Markets post best weekly gains in two months despite volatile Friday trading

Graphic by Paras Jain/Mint

Indian markets ended little changed after a volatile trading session on Friday, as global markets weakened amid elevated military tensions over a new missile launch by North Korea.

The BSE Sensex closed up 30.68 points, or 0.1%, at 32,272.61 points and the National Stock Exchange’s Nifty edged down 1.20 points, or 0.01%, to close at 10,085.40.

“The markets ended almost flat in a volatile session today, pressurized by weak global cues,” said Jayant Manglik, president, retail distribution, Religare Securities Ltd. “The news of another missile test by North Korea led a feeble start, but buying in select index majors pared losses completely in the middle. However, profit-taking in the last half-hour again pushed the bulls slightly on the back foot.”

Even so, Indian markets put up their best weekly performance in two months, with the Sensex and Nifty gaining 1.8% and 1.5%, respectively. Beaten-down sectors like technology and pharma drove the rally, with the BSE IT index jumping 1.5% and BSE Healthcare rising 4.7% this week.

North Korea fired a missile on Friday over Japan’s island of Hokkaido into the Pacific Ocean. According to Bloomberg, the missile flew far enough to put the US territory of Guam in range, a provocation that came days after the United Nations approved harsher sanctions against North Korea. A day before, a North Korean state agency threatened to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the US to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a UN Security Council resolution and sanctions over its nuclear test.

Markets in other regions were subdued as Asia closed mixed. Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.5% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed little changed. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.5%.

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