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NEW DELHI: Benchmark indices were off to a weak start on Friday as investors turned cautious ahead of the US Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole Economic Symposium later in the day.

US markets settled lower overnight after the Kabul bombings, while Asian markets were trading mixed in early trade on Friday weighing on investor sentiment.

At 9.30 am, the BSE Sensex traded at 55,685.85, down 263.25 points or 0.47 per cent. The NSE Nifty50 slipped below the 15,600 level and was trading at 16,589, down 47.9 points or 0.29 per cent.

“The 16,600 level, followed by 16,500, would act as immediate support for Nifty50. The 16,700 level remains to be the level to watch out for. The direction is likely to be dictated by the banking space,” said Sameet Chavan of Angel Broking.

Among largecap stocks, Mahindra & Mahindra fell 1.77 per cent to Rs 767.55. IndusInd Bank, HDFC and ICICI Bank declined up to 0.8 per cent. Tech Mahindra, Titan Company, Infosys and Axis Bank fell up to 0.7 per cent.

Gainers included Larsen & Toubro and Tata Steel that gained 1 per cent each.

, Dr Reddy’s Labs, NTPC and Maruti Suzuki edged higher.

SAIL gained 3 per cent as the steel producer said it is aiming at reducing its net debt to a range of Rs 15,000-20,000 crore in the current fiscal if the prices and demand for the commodity remain stable.

SpiceJet rose 2 per cent after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which had banned operations by Boeing MAX aircraft in March 2019 after two fatal crashes, on Thursday allowed operations of these airplanes in India. InterGlobe Aviation fell 0.6 per cent.

“The elephant in the room is the sustained FPI selling, which touched Rs 1,974 crore in the cash market on Thursday. It would be difficult for retail investors and DIIs to absorb this selling, which might aggravate if the message from the Fed chief tonight is hawkish,” said V K Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) were sellers of domestic stocks to the tune of Rs 1,974.48 crore on Thursday. DIIs turned buyers to the tune of Rs 1,055.21 crore, data suggested.

Midcap and smallcap indices were trading flat.

Earlier today, Asian markets were mixed, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edging 0.18 per cent higher. Japan’s Nikkei declined 0.3 per cent, Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.22 per cent higher, Australia’s ASX 200 shed 0.10 per cent, China’s Shanghai gained 0.32 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.31 per cent.

In overnight trade, the US benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average index fell 0.54 per cent to close at 35,213.12. S&P500 index declined 0.58 per cent to 4,470, while Nasdaq shed 0.64 per cent to 14,945.81.

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