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Tuesday, Feb 26, 2002

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Auto stocks gear up in dull trade

Anand Ram

MARKETS seem to have held their breath on Monday, awaiting the denouement of the Budget to be effected later this week. In view of this `cat on the wall' stance, major indices including the NSE's Nifty moved in a narrow range. The Nifty closed at 1165.45 points posting a scanty 0.17 per cent increase over Friday's close.

The BSE Sensex also went through a similar motion. It closed the day at 3617.51, up by 9.43 points or 0.26 per cent. However, the day's early trading hours witnessed some activity after market sentiment slumped following the BJP's defeat in four states of election polling. The Sensex fell to its day's low of 3580.89 before graduating to the current close. The intra-day high was at 3618.30 signalling the narrow domination of bulls in a tight bid to gain control of the trading session.

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Advanced to declined ratio was indicative of this trend, clocking 688 to 568. About 4.82 lakh 52,376 shares pulled ahead while 2.35 lakh shares lost out in the process. The depth indicator, highs to lows ratio too followed a similar trend registering 34 to 19.

The day's winners were a mixed bag representing a cross-section of the economy. However, many prominent gainers seem to have come from the the auto industry. Tata Engg, Hero Honda, Bajaj Auto, and Mahindra & Mahindra were among Monday's toppers. Hero Honda gained about 1.7 per cent to close at Rs 369.70 while Tata Engineering logged a 2.9 per cent increase to end at Rs 140.65.

TVS Electronics, computer peripheral manufacturer, was a company that made hay on the markets. The market gains were preceded by the company's announcement that it had tied up with VeriFone, a leader in electronic payment solutions, to offer e-payment products to local financial companies.

Gillette India was another company that enjoyed market attention as its US-based parent declared its intention to infuse additional funds into its Indian subsidiary. However, this extra shot of capital failed to enthuse market sentiment and the stock drifted south. Gillette India ended the day with a loss of almost 2 per cent at Rs 343.75.

Bharat Petroleum was another subject of voodoo market dynamics. Market perception of the company defied all logic even as it made its first foray into the international crude market by issuing a tender to procure supply of crude oil. Share prices of Bharat Petroleum posted a decline of about 1.1 per cent to end at Rs 289.85.

Shipping Corporation of India too fell marginally as trading interest seemed to have headed for a correction even as Malaysia's largest shipping firm, Malaysia

International Shipping Corporation evinced interest in bidding for the stake that the Government is expected to divest soon. Shares of SCI shed Rs 0.85 to end at Rs 60.85. Volumes were, however, heavy at 10.3 lakh shares.

State-run enterprises Indian Petrochemicals Corp and Hindustan Zinc witnessed mixed trends ahead of privatisation. (Government's disinvestment expected to be finalised before March-end in these stocks).

IPCL, however, slid 2 per cent to end at Rs 84 while Hindustan Zinc scaled around 2.8 per cent to finish at Rs 30.5.

Hindustan Zinc, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Hero Honda zoomed to their 54-week highs at Rs 34.95, Rs 889.9 and Rs 372.5 respectively.

Other gainers for the day included Dr Reddy's and Zee Telefilms. The losers on the other hand profiled companies such as MTNL, National Aluminium and Bharat Earth Movers.

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