Banks fuel markets bull run; Sensex, Nifty hit new peaks

Continuing their winning run for the second straight day, benchmark equity indices Sensex and Nifty hit fresh closing peaks of 35,260 and 10,817, respectively, with banking counters leading the rally on Thursday amid reports that the government might increase FDI limits for banks.

The BSE Sensex rose 178 points, or 0.51%; while the NSE Nifty advanced by 28 points, or 0.26%. Sustained FII inflows and fresh spell of buying by domestic institutional investors too kept the momentum going for the domestic bourses.

Besides, optimism over encouraging Q3 earnings by some more companies and upcoming Budget bolstered sentiment.

Banking counters remained in focus amid reports that the government is considering raising the foreign investment ceiling in private banks to 100% and in public sector lenders to 49%.

However, selling towards the fag-end, as investors took the money off the table at record levels, cut down the session's gains.

Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit Financial Services Ltd, said, "Government's plan to not widen the net borrowings gave additional legs to market that has been pricing in the potential for further fiscal deficit slippage. FDI plans for banks and GST meeting also meant that indices opened with a gap up, but such successive days of record peaks attracted profit-booking following a mixed bag of earnings and approaching derivatives expiry."

Also, there have been expectations that the GST Council might consider a host of proposals to simplify procedure for filing of returns, registration of large entities and lower tax on some items. The council is also expected to look at GSTN's readiness for e-way bill rollout from February 1.

Domestic markets are also aided by a rally in the global markets, with US market surging to record high and Asian bourses firming up.

Banking stocks have been at the centre of brisk activity after the government yesterday lowered the additional borrowing requirement for the current fiscal to Rs 20,000 crore from Rs 50,000 crore estimated earlier.

The BSE Sensex after a gap-up opening at 35,366.45, advanced further to life-time high of 35,507.36, surpassing its previous intra-day high of 35,118.61 before ending at all-time closing high of 35,260.29.

It also broke previous record closing high of 35,081.82 reached on Wednesday. The BSE Sensex had gained by 310.77 points in the previous session.

The NSE Nifty also scaled an all-time closing high of 10,817 after hitting historic high of 10,887.50, smashing its previous record (intra-day) of 10,803. It also breached previous record closing of 10,788.55 hit yesterday.

Foreign investors have been supporting the ongoing rally by pumping sizeable funds into domestic markets. Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) put in Rs 625.13 crore in stocks on net basis yesterday, while domestic institutional investors bought shares worth Rs 168.61 crore, provisional data showed.

Among the sectoral index, FMCG index rose the most by surging 0.74%, followed by bankex 0.69% and IT 0.13%.

While realty, metal, infrastructure, power, PSU and oil & gas indices were under pressure on late selling and shed up to 4.07%r cent.

Of the 30 Sensex pack, ITC Ltd emerged top gainer by rising 2.61% followed by HDFC Bank 2.15%, HDFC Ltd (1.99%), M&M (1.83%), Kotak Bank (1.77%), ICICI Bank (0.87%), TCS (0.71%), Bajaj Auto (0.65%), Maruti Suzuki (0.50%), Wipro (0.48%) and L&T (0.485).

However, Adani Ports, Tata Steel, Coal India, Sun Pharma, SBI and Bharti Airtel retreated on profit-booking. The broader markets faced selling pressure as the smallcap index fell by 2.04% and midcap index by 1.69%.

Globally, the rally in Asian markets showed no signs of slowing with most posting fresh gains and Hong Kong hitting new records as investors tracked another milestone on Wall Street, thanks to a healthy economic outlook across the world, optimism over the impact of Donald trump's tax cuts and strong corporate earnings.

Key Asian indices, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.43%, while Shanghai Composite Index up 0.87%. Japan's Nikkei, however, shed 0.44%.

Among European markets, Frankfurt's DAX rose 0.38% and Paris CAC 40 up 0.07% in their early session. London"s FTSE, however, down 0.17%.

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