Sensex ends the year at a new lifetime closing high

On the first trading day of the New Year, the indices opened with a positive gap and the Sensex recorded a new lifetime intra-day high in early trades. Gains in select frontline stocks including heavyweights ONGC and Reliance helped the indices to hold on to their gains till mid-afternoon.

The Sensex recorded a new lifetime intra-day high of 9457 today. The Nifty saw a high of 2849, 8 points lower than its all time intra-day high.

Markets declined late in the afternoon as traders booked profits and the indices saw a sharp fall. They managed to recover towards close and both indices closed marginally lower.

Tata Chemicals was the biggest gainer among index stocks, closing more than 6 per cent higher. Fertiliser and chemical stocks saw a buying frenzy today on speculation that the government may restructure the subsidy distribution to farmers.

Aluminium stocks Nalco and Hindalco attracted strong interest after the companies announced product price hikes. Nalco added close to 3 per cent while Hindalco gained nearly 2 per cent.

ICICI Bank had a strong opening and went past the Rs600 mark in early trades. The stock closed with gains of 2 per cent at Rs597. PNB was the other gainer from the banking sector, closing more than a per cent higher.

Reliance Industries went past the Rs900 mark for the first time in history. The stock closed nearly a per cent higher at Rs898.

ONGC also held firm on the first day of the year and closed with gains of close to 1.5 per cent. BPCL was the other winner from the oil sector, adding a per cent.

Maruti added nearly 1.5 per cent after the company reported encouraging growth in domestic sales volumes for December.
Dabur and Reliance Energy were the other gainers among index stocks.

Tata Motors was the biggest loser among index stocks as the market is expecting subdued volume sales by the company in December. The stock closed more than 2 per cent lower.

Pharma stocks Cipla and Dr Reddy lost over 1.5 per cent each. FMCG majors ITC and HLL also gave up more than a per cent each.

Telecom stocks Bharti Tele and MTNL had a weak session as they lost around 1.5 per cent each.

Hero Honda declined more than 1.5 per cent on disappointing volume growth for the month of December.

Sensex closed at 9390, a loss of 8 points, and the Nifty at 2836, lower by a point. Nifty January futures closed at a discount of 14 points to the spot index.

Crude oil is continuing its rally into the New Year and is trading above the $61 per barrel mark in early European trades today.
BHEL has announced that it has won a new order for setting up a captive power plant for PSU aluminium company Nalco. The company said the order is for 2 units of 120mw each, valued at Rs800 crore.

Maruti reported a 16 per cent rise in domestic sales for the month of December as compared to the same month of previous year. However, exports during the month dropped substantially, pulling down total volume growth to just 5 per cent.

Hero Honda has reported a 6 per cent rise in volume sales of motorcycles for the month of December as compared to the same month of the pervious year.

Bajaj Auto could manage only a 1 per cent increase in two-wheeler sales for December as compared to the same month of pervious year. While motorcycle volumes rose by 3 per cent, the company managed a more than 25 per cent increase in 3-wheeler volumes. Exports by Bajaj Auto rose a commendable 63 per cent during the month.

Non-ferrous metal companies have announced price hikes right at the beginning of the year. Nalco and Hindalco have announced price hikes of between Rs3,500 and Rs4,000 per tonne, taking aluminium prices to a more than 15-year high.

Hindustan Copper has announced an increase of 5 per cent in copper prices while Hindustan Zinc, part of the Vedanta group, has raised zinc prices by Rs1,300 per tonne.

Bank of Baroda has become the first bank to announce a rate hike in the New Year. The bank said it would increase the rates by 25 basis points on term deposits of more than 6 month maturity.

Mid-Cap Action

Mid-caps had a much better start to the New Year as they held on to their gains till the close of trade. The mid-cap index outperformed the frontline indices by a good margin. The CNX Mid-Cap index gained 27 points and closed the day at 4057.

TVS Motors has done bettered its sales performance for the month of December as compared to previous months. Total sales volumes increased by 11 per cent, helped by a more than 40 per cent rise in exports. Volumes of motorcycles were higher by 8 per cent.

Dhampur Sugar has announced that it would invest more than Rs400 crore to set up a new sugar mill and in expanding the capacity at its existing facility. The company said it would also increase its power generation and ethanol capacities.

Dhampur has reported a more than 10-fold jump in net profits to Rs89 crore for the year ended September 2005 as compared to Rs8.3 crore during the previous year. Total revenues for the year were at Rs1,037 crore as against Rs639 crore for the previous year.

Orchid Chemicals has informed the exchanges that its has received the final approval from US FDA for the drug cefprozil in oral suspension form. The company said the market for the drug in the US is currently around $120 million annually.