Indian shares close flat despite final hour rally

Monday, 16 August 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: Key indices of Indian stocks remained little changed Monday, even as shares of blue chip consumer goods major Hindustan Lever hit a seven-year low and sentiments were depressed because of rising inflation.

The big news at the stock exchanges Monday was an announcement by India's second largest steel maker Tata Iron and Steel (Tisco) that the company is acquiring a top Singapore-based company for $283 million.

Singapore's NatSteel is spinning off its steel business into a subsidiary and Tisco is acquiring the entire stake in the new company for $283 million in an all cash deal, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was informed Monday.

Tisco was the top gainer among the 30 shares that comprise BSE's bellwether sensitive index (Sensex), registering gains of 4.07 percent at 266.15.

The Sensex, which traded in the negative territory throughout the trading session, ended the day at 5,102.37, a marginal fall of 0.01 percent, or 0.55 points, over the previous close of 5,102.92 points.

A similar movement was witnessed in the other major index - 50-share Nifty of the National Stock Exchange - which ended at 1,599.15 points, to lose 0.95 points, or 0.06 percent, over the previous close of 1,598.20 points.

The Sensex was quoting at lower levels and below the 5,100-point mark during most part of the trading day, but a last-hour rally in some heavyweight stocks lifted the key index above the crucial level.

Buying interest in technology, media, aluminium, steel, power and pharma stocks helped the market gain some momentum, but weakness in energy, automobile, cement and consumer goods counters kept the movement under check.

Fourteen scrips in the Sensex registered gains, while 16 lost ground.

Analysts said the sentiments were subdued because of creeping inflation that is putting pressures on interest rates, as also fears over a drop in rural demand because of erratic monsoons.

Apart from Tisco, the top gainers among the Sensex scrips were Zee Telefilms, which was up 2.17 percent at 134.25, ITC, which rose 1.85 percent at 1,037.55 and Cipla, which gained 1.25 percent at 246.70.

IT major Wipro, up 1.18 percent at 540.35, aluminium producer Hindalco, up 0.82 percent at 1,106.65 and two-wheeler giant Bajaj Auto, up 0.62 percent at 869.85, also made some gains.

Leading the losers Monday was Hindustan Lever, which dipped 3.48 percent at 106.65 to hit a new seven-year low, as speculators raised doubts over its profitability because of increased competition.

The other top losers included Bharat Heavy Electricals, which shed 2.81 percent at 546.50, Tata Motors, which lost 1.78 percent at 393.65 and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, which was down 1.63 percent at 728.45.

Housing Development Finance corp., which lost 1.45 percent at 553.65, Hero Honda, which was down 1.43 percent at 434.35, and Hindustan Petroleum, which shed 1.31 percent at 305.60, also lost ground.

Source: IANS
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