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Saturday, Apr 24, 2004

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Markets end flat after listless trading

Aarati Krishnan

THE markets appeared to lose steam on Friday's trading, after marching ahead for three consecutive trading days. Both the BSE Sensex and the S&P Nifty closed flat on Friday, after listless fluctuations through the day. The BSE Sensex closed the day at 5925.6 points, flat against Thursday's close and somewhat short of the magic 6000-mark.

The Nifty registered a marginal 2.9-point gain, to close at 1892.5 points. But the marginal gains in the indices masked sharp swings in some of the mid-cap and small-cap stocks on both the exchanges.

Strong gains in just two stocks — ICICI Bank and Bharti Tele-ventures — helped the Sensex hold ground during the day's trading. Within the Sensex basket, the number of declines overwhelmed advances; 20 stocks registered declines during the day, while just 10 notched up gains.

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The ICICI Bank stock was the star performer of the day, gaining 6.9 per cent to close at Rs 319.20. The company has recently closed its public offer of 12.5-crore equity shares, estimated to have raised Rs 3,500 crore. The stock's strong showing, coupled with heightened interest in a range of banking stocks, helped propel the BSE Bankex forward by 78 points, or 2.3 per cent on Friday's trading. The Bankex was the strongest sectoral index on the BSE on Friday's trading.

Better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter and year ended March 2004 catalysed the Bharti Tele-ventures stock. During the day, the company announced an 88.3-per cent increase in its net profits and a 22.4 per cent per cent rise in its revenues for the latest quarter; both of which beat street expectations. For the full year, the company reported a net profit of Rs 619 crore, against losses the previous year. The stock rose 5.5 per cent and closed at Rs 177.1, with large trading volumes of 54.84 lakh shares changing hands. Trent, which gained 19.9 per cent, to close at Rs 314 was a notable performer among the mid-cap stocks.

In fact, many of the new debutantes to the exchanges attracted large trading volumes during the day. Stocks such as Power Trading Corporation (57 lakh shares traded), UCO Bank (28.2 lakh shares) and Petronet LNG (28.7 lakh shares), topped the volume busters chart. However, these stocks closed the day without recording any significant price change.

The stock of Dishman Pharmaceuticals proved to be the exception to this trend. The stock, which listed on Thursday, lost Rs 74 during the day's trading, before closing at Rs 467.2. It went through a harrowing session, swinging by Rs 137, between its high and low points of Rs.588 and Rs 451 intra-day.

Other stocks, which rode the roller coaster during the day, were Lupin Labs and Bajaj Hindustan. The Lupin Labs stock touched a new high of Rs 892 intra-day, but closed the day 3.5 per cent lower than the previous close. The company, on Thursday, announced that it had secured the Drug Controller's approval for clinical trials on new drug for treatment of a skin disease. The Bajaj Hindusthan stock retreated by 3.3 per cent during the day, after notching up gains of over 40 per cent over the last month.

It was a lackluster day for frontline technology stocks, with Satyam Computer (down 2.2 per cent), Infosys (down 1.5 per cent) and Wipro (down 1 per cent), all ending the day on a weak note. Exceptions to this trend were Hughes Software (which put on Rs.32) and Mastek (which gained Rs.23), which closed the day with strong gains.

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