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Sensex cuts gains to end 86 points up, Nifty above 7,500 ahead of CPI data; ICICI Bank top gainer

The headline indices cut gains after data showed wholesale price inflation had fallen a bigger-than-expected 0.91 per cent in February, easing for a 16th consecutive month.

Market breadth remained positive with 20 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in green. Photo: Reuters Market breadth remained positive with 20 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in green. Photo: Reuters

The S&P BSE Sensex pared some gains from day's high but settled the day in green, while broader CNX Nifty held above its key 7,500-mark.

The headline indices cut gains after data showed wholesale price inflation had fallen a bigger-than-expected 0.91 per cent in February, easing for a 16th consecutive month.

Caution prevailed ahead of consumer inflation data, due later in the day. Analysts polled by Reuters expect a 5.6 per cent rise in consumer prices in February from 5.69 percent in January, which could leave the door open for a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The 30-share index ended the day at 24,804, up 86.29 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 7,538, down 28.55 points at close.

Market breadth remained positive with 20 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in green.

ICICI Bank was the best performing stock on both the benchmark indices and added over 3 per cent.

"We have been gaining on rate cut hopes since the budget day," said Daljeet Singh Kohli, head of research at India Nivesh Securities.

"Markets have already priced in a 25 basis points rate cut," he added, noting such a scenario would likely lead to a retreat in shares.

Markets have risen in eight out of ten sessions in March, boosted by foreign flows. Overseas investors have bought a net $1.41 billion worth of shares so far in March, paring this year's outflows to $1.48 billion.

Among the gainers, Tata Motors rose 2.99 per cent, its second session of gains, after the auto maker on Friday said global wholesales in February, including that of Jaguar Land Rover, grew 17 per cent.

Iron ore miner NMDC gained 1.99 per cent after raising iron ore lump prices.

Drugmakers, however, dropped after the government banned the manufacture and sale of more than 300 combination drugs. Pfizer lost 8.55 per cent.

Coal India fell 7.08 per cent to a near 2-month low as the stock turned ex-dividend on Monday.

Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Composite settled the day 1.75 per cent higher, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 1.17 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei rallied 1.74 per cent.

A lowdown on markets today

10:20 am

Sensex at 24,883, up 165.64 points

Nifty at 7,557, up 47.30 points

09:20 am

Sensex at 24,915, up 197.49 points

Nifty at 7,568, down 58.00 points