Mumbai, Aug 4 (IANS) A fresh bout of buying support and short covering during the last hour of the day's trade on Thursday aided the Indian equities markets to pare intra-day losses and close on a flat note.

The key indices had receded on the back of profit booking and negative Asian indices which subdued investors' sentiments.

The wider 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) ended up by 6.25 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 8,551.10 points.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 27,899.88 points, closed at 27,714.37 points -- up 16.86 points or 0.06 per cent from the previous close at 27,697.51 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 27,921.91 points and a low of 27,627.97 points during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth tilted in favour of the bulls during the second half of the session, closing with 1,415 advances and 1,289 declines.

The key indices had ended in the red during the previous trade session on Wednesday due to profit booking and weak global cues.

The barometer index had plunged by 284.20 points or 1.02 per cent, while the NSE Nifty edged lower by 78.05 points or 0.91 per cent.

Initially on Thursday, the benchmark indices opened on a higher note as investors went on a buying spree, a day after the Rajya Sabha passed the GST Bill.

However, the tedious task of getting all the legislative, training and logistical requirements for the GST to be applicable throughout the country sobered investors.

The government on Thursday said it has made April 1 of next year as the target date for the roll-out of a pan-India GST regime, even though Finance Minister Arun Jaitley termed it as a difficult task to achieve, given the future steps involved.

The key indices soon ceded their initial gains due to profit booking and a negative trend in the Asian markets.

Caution also prevailed ahead of the upcoming global events such as the monetary policy announcement by the Bank of England (BoE) and the US jobs data.

A volatile session ensued with the key indices contained in a range bound movement. However, a fresh bout of buying support and short covering during the last hour of the day's trade saw the key indices closing on a flat-to-positive note.

In addition, an appreciation in rupee value supported the upward trend.

The rupee strengthened to 66.91-92 against a US dollar from its previous close of 66.98-99 to a greenback.

"Profit booking, negative Asian markets and caution over the upcoming monetary policy announcement by the BoE dragged the markets lower," Anand James, Chief Market Strategist at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, told IANS.

"However, falls were arrested due to the passage of the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill by the Rajya Sabha yesterday."

According to Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, CNX Nifty recovered from the day's low in second half of the session supported by selling pressure in USD/INR futures prices.

"Bank Nifty also witnessed volatile sentiments but managed to close firm. IT sector stocks, too, recovered from the day's low," Desai noted.

In terms of investments, the provisional data with exchanges showed that the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased stocks worth Rs 559.49 crore, while the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) divested scrip worth Rs 527.11 crore.

Sector-wise, the S&P BSE automobile index augmented by 280.58 points, followed by the metal index, which surged by 142.95 points, and the healthcare index rose by 71.82 points.

In contrast, the S&P BSE consumer durables index declined by 100.13 points, followed by the IT index, which fell by 58.02 points, and the banking index edged down by 36.84 points.

Major Sensex gainers during Thursday's trade were: Tata Steel, up 4.60 per cent at Rs 374.05; Tata Motors, up 4.41 per cent at Rs 500.30; Bharti Airtel, up 2.18 per cent at Rs 365.25; Adani Ports, up 2.06 per cent at Rs 227.90; and Sun Pharmaceuticals, up 1.27 per cent at Rs 849.05.

Major Sensex losers were: Asian Paints, down 1.46 per cent at Rs 1,126.70; Lupin, down 1.32 per cent at Rs 1,657.50; Infosys, down 1.18 per cent at Rs 1,072.15; Coal India, down 0.75 per cent at Rs 323.75; and Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), down 0.74 per cent at Rs 1,436.65.