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Stocks at highest point in two years

Mumbai, Aug. 1: Lifted by a string of stellar first-quarter numbers, shares today extended their gains to the eighth straight session as buying by foreign investors propelled the BSE sensex to a new 26-month high.

At the heart of the optimism was the belief that the generous monsoon should leave the economy and India Inc in good shape.

“The rain gods have been kind so far. Further, most leading companies have come up with a robust set of numbers. Since the economy is looking up, stock markets should look good over the near term, punctuated by the occasional correction,” a broker said.

At 3,815.31, it was the 30-share index’s best close since March 15, 2001. It was up 2.38 per cent for the week. The share barometer largely oscillated between 3831.96 and 3779.73, after opening at 3800.73 this morning.

Market watchers say it was cement and technology shares that stoked the rally. Cement shares firmed up following concrete first-quarter numbers announced by majors like Gujarat Ambuja, coupled with the possibility of a price increase over the next few months.

ACC jumped 3.79 per cent at Rs 201.50, Grasim Rs 23.70 at Rs 567.95 and Gujarat Ambuja Rs 6.25 at Rs 232.25. However, Larsen & Toubro fell 2.92 per cent at Rs 284 after its first-quarter results fell short of expectations.

Technology stocks led by Infosys Technologies were among the top draws. The firm’s ADR leapt 5.68 per cent to $ 53.80 on the Nasdaq. On Dalal Street, the share jumped Rs 191.10 to Rs 3784.40, while Wipro gained Rs 47.20 to Rs 990.15. Satyam Computers and HCL Tech were the others bellwethers that ended higher.

The march of the sensex was slowed by heavyweights like Hindustan Lever, Reliance Industries, Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and State Bank of India as operators sold these shares for a profit.

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