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Mixed Sentiments Lead Nowhere

FII investments made their presence felt in the week gone by. Infosys third quarter results were better appreciated by the market and this led to a mid week correction

Markets continued their rangebound behaviour this week too. The BSE Sensex was up 0.34 per cent while the Nifty moved up 0.57 per cent. In comparison to this, the Nasdaq and the Dow Jones fell 4.9 per cent and 2.2 per cent, respectively, over the week.

The markets started the week on a losing note, falling by nearly a per cent. Software major Infosys' results were behind this disappointing start. This pessimism though was short-lived and markets bounced back on Tuesday, as technology stocks rallied. Wipro's third quarter results also did not live up to market expectations. This put a cap on the recovery in IT shares and the BSE IT index gained 2.07 per cent over the week.

The week saw more corporate results come in. HDFC Bank, Ranbaxy and ITC also announced their quarterly results. Banking heavyweight HDFC Bank's registered a 31 per cent rise in net profits while pharma major, Ranbaxy, saw its net profits zoom up 131 per cent. ITC recorded a more modest 22 per cent rise in profits.

If quarterly results created excitement, heavy FII participation enthused stock markets This week, FIIs were net buyers of equity of worth Rs 536 crore, which kept markets buoyant. Out of this, FIIs bought equities worth Rs 400 crore on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, mutual funds remained net sellers, offloading equities worth Rs 7 crore till Thursday.

While FIIs and mutual funds continued buying and selling the Prime Minster kicked off a nation wide campaign urging investors to participate in stock markets. This has raised expectations of some investor friendly measures in the budget.

Reliance was downgraded from stable to negative by rating agency Moody's. Concerns over diversification into competitive markets such as oil retailing and telecom, and the financial risk associated with these was behind this downgrading. The stock ended the week marginally lower. Banking stocks gained on the last trading session on hopes of good corporate earnings, while cement companies crashed due to poor performance of cement major, ACC. Overall, the week ended nearly flat.

Outlook
Untill it actually happens the uncertainty over a US led attack on Iraq will continue. And this will remain a constant source of worry and speculation for the market. On the domestic front an official announcement of the Attorney Generals decision on the disinvestment of oil PSU's is awaited. A positive outcome can give markets a much-needed boost in their annual pre budget rally.