Markets were trading with marginal gains as gains in financial shares helped offset losses in pharma and steel stocks.
At 9:35AM, the 30-share Sensex was up 52 points at 26,366 and the 50-share Nifty was up 15 points at 7,890.
Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) bought shares worth a net Rs 251.36 crore on Wednesday, as per provisional data from the stock exchanges.
The rupee is trading lower against the US dollar in early trades at Rs 60.72 tracking gains in the dollar. On Wednesday, The rupee rose to a near three-week high against the dollar on Wednesday on the back of strong foreign investor buying in the debt market, although greenback demand from importers and a fall in shares limited further gains. The currency ended at Rs 60.61.
On the global front, Asian shares were trading lower after a private survey showed weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data. HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index slipped to 50.3 in August compared with 51.7 in July, against a forecast of 51.5.
Except for Nikkei all other indices were trading lower. Nikkei was up 0.8%, Hang Seng was down 0.8%, Shanghai Composite fell 0.3% and Straits Times was trading flat.
Metal shares were down after iron ore and bauxite would now see a rate rise to 15 per cent against the earlier 10 per cent. Manganese ore would attract a royalty equivalent to five per cent from 4.2 per cent of the notified sales price. Tata Steel was down 1%, Sesa Sterlite fell 1.2%, JSW Steel was down 0.5% and NMDC was down 1.6%. Further, MOIL was down 1.2%
Financial shares were among the top Sensex gainers with HDFC, Axis Bank, SBI, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank up 0.1-0.7% each.
Other Sensex gainers include, index heavyweights ITC and TCS along with auto major Tata Motors.
Pharma shares took a breather after gains in the previous sessions. Dr Reddy’s Labs, Cipla and Sun Pharma were down 0.7-0.9% each.
Oil and gas shares were also trading marginally lower with Reliance Industries and ONGC down 0.2-0.4% each.
Among other shares, CMC was up 4.5% and Sterlite Technologies was up 5% after the Cabinet on Wednesday approved a blueprint for the Digital India programme, which envisages all government services be delivered electronically by 2018. It also seeks to provide unique identities to all citizens. The programme aims to “bring public accountability through mandated delivery of government services electronically” and provide a “unique ID and e-Pramaan, based on authentic and standards-based interoperable and integrated government applications and data bases”.
Mid-cap shares in the IT and pharma space continued to witness buying interest with Aptech, Geometric up over 3% each while Nectar Life and Shashun Pharma were up 3-7% each.
In the broader market, the BSE Mid-cap and Small-cap indices were trading 0.6% higher.
Market breadth was strong with 1,141 gainers and 451 losers on the BSE.