Indices drift lower after three days of gain

Morning cues were positive after the US markets made yet another comeback on Monday and most Asian markets opened firm. Disappointing many, markets opened flat and drifted in a range till noon for lack of direction.

Lack of buying support and profit taking in frontline tech stocks saw the markets losing ground in early afternoon. A set of encouraging results from companies like MRPL and IPCL could not revive the sentiment as traders continued to sell at higher levels.

Sensex closed at 6340, down 38 points and the Nifty at 1957, down 14 points. Nifty April futures discount to the spot index narrowed to 7 points from Monday's 12 points.

Among Nifty stocks, IPCL, Shipping Corporation and HLL were the major percentage gainers while Colgate, HCL Tech and Maruti were the major losers.

US markets continued their 'up one day, down the next' trend yesterday also. After Friday's fall, the US indices regained all their losses in a strong rebound. NASDAQ gained close to a per cent while Dow gained under a per cent.

After last week's rally which saw crude futures gaining over 8 per cent, traders booked profits on Monday. The futures for June delivery lost close to 2 per cent to close below $55 to a barrel. It was reported that the US government is negotiating with its Middle East allies to keep up the supply of crude and keep prices at reasonable levels. Saudi Arabia has reportedly agreed to the US views.

On the NASDAQ, Indian Tech ADR's which had rallied strongly over the last week lost ground on Monday. Infosys and Wipro lost heavily while Satyam closed marginally lower. ADR's on the NYSE had a better day with most of them including ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, VSNL and MTNL closing with gains.