Covid deaths reach record 1,761, but vaccination policy lifts mood, sends rupee up 23 paise
The Centre’s policy response to tackle the alarming spike in Covid-19 infections helped markets rebound over 500 points in the early trade on Tuesday. The second wave of the pandemic claimed a record 1,761 lives in the last 24 hours, paving way for more volatility in the markets.
The S&P BSE Sensex traded at 48,455.13 – a rise of 505.13 points or 1.05 per cent – in the opening deals, while the broader NSE Nifty was up 150.20 points or 1.05 per cent to 14,509.65.
On the Sensex, barring three IT stocks – HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra and TCS – all shares were trading in the green.
The bellwether index had crashed 882.61 points or 1.81 per cent and the Nifty had plunged 258.40 points or 1.77 per cent at the close on Monday. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net sellers in the capital markets on Monday to the tune of Rs 1,633.70 crore, according to exchange data.
“The government’s decision to open up vaccination for all above 18 from May 1, and announcement of measures to incentivise vaccine manufacturers are steps in the right direction,” says VK Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services. “This is positive from the market perspective. The market is likely to ignore the stress in the healthcare system and the pains from the second wave.”
India’s tally of infections climbed to 1,53,21,089 with 2,59,170 new cases being reported in a day, while active cases surpassed the 20-lakh mark, according to the Union health ministry data. The death toll increased to 1,80,530 with a record 1,761 new fatalities on Monday.
Registering a steady increase for the 41st day in a row, the active cases increased to 20,31,977, comprising 13.26 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has dropped to 85.56 per cent.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,31,08,582, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.18 per cent, the data says.
The rupee advanced by 23 paise to 74.64 against the US dollar in the opening trade on Tuesday, tracking a weaker greenback against key rivals and a positive trend in the domestic equity market.
Forex traders think the government’s decision to open Covid vaccination to above-18 citizens has lifted investor sentiment. At the interbank forex market, the local unit opened at 74.65 against the dollar, then gained some strength to quote at 74.64, a rise of 23 paise over its last close. The rupee had settled at 74.87 against the American currency at the close on Monday.
The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, fell 0.14 per cent to 90.94.
“The Indian rupee started this Tuesday on a stronger note against the US dollar, tracking the overall weakness of the dollar,” says Reliance Securities in a research note. “Gains could be capped by the surge in Coronavirus infections leading to stricter lockdowns and in turn hampering the recovery of the economy.”
Equity bourses in other parts of Asia saw mixed trading till afternoon as investors awaited the release of China’s latest benchmark lending rate. Japan led losses among the region’s major markets, followed by Hong Kong, while South Korea and China were trading higher.
US stocks ended lower on Monday, slipping from last week’s record levels, as investors awaited guidance from first-quarter earnings.
Global crude oil benchmark Brent futures rose 0.77 per cent to $67.68 per barrel on Monday, despite concerns about the impact on oil demand going forward due to rising coronavirus cases in India.