Domestic stock markets started Wednesday’s session on a choppy note amid weakness in global equities following a two-day rally, as India entered the fifteenth day of a 21-day countrywide lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P BSE Sensex index swung between gains and losses soon after starting the day down 365.29 points at 29,701.92. The index moved in a range of 1,078.58 points, touching 30,681.52 and 29,602.94 at the strongest and weakest levels recorded in early trade respectively. The broader NSE Nifty benchmark started the day at 8,688.90, down 103.3 points from the previous close, and touched an intraday high of 8,980.55 in the first hour of trade.
At 10:33 am, the Sensex traded 1,008.28 points – or 3.35 per cent – higher at 31,075.49 while the Nifty was up 310.90 points – or 3.54 per cent – at 9,103.10. Automobile, pharmaceutical and consumer goods stocks led gains across sectors.
Market breadth favoured gains with an advance-decline ratio of almost 5:1, as 1,273 stocks on the BSE traded higher while 264 moved lower. On the NSE, 1,336 stocks advanced while 290 declined.
Forty six stocks in the 50-scrip Nifty index moved higher. Top percentage gainers at the time were GAIL, Mahindra & Mahindra, Vedanta, Axis Bank and Hindustan Unilever, trading between 4.73 per cent and 10.18 per cent higher.
Analysts say volatility cannot be ruled out as investors assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global economy.
Overnight in the US, the S&P 500 had ended 0.16 per cent lower, having been up as much as 3.5 per cent at one stage, while the Nasdaq Composite and Dow Jones Industrial average indices dropped 0.33 per cent and 0.12 per cent respectively.
After US market hours, President Donald Trump said the United States may be getting to the top of the coronavirus curve. The Trump administration asked Congress for an additional $250 billion in emergency economic aid for small US businesses reeling under the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
International oil markets were volatile, with prices rebounding in early Asia trade after sliding on Tuesday. Brent crude – the global benchmark for crude oil – rose by 74 cents to $32.61 a barrel.
On Tuesday, the first session of the holiday-shortened three-day trading week, the Sensex had risen 2,476.26 points (8.97 per cent) to end at 30,067.21, and the Nifty had settled at 8,792.20, up 708.40 points (8.76 per cent) from the previous close – the best day in absolute terms for both indices since 2009.