Sensex rallies over 1,800 pts; Nifty reclaims 8,700 level

Mumbai, Mar 20 (PTI) Equity benchmark Sensex soared over 1,800 points in afternoon session on Friday amid hopes of a stimulus package as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a financial task force to combat the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic fallout.

After starting on a volatile note, the BSE barometer was trading 1,848.07 points or 6.53 per cent higher at 30,136.30 at 1330 hours.

Similarly, the NSE Nifty was trading 515.50 points, or 6.24 per cent, up at 8,778.95.

ONGC was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rallying up to 15 per cent, followed by TCS, Infosys, HUL, Ultratech Cement, Tech Mahindra and Asian Paints.

On the other hand, IndusInd Bank was the only laggard.

According to traders, investor sentiment turned positive on hopes of an economic stimulus to support the economy in wake of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced setting up of a task force under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman which will take necessary actions “in the near future” after analysing the coronavirus pandemic situation.

According to government sources, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will hold a meeting with MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari, Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Friday to assess the situation in order to work out a package.

Calling for “resolve and restraint” to fight coronavirus, Modi asked the entire country to observe ‘Janta curfew’ on Sunday.

In a nearly 30-minute national broadcast, he asked people to stay indoors and work from home as much as possible while underscoring the dangers of coronavirus, saying the world has never seen a crisis as grave as this.

The novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 195 on Friday after 22 fresh cases were reported from various parts of the country, according to the Health Ministry data.

Globally, the death toll from the virus has risen to over 9,800 with more than 232,650 cases in 158 countries and territories.

“The PM had set the stage for more action to follow. The Covid- 19 Task Force under the FM’s leadership can be expected to come out with concrete proposals very soon,” said V K Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services.

The huge oil bounty from the crude crash can be used for this, he said adding that PM’s appeal is a curtain raiser for the concrete actions to follow soon.

World over, market sentiments improved as governments stepped up measures to cushion the financial blow of the pandemic, analysts said, adding that concerns over the rapid spread of the virus remained.

Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul jumped up to 7 per cent.

Stock exchanges on Wall Street too ended on a positive note on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the rupee appreciated 30 paise to 74.81 against US dollar intra-day.

Global oil benchmark, Brent crude futures rose over 5.73 per cent to USD 30.10 per barrel.