$1.8 bn PNB fraud, macro-data hit equities' movement

Mumbai, Feb 17: The weekly trade in the Indian equity markets was almost flat. However, a slew of domestic developments like a $1.8 billion fraud reported by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and release of major macro-economic data impacted the movements of the two key equity indices, analysts said.

On a weekly basis, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) rose a tad by 5 points or 0.01 per cent to close at 34,010.76 points.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed trade at 10,452.30 points -- bit lower by 2.65 points or 0.02 per cent from its previous week's close.

"Local factors were more at work during this week. Globally, the markets -- especially the US markets -- have done very well over the last six sessions. But upper moves in the domestic markets have been limited because of local factors," Deepak Jasani, Head, Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

"The market sentiments kept facing new challenges one after the other. This caused some concern in terms of their financial impact and/or political repercussions," he added.

According to Jasani, it was the third consecutive week of losses for the Nifty50 index.

During the week, a massive-sell off in the banking sector stocks was triggered after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced new norms to deal with non-performing assets on Monday.

Besides RBI's latest move, the massive $1.8 billion fraud detected at one of the Mumbai branches of PNB -- the country's second largest public sector bank -- on February 14 also spooked investors.

The markets were closed on Tuesday for Mahashivratri.

"The truncated week began with a gap-up opening on Monday; however, bulls failed to keep the momentum and eventually ended the week on lower note as the sentiments got further dented by a $1.77 billion fraud reported by the PNB earlier this week," D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of SMC Investments and Advisors, told IANS.

PNB shares started to decline after the bank detected a multi-crore fraud case and authorities blamed billionaire diamond trader Nirav Modi for the fraud along with wife Ami, brother Nishal and maternal uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi.

The bank's shares plunged drastically following the news -- over 9 per cent -- along with the stocks of Choksi-promoted jewellery company Gitanjali Gems, which plunged almost 20 per cent.

On the macro-front, Aggarwal said: "The CPI (Consumer Price Index) fell marginally to 5.07 per cent in January, while industrial activity has shown growth of 7.1 per cent in December."

"The December growth showed not only a robust year-on-year growth but also a strong chronological improvement in the industrial activity," he added.

On the currency front, the rupee strengthened by 18-19 paise to close at 64.21-22 against the US dollar from its last week's close at 64.40.

Provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold off scrips worth Rs 2,849.1 crore, while domestic institutional investors purchased scrips worth Rs 2,368.01 crore during the week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors off-loaded equities worth Rs 3,006.58 crore, or $467.77 million, during February 12-16.

"The benchmark index Nifty closed below 10,500 levels as banking stocks dragged after the PNB fraud case," Arpit Jain, AVP at Arihant Capital Markets, told IANS.

"On the domestic front the country's exports increased by 9 per cent in January, while trade deficit touched a three-year high of $16.3 billion due to an increase in crude oil imports," he added.

Sector-wise, banks, consumer durables and auto fell the most, while metals, FMCG, and oil and gas indices ended marginally in the positive.

The top weekly Sensex gainers were: Tata Steel (up 2.52 per cent at Rs 688.30); Reliance Industries (up 2 per cent at Rs 921.70); Asian Paints (up 1.75 per cent at Rs 1,143.70); Dr Reddy's Lab (up 1.55 per cent at Rs 2,212.75); and Hindustan Unilever (up 1.51 per cent at Rs 1,352.45).

The losers were: State Bank of India (down 9.85 per cent at Rs 271.75); Yes Bank (down 6.91 per cent at Rs 311.90); Axis Bank (down 5.41 per cent at Rs 537.75); ICICI Bank (down 4.05 per cent at Rs 321); and ITC (down 2.67 per cent at Rs 266.35).

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