Indices close lower

The markets opened with a negative gap or lower than yesterday's close. Weakness in US markets yesterday and steady oil prices kept market sentiments negative. After the steady rise of last week which extended till Monday, the markets were expecting further profit booking.

The indices gradually recovered till noon only to go back to the lows of the morning by early afternoon. Some amount of buying in the last half hour in frontline stocks helped the indices to recover most of the losses and close marginally lower.

Sensex closed at 6445, down 10 points and the Nifty at 1986, down 8 points. Nifty May futures discount to the spot index narrowed marginally to 17 points from yesterday's 19 points.

Among Nifty stocks, HPCL, Zee and Hero Honda were the major percentage gainers while HCL Technologies, SAIL and VSNL were the major losers.

US markets had a bad day yesterday as Wall Street Journal reported about trouble brewing in the hedge funds industry. The indices declined on rumours that some large hedge funds may be in trouble because of their large exposure to GM and Ford bonds, which have been downgraded recently. Both Dow and NASDAQ lost close to a per cent each.

Crude oil futures on NYMEX closed marginally higher yesterday at $52.07 to a barrel. The commodity had rallied earlier in the day to over $53 before coming down.