Indian equity benchmarks reversed sharp losses from earlier in the session to end with gains near the fag end on Thursday, with traders positioning on the expiry of the futures and options (F&O) contracts boosting domestic stocks.
After falling over 300 points earlier in the session, the BSE Sensex index rose 223.60 points, or 0.37 per cent, to close at 61,133.88, and the broader NSE Nifty index gained 68.50 points, or 0.38 per cent, to end at 18,191.
Global stocks, though, declined in thin trading volumes due to the holiday season as investors worried that China’s outbreak could stall a long-awaited domestic and international economic rebound.
Indeed, on Thursday, with just one trading day left for the year, worries over the spread of COVID-19 from China led to a dip in European stocks and a decline in Asian stocks.
On low trading activity, equity benchmarks declined in South Korea, Australia, China, and Japan. After the S&P 500 index fell 1.2 per cent to its lowest in more than a month, futures contracts for the index see-sawed.
China’s reopening “complicates the Fed’s job with respect to putting a little bit of a bid under oil prices, putting a little bit of a bid under inflation globally, to aggregate demand,” said Sameer Samana, Senior Global Market Strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute, on Bloomberg TV.
“That’s going to be one of the biggest things that we’ll be watching in the first half,” he added.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq fell to end 1.35 per cent lower, marking a new bear-market closing low, as investors stayed away from growth firms and riskier bets. From Nasdaq’s record-breaking closing high in November, Wednesday’s loss represented a decline of more than 36 per cent.
MSCI’s broadest index of international stocks fell 0.92 per cent, with the index projected to have its largest yearly decline since the financial crisis of 2008 towards the end of 2022, with a decline of more than 20 per cent.
Thomas Hayes, Chairman of Great Hill Capital LLC in New York, told Reuters that reopening the world’s second-largest economy should ultimately benefit the US economy.
“The speed at which they have reversed their stance has caught people off guard,” he said. “People are sceptical because the last two years have been such a debacle in China.”
But Amit Sinha, Head of Multi-Asset Strategy at Voya Investment Management, told Reuters that Wednesday’s stock declines stemmed from “noise” such as low liquidity and tax loss harvesting where investors sell money-losing investments.
“Today, there’s nibbling away at risk and selling for tax loss harvesting purposes,” said Mr Sinha. “Markets have been going down for the course of December. There’s a negative sentiment and momentum already.”
Mr Sinha sees “reasons why people want to sell” with 2023 presenting uncertainties around the Fed’s rate hiking path regarding whether it can control inflation without damaging the economy.
“There’s no compelling reason to be on the other side. It exaggerates the price decline,” he said.
With a surge in COVID-19 cases in China, there was less hope for a recovery in fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil user, which led to a decline in crude prices.
That crude price fall capped the domestic shares losses as India depends on imports for over 85 per cent of its oil needs.
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