Krishnan Thiagarajan

THE markets took a breather after touching a record high on Monday's trading session. The Sensex, which opened on a weak note, continued to lose ground through the day, before closing 48.03 points lower at 9346.24 points. The cautious undercurrent was evident from the overall market breadth. Out of 2,530 stocks traded, only 821 stocks advanced in value, while 1,629 stocks shed value during the trading session. Among the BSE sectoral indices, the big losers were IT, metals, auto, FMCG and consumer durables. The sectors that bucked the overall market trend were Capital Goods and oil and gas.

The S & P CNX Nifty also drifted lower, losing 16.4 points (or 0.58 per cent) to settle at 2826.20 points. Though the Nifty Junior also ended in the negative territory, it shed only 0.34 per cent. Among the Nifty constituents, the significant gainers were Dr. Reddy's Lab, MTNL, HDFC Bank, Wipro (enthused by the acquisition of NewLogic) and ABB. The ones that declined were Sun Pharma, Satyam Computers, Ranbaxy Labs and Tata Consultancy Services. In the Nifty Junior, the prominent gainers were Pfizer and a clutch of banking stocks - Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of India and Union Bank of India. The losers were Moser Baer, Cadila Healthcare, Punjab Tractors, MphasiS BFL and Nicholas Piramal.

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Some of the other key gainers during the day were Archies, Blue Star Infotech, Garware Shipping, the recently listed Triveni Engineering, Nelco, Castrol, Gateway Distriparks, NTPC and Geodesic Information.

Riding on the back of strong trading volumes, the Archies stock was the star performer during the day, with the stock appreciating by Rs 32.55 to settle at Rs 195.50. The trading volumes in the stock soared over five fold, touching 7.69 lakh shares during the day. The uptrend has to be seen in the light of the decision by Archies to launch a new retail chain named "Stupid Cupid" dealing in fashion accessories and premium gifts. It proposes to start five stores by the end of this financial year and another 10 stores by next year.

The Garware Shipping stock attracted heightened trading activity, with the stock gaining Rs 5.40 (or 8.6 per cent) to close at Rs 67.9. This was accompanied by a seven-fold rise in trading volumes to 10.01 lakh shares. This rise has to be seen in the backdrop of a time charter contract awarded to the company by BG Exploration (British Gas) for its vessel. The annual value of the contract is estimated to be Rs 23 crore.

The Nelco stock continued its relentless uptrend, with the stock appreciating by Rs 8.65 to settle at Rs 181.90. The trading volumes also spurted from 7,989 shares on Monday's trading to 5.64 lakh shares during the day.

Among the key losers were the recently listed AIA Engineering and ABG Shipyard, K Sera Sera, Spicejet, Bombay Dyeing, FCS Software and Mercator Lines.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 21, 2005)
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