Governments across the world raced to impose fresh travel restrictions as cases of the new variant emerged in multiple countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’, the health body’s top category for worrying coronavirus variants, although South African health authorities said symptoms of the new strain were mild so far.
No case of the Omicron variant has been detected in India yet.
Stabilising after Friday’s brutal sell-off, the 30-share BSE Sensex gained 153.43 points or 0.27 per cent to finish at 57,260.58. The index had tanked more than 500 points or over 1 per cent in opening trade in line with weak global cues.
On similar lines, the broader NSE Nifty edged higher by 27.50 points or 0.16 per cent to 17,053.95.
Kotak Bank rose the most among Sensex scrips, spurting 2.92 per cent, after LIC received RBI approval to raise its stake in the private sector lender to nearly 10 per cent.
Market heavyweight Reliance Industries jumped 1.26 per cent a day after its telecom arm Jio announced a hike in prepaid tariffs from the next month.
Gains in HCL Tech, TCS, Titan, Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv andTech Mahindra also helped Sensex close in the green.
On the other hand, Sun Pharma, NTPC, Axis Bank, Nestle, Bajaj Auto, SBI and Dr Reddy’s were among the major drags, dropping up to 2.03 per cent.
“Domestic indices trimmed its early losses to trade modestly higher backed by IT and healthcare stocks, amid lingering worries over the emergence of the new COVID variant. Global markets traded mixed as investors were torn between buying on dips and the uncertainties over the impact of Omicron on economic recovery.
“However, the global market has factored well the near-term uncertainty limiting further downside. On the domestic front, the telecom sector was in focus as all sector majors reported a rate hike, signalling an end to the low tariff regime,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.
Ajit Mishra, VP – Research, Religare Broking, said markets are expected to remain volatile amid the prevailing uncertainty around the new Covid variant.
“Besides, on the domestic front, macroeconomic data like GDP numbers, core sector data and auto sales figures will further add to the volatility. We reiterate our cautious stance and suggest preferring hedged positions,” he noted.
Sectorally, the BSE teck, IT, consumer durables and telecom indices rose up to 0.67 per cent, while utilities, realty, power, oil and gas, and industrials tumbled as much as 2.61 per cent.
In the broader markets, the BSE midcap and smallcap gauges lost up to 1.90 per cent.
Asian stock markets declined further after governments imposed travel controls due to the spread of the new coronavirus strain.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 1.7 per cent after Japan announced an entry ban on foreigners from Tuesday. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.4 per cent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong tumbled 1.2 per cent. The Kospi in Seoul declined 0.9 per cent and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 fell 0.5 per cent.
European bourses were trading in the positive zone in the afternoon session.
Meanwhile, Brent crude jumped $2.82 to $74.41 per barrel in London.
The rupee plunged by 23 paise to close at 75.12 against the US dollar.
Foreign institutional investors remained net sellers in the capital market on Friday as they offloaded shares worth Rs 5,785.83 crore, as per exchange data.
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