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NSE Intra-day chart (14 February 2019)
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Market Commentary 15 February 2019
Markets to make a cautious start amid weak global cues


Bears tightened their grip on Dalal Street as key gauges extended southward journey for fifth straight day, settling with a cut of around half a percent. Markets started the session on cautious note as traders remain concerned with report that volatile crude oil prices, a strong dollar and rising US bond yields has resulted in foreign institutional investors (FIIs) turning big sellers in the Indian market. Out of the 425 companies on the BSE-500 index, for the quarter ending December (Q3), there has been a decline in FII holdings in 256 companies, while only 169 companies saw net buying by FIIs. Cautiousness also crept in with the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) data showing that both bank credit as well as deposits growth marginally declined on a fortnightly basis, clipping at 14.5 percent at Rs 94.29 lakh crore deposits grew at a tepid 9.63 percent to Rs 121.22 lakh crore for the fortnight ending February 1.  Markets continued their lackluster trade till end, as traders ignored ease in wholesale price index (WPI) inflation data.  Wholesale prices in India eased to 2.76 percent in January, as compared to 3.80 percent in December, due to cheaper food and fuel prices. Wholesale inflation, measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), grew 3.02 percent in January 2018. Trader remained pessimistic even after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Up-gradation Scheme (CLCS-TUS) with a total outlay of Rs 2900 crore. The scheme will facilitate technology up-gradation to MSEs, improvement in Quality of products by MSMEs, enhancement in productivity, reduction in waste and shall promote a culture of continuous improvement. Traders failed to get any sense of relief with report that the cabinet is expected to soon consider a proposal of FDI-linked relaxation for mandatory 30 per cent local sourcing norms for foreign single brand retailers by allowing them more time to comply with regulations. Finally, the BSE Sensex fell 157.89 points or 0.44% to 35,876.22, while the CNX Nifty was down by 47.60 points or 0.44% to 10,746.05.


The US markets ended mostly in red on Thursday after a report from the Commerce Department unexpectedly showed a substantial decrease in retail sales in December, increasing the appeal of safe havens like bonds. The Commerce Department said retail sales tumbled by 1.2 percent in December after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in November. Street had expected retail sales to rise by 0.2 percent, matching the uptick originally reported for the previous month. Excluding a jump in auto sales, retail sales plunged by an even steeper 1.8 percent in December after coming in unchanged in November. Ex-auto sales had been expected to edge up by 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, a report released by the Labor Department showed first-time claims for US unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased in the week ended February 9th. The report said initial jobless claims rose to 239,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level of 235,000. Street had expected jobless claims to drop to 225,000 from the 234,000 originally reported for the previous week. The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average climbed to 231,750, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week's revised average of 225,000. Besides, some cautiousness also prevailed in the markets as President Trump prepared to sign a new budget deal to avoid a second government shutdown. In signing the legislation, the president will also declare a national emergency to build his proposed border wall with Mexico. Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 103.88 points or 0.41 percent to 25439.39 and S&P 500 was down 7.30 points or 0.27 percent to 2745.73, while Nasdaq gained 6.58 points or 0.09 percent to 7426.96.


Crude oil futures ended higher on Thursday as traders weighed potential outcomes for US-China trade talks, which may have a direct impact on demand for energy. Prices found some support from expectations that the US will extend its deadline for implementing additional tariffs on Chinese goods by 60 days. Meanwhile, trade talks between the two countries continue, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet China President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday.  Benchmark crude oil futures for March rose 51 cents or 1 percent to settle $54.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. April Brent crude gained 96 cents or 1.5 percent to settle at $64.57 a barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange.


Extending losses for the second day in a row, Indian rupee ended considerably weaker against the US dollar on Thursday, due to increased demand of the greenback from the importers and the banks. Investors failed to get solace with data showing that Wholesale prices in India eased to 2.76 percent in January, as compared to 3.80 percent in December, due to cheaper food and fuel prices. Wholesale inflation, measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), grew 3.02 percent in January 2018. The weak trade in the local equity market along with dollar's strength against major global currencies overseas hit the sentiment of the domestic currency. On the global front, dollar held near 3-month highs against the euro on Thursday, benefiting from sustained strength in core US inflation and weak data out of Europe. Finally, the rupee ended at 71.16, 36 paise weaker from its previous close of 70.80 on Wednesday.


The FIIs as per Thursday's data were net sellers in equity segment, while they were net buyers in debt segment. In equity segment, the gross buying was of Rs 4565.16 crore against gross selling of Rs 5421.51 crore, while in the debt segment, the gross purchase was of Rs 3452.98 crore with gross sales of Rs 1598.48 crore. Besides, in the hybrid segment, the gross buying was of Rs 1.90 crore against no selling.


The US markets settled mostly in red on Thursday on account of weak retail sales data.  US retail sales fell by 1.2% in December, the largest single-month decline since 2009. Asian markets have made a weak start and are now trading in red after grim US retail sales figures raised fresh doubts about the strength of the US economy, offsetting optimism on trade talks between the United States and China. Indian equity markets continued their downtrend this week, ending lower on Thursday  led by a fall in information technology (IT), metal and financial stocks.  The sentiment turned negative tracking mixed trend in other Asian markets. Today, the start is likely to be a cautious on weak global cues. There will be some cautiousness with the economic research wing of SBI stating that it is erroneous to come to a conclusion of heightened economic activity using the jump in currency in circulation (CIC). It estimated that cash in the economy at Rs 20.4 lakh crore, stressing the rural economy continues to be depressed. It pointed out to data from leading indicators, including passenger car sales, commercial vehicle sales and two wheeler sales, among others, which shows a dip in activity, to point out that the higher CIC does not suggest a jump in economic activity. However, traders may get some encouragement in later part of trade as Chief Economic Adviser K V Subramanian has said it is expecting that the economic growth will accelerate to 7.5% in next financial year (FY20), from 7.2% projected for the current financial year (FY19). He further stated in the last four years the GDP growth rate has been 7.3% that was highest across all government since liberalisation. This growth rate has been achieved amidst very low inflation. Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry is on course to meeting the NPA recovery target of Rs 1.8 lakh crore by March 31, 2019 with the recoveries already touching Rs 1.08 lakh crore and many big-ticket default cases reaching resolution.  The sugar sector stocks will be in action as the government hiked the minimum selling price of sugar by Rs 2 per kg to Rs 31. This will help millers to make the payment to sugarcane growers. There will be some buzz in the real estate sector stocks with Finance Minister Piyush Goyal's statement that the government is considering giving relief to the real estate sector and the next GST Council meeting could take some steps to address their issues even as he asked the banks to meet the realty sector on stalled projects in two weeks.  Also, there will be some reaction in NBFC stocks as RBI governor Shaktikanta Das ruled out asset quality review of Non -Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs).  Meanwhile, banks lending to NBFCs rose 4.4% in the December quarter to Rs. 24,200 crores when mutual funds slammed the doors on them after Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services defaulted on bond payments. This growth compares with a shrinking of 4.7 percent in the same quarter a year ago.


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