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Stock Markets Stay Listless

The equity markets moved in a narrow range as participants await the Union Budget. FIIs continued to buy the India story

The markets ended flat amid concerns over the Union Budget 2005-06 to be announced on February 28, 2005. The Sensex moved in a narrow range during the week ended February 25, 2005. The index declined on all the days except on Tuesday. Overall the Sensex skidded 0.22 per cent to end the week at 6569.72 points. The Nifty, however, managed to end in green gaining 0.26 per cent during the week. There was a change in the composition of the 50-share NSE Nifty on Friday as TCS replaced Indian Hotels.

In broader indices though the S&P CNX 500 could reverse the previous week's trend ending the week a tad higher, the CNX Mid Cap 200 continued the downward trend and lost 0.18 per cent during the week.

The BSE Bankex was one of the few sectoral indices that ended the week in green as scrips of state-run banks edged up after the government decided to allow operational freedom to public sector banks. Bank of Punjab surged sharply to Rs 44.4 on Wednesday but plunged to Rs 38.85 on Friday, thereby wiping off all the gains during the week.

The BSE PSU was another index that ended the week in the positive territory gaining around 1.15 per cent. In other sector specific indices, the BSE IT Index dipped 0.36 per cent. BSE Health Care Index lost 0.68 per cent. The BSE FMCG Index also continued its downward trend and lost 1.01 per cent. The BSE Metal Index was no exception as it closed a little lower as compared to the previous week, losing 0.17 per cent.

L&T was among the top gainers in the last three days of the week and ended the week 5.5 per cent higher as compared to previous week. Zee Telefilms lost in the last two days of the week and in totality lost 3.7 per cent during the week. GAIL touched its 52-week high on Friday and gained over 2.6 per cent during the week.

This week both foreign institutional investors and mutual funds were net buyers. The FIIs' net inflows amounted to Rs 1059 crore while mutual funds were net buyers to the tune of Rs 191.66 crore.

Outlook
The equity markets have kept a low profile in the past two weeks and the trend next week will depend on the Union Budget to be announced on Monday. Market players are eagerly waiting for the announcement regarding changes in the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) in the Budget. Taxation on various industries will also decide the course of markets in the coming week.