Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Feb 17, 2004

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Auto stocks in the driver's seat

C. Raja Rajeshwari

THE markets closed flat on Monday, relinquishing almost all the gains of the enthusiastic charge-up in morning trade.

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The benchmark indices were dragged down by weakness in heavyweights such as HLL, Infosys, Reliance and ICICI Bank. The BSE Sensex climbed to 1929.5 points before succumbing to selling pressure and falling to a low of 6001.6 points to recover later to 6012.4 points — a gain of 0.69 points. The S&P CNX Nifty closed the day flat at 1913.6 points.

Notable gainers among the index constituents were L&T, Tata Steel, Tata Motors, HDFC Bank and Bharti Tele-Ventures. The CNX IT index of the National Stock Exchange closed with marginal losses. Infosys, Wipro, NIIT, Polaris, Satyam Computer and Mastek constituted the weakness in the index. Stocks such as Digital Globalsoft, i-flex Solutions and HCL Technologies closed with gains.

The overall market was bullish despite a weak close. About 1,234 stocks gained as against 747 stocks that closed in negative territory. Action picked up in the mid-caps, especially in the B1 category of stocks.

Auto stocks were in the limelight. Almost all the stocks gained on news that India had posted higher auto sales growth than the US and trucks, two-wheelers and four-wheelers had good offtake in January. Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor closed the day in the negative, turning weak towards the end of the day. Mahindra & Mahindra was the star gainer, with about a 4.7 per cent rise to close at Rs 484.8 after touching a new 52-week high of Rs 495.8. About 22 lakh shares were traded on the BSE.

Dredging Corporation rose by 3.16 per cent to Rs 502.15 on news that 20 per cent of its paid-up capital would be offered for sale.

IVRCL Infrastructure zoomed up by 6.30 per cent to Rs 180.50 on the announcement that it had bagged an order worth Rs 157 crore for building tunnels.

KEC International surged by 11.6 per cent to Rs 85.4 on bagging Rs 190 crore worth of orders from two power projects.

There was lot of news-driven activity in the pharma sector too. Cadila Healthcare perked up to Rs 436.25, gaining 1.63 per cent. Earlier in the day, it had announced a long-term strategic pact with Boehringer Ingelheim India, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim, in Germany for manufacturing and marketing the latter's products in India. It had touched a new 52-week high of Rs 450 before turning weak. FDC notched up by about 10 per cent to Rs 98.8 on news that it was to consider a bonus issue. Pharmacia, IPCA Labs, Unichem Labs, Glenmark Pharma and Lyka Labs were other gainers.

Textile stocks too stood their ground on Monday's trading. Stocks such as Malwa Cotton Spinning, Vardhman Spinning, Nahar Spinning, GTN Textile and Eastern Silk Industries were major gainers.

Banks and PSU stocks closed in the negative. SBI, Bank of Baroda, Oriental Bank, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank and Union Bank closed the day paring gains. PSU oil stocks such as ONGC, Gail India, BPCL and HPCL closed in the negative. Stocks such as MRPL and Chennai Petroleum, however, stood firm and closed with gains.

Major gainers of Monday's trading were Hotel Leela Venture, Balaji Telefilms, Gujarat India Power, Thomas Cook, Maruti Udyog and SKF Bearings. Volumes were substantially higher than average in stocks such as IFCI, GTL, Tata Power and Tata Steel.

In the F&O segment of the NSE, turnover was lower at about Rs 13, 200 crore. Contracts of Nifty, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, M&M, Maruti and SBI were the most actively traded.

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