India's key stock market index ends flat in volatile trade

Thursday, 25 March 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: India's blue-chip share market index finished marginally lower Wednesday with investors booking profit on technology counters on fears that a rising Indian rupee will pinch earnings of domestic software companies.

The market mood was also depressed by fiscal year end considerations. Fund operators prefer to book profit and consolidate their portfolio ahead of the fiscal yearend on March 31.

Dealers said that the market opened little changed after staging moderate recovery in the previous session on institutional bargain hunting. The market kept moving within a close range all through the session in the absence of fresh buying.

In the end, the stock market benchmark 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index or Sensex closed at 5,395.28, a loss of 5.71 points or 0.11 percent from its previous session's close.

"While the overall market mood continues to be dampened by yearend jitters, the fresh rise in the value of the rupee against the US dollar has added to the woes," said a fund manager with a foreign brokerage firm.

"The fall in the market today was basically led by technology counters that saw fresh selling pressure triggered by fears that a rising rupee will dent software companies' profit margins in the quarters ahead," the fund manager added.

The Indian rupee closed at a 44-month high Wednesday on strong foreign capital inflows. The rupee ended at 44.74/75 per US dollar, a 0.28 percent rise from its previous close of 44.87/88.

The rupee has risen 1.90 percent against the dollar so far in 2004, adding to its 5.2 percent gain in 2003.

In the old economy sector, Tata Steel, India's largest private sector steel maker, lost 2.2 percent to touch 356.25 on institutional selling pressure in the absence of any buying trigger.

Shares of cement companies such as Gujarat Ambuja Cements fell one percent to 291.85, Grasim Industries was down nearly one percent at 1,014.60 and Larsen and Toubro closed with a loss of 0.3 percent at 562.35.

Other major losers in the sector included Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Ranbaxy Laboratories, consumer goods giant Hindustan Lever, tobacco major ITC, and State Bank of India.

In the tech sector, Infosys Technologies, India's largest listed software exporter, declined 2.2 percent to 5,044.70 after trading in the negative zone for better part of the trading session.

Source: IANS
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