Indian shares reverse five-day losing streak

Thursday, 17 April 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: India's key share market index finished in the positive zone Wednesday, snapping a five-day losing streak after sustained buying in stocks of technology and select traditional companies.

The market barometer 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index or Sensex closed at 3,032.32, netting a gain of 34.94 points or 1.17 percent over its previous session's close.

"Domestic institutional investors as well as foreign funds are rushing to pick up battered technology stocks at the current levels," said a fund manager with a foreign brokerage firm.

"Most blue-chip tech shares have come down to attractively lower levels after last week's massive sell-off. The prevailing lower levels offer a good long-term buying opportunity for investors," the fund manager added.

Technology stocks, led by Infosys Technologies, India's largest listed software exporter, triggered massive sell-offs on the bourses towards the end of last week's trading sessions.

Infosys was the first among blue-chip software companies to announce financial results Thursday. Most analysts and investors look to Infosys' performance as an indicator of the IT industry's health.

The company reported a net profit increase of 23 percent in its January-March quarter, but its growth outlook of 27 percent for the next year sharply impacted the stock market.

The market mood was also boosted by consumer goods giant Hindustan Lever's quarterly earning report that bettered market expectation.

Hindustan Lever, India's largest consumer goods company, said Wednesday its first-quarter earnings fell less-than-expected 10 percent. Net profit dropped to 3.83 billion in the January-March quarter, from 4.29 billion a year earlier.

The investor market was also buoyed by the meteorological department's forecast that the monsoon would be slightly below normal this year and that there would not be any drought-like situation this year.

A good monsoon is crucial to India's economy as the agriculture sector contributes one-fourth of the country's gross domestic product.

In the technology sector, Infosys Technologies rose 5.7 percent to 3,025.40 on sustained buying support after last week's sell-off.

Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer gained 3.4 percent to touch 157.35 and HCL Technologies, a New Delhi-based software development and services major, closed with a gain of 2.7 percent at 144.85.

Wipro, India's most valuable software company by market capitalisation, closed the trade at 963.95, representing a gain of 1.8 percent over its previous session's close. The company will unveil its quarterly financial results Thursday.

In the old economy sector, shares of Hindustan Lever rose 4.4 percent to 147.75 after the company announced quarterly results that met analysts' expectations.

State Bank of India, the country's largest commercial bank, rose 2.6 percent to 290.45 and tobacco giant ITC closed with a gain of 2.2 percent at 686.40 on institutional buying.

Other major gainers in the sector included Tata Steel, Hindalco, state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., Associated Cement Companies, and Reliance Industries.

Source: IANS
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