The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Roller-coaster ride in peak season

Mumbai, Dec. 30: In one of the wildest stock swings in recent months, the sensex came within the striking distance of the 6000-mark but recoiled a gut-wrenching 158 points to turn a gain of over 100 points into a tame close.

At 5791.85, it was a modest loss of five points over the previous finish, but a plunge from the day’s high of 4920. Market watchers say it was the march of heavyweights like ONGC and Reliance Industries that saved the market its blushes. Still, they were confident that the last-minute selloff today was merely an outcome of profit booking, and that the gains will be back.

They say shares are pausing due to profit booking and that the undertone continues to remain bullish as foreign institutional investors (FIIs) are likely to deepen their investment ties with India in the new year.

The session began on an optimistic note with the sensex rallying due to overnight gains on Wall Street where the Nasdaq composite index and the Dow Jones Industrial average rose 33.34 points and 125.33 points, respectively.

The 30-share index opened firm at 5831.78 against Monday’s close of 5797.33 and oscillated between a high of 5920.76 and a low of 5762.60, before closing at 5791.85, a fall of 5.48 points. Both Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Gail were coveted by market players following news that the government has decided to put the move to sell 10 per cent stake in each of these companies on fast track.

While ONGC, which leads in market capitalisation, shot up by over 4 per cent to Rs 781.90, Reliance Industries too was a smart mover, surging around 4.5 per cent to Rs 560.95.

Analysts said the company prospects are projected to be encouraging in the third quarter of this year due to firm petrochemical prices and Reliance Infocomm also expected to perform better.

In a recent report, Merrill Lynch has also raised its price target on Reliance Industries to Rs 673 from Rs 554 and it has increased its telecom business valuation to Rs 93 per share.

Cement and steel scrips led the fall today. While Tisco fell over 2.6 per cent to Rs 428.55, Steel Authority of India was also lower by over 5 per cent to Rs 50.70. On the other hand, ACC and Gujarat Ambuja Cements suffered sharp losses. These counters were in demand recently on news of better price realisations.

The volume of business was up at Rs 3219.55 crore from Rs 2297.30 crore yesterday. Reliance Industries topped the list of traded securities with a turnover of Rs 409.05 crore. It was followed by Satyam Computer, Tisco, Indraprastha Gas and State Bank of India.

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