Sensex ends the year at a new lifetime closing high

Indices opened the day on a subdued note and stayed flat for the first hour of trade. Profit booking in the US markets yesterday and higher oil prices turned the sentiment in Asian markets today. Asian markets were weak on the last day of the financial year with Japan and Hong Kong each closing more than a per cent lower.

Indian indices started an up trend in mid-morning trades which continued till the close of the day. The Sensex went past the 9400 mark and closed in on its all time intra-day highs. The Nifty also went within 12 points of its lifetime high.

The last half hour saw some selling which pulled down the indices from their highs. The Sensex closed at a new lifetime closing high.

Banking stocks had a good day led by OBC. The stock was the biggest gainer among index stocks, closing nearly 4 per cent higher.

PNB added over 2 per cent. ICICI Bank closed nearly 2 per cent higher. The NSE Bank index closed with gains of over 2 per cent.

Metal stocks had another good day, though SAIL closed marginally lower after yesterday's gains. Hindalco closed nearly 3 per cent higher while Tata Steel added over 2.5 per cent.

Tata Chemicals added nearly 4 per cent, making it one of the best performers among index stocks for the week.

Dr. Reddy's was the best performer among pharma stocks, closing almost 3 per cent higher. Ranbaxy added close to a per cent.

Grasim, Dabur and Zee Tele were among the other major gainers among index stocks.

ONGC gave up almost all of yesterday's gains and closed more than 1.5 per cent lower. Reliance Industries also corrected marginally after yesterday's rise.

HDFC, BPCL, TCS and Tata Motors were the other losers among frontline stocks.

Sensex closed at 9398, a gain of 75 points, and the Nifty at 2837, higher by 15 points. Nifty January futures closed at a discount of 20 points to the spot index.

US indices closed marginally lower yesterday as investors booked profits before the year end. The rally in oil prices also weighed on the sentiment and consumer and retail stocks closed lower on concerns about a slow down in consumer spending.

The Dow closed with losses of over one-tenth of a per cent. S&P 500 lost nearly a third of a per cent while the NASDAQ closed lower by half a per cent.

Crude oil continued its rally and closed above $60 per barrel mark yesterday after weekly US inventory data showed a decline in stocks of refined products. February futures on the NYMEX closed at $60.32 per barrel. The commodity is trading nearly a per cent lower in early European trades today.

Redemption of the India Millennium Deposits went off smoothly yesterday. The scheme, launched five years back by SBI, had raised more than $7 billion from overseas Indians. The exact percentage of redemptions is not yet known though the bank is hopeful of retaining more than 15 per cent of the total amount.

VSNL expects to complete the Teleglobe acquisition by next month. The acquisition would cost the company $239 million and would add more than $1 billion to the consolidated top line.

Reports indicate that VSNL is gearing up to utilise the overseas networks acquired recently and offer managed network services to customers across the globe. The company would offer these services from its delivery centre in Chennai.

Mid-Cap Action

Mid-caps maintained their up trend today as well, and by the end of the day had outperformed the frontline indices. The CNX Mid-Cap index gained 44 points and closed the day at 4030.

Television Eighteen group has dropped plans for an IPO by the soon to be formed holding company Network 18. The latter would be a holding company for the group and would hold a majority stake in TV18.

The promoter of TV18 would voluntarily transfer a 10 per cent stake in Network 18 to a trust which would in turn sell the stake after the stock is listed on the exchanges. The group believes this stake sale would help in efficient price discovery for the Network 18 stock. The funds from this stake sale would be made available to TV18.

Aftek Infosys has announced that it would acquire a 49 per cent stake in a technology company based in Germany for close to Euro 9 million. Aftek has an option to acquire the balance equity over the next 4 years.