Mumbai: The benchmark Sensex on Friday closed flat as buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and retailers saved the day amid a strengthening rupee. Much of investors’ worries on fiscal deficit receded as a top official laid out the Centre’s borrowing plan for the second half of 2017-18, reiterating the government’s commitment to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP.

The beginning of the October futures and options series and domestic funds playing ball averted any damage, traders said. As for market triggers, participants are looking forward to the upcoming Reserve bank of India policy review slated for 3-4 October.

The 30-share index closed marginally higher by 1.24 points at 31,283.72 after some late selling. It had gained 122.67 points in the previous session. Also, the NSE Nifty ended up 19.65 points, or 0.20%, at 9,788.60 after shuttling between 9,854 and 9,775.35 during the day. Both the Sensex and the Nifty suffered weekly losses for the third time this month, down 638.72 points, or 2%, and 175.80 points, or 1.76%, respectively. The rupee appreciation continued against the dollar.

“Market started with a positive note supported by the government’s unchanged stance on budgeted borrowing plan and expectation of additional capital spending by PSUs. But volatility emerged towards close as investors started profit booking due to the extended weekend which pared the gains and the market settled on a flat note," said Vinod Nair, head of research, Geojit Financial Services.

Participants are set for a long weekend as stock exchanges will remain closed on Monday, that is 2 October, on account of Gandhi Jayanti. DIIs net pulled in shares worth Rs5,196.60 crore on Thursday. But foreign investors chose to stay in the exit lane, offloading shares of Rs5,328.46 crore on Thursday, provisional data showed.

Auto stocks pulled ahead as the festive season neared, led by Bajaj Auto, M&M, Maruti Suzuki, Hero MotoCorp and Tata Motors, climbing up to 2.34%. Gains also came in from Bharti Airtel, Adani Ports, Coal India and PowerGrid. Losses in Hindustan Unilever, Wipro, TCS and Dr Reddy’s capped the upmove.

The benchmarks played catch-up with the broader market, where mid and small cap indices advanced by up to 1.09%. On the sectoral map, realty was the bright spot, which rose the most by 2.42%, followed by metal, consumer durables and auto.

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