Reliance, Infosys take Sensex close to 8600

Despite the mild weakness in US markets yesterday, Indian indices turned in another day of strong gains. Led by some of the biggest stocks like Reliance and Infosys, the indices are inching closer to their all time highs posted in early October.

The indices opened with a positive gap from Monday's closing levels, after a holiday yesterday. The early morning surge took them to gains of close to a per cent each before drifting sideways till noon. Some amount of selling saw the markets losing part of the gains early in the afternoon.

The rally resumed in afternoon trades and by late afternoon, the Sensex was trading above the 8600 mark. Both indices traded firm till the end of session without much volatility and closed near their day's highs.

The technology sector was the biggest gainer in today's trade, helped by strong gains in HCL Technologies and Infosys. The former was the biggest gainer among index stocks closing more than 5 per cent higher. Infosys closed the day with gains of well over 3 per cent.

Banking stocks also saw good interest and the BSE Bank index closed with gains of over 1.5 per cent. HDFC Bank was the biggest winner in this space, closing more than 2 per cent higher. ICICI Bank continued its firm trend from Monday and added another per cent. SBI closed with gains of more than 1.5 per cent. HDFC lost close to a per cent.

Reliance stocks had a good day with all of them surging ahead. Reliance Industries added well over 2 per cent while sister company IPCL gained 1.5 per cent. Reliance Energy of the ADAE group gained more than 3 per cent.

FMCG stocks had a mixed day as HLL closed the day with losses of over a per cent while ITC surged ahead and closed almost 2 per cent higher.

In the auto sector, Bajaj Auto posted yet another lifetime high by going past Rs1,900 today. Maruti also managed to close with gains.

Pharma was also mixed as Ranbaxy gave up a per cent. Sun Pharma was the best performer, adding more than 1.5 per cent.

Cement stocks had a good day with both Gujarat Ambuja and Grasim closing with gains of over 1.5 per cent each.

Sensex closed at 8596, a gain of 102 points, and the Nifty at 2583, higher by 24 points. Nifty November futures closed at a discount of 2 points to the spot index.

HCL Technologies, Infosys and Reliance Energy were the major gainers among Nifty stocks while HLL, Ranbaxy and HDFC were the major losers.

US markets gave up early gains yesterday and closed with marginal losses. The indices were affected by profit warnings from some retail companies which disappointed the markets. Retail companies were expected to do well during this holiday season.

The Dow lost one-tenth of a per cent while the S&P 500 closed with losses of more than a third of a per cent. Losses on the NASDAQ were much higher at almost two-thirds of a per cent.

Crude oil prices dropped more than a per cent yesterday to slip below the $57 per barrel mark, its lowest level in four months. December crude futures closed at $56.97 to a barrel. The commodity is trading with marginal losses in early European trades today.

Indian ADR's had a weak day yesterday with MTNL slipping close to 5 per cent. ICICI Bank and Infosys were the other losers.

BHEL has been reportedly given the go ahead by the government to set up a 1,000mw gas-based power plant in Sudan. The project is expected to cost $500 million, of which $350 million would be financed through a line of credit from the Indian government and the balance from the government of Sudan.

HPCL and Gail would team up top bid for oil and gas exploration at overseas locations. The two companies are looking at opportunities in Middle East, Russia and Africa.

IFC, the private sector financing arm of the World Bank group, would extend a credit facility of $100 million to infrastructure financing company IDFC. This will be in addition to the earlier $50-million credit facility extended earlier. The line of credit would help IDFC to increase its infrastructure lending programmes.

ICICI Bank has opened its first branch in Hong Kong, which would offer both retail and corporate banking services. The bank has also entered into an agreement with Grameen Foundation of the US to expand its micro-finance business. Under the agreement, a new entity called Grameen Capital India would be set up. ICICI Bank has been expanding its micro-financing activities over the last few years and currently has an exposure of over Rs1,200 crore in this segment.

Engineering major Siemens has announced that a consortium led by its German parent has won an order worth Rs1,000 crore in the Middle East. Part of the order may be executed by Siemens India, though the company has not quantified its part of the order.

Unlisted software company MBT, part-owned by auto major M&M, has acquired a US-based company for $54 million. MBT is expecting revenues of $280 million in the current year while the acquired company is expected to report a top line of $30 million.

Satyam Computer Services has announced a tie-up with an overseas consultancy firm to offer supply chain solutions. The two firms would jointly offer complete consulting and technology solutions for logistics management to customers in Asia Pacific region.

Mid-Cap Action

Mid-caps also resumed the rally after Monday's consolidation though the gains were lower than the frontline indices. The CNX Mid-Cap index gained 26 points and closed the day at 3737.

Prithvi Information Solutions made its debut on the exchanges today after the recent IPO. Issued at Rs270, the stock opened at Rs339 on the NSE and saw a high of Rs344 before closing at Rs283.

The Indian promoters of NRB Bearing would acquire a 26-per cent stake in the company from Timken of France. The deal has been concluded at a discount of 30 per cent to the existing market price. NRB Bearings is a leading supplier of various types of bearings to the auto industry.

Software company KPIT Cummins Info has announced that it has received a multi-year contract from a Paris-based company for providing customer support. The contract would be executed by a subsidiary of KPIT Cummins.