Indices extend gains to third day

The intra-day trading pattern of a steady rise after a flat opening, repeated itself for the third straight day today. Global cues were negative in the morning after US markets closed almost flat yesterday, crude oil bounced back and Asian markets opened weak.

Buying interest in pharma stocks and select auto stocks helped the indices to start their up trend before noon. Strong results from SAIL helped maintain the momentum.

Strength in IT stocks like Infosys and TCS helped the indices to close with gains, even though some profit booking emerged towards the close. Gains on the Nifty were more than the Sensex in percentage terms, helped by the gains in TCS and ONGC.

Sensex closed at 6597, up 32 points and the Nifty at 2044, up 15 points. Nifty June futures discount to the spot index widened to 26 points from yesterday's 20 points.

Among Nifty stocks, Ranbaxy, SAIL and HCL Technologies were the major percentage gainers while Zee Tele, Punjab National Bank and HDFC Bank were the major losers.

US markets were disappointed yesterday after the release of the US Fed meeting minutes. The detailed minutes of the meeting held earlier in the month gave the impression that the Fed will continue with its policy of steady increases in short term interest rates. The Dow declined marginally by one fifth of a per cent. NASDAQ closed with marginal gains, stretching its winning streak to 8 consecutive days.

Crude oil futures for July delivery continue to trend towards the $50 to a barrel mark. Hedge funds and traders are believed to have bought the commodity in the last few days and pushed up prices from last week's lows of below $47. A temporary shut down of a large refinery in Texas was also cited as a reason for the recovery in crude prices.

Indian ADR's were generally weak yesterday in the US exchanges. MTNL was the single largest loser with losses of close to 4 per cent. Among the IT stocks, Satyam and Infosys lost a per cent each. Banking majors ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank also closed with losses of a per cent each. Tata Motors gained over 2 per cent while VSNL was the other significant gainer.

Maruti launched its premium hatchback model SWIFT in the capital today. The car has been priced aggressively to take on competition from Hyundai India. The company is targeting sales of over 4,000 units per month and reports suggest that bookings have crossed 9,000 units.