Indian shares end little changed on selling in techs

Thursday, 19 June 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: India's key share market index finished flat Wednesday, after rising nearly three percent in the previous session, on profit taking in stocks of technology and pharmaceutical companies at higher levels.

Dealers said that the market opened subdued and slipped lower in early trade as institutional investors dumped shares of drug makers that had risen sharply higher in last few sessions.

The market lost further ground after selling pressure also emerged on counters of heavyweight technology companies. Rally in software companies in last few sessions was fuelled by a sharp recovery on the tech-laden Nasdaq stock exchange.

The market loss was, however, cushioned towards the end of the tread on fresh buying in shares of cement companies, triggered by reports that Grasim Industries had announced a plan to acquire the cement business of rival Larsen & Toubro.

Mirroring the cautious sentiment, the market barometer 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index or Sensex closed at 3,430.96, a marginal loss of 0.07 points from its previous session's close.

"Some amount of profit taking by institutional investors was expected after nearly three percent rise in the market index in the previous session," said a broker with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

"The overall stock market mood, however, continues to be positive and institutional investors are expected to resume buying soon after consolidating their portfolio," the broker added.

While profit booking was seen in technology and pharmaceutical stocks at higher levels, stock specific buying activity was observed on a number of side counters including shares of cement companies.

In the technology sector, Infosys Technologies, India's largest listed software exporter, rose 1.2 percent to 3,058.15 and Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer closed with a gain of 1.1 percent at 186.95 on selling pressure.

In the old economy sector, Ranbaxy Laboratories, India's largest drug maker, lost 2.2 percent to touch 723.555 and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories ended 2.1 percent lower at 1,038.35 on profit taking after recent gains.

Reliance Industries, India's largest refiner and petrochemicals maker, fell 1.3 percent to 317.75 and State Bank of India, the largest commercial bank, closed with a loss of nearly one percent at 352.

Cement maker Grasim Industries, on the other hand, gained 12.8 percent to touch 458.35 after it announced Tuesday the acquisition of the cement division of business rival Larsen and Toubro.

The deal, which was pegged at 22 billion making it one of the country's largest merger and acquisition transactions, would make Grasim as the country's largest cement producer.

Enthused by the acquisition deal, shares of Associated Cement Companies rose 5.3 percent to 161.50 and Gujarat Ambuja Cements, the fourth-largest cement producer, ended 0.1 percent higher at 194.10.

Other major gainers in the old economy sector included tobacco major ITC, Tata Engineering, Hindalco, BSES, Tata Steel, HDFC, Colgate Palmolive, Nestle India and consumer goods giant Hindustan Lever.
Source: IANS
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