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Tuesday, Dec 20, 2005


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Sensex up 109 points, closes at 9,394 — Retail investors told to be cautious

Our Bureau

Mumbai , Dec. 19

THE stock markets posted yet another lifetime high on Monday on continued foreign funds' inflows, but experts cautioned small investors from entering A-group stocks where valuations are stretched.

The benchmark BSE-30 index rose by 109.81 points (1.18 per cent) from Friday's close to end at 9394.27 points on Monday. The BSE-30 Sensex also touched an all-time intra-day high of 9402.68 points, midway through the session.

The broader BSE-100 and BSE-500 indices also recorded significant gains. The BSE-100 rose by 59.90 points (1.22 per cent) to end at 4957.02 points, while the BSE-500 ended the day at 3792.14 points, an increase of 41.43 points (1.10 per cent) from the previous close on Friday.

The NSE-50 S&P CNX Nifty index also recorded an all-time high of 2842.60 points, up by 32.45 (1.15 per cent) from Friday's close.

"We advise retail investors to be cautious, especially in A-group stocks," said Mr Sashi Bhushan, Head (Western region) of IL&FS Investsmart Financial Services.

Mr Bhushan said it would be advisable for retail investors to put their money in balanced funds to protect themselves against a fall from these high levels. "Even if the market tanks a bit, they will be protected (in balanced funds)," he said. A key driver for the upward movement was the huge inflows by foreign funds. According to the SEBI figures for December 19, the FII investments during this calendar year have crossed the $10-billion mark.

In this month alone, they have pumped in a record $1.458 billion, compared to just over $900 million in November.

Mr Andrew Holland, Executive Vice-President of DSP-Merrill Lynch, said he expected the foreign funds to make further investments in 2006, unless there was a slowdown in the US.

Mutual funds continued to be net sellers at the high levels. In the first 16 days of December, mutual funds have been net sellers to the tune of Rs 1,606.9 crore.

Some of the stocks that caught attention were MICO Ltd, which closed Rs 323.15 higher (12.43 per cent) at Rs 2923.7, Canara Bank at Rs 239.90, up by Rs 17.35, and Mastek Ltd at Rs 558.10, an increase of Rs 36.15.

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