Indices set new records as Asian rally continues

The markets continued from where they stopped last Friday and the indices sought new levels on all round buying support. The rally continued across Asian markets today with Japan closing more than 2 per cent higher. Korea and Indonesia gained more than a per cent each.

The indices opened with gains and the Sensex crossed 9100 in early trades. After drifting downwards till early afternoon, fresh buying took the indices to new records in afternoon trades.

Sensex saw a new lifetime intra-day high of 9176 and the Nifty posted a new high of 2789.

The closing minutes saw a sharp sell-off, which led to the indices losing substantial part of their early gains in just a few minutes. However, both indices managed to close the day at new all time closing highs.

The most notable development today was the return of the metal stocks. Nalco surged more than 5 per cent and was the best performing index stock. Non-ferrous metal prices have been on an upswing for the past many weeks and most metals are quoting at multi-year highs.

Steel stocks made a comeback today after remaining subdued for most of last month and first week of this month. SAIL led the pack with gains of more than 3 per cent while Tata Steel chipped in with close to 2 per cent.

ONGC added more than 3 per cent and helped the indices substantially. The recent upswing in crude prices is attracting as lot of buyers to ONGC and the stock has been rising for most of last week.

ICICI Bank was the best performer among banking stocks. Good response from overseas investors to the bank's public issue is encouraging many local operators to build long derivative positions in ICICI Bank. The stock added more than 2 per cent.

Tata Motors added close to 3 per cent and was the best performer among auto stocks. The company's November sales volumes for commercial vehicles were satisfactory, especially when compared to the lacklustre performance of its nearest competitor.

Bajaj Auto and Maruti were the other gainers among auto stocks. There is market speculation about a possible split of Bajaj Auto into two separate entities, one for the auto business and the other for financial services.

Indian Oil was a major gainer on speculation about a likely sale of its stake in ONGC. The stock closed higher by more than 3 per cent.

Some of the stocks, which had seen substantial appreciation last week, saw some correction today on profit booking. TCS was the biggest loser among index stocks, closing nearly 2 per cent lower.
Hindustan Lever, Wipro and VSNL were some of the other stocks, which corrected today.

Sensex closed at 9134, a gain of 66 points, and the Nifty at 2776, higher by 20 points.

Nalco, SAIL and ONGC were the major gainers among Nifty stocks while TCS, Reliance Energy and Zee Tele were the major losers.

ONGC is planning to explore for oil and gas reserves in the Himalayan foothills. The company has reportedly roped in foreign consultants for a detailed study of some prospective fields in Himachal Pradesh. ONGC is expected to spend Rs1,000 crore for exploration in this region.

L&T has announced that it has won a new order from Reliance Industries for supply of equipment. The new order is for the proposed export oriented refinery of Reliance at Jamnagar. The total value of the order is reportedly Rs303 crore.

Reliance Industries would sign an agreement with the government of Haryana for the development of a Special Economic Zone.

According to government sources, the proposed SEZ is expected to see investments of Rs25,000 crore, once fully operational. Investments planned by Reliance are not known.

According to media reports, GE Shipping would acquire a 26-per cent stake in a Mumbai-based inland shipping and cargo handling firm United Shippers. As per the reports United owns and operates around 70 barges and tugs. The company also has a cargo handling division and owns a fleet of trucks. Financial details of the deal are not available.

HCL Technologies has announced that the company has opened a new development facility near Delhi in association with NEC of Japan. Total investments made at the new centre are estimated at $5 million.

Mid-Cap Action

Mid-cap stocks lagged behind the large caps in a big way today. The CNX Mid-Cap index added just 2 points and closed the day at 3931.

There are reports that Petronet LNG may call fresh bids for the 25-year LNG transportation contract. Last week, the company had almost finalised a deal with a consortium led by Varun Shipping and a Belgian shipping company. The total contract value is estimated at Rs3,200 crore over the 25-year period.

The request for fresh bids would give another opportunity to consortia led by GE Shipping and Shipping Corporation. Varun Shipping is also expected to submit a revised price bid. Varun Shipping declined substantially today and closed 6 per cent lower.

Opto Circuits has informed the exchanges that it would acquire a German manufacturer of cardiac stents for Rs60 crore. Stents are devises used to dilate blood vessels.