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Friday, May 24, 2002

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Sensex at 6-month low as mood is downcast

Sowmya Krishnan

ON Thursday, the stock market plunged further down to end at a six-month low on war fears. The markets nosedived as index heavyweights ITC, Reliance Industries, Reliance Petroleum and HLL slid.

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The 30-issue Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex closed 1.93 per cent or 61.44 points lower at 3114.05 points. Losers led gainers 657 to 507, indicating the broad negative trend.

As many as 29 stocks touched new highs as against 42 stocks that touched new lows. Traded volumes dropped to 6.21 crore shares from Wednesday's 8.44 crore shares.

The broader 50-issue S&P CNX Nifty shed 1.77 per cent or 18.55 points to close at 1026.75 points. Declining shares outnumbered advancing shares 407 to 294.

About 16 stocks witnessed new lows while 11 stocks reached new highs.

Despite the dull market trend, specific stocks witnessed heightened buying. Polaris Software fuelled by the merger news continued to rise for the fourth consecutive day.

The stock had appreciated by 15.7 per cent in the last four days. Volumes were also hectic in the counter. Over 42 lakh shares were traded during the day.

HCL Technologies too advanced 2.6 per cent to Rs 219.30.

Shaw Wallace jumped as much as 16 per cent on the back of media reports that South African Breweries Plc is acquiring a 26-per cent stake in the company. The stock rose to Rs 50, before shedding most of the gains to settle down at Rs 45.15.

State Trading Corporation rose by the maximum permissible 20 per cent for the third straight day after it resumed trading on Monday after a gap of over three months. Low floating stock and sharp rise in demand could have triggered the share price. The stock closed at Rs 97.20.

The other gainers included stocks such as Otis Elevator, Monsanto, Colour Chem, Hindustan Constructions, Gillette India, Bayer India and Godfrey Philips.

Second-rung technology stocks such as VisualSoft, Rolta and Mastek gained despite the gloom in the broad market. VisualSoft gained Rs 7.35 to close at Rs 241.05.

Among the losers were Trigyn Technologies (15.02 per cent to Rs 39.60), Digital Global (5.23 per cent to Rs 594.85) and KPIT Infosystems (4.06 per cent to Rs 154.90).

Among the PSU stocks, IBP gained 4.27 per cent to Rs 755.85, while Engineers India receded Rs 12.4 to close at 345.25. The stock was a hot pick on Wednesday.

HPCL and BHEL too moved in tandem with the broad market trend and ended on a negative note. HPCL slid Rs 5.05 to Rs 259.40 and BHEL dipped 4.03 per cent to close at Rs 152.30.

Bajaj Auto and Tata Steel were among the other `A' group stocks to shed value during the day.

Reliance Industries fell 1.9 per cent to Rs 253.75, while Reliance Petroleum shed 1.7 per cent to Rs 22.65.

The two stocks have shed 9.65 per cent and 8.6 per cent respectively during the week in the wake of escalating tension across the border.

Hindustan Lever fell 3.8 per cent to Rs 188.95. ITC too swayed with the broad market trend, surrendering the gains made on Wednesday after it announced an18-per cent rise in net profits and a 135-per cent dividend.

The stock shed 5.62 per cent to close at Rs 583.55 on concerns the sales volume of cigarettes (its core product) might drop further. Traded volumes stood at 4.78 lakh shares.

State Bank of India dropped 4.3 per cent to Rs 225 amidst heavy volumes.

Traded volumes surged from 52,000 on Wednesday to 2.6 lakh shares on Thursday.

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