Radhika Kamath

AFTER witnessing a heavy selling pressure for three consecutive days, the benchmark stock indices opened on a positive note on Tuesday. Led by an upward trend in the tech stocks that shined today, the BSE Sensex registered a gain of one per cent while the S&P CNX Nifty was up by 0.8 per cent.

The Sensex opened on a positive note moving up by around 40 points in the first hour of trading. The selective buying across the tech and bank stocks kept the momentum going as the Sensex closed at 6465 putting up a gain of 1 per cent.

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At the 50-stock Nifty that opened at 2002.7, selective buying was seen across the sectors with the tech, bank, oil and auto stocks posting smart gains.

The rally was widespread. This was evident in the trend in the advances versus declining stocks. The number of advances was 1,448 while those that declined stood at 848.

The announcement of earnings by MphasiS BFL coupled by a strong guidance boosted the market sentiment for tech stocks ahead of Infosys guidance and earnings due on Thursday. The shares of MphasiS BFL flared up Rs 7.2 to close at Rs 251.6. The company has estimated its revenues and profits for the FY06 to grow at 25 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

The stocks of Infosys, Satyam, TCS were up by 1.9 per cent, 2.3 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively. The mid-cap IT stocks also recorded smart gains.

The stocks of Geometric Software, Aztec Software, iGate Global, Polaris Software Labs, HCL Tech and VisualSoft shot up sharply.

There was a hectic activity in the banking sector, which gained after a sluggish trend for much of the previous week.

Much of the action was witnessed in the banking stocks. The stocks of public and private sector banks rosé. The stock of ICICI Bank appreciated Rs 13.9 (up by 3.5 per cent) while SBI recorded a gain of Rs 4 (up 0.6 per cent). Allahabad Bank was, however, a loser with the stock shedding Rs 4.1 on the last day of its stock sale as some investors sold their holdings to order additional stock that the bank is offering at a discount to its market price. The stock closed at Rs 87.9.

HDFC Bank also saw a drop in its stock price as the investors remained apprehensive ahead of its earnings announcement on Wednesday.

The prices of the steel stocks ruled firm. The shares of Essar Steel, Ispat Industries, SAIL and Tata Steel were up by around 2 per cent on an average.

The bullish sentiment prevailed in the auto sector stocks too. The stocks of Maruti Udyog gained by 1.5 per cent while that of Bajaj Auto gained 1.3 per cent. The stock of Hero Honda suffered a loss of 0.1 per cent as investors remained cautious ahead of the company's results.

Oil stocks also flared up with ONGC recording a gain of Rs 7.7 as the stock closed at Rs 883.7. The stocks of GAIL, BPCL, and HPCL also gained significantly.

On the construction/engineering sector, IVRCL and L&T were prominent gainers driven by accretion to their order book. The stock of L&T shot up on the back of its announcement that the company has won a Rs 165-crore order for a water supply system.

IVRCl also rose sharply on the news of the company bagging an order of Rs 1,737 crore from the Andhra Pradesh Government.

The markets, however, could not stretch the gains to the pharma sector. Dr Reddy's, Sun Pharma and Ranbaxy led the losers' pack.

The other prominent gainers were Jindal Photo, Zuari Industries, Bombay Dying, Hindustan Zinc, Titan Industries, BHEL, Container Corporation and RS Software India.

Among the prominent losers were VSNL, Bharti, Zee Telefilms, Mastek, Tata Infotech, Thermax, Alfa Laval, Morepen Laboratories and Dishman Pharma.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 13, 2005)
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