Radhika Kamath

ON Monday, the markets opened on a firm note amid gains in the tech, auto, oil and metal stocks.

Though the markets were choppy and volatile in the subsequent session, selective buying across the sectors pulled them back as the markets finally ended in the positive territory. The Sensex closed at 6195.1 and the Nifty at 1916.8.

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The Sensex opened at 6,183, higher than its previous close, reached an intra-day high of 6223.7 before closing at 6195.1, gaining 0.7 per cent.

The 50 stock Nifty opened on a flat note at 1903.1, moved up to 1925.6 before closing at 1916.7, up by 0.7 per cent.

The sentiment across the markets was mixed, which was reflected in the advances to decline ratio.

While 516 shares advanced, 833 shares shed value. The ratio was more pronounced among the small-cap and mid-cap stocks, which suffered heavy losses.

While the CNX Mid-cap 200 lost 0.8 per cent, the BSE Mid-cap and the BSE Small-cap were down by 0.6 and 1.1 per cent respectively.

The frontline as well as the second-rung tech stocks saw strong buying interest.

The shares of Infosys moved up by Rs 27.3 to Rs 1914.7 after the company revised its earnings per share forecast for the current fiscal.

The software major had earlier disappointed the market with its muted guidance and a lower than expected results. Satyam, Wipro, HCL Tech, Patni Computers, Igate Global and Geometric Software also gained.

There was hectic activity across the counters of energy stocks. IOC rose by 2.4 per cent on expectation that the Government will cut taxes on fuels to minimise the losses for refiners who have been barred from raising prices.

The markets may have also taken view of the global crude oil prices, which plunged below the key $50/barrel, a two-month low. BPCL, HPCL, ONGC, IBP, GAIL and Kochi Refineries recorded significant gains.

Auto stocks managed to find flavour with the investors. Hero Honda shot up by 2.2 per cent to close at Rs 515.1.Bajaj Auto added Rs 14.8 (up 1.4 per cent) after its sales for April 2005 rose by 36 per cent.

TVS Motors, Tata Motors, and M&M also netted handsome gains. However, Maruti disappointed the market, registering a fall of 0.8 per cent after the company reported a decline in its April sales.

There was mixed action across the counters of metal stocks. The markets appear rather cautious, with an air of apprehension about the possible fall in steel prices along with slowdown in Chinese demand lingering by.

While Tata Steel, Bhushan Steel and Strips, Hindustan Zinc, GMDC recorded smart gains, Jindal Steel, Monnet Ispat and Tata Metaliks ruled weak.

The stock of Hindalco gained by Rs 23.7, (up 2 per cent) on the back of strong quarterly results.

The markets failed to extend the share of gains to the FMCG sector, which exhibited weakness throughout the day. HLL fell for a second day in a row after it reported a 15 per cent dip in its Q1 profits. P&G, ITC, Nirma, Colgate and Nestle also came in for some sharp selling pressure.

Among the pharmaceutical stocks, Dr Reddy's, Sunpharma, Lupin, Glenmark Pharma, Matrix Labs and Aventis Pharma ended with sharp losses.

Company specific stock action:

The stock of Zee Telefilms spurt up by 8 per cent to close at Rs 141.8 on the back of better than expected Q4 results.

The stock of Berger Paints rose after the company announced that it is considering a stock buy-back at Rs 60 per share.

The other prominent gainers were Marmagoa Steel, SBI, L&T, HDFC Bank, Thermax and Arvind Mills.

The significant losers were Biocon, Cummins India, Container Corporation, National Aluminium, Ramco Systems and Gateway Distiparks.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 3, 2005)
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