Sensex, Nifty flat in choppy trading; Reliance, consumer staples stocks weigh

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian shares were flat in choppy trading on Wednesday, as losses in Reliance Industries and consumer staples stocks countered positive sentiment surrounding the country’s plan to roll out a COVID-19 vaccination programme by next week.

FILE PHOTO: A broker reacts while trading at his computer terminal at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai, India, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

By 0515 GMT, the blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 index rose 0.06% to 14,208.65, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.04% at 48,455.71.

Earlier in the session, both indexes inched higher to hit record levels for the fourth straight session in the new year, extending a months-long rally driven by continued foreign fund inflows and progress on COVID-19 vaccines.

Foreign investors pumped more than $20 billion into Indian equities last year, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Sentiment on Wednesday was also dented by weakness in broader global markets as investors prepared for a possible Democrat triumph in Senate runoffs in the U.S. battleground state of Georgia.

“There is a little bit of global uncertainty, especially on the Georgia counting,” said Samrat Dasgupta, chief executive officer at Esquire Capital Investment Advisors in Mumbai.

“Markets have gone up one way, so there will be some consolidation… they may remain choppy today and tomorrow, and all dips will be bought into.”

On Tuesday, India’s top health official said the country was set to roll out a COVID-19 vaccination programme by next week, aiming to cover 300 million people by July.

In Mumbai trading, conglomerate Reliance fell 1.3%, while consumer giant ITC shed 1.6%. Both stocks were among the top drags on the Nifty 50.

Titan Company rose 1.3% after reporting strong results in its jewellery and watches and wearables divisions for the third quarter.

Bajaj Finance fell 1.2%. Late on Tuesday, the central bank imposed a penalty of 25 million rupees on Bajaj Finance for violation of various directions, including on the company’s recovery and collection methods.

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