Markets remain range-bound; Sensex closes 15 pts down

Mumbai, January 24: | Updated: Jan 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
ZIG-ZAG movement on the bourses extended as the Sensex closed with marginal losses on Thursday. For the second time during the week, the Sensex closed with marginal losses, and in other two days gained, marginally.

The Sensex retraced sharply from its early gains as institutional investors pressed sales in technology and cement sectors. However, select buying in defensive stocks has blocked a steep fall.

The BSE Sensex closed down 15.28 points at 3,357.79 points sharply down from its intra-day high of 3,399.09 points hit in early trades after opening at 3,380.75 points.

On the National Stock Exchange, S&P CNX Nifty closed down 4.10 points at 1,085.30 points.

Dealers said that sustained selling by foreign funds and absence of fresh trigger is keeping the markets range-bound. They said that software stocks -- following a sharp rally in the last couple of months ahead of results -- are attracting profit booking as earning numbers of frontline stocks are either in line with expectations or slightly below analysts expectations.

Cement stocks had a bad run on Thursday with all the four frontline cement stocks closing with sharp loses following reports that cement prices for 50 kg/bag in Maharashtra (the largest cement consuming state) has fallen by around Rs 8.

ACC closed down Rs 5 at Rs 165.05, L&T down Rs 3 at Rs 195.10, Grasim down Rs 5.70 at Rs 284.65 and Gujarat Ambuja Cement down Rs 10.60 at Rs 214.15. Gujarat Ambuja closed down despite the company announcing a 73 per cent rise in its Q2 net profit.

Tisco closed down Rs 3.35 at Rs 100.24 after the company announced a 73 per cent fall in its third quarter net profit while Hindalco closed up 16.40 at Rs 706.80 but off from its intra-day high of Rs 730 following the news that the company is going to announce share buyback at its forthcoming board meeting.

Sensex heavyweight, HLL, closed up Rs 4.35 at Rs 220.05 guarding the Sensex from steep fall.

UB closed down 20 per cent or the maximum downward limit at Rs 184.40 following the companys announcement of a strategic alliance with European brewery Scottish & New Castle (S&N).