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Aloft in markets’ march of defiance

Mumbai, Aug. 26: Dalal Street led Mumbai’s march of defiance against terror, hoisting shares with the highest gain in 30 months and sending the “so-what” message that has become the touchstone of its fabled resilience.

Not since March 13, 1993 has the sensex shrugged off adversity in the way it did today — galloping 147 points to 4152.29 — as investors made a dash for the stock picks quoting at tempting prices after the Monday meltdown.

Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-share index opened strong at 4021.91, moved up to its intra-day high at 4160.02 before ending at 4152.29 against its previous finish of 4004.63; BSE-100 went up 90.02 points to 2159.55. NSE’s nifty closed at 1,318.20 points, up 3.71 per cent.

Reliance and Hindustan Lever were darlings of the Tuesday tumult, the first jumping Rs 13.50 at Rs 391.40, the second winding up with a gain of Rs 8.70 at Rs 189. The two shares make up 28 per cent of the sensex value.

“The economy has never looked so good. Political developments have been ignored,” said a dealer affiliated to a leading corporate brokerage, pointing to the way institutional and retail investors scrambled for stocks.

CLSA, a key foreign institutional investor, gave the optimism-fired market more to bet on when it predicted a peak of 4800 points for the sensex by March. That is a surge of 16 per cent from current levels.

“The positive factors that have driven Indian equity prices up 28 per cent in dollar terms have yet to play out and the market is headed for new highs. A cocktail of rising earnings and expanding price earnings are in place,” CLSA told its clients.

Today’s session was a contrast to the one on Monday, when a buyers’ beeline in the morning turned into a sellers’ scrum after the lunch-hour carnage. The sensex recoiled 120.49 points at 4004.63 after plunging 4.4 per cent to 3943 within minutes of the explosions.

Hopes fired by the surge this afternoon were tempered by remarks that a reality check could be close. “We expect a correction to take place tomorrow,” a dealer said. Fuelling some of those worries is derivatives settlement slated on Thursday. “There could intense volatility in the coming days,” some warned.

On the BSE, HPCL was felled by reports that its officers were stonewalling the due diligence ahead of disinvestment. However, it clawed back to end with gains. In the A group, 187 shares, including 29 that are part of indices, surged; 11 others closed with small losses. The low volume of business, pegged at Rs 1843.18 crore against Rs 2123.55 crore on Monday, worried some.

SAIL was the top traded share with a turnover of Rs 140.64 crore followed by Reliance with Rs 125.76 crore. Tata Steel, SBI, ACC and Bajaj Auto led the gainers’ pack.

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