The BSE Sensex edged higher on the first day of the quarter, as banking stocks rose for a second session in a row on expectation that the cash crunch that had constrained the sector in March will ease in the new fiscal year thanks to government spending and a more vigilant RBI.
Banking shares had suffered in March from pronounced liquidity shortages, tied in part to end-of-year tax outflows and delayed government spending, leading the sector boost their short-term borrowing from the central bank.
The liquidity shortage prompted the RBI to step in with surprise bond purchases on Friday, and analyst expect an additionally improved situation this week as government spending kicks in.
"With government spending kicking in, I think liquidity scenario should ease off in the second half," said Sandpit Sabharwal, CEO of portfolio management at Prabhudas Lilladher.
Some analysts said that the banking sector could also benefit if the Reserve Bank of India steps in with a rate cut at its April 17 meeting. Lenders had been hit last month by disappointment after the central bank kept policy on hold.
State-run banks were additionally boosted after they sold shares to the government at above-market prices, as part of previously announced capital injection plans.
State Bank of India rose 1.2% to Rs 2,122.00 after saying on Friday it had approved the issuance and allotment of 36 million shares at Rs 2,191.69 per share to the Indian government.
The main 30-share BSE index was up 0.3%, while the 50-share Nifty index was up 0.3% compared to being flat in the morning trade.
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The BSE Sensex gave up some gains as European markets turned negative after an upmove in early trade. India's most valued stock Reliance Industries, which turned positive, fell 0.5% while other heavyweights shed somewhat gains.
The BSE Sensex gained 100 points in afternoon trade due to buying interest in index heavyweights Larsen & Toubro, State Bank of India and TCS. Bharti Airtel, ICICI Bank and ONGC too were up.
The BSE Sensex and Nifty extended gains in afternoon trade amid volatility, rising 0.5% with support from capital goods, banks, realty and power stocks.
The BSE Sensex and Nifty kicked off the second quarter flat, as gains in state-run banks after they sold shares to the government at above-market prices were offset by falls in Reliance Industries shares due to concerns about its January to March earnings.
The NSE Nifty was moving in a narrow range around 5300 level after a rally of 117 points on Friday. It seemed to be consolidating ahead of events like fourth quarter earnings, fuel price hike and RBI policy (schedule to be announced on April 17).
Macquarie raised its target for Nifty index to 5,000 from 4,600 points, citing the foreign investor flows coming from the rising global liquidity, but said it still remains cautious due to the uncertain economic outlook among other factors.
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