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Stock markets close higher in volatile trade ahead of key Fed policy meeting

Stock markets close higher in volatile trade ahead of key Fed policy meeting
Mumbai, Benchmark stock indices Sensex and Nifty closed higher in a highly volatile trade on Monday as investors turned cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve interest rate decision. After gyrating between gains and losses, the 30-share BSE Sensex settled higher by 104.99 points or 0.14 per cent at 72,748.42. As many as 14 Sensex shares closed in the green while 16 in the red. The index moved between a high of 72,985.89 and a low of 72,314.16.

The broader Nifty of the NSE rose by 32.35 points or 0.15 per cent, to close at 22,055.70 as 21 of its components advanced and 29 declined.

The gains were primarily led by metal, auto and commodity shares while IT and Teck shares capped the upside.

Reliance Industries which rebounded more than 1.5 per cent from the day's low was the major contributor to Sensex and Nifty gains. RIL settled higher by 1.45 per cent.

Tata Steel rose the most by 5 per cent among Sensex shares. Mahindra & Mahindra, JSW Steel, Tata Motors, Axis Bank, Sun Pharma, Reliance Industries and Maruti were the other biggest gainers.

IT shares on the other hand declined amid concerns over interest rates in the US market. Infosys fell the most by 1.99 per cent among Sensex shares. Tata Consultancy Services, Titan, Wipro, Hindustan Unilever and Nestle also declined.

"The Indian market followed the positive Asian peers with a mixed bias. Domestic issues, like mutual fund stress tests, hardly brought any negative views, but premium valuation remains as a concern. Midcap & small caps are attempting to scroll up, however consolidation persists," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

Policy actions, this week, from global central banks, the US FED, BOJ, and BOE will dictate the market direction. Indication, by the FED, that rate cut may probably be in the latter half of CY24, should bring a mixed sentiment in the short term, he added.

The US Federal Open Market Committee meeting will commence on March 19 and the policy rate decision will be announced on Wednesday.

In the broader market, the BSE midcap gauge climbed 0.04 per cent while the smallcap index dipped 0.07 per cent.

Among the indices, metal zoomed 2.88 per cent, auto jumped 1.08 per cent, commodities climbed 0.91 per cent, healthcare (0.88 per cent), realty (0.58 per cent) and consumer discretionary (0.47 per cent).

However, IT, consumer durables, teck, services and financial services were the laggards.

"European markets started Monday with modest gains ahead of policy decisions this week by Japan's central bank and the Federal Reserve," said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research, HDFC Securities.

After the initial downtick, Nifty oscillated sharply in a range and finally settled at 22,050 levels, Ajit Mishra, SVP - Technical Research at Religare Broking Ltd said. The recent price action in Nifty shows indecisiveness among the participants and frequent breakout failures on the stock-specific front further adding to their worries, he added.

In Asian markets, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong settled higher.

European markets were quoting in the green. The US markets ended lower on Friday.

Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) bought equities worth Rs 848.56 crore on Friday, according to exchange data.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude climbed 0.87 per cent to USD 86.08 a barrel.