The markets took a pause after an uninterrupted run in the last eight trading sessions. The Sensex traded in a narrow range of around 150 points through the day before ending at 19,420, lower by 24 points and the Nifty shut shop at 5826, down seven points. In a reversal of recent trend, the broader markets outshone their larger counterparts; the midcap index ended at 6982, higher by 109 points and the smallcap index ended at 8358, up 182 points.
The benchmark indices surged by as much as 9% during the past week till Thursday to post their highest returns in 21 months, buoyed by the upbeat sentiment on the global market front. Strong rollovers during the March derivatives expiry on Thursday are indicative of the bullishness on Dalal Street; the marketwide rollovers stood at 81%, while rollovers in Nifty futures was at 71% and Bank Nifty futures rollovers were at 76%.
Meanwhile, shrugging the subdued cues from Wall Street, the Asian markets continued from where they left in the previous session; the Hang Seng, Shanghai, Straits Times and Seoul indices gained in the region of a percent each. And Europe also opened on a cheerful note, with the FTSE, CAC and DAX gaining anywhere between half a percent and 1% each in mid-session trades. The US indices had edged marginally lower on Thursday and yet managed to post their best quarterly gains, in excess of 6.4%, in 12 years.
Back home, the auto companies announced good sales numbers for the month of March. The country's largest car-maker Maruti Suzuki India reported a 28.20% jump in total sales for March to 1,21,952 units from 95,123 units in the same month last year. And for entire 2010-11 financial year, the company's sales soared by 24.81% to 12,71,005 units from 10,18,365 units in the previous fiscal. Two-wheeler maker Suzuki Motorcycle India saw a 25.94% growth in March sales to 27,361 units from 21,725 units in the same month last year. And the Chennai-based TVS Motor Company witnessed a 28.16% jump in sales for March to 1,91,208 units from 1,49,194 units in the corresponding month of 2010. For entire FY11, the company's sales jumped by 33.17% to 20,46,668 units from 15,36,919 units in the previous fiscal.
There was cheer on the macro-economic front as well. India's exports grew by an impressive 50% in February, crossing the $200 billion mark during the first eleven months of 2010-11, on the back of rising demand from the US and other markets. Exports went up by 49.7% year-on-year during February to $23.5 billion, taking the April-February 2010-11 figure to $208.2 billion, an increase of 31.4% over the year-ago period and past the yearly target of $200 billion.
Banking and IT indices witnessed profit-booking on the BSE post the gains of the recent past. SBI slid by 1.7% at Rs 2719 and ICICI Bank weakened by 0.9% at Rs 1102. And in the IT space, Infosys edged lower by 0.5% at Rs 3218, Wipro was down 0.5% at Rs 475 and TCS slumped by 0.2% at Rs 1129 despite receiving a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract to provide application support, maintenance and development services to the US-based Air Liquide. And index heavyweight RIL slid 1.1% at Rs 1035.
On the other hand, Reliance Communication spurted by 3.6% at Rs 111, Jaiprakash Associates advanced by 3% at Rs 95 and BHEL gained 2.5% at Rs 2113. And Tata Steel rose 0.8% at Rs 625 after taking Tinplate on board as its subsidiary by hiking its stake in the later from 42.88% to 59.45%.
The market breadth was positive. Out of 2956 stocks traded on the BSE, there were 2159 advancing stocks as against 688 declines.