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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

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Markets blame conspiracy by Kolkata brokers

Jayanta Mallick

Kolkata , May 17

BLAME it on Kolkata "bears" appeared to be the slogan in the market circles today. Market might have lapped it up because of involvement of some city brokers in 2001 March stock market scam.

Today's "conspiracy story" went round like this that a top corporate group reported to have sold stocks largely through National Stock Exchange members in Kolkata.

However, a senior official of the NSE told Business Line that the traded volume on Monday in city did not suggest an unusual increase. "On an average about 15 per cent of the NSE's total traded quantity in cash and around 18 per cent volume in derivatives are contributed by Kolkata brokers. Today's loss of trading time by about three hours brought down the national volume on NSE by about 50 per cent from the average. Kolkata was not an exception to the rule," he said.

There are 200 NSE terminals in operation in West Bengal out of which the city, including suburbs, hosts over 75 per cent. Across the country there are 2,688 NSE trading terminals in which Maharashtra's share is 627 and Delhi accounts for 471.

Though the figure of NSE terminals shut down and/reopened today was not available, Mr Rajesh Bajaj, president of regional chapter of Association of NSE Members of India, said that brokers here had taken adequate steps to meet the increased pressure of margin calls.

"If there is an apprehension of payment crisis on the NSE, it is not Kolkata-specific only. Hardly any operator is left out after the 2001 scam," an NSE member said.

Mr Nilotpal Basu, CPM's leader in Rajya Sabha and member of the last JPC on the market scam, said though he rejects the market position that certain comments by the Left political leader triggered the panic selling, he was not aware of any "conspiracy" by Kolkata brokers.

Big brokerages present here include Kotak Mahindra, SSKI, ILFS Investmart, Karvy and Indiabulls.

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