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Thursday, May 23, 2002

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Auto stocks look up in a falling market

Sowmya Krishnan

THE market on Wednesday ended on a negative note as war fears still weighed down sentiment on the bourses. Select auto and cement stocks looked up while most index heavyweights presented a mixed picture.

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The markets moved in a narrow band of 54.63 points between a high of 3198.81 points and a low of 3144.18 points and finally settled down at 3175.49 points, down 0.35 per cent or 11.04 points from the previous day's close. Traded volumes were lower at 8.44 crore shares compared to 9.6 crore shares on Wednesday.

The broad market sentiment, indicated by the advance to decline ratio, was however, positive. Gainers were 728 in number as against losers who were 427 in number. This indicates some value-buying in the market.

On the National Stock Exchange, the S&P CNX Nifty moved in tandem and settled 3.90 points or 0.37 per cent lower at 1045.30 points. Advancing shares outnumbered declining shares 492 to 218 on a volume of 16.38 crore shares.

Key index stocks recouped after the recent slide although some heavyweights remained depressed on continued war fears.

Reliance Industries dropped 1.4 per cent to Rs 258.75, while Reliance Petroleum fell 1.3 per cent to Rs 23.05. The two companies' plants are located close to the Pakistani border in Gujarat.

ITC gained 1.2 per cent to Rs 618.30 after the company reported its fourth-quarter net profit which rose seven per cent to Rs 296 crore. Other gainers were key auto and cement stocks. Hero Honda Motors climbed 4.9 per cent, Ashok Leyland rose 7.49 per cent to Rs 100.40 and TVS Motor shot up 6.96 per cent to Rs 445.85. Among the cement companies, ACC advanced 4.2 per cent to Rs 156.10.

The hot stocks for the day were Polaris Software, Aftek Infosystems, Engineers India and Shyam Telecom. Polaris Software shot up for the second straight day after the company announced its merger with a Citi group company. The stock appreciated by 8.69 per cent to close at Rs 268.15. Traded volumes stood at over 65 lakh shares.

Engineers India, one of the key companies on the privatisation list, shot up 16.73 per cent to close at Rs 357.65. The stock witnessed hectic buying on the back of news reports that big-ticket firms such as IOC, ONGC, BHEL and L&T are in the race for the 51-per cent stake in the company.

Amtrex Hitachi escalated 19.47 per cent to Rs 13.50 after the company announced a 51-per cent year-on-year rise in air conditioner sales.

Flex Engineering jumped 19.53 per cent to close at Rs 7.65. Few other stocks that almost touched the upper circuit were Shaw Wallace Gelatine (up 18.79 per cent at Rs 16.75), Shyam Telecom (up 20 per cent at Rs 94.50).

Other stocks such as Wimco, Mascot, United Phosphorus and Mastek that have been moving up for the last couple of days continued to shine despite the gloomy market situation. Ingersoll gained 8.73 per cent to close at Rs 184.40 amidst modest volumes (7,336 shares).

Among the losers appeared stocks such as Thermax (down 6.97 per cent at Rs 120.70), Tata Engineering (down 4.92 per cent at Rs 123.70 and Mahindra & Mahindra (slid 6.54 per cent to Rs 85.75). Escorts, Coromandel Fertilizers, Ranbaxy and Shipping Corporation of India also figured in the losers' list. Among the infotech stocks, HCL Technologies, Digital Global and Trigyn Technologies lost ground.

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