The Sensex and the Nifty wrapped up their special budget trading session on a positive note as both indices posted moderate gains after a very volatile day of trading.
After rising initially, both indices lost ground steeply as the budget was being presented to trade in the red for a while. However, it recovered later in the day as the Sensex closed 141.38 points, or 0.48%, up at 29,361.50 and the Nifty rose 57.25 points, or 0.65%, to 8,901.85.
Foreign investors, who have been driving the rally in Indian stocks over the last year and a half, were mostly absent from the market as Saturday was a holiday for them.
“It was a punter’s market. Several investors had built up huge positions in the run-up to the budget. They started offloading shares to book profits when they realised that the FM wasn’t making any big bang announcements. This led to the fall (in the Sensex) in the middle of the day. But the budget is growth-oriented, and, so, recovered by the end of the day,” said Nilesh Shah, CEO of Kotak Mutual Fund.
Market analysts hailed the budget as strong and balanced as they welcomed measures presented, especially those pertaining to foreign investors. Some key proposals in this regard include the postponement of the General Anti-Avoidance Rule by two years and the exemption for foreign portfolio investors from minimum alternative tax.
“We have seen high volatility today and as market took time to understand the details,” said Vinod Nair, head, fundamental research, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services. Nair felt the budget provided healthy direction to the economy. Among the BSE’s sectoral indices, banking led the way with gains of 3.27%. Auto and healthcare sectors also posted substantial gains. FMCG saw selling pressure as ITC stocks tumbled over 8% because of the 25% hike in excise duty on cigarettes. The midcap sector remained flat and the smallcap sector lost 0.47%. The day’s top gainers on the Sensex were Axis Bank (up 8.15%), Sun Pharma (up 3.62%), and Tata Motors (up 3.15%).