Indian market snaps three-day rally; index ends tad lower
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Indian market snaps three-day rally; index ends tad lower

Wednesday, 18 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: India's key market index finished lower Wednesday, reversing a three-day gaining streak, with institutional investors taking profit in tech and select old economy stocks that had staged sharp rally in last few sessions.

Dealers said that the market opened firm as compared to its previous session's close on sustained buying in shares of cement and steel companies on hopes that most of the companies in the sector would post robust earnings growth.

The market, however, failed to maintain its gaining momentum for long and turned range-bound with investors rushing to take profit at higher levels.

In the end, the stock market barometer 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index or Sensex closed at 6,027.02, a marginal loss of 8.78 points or 0.15 percent from its previous session's close.

The stock market rose nearly two percent in the last three consecutive sessions following fresh institutional buying interest at attractively lower levels.

"Today's fall was triggered by institutional profit booking on counters that had risen sharply higher in last couple of days' trading sessions," said a broker with the Bombay Stock Exchange.

"The overall market mood, however, continues to be cautiously optimistic with investors keenly awaiting the floating of a slew of initial public offerings by public as well as private sector companies," the broker added.

India's biggest-ever public issue season is set to begin soon, with a host of public sector and privately owned companies queuing up to tap the investor appetite in a booming share market.

In what analysts say will be the busiest session in the Indian share market's history, as many as seven state-owned companies will float shares over the next one and a half months to raise a whopping 150 billion ($3.3 billion).

The public issue fiesta on the bourses will be led by the Indian government that has lined up equity offerings from as many as half a dozen public sector companies as part of its ambitious privatisation drive.

IN the old economy sector, consumer goods giant Hindustan Lever closed with a loss of 2.7 percent at 187.60 as selling continued on the counter after the company's quarterly earnings report fell below the market expectations.

For the quarter ended December 31, the company posted a net profit of 4.94 billion on total income of 26.84 billion.

Index heavyweight State Bank of India, the country's largest commercial bank, fell 0.6 percent to 628.60 and cement and construction major Larsen and Toubro closed with a loss of 1.9 percent at 546.45.

Other major losers in the sector included Grasim Industries, Associated Cement Companies, Tata Steel, Bajaj Auto, Bharat Heavy Electricals, and Ranbaxy Laboratories.

In the tech sector, Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer ended 1.8 percent lower at 334.60 and Infosys Technologies, India's largest listed software exporter, closed with a loss of 1.1 percent at 5,340.75.




Source: IANS
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