Indian blue-chips stocks end with small gains on first day of 2024

By Bharath Rajeswaran

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Indian blue-chip stocks ended with small gains on Monday as investors booked profits late in the session after the benchmarks extended their record rally into the first day of 2024.

The blue-chip NSE Nifty 50 settled 0.05% higher at 21,741.90 points, while the S&P BSE Sensex added 0.04% to 72,271.94.

Both indexes had risen about 0.5% each to record highs in the afternoon session, before surrendering gains in the closing minutes.

“Profit booking was visible at higher levels as lingering concerns over Red Sea disruptions pose short-term risks to global supply chains and freight costs,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

The Nifty and Sensex scaled fresh highs for most of the sessions in December, aided by better-than-expected economic growth, the return of foreign investors and growing expectations of a U.S. interest rate cut as soon as March.

Nine of the 13 major sectors logged gains on the day.

The IT index rose 0.51%, with HCLTech and Tech Mahindra the major drivers.

The heavy-weight bank index and financials dropped 0.1%, each. They have fallen for two sessions in a row, from record-high levels, and analysts expected them to trade in a narrow range.

The drop in financials, analysts said, could be temporary as valuations are still reasonable compared to other sectors despite the recent rally.

Auto stocks, however, weighed, with Eicher Motors, Bajaj Auto falling between 1.4% and 2.6%. While they reported higher monthly auto sales, a tax penalty notice weighed on the stocks.

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran and Manvi Pant in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)