The Indian equity benchmarks edged lower on Wednesday, December 29, on the back of weak global cues due to year-end portfolio adjustments. As of 9:30 am, the Sensex was up 0.08 per cent or 48.54 points at 57,946.20, while the Nifty was up 147 points to 17,233.05. Pharma stocks mostly led gains as the government approved the use of two more vaccines - Corbevax and Covovax and one anti-viral drug - Molnupiravir yesterday, to boost the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
HDFC Bank, Infosys, Power Grid Corporation of India, Coal India, NTPC were among the top drags. On the flipside, IndusInd Bank, Cipla, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy's Labs were among the top gainers.
Mid- and small-cap shares were trading on a positive note as Nifty Midcap 100 index was up 0.40 per cent, while the Nifty Smallcap 100 index rose 0.82 per cent.
Asian stocks slipped on Wednesday, following a mixed Wall Street session as the region's investors positioned their portfolios for the new year and continued to grapple with increasing global numbers of Omicron coronavirus cases.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.25 per cent, after six sessions of gains, following volatile US trade.There were losses in Hong Kong, down 0.6 per cent hurt by declines in mainland tech stocks while Chinese blue chips shed 0.25 per cent.
Japan's Nikkei declined 0.58 per cent today after hitting a one-month high on Tuesday. But in Australia, the ASX 200 was up one per cent early in the session even though the country's most populous state New South Wales announced 11,201 new COVID-19 cases.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.26 per cent on Tuesday. The S&P 500 hit a record intraday high during the session but weakened to end the day off 0.10 per cent. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.56 per cent.
In foreign exchange markets, the dollar firmed slightly in early Asian trade today as a recent rally in shares showed signs of petering out, but holiday-thinned trading meant markets were showing little real direction.
The euro lost 0.14 per cent overnight to $1.1307 and the pound slipped from a five-week high, helping to take the dollar index, which measures the greenback against major peers, to 96.165 from as low as 95.958 on Friday.
In the crude market, US oil rose for a sixth consecutive session on Wednesday while Brent gained more ground with a broad-based rally in global markets supporting prices.
The benchmark Brent crude rose 23 cents, or 0.3 per cent, at $79.17 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude added 21 cents, or 0.3 per cent, at $76.19 a barrel. Both contracts are trading near their highest levels in a month, aided by strength in equities.
Back home, on the stock-specific front, multiplex stocks such as PVR, INOX Leisure could again be in focus today after the Delhi government announced that cinema halls and multiplexes will be closed as part of the new restrictions under the 'Level 1' or 'Yellow Alert' amid rising Omicron variant cases of Covid-19 in the national capital.
Pharma stocks will be in focus today after the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) granted emergency use approval for the anti-viral drug - Molnupiravir. Pharma majors such as Cipla, Torrent Pharma, Dr Reddy's Labs partnered with Merck for the launch of Molnupiravir.
India reported 9,195 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, 44 per cent higher than yesterday's 6,358 cases. Omicron cases have risen to 781, with Delhi reporting the highest count at 781 so far.