Though the weak European market sentiment sent the stock indices to close 130 points lower in India, it did not prevent 36 stocks from hitting their fresh 52-week high in the NSE today.

But what was surprising was that more than 10 per cent of these stocks or 4 to be specific, were banking stocks and all belonged to the private sector. This occurred even when the BSE bankex shed about 35 points and only three of the 14 BSE bankex stocks closed in the green.

There appeared to be no stock specific reasons for these stocks in a nervous market, like the record date for a hefty dividend as in case of Swelect Energy Systems Ltd (formerly Numeric Power) or any bonus record date as in the case of BPCL, to drive them up.

Though banks like Kaur Vysya Bank were due to pay significant dividend, their book closure dates were still away and hence dividend play was not a primary reason for these stocks hitting their 52-week high. In case of some banks like ING Vysya, the stocks were ex-dividend or in case of Kotak Mahindra Bank, the dividend was too miniscule at 60 paise per share to ensnare dividend chasers.

In the BSE Bankex only Bank of Baroda, which gained Rs 5.60 to end at Rs 735.50, Kotak Mahindra Bank that was up by Rs 8 to Rs 607.30 and Union Bank of India, which ended higher by Rs 2.50 at Rs 213.10, were the gainers.

Among the major losers were Axis Bank that lost Rs 8.70 to close at Rs 1066.55 and ICICI Bank which shed Rs 5.60 to close at Rs 936.95.

In the NSE, of the 36 stocks that touched new 52 week high, four were bank stocks - HDFC Bank, ING Vysya Bank, Karur Vysya Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank. HDFC Bank touched a 52-week high of Rs 593.80 before ending lower at Rs 587.80 with a trading volume of 30.74 lakh shares. Karur Vysya Bank also touched a 52-week high of Rs 439.50 but closed lower at Rs 433.30 with a volume of 89,625 shares. The company had announced a dividend of Rs 14 per share but the ex-date was away on July 19.

ING Vysya Bank touched a yearly high of Rs 399.90 before closing at Rs 393 with a volume of 1.17 lakh shares. This stock was trading ex-dividend. Kotak Mahindra Bank zoomed to a 52-week high of Rs 612.90 before dropping to Rs 607 at the close, still a gain of Rs 7.85 with a high volume of 10.10 lakh shares.

If it was dividend payout that attracted investors, Swelect Energy was an obvious target as the company, formerly known as Numeric Power Systems, had announced a huge special dividend of Rs 120 per share. The ex-date was close by, though, (July 17), and hence the investor interest with the counter clocking a volume of 1.78 lakh shares. The stock hit a 52 week high of Rs 320 before closing lower at Rs 297.

BPCL was another stock to surge for a new annual high for a specific reason - a 1:1 bonus issue, with the ex- bonus date being July 13. The stock closed at Rs 775.95, a gain of Rs 7.05, after touching a 52-week high of Rs 787.70.