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Thursday, Feb 28, 2002

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Train attack subdues market sentiment

Anup Menon

ON the eve of the Union Budget, the equity market ended with a negative undercurrent largely on account of the train attack on the Hindus in Gujarat, which could lead to a fluid political situation. However, buying interest in select stocks and the high degree of optimism over the Budget prevented the Sensex from going into a tailspin.

The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index closed the day at 3705.66 points, down by around 7 points (0.19 per cent) over its previous close. The breadth of the market, as measured by the ratio of stocks advancing to declines, was tilted in favour of the bears with 771 stocks posting declines against 521 stocks that advanced. However, the ratio of stocks touching new highs to new lows indicates a positive undercurrent in the market with 54 stocks hitting new highs compared to 28 new lows. Total traded volumes stood at around 9.59 crore shares.

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The trend at the National Stock Exchange was in line with that of the BSE. The benchmark S&P CNX Nifty ended the day at 1189.20 points, down by around 0.20 points over its previous close. The market breadth was negative with 471 stocks declining in value against 245 stocks that advanced. The ratio of stocks touching new highs to new lows was tilted strongly in favour of the bulls with 28 stocks hitting new highs to as compared a lone stock touching new low. Total traded volumes were higher than Tuesday at 15.72 crore shares.

The gainers list bore mixed trends with select stocks from different sectors posting gains. BHEL and HPCL led the gainers among State-run companies. Cement companies managed to sustain the bull run with ACC and Gujarat Ambuja finding buyers' interest. Other gainers included State Bank of India, Asian Paints, TNPL, Bajaj Auto, Knoll Pharma and Hindustan Zinc among others.

It remains to be seen whether the recent improvement in State-run companies will sustain its bull run.However, for the time being investors seem to be happy to gobble them up. BHEL gained about 1.78 per cent to close at Rs 186.15 while HPCL ended the day at Rs 290.35, up by around 2.31 per cent over its previous close. However, volumes in both the counters were lower compared to Tuesday.

Cement companies continued to prosper for the second day running following the announcement of the Railway Budget. Major gainers were ACC and Gujarat Ambuja Cements. The former closed the day at Rs 173.65, up by around 4 per cent over its previous close. Close to 18.73 lakh shares changed hands during the day. The latter ended the day up by around 3.47 per cent at Rs 247.15. Around 3.91 lakh shares changed hands.

Among the major losers during the day included Financial Technologies, Dr Reddy's Labs, ICICI Bank, Geometric Software, Hero Honda, Mahindra and Mahindra, MTNL, National Aluminium and Hindalco among others.

The recent gains in MTNL were purged during the days trading. The stock closed at Rs 161.4, down by around 4.67 per cent over its previous close. Volumes too dropped sharply from around 22.40 lakh shares traded on Tuesday to around 10.39 lakh shares.

The other major loser was the stock of Hero Honda, which ended the day at Rs 371.15, down by around 6.39 per cent over its previous close. Traded volumes posted a marginal decline with close to 3.16 lakh shares being traded.

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