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Thursday, Mar 07, 2002

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SEBI stand on dividends dampens bourses

Anand Ram

THE BSE Sensex plunged further on Wednesday, marking the event as a straight three-day slide beginning this week.

SEBI's decision to stay firm on its decision to enforce the minimum 30-day notice to declare dividends may effectively thwart companies' efforts to pay out interim dividends before March 31. This affected the sentiment and both the Sensex and the Nifty lost out in the day's trading session.

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The Sensex fell by about 0.73 per cent to close at 3614.44 points. The Sensex opened at 3647.09, then climbed to its day's high of 3656.87 points in the initial hours of the trading session.

However, sentiment sizzled out towards the middle of the session and the index fell to its day's low at 3585.83. It then recovered marginally to finish at its present close. About 9.23 crore shares changed hands during the course of the day's trading session.

The market breadth indicator, the issues advanced to declined, was indicative of this trend, registering 530 to 721. Advancing volumes were at 2.89 crore shares while the declining volumes were higher at 6.11 crore shares.

However, the depth indicator, the highs to lows, notched 36 highs to 26 lows. This shows that the sentiment ruled stronger in shares that gained during the day. However, the bears were clearly in control of the trading session on Wednesday.

Among the shares that touched their 52-week high on Wednesday were counters such as National Aluminium and LIC Housing Finance. While Nalco was buoyed by news that French aluminium company, Pechiney, was interested in acquiring a strategic stake in the company, LIC Housing Finance continued its gains following the benevolent budgetary provisions on housing loans.

Infotech counters such as Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Mascot Systems saw significant appreciation of their share prices while cement counters — ACC, Gujarat Ambuja, Grasim and India Cements — slipped. However, cement stocks such as Madras Cements and Larsen & Toubro were an exception gaining Rs 38.10 and Rs 0.45 respectively.

Bajaj Auto continued to rise, scaling almost 4 per cent to close the day at Rs 492.9. State Bank of India continued to fall after the RBI restricted further FII purchases in the counter. SBI lost Rs 2.15 to close at Rs 230.2 on Wednesday.

Hindustan Motors experienced some unusually large volumes at 6.17 lakh shares on the back of reports that it may assemble BMW cars at its Chennai plant. The stock closed up by Rs 1.35, at Rs 8.10.

Shares of Bharat Petroleum too continued to prosper after it successfully pulled off its maiden tender in the international crude oil market. BPCL's shares rose by Rs 4.5, closing the day at Rs 327.05. The counter's shares could continue in the limelight following reports of Royal Dutch Shell's interest in acquiring a stake in BPCL in the disinvestment process.

PSU stocks MTNL and BHEL saw a dip in their share prices. MTNL closed at Rs 140.95, down by Rs 6.45, while BHEL ended lower by 6 per cent at Rs 176.45. Volumes in both the counters were heavy at 12.88 lakh and 12.74 lakh shares respectively.

HDFC could come in for a bit of action after its board decided to withhold a proposed interim dividend. The scrip closed at Rs 672.5, up by Rs 5.85.

Other gainers on Wednesday included companies such as NIIT, ICICI and HCL Technologies. Losers for the day profiled stocks such as Tata Engineering, Pentamedia Graphics and GE Shipping.

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