserv, NTPC and UltraTech Cement.

SBI climbed 5.73 per cent after the country’s largest lender posted a standalone net profit of Rs 5,196.22 crore for the December quarter, down 7 per cent year-on-year but above street estimates.

The bank’s asset quality improved substantially as the gross NPA ratio fell to 4.77 per cent from 6.94 per cent earlier.

The laggards included Asian Paints, IndusInd Bank, Bharti Airtel, Tech Mahindra, Titan and Infosys, shedding up to 2.08 per cent.

“Domestic equities defied weak cues of Asian markets and extended gains for the fourth consecutive day as growing optimism about prospects of Indian economy post the announcement of bold Budget continued to attract investors,” said Binod Modi, Head Strategy at Reliance Securities.

Notably, the domestic market crossed Rs 200 trillion market capitalization mark during the day, he said, adding that strong buying in banks, especially PSBs, and FMCG space supported the market rally.

“We cannot expect more from the on-going Monetary Policy Committee meeting, considering the encouraging economic outlook, than to maintain a status quo and accommodative stance… they will work on measures to normalise the gap between the repo rate and market yield,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

BSE power, FMCG, metal, bankex, capital goods, industrials and oil and gas indices rallied up to 2.56 per cent, while telecom, teck, consumer durables and IT ended in the red.

Broader BSE midcap and smallcap indices jumped as much as 1.45 per cent.

Asian markets tumbled after a spike in short-term Chinese interest rates raised concerns about policy tightening.

Stock exchanges in Europe were, however, largely trading with gains in mid-session deals.

Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.09 per cent higher at USD 58.74 per barrel.

The rupee ended unchanged at 72.96 against the US dollar.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 2,520.92 crore on Wednesday, according to exchange data.

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