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Sensex erases opening gains, Nifty hovers around 9650; IT stocks drag

Tata Steel topped the buying list among Sensex stocks, up nearly 4 percent followed by Dr Reddy’s Labs, HDFC, Tata Motors, Lupin, Aurobindo Pharma and Hindalco.
10:59 am CLSA ups target on Tata Steel: CLSA maintained its bullish stance on Tata Steel and raised its target price significantly to Rs 710 (implying 45 percent potential upside), citing better pricing in India and likely de-risking in Europe business.
“We see scope for Tata’s valuation multiples to expand driven by improving Indian steel industry pricing and demand-supply outlook, and high visibility of a significant de-risking in Tata Steel Europe (TSE),” the brokerage house explained while retaining a buy call on the stock.

It feels global steel industry outlook is also better than before driven by supply-side reforms in China.
10:45 am Gold update: Gold edged lower on Thursday as investors awaited cues on market direction amid a number of geopolitical events later in the day that could boost the safe-haven demand for the metal.

Polls open in the UK national elections later on Thursday while the European Central Bank (ECB) may discuss dropping additional stimulus pledges at a meeting later and former United States Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey will testify before the U.S. Congress about his interactions with President Donald Trump later in the day.

“A lot of things are happening at the same time… There may be some kind of impact that may push up the volatility rather than the direction of price moves,” said Mark To, head of research at Hong Kong’s Wing Fung Financial Group.

10:30 am Management Speak: Bajaj Electricals’ advertising spend in the ongoing financial year is likely to spike by almost a third with the company expected to extend more hand-outs in below-the-line promotional activities, according to the company’s Chief Financial Officer Anant Purandhare. He attributed this to the company’s rollout of its new distribution model for consumer products achieving the footprint.

The company could spend Rs 100 crore on advertising and sales promotion, 31.6 percent higher than the Rs 76 crore it spent on the same in the last financial year, Purandhare said.

“Our focus on advertising will be more on BTL (below the line) spending. We will have to spend more and more on BTL as we are doing secondary and tertiary distribution. There we have to do a lot of BTL activities like putting up hoardings on shops, giving them discounts to store our products. So that will increase the visibility of our products in the market,” Purandhare told Bonaz Capital.

10:10 am Rating downgrade: Indian market which has already risen nearly 18 percent to fresh record highs this week have unnerved some analysts at a global investment bank, UBS.
Bonaz Capital
The broking firm downgraded its rating on India to ‘neutral’ from ‘overweight’ initiated earlier in the month of February, citing a sharp surge in valuations which offers limited risk to reward ratio from current levels.
Back in mid-February, UBS raised India’s rating to Overweight post demonetisation trends which were beginning to improve, and earnings estimates which looked like hitting the bottom. The valuations were also looking the least high, relative to Asia ex-Japan, since PM Modi was elected in 2014.

9:57 am Market Update: Equity benchmarks erased opening gains due to further selling in technology, oil and select banks stocks. Investors maintained cautious stance ahead of UK elections and Comey testimony.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was down 31.13 points at 31,240.15 and the 50-share NSE Nifty fell 12.30 points to 9,651.60.
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TCS fell 2.4 percent as Nomura downgraded the stock to reduce from neutral, with implied downside of 18 percent, citing mismatch between fundamentals and recent stock price rise.

Infosys extended losses, down 1 percent on top of 3 percent correction in previous session on pricing concerns.

ITC, Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, SBI and ONGC were other losers whereas HDFC, HDFC Bank, Tata Steel, HUL, Tata Motors and L&T continued to support the market.

9:40 am Buzzing: Petronet LNG shares fell as much as 4.3 percent in morning trade Thursday after CNBC-TV18 reports said France-based investor offloaded its entire stake in the company.

Company’s 7.6 crore equity shares (representing 10 percent of paid-up equity) traded on exchanges in the price range of Rs 424.90-430.15 in opening today.

GDF International proposed to divest its entire shareholding of 10 percent in the company for USD 512 million.

GDF, which distributes and markets liquefied natural gas, informed exchanges in March 2017 about its divestment to each of the promoter stating that it proposed to offer to each of the promoter a first right of purchase/refusal in relation to the proposed stake sale in the same proportion in which the promoter are holding equity shares in the company.

The Government of India through companies like ONGC, IOC, GAIL and BPCL has 50 percent shareholding in the company while the rest is held by public as of March 2017. GDF International was the largest shareholder among public.

Sensex erases

9:25 am FII View: Mahesh Nandurkar of CLSA said Nifty trades at 18x 1-year forward or 20 percent premium to the last 10-year average and comes up as the key investor concern in most discussions.

Higher inflows are the reason for premium valuations, he feels.

Historical flow analysis implies if monthly net inflow remains at or above USD 400 million, the uptrend should continue, he said, adding this is also a base case assuming continued strong domestic flows, doubling of equity offering partially offset by higher buybacks over the next 12 months.

He feels the key risk is much higher equity raising than anticipated. Higher valuations, however, make the market look farther ahead, bringing the potential capex cycle recovery in sight, Nandurkar said.

Also read – Buy, Sell, Hold: Here are 7 stocks that analysts are tracking today

9:15 am Market Check: Equity benchmarks extended gains in opening trade Thursday, with the Nifty eyeing 9700 level despite cautious trade in global peers ahead of UK elections and Comey testimony.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 52.93 points at 31,324.21 and the 50-share NSE Nifty gained 18.50 points at 9,682.40.

Tata Steel topped the buying list among Sensex stocks, up nearly 4 percent followed by Dr Reddy’s Labs, HDFC, Tata Motors, Lupin, Aurobindo Pharma and Hindalco.

TCS, GAIL, ONGC, ITC, Infosys, Tata Power and Bharti Infratel were under pressure.

The Indian rupee retreated against the US dollar in early trade. It opened at 64.40, down 7 paise compared with previous closing level of 64.33 a dollar.

Mohan Shenoi of Kotak Mahindra Bank said the rupee closed marginally stronger in previous session (9 paise higher) on the back of inflows and dovish monetary policy.

However global markets are expected to be cautious today in view of the ECB meeting, UK elections and Comey testimony, according to him.

Shenoi expects the rupee to trade in range of 64.20-64.55 against the US dollar.
Asian markets traded sideways ahead of key risk events later in the day, with apparent land-to-ship missiles fired by North Korea in the morning added to the mix.