The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No-change hopes halt stock slide

Mumbai, May 4: Buyers returned to stock exchanges today, snapping one of the longest losing streaks on projections of robust gains for the ruling coalition in areas ready to cast the die in the final poll rounds.

The forecasts perked up Dalal Street, which has been plagued by poll pangs since the first round of exit polls suggested the NDA numbers would fall short of a majority.

The BSE sensex closed at 5647.15 in a leap of 62 points, or 1.11 per cent, after opening at 5616.41 and scaling a high of 5677.11. Monday’s losses were wiped out.

Opinion and exit polls released after the earlier rounds of polls had spooked markets by showing the BJP-led alliance would find it difficult to secure a good lead.

Public sector companies and banks, clobbered by fears of divestment stalling and reforms slowing, were among the best performers on the trading floor this afternoon.

The return of the NDA government is seen as the best bet for the strategic divestment in some PSUs to continue. State-run banks emerged as the top draw, scooped up by those who hope the Vajpayee government would bring down the Centre’s stake to 33 per cent. The announcement by some banks about lower non-performing assets (NPAs) also buoyed investors. Lower NPAs make dividend declarations easier.

The BSE-PSU index moved up 111.98 points or 2.84 per cent to 4050.97; the Bankex rose 37.36 points or 1.19 per cent to 3173.69.

Technology shares advanced as investors bought them in anticipation of a profit-boost from a hardening dollar. Cement stocks firmed up on higher April shipments.

Even commodity stocks, hammered in recent times on concerns of weak Chinese demand, bounced back. Hindalco firmed up by Rs 36.50 to Rs 1102.95 while Tisco ended Rs 7.40 higher than its previous close at Rs 349.90.

Crash alert

Sebi is on “high alert” after the market crash last week following exit polls predicting a hung Parliament. “Sebi remains on high alert. Action will be taken if anything unusual is noticed,” chairman G. N. Bajpai said at a function during his visit to Calcutta.

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