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Ballot fears fade away, markets breathe easy

Mumbai, April 21: Share prices surged on the back of exit polls indicating an encore for the BJP-led NDA coalition and quashing fears that the current government would return with a slimmer lead.

Market operators clutched at the straws in the wind ahead of the other phases of elections, whose outcome will be known only after the May 13 count.

The BSE sensex rose 1.2 per cent, closing 72 points higher than its previous finish. “Yesterday seems so distant,” said a fund manager affiliated to a leading mutual fund. He was referring to the way the markets ran scared just two days back when a string of straw polls predicted fewer seats for the NDA.

The 30-share index opened at 5803.70, hit a low of 5783.92 early in the trading session and a high of 5890.02 before ending at 5876.42 against its last finish of 5804.81.

There was all-round optimism; nothing testified to this better than the fact that gainers outnumbered losers almost two to one on Dalal Street.

Analysts, however, were not ready to be swayed by exit polls. They feel markets will react every time such forecasts are made public. In fact, they will be on tenterhooks till May 13, and possibly even till the formation of the next government.

Among the day’s best performers was Reliance Industries. Cement and steel companies firmed up on reports that they would benefit from a demand pick-up soon. Shares of automakers also hit the fast lane.

Hindustan Lever, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, State Bank, ONGC, L&T, HDFC, HPCL, Grasim, Gujarat Ambuja, Cipla and Bhel were among the biggest gainers.

Key losers included ICICI Bank, MTNL, Wipro, Zee Telefilms, Bajaj Auto, HDFC Bank and Bharti Tele-Ventures. The reverses were blamed on profit-booking.

Biocon was the top traded share, racking up volumes of Rs 145.33 crore. Tata Steel and Reliance Industries were not too far below on the turnover chart.

One of the features of today’s trading was the rather muted foreign institutional investor (FII) buying. Although Sebi reported net FII buying of Rs 693.20 crore on Tuesday, operators said much of it was because of their subscription to ICICI Bank public issue. Today, the buying was only Rs 11.60 crore.

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