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Banking stocks push Sensex to above 38,000

Foreign investors have bought nearly ₹18,000 crore worth of stocks in March

Strong global cues and foreign flows led to the benchmark equity indices register gains for the fifth consecutive day on Friday. The rally, led by banking stocks, pushed the Sensex above the 38,000-mark for the first time since last September.

The 30-share Sensex gained 269.43 points or 0.71% to close at a six-month high of 38,024.32. This is the highest close for the Sensex since September 14, 2018, when it ended at 38,090.64. During intra-day trades on Friday, the benchmark soared nearly 500 points to touch a high of 38,254.77.

Meanwhile, the broader Nifty settled the day at 11,426.85, up 83.60 points or 0.74%.

Incidentally, banking stocks led the rally on Friday even as the broader market breadth remained weak with nearly 1,500 stocks losing ground on the BSE, as against 1,195 gainers.

The gainers in the Sensex pack included Kotak Mahindra Bank, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and IndusInd Bank, among others. Bank Nifty touched a new high of 29,520.70 on Friday before closing at 29,381.45.

“Today, Bank Nifty touched an all-time high largely driven by private banks,” said Jaikishan Parmar, senior equity research analyst — BFSI, Angel Broking.

“Concerns related to NPA are gradually abating, as the banks have reported lower slippages, strong recoveries in the third quarter of 2018-19. And barring few non banking finance companies backed by strong parent, most are facing liquidity issue, which is benefiting banks,” he added.

Elsewhere in Asia, the benchmarks of China and Indonesia gained more than 1% each, while the equity markets in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, among others, also ended in positive territory. Provisional figures, meanwhile, showed that foreign portfolio investors were net buyers in equities at ₹4,323 crore on Friday. Foreign investors have been net buyers in equities at nearly ₹18,000 crore in the current month, following net purchases of ₹17,220 crore in the previous month.

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