Sensex turns flat, Nifty a tad below 8,900; GAIL top gainer

The market on Friday pared some losses to turn flat as investors booked profits after a sharp rally that lifted the benchmark indices to near two-year highs in the previous session.

The negative trade in Asian markets, which slipped on expectations of a US interest rate hike in March, also weighed on sentiment.

At 02:37 pm, the S&P BSE Sensex was trading at 28,812, down 27 points, while the broader Nifty50 was ruling at 8,890, down 9 points. 

The broader market outperformed the frontline indices. BSE Smallcap gained 0.2%, while BSE Midcap was little changed. 

The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, was negative. On BSE, 1,462 shares fell and 1,282 shares rose. A total of 169 shares were unchanged.

Among individual stocks, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise fell as much as 5.3% to Rs 1246 after a unit of Malaysian sovereign fund Khazanah launched a block deal to sell $160 million worth of shares in the company.

Shares of BSE dipped 3% to Rs 888 to trade at its lowest level since its listing on February 3, 2017 and correcting 26% from its intra-day high of Rs 1,200, touched on the debut day.

Among gainers, Reliance Industries (RIL) rose over 4% to Rs 1,288 after the company informed that entities forming part of the promoter group of the company intend to acquire from other promoter group entities by way of ‘inter-se’ transfer aggregating up to 1,190 million shares of RIL.

Meanwhile, the Nikkei Services Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, in India came in at 50.3 in February of 2017, up from 48.7 in January. It was the first expansion after three months contraction but the weakest since October 2016 as output increased while employment has shown only one noteworthy monthly increase in the past one-and-a-half years.

Overseas, Asian markets were mostly lower, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.9% in the biggest daily drop so far this year.

Australia fell 0.8% and Shanghai 0.4%. Japan's Nikkei eased 0.7% as a weaker yen only helped limit some of the losses.

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