Shares log fifth straight weekly gain

Shares log fifth straight weekly gain

Mumbai: Indian shares rose for the fifth straight week, its biggest stretch of weekly gains since June last year, but closed flat on Friday erasing early gains as traders booked profits in select stocks.

Top consumer goods maker Hindustan Unilever, a unit of Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever shed the most, hurt by the pricing war in the detergent segment.

“With competition intensifying in the detergent category and subdued volume growth in the soaps category, we expect HUL to post a subdued performance in FY2011," Sharekhan said in a note.

The Mumbai-based brokerage downgraded the stock to “hold" from “buy". The stock extended losses and shed 4% to Rs219.60.

The BSE 30-share Sensex closed 0.01% or 1.34 points lower to finish at 17,166.62 points, taking its weekly gains to 1%.

Sixteen of its components closed in the red.

“There is no clear conviction in the market to move either way," said Ambareesh Baliga, vice-president of Karvy Stock Broking.

“After the rally triggered by (federal) budget, the current levels rule out sharp upside, unless there are big positives to move the market. Also, there is nothing so negative to pull it down," he added.

Industrial output growth in Asia’s third-largest economy eased in January to 16.7%, in line with market forecasts, and analysts said it could further weaken with an expected rate hike coming on the heels of stimulus withdrawal.

Foreign funds have been net buyers in Indian equities for eight sessions to March 10, pouring in more than $2 billion.

“Liquidity flow has been absorbed partly by primary market issuance and Tata Motors stake sale by Daimler," added Baliga.

This week, top iron ore miner NMDC concluded its $2.6 billion share sale while animation firm DQ Entertainment’s Rs128 crore initial public offering was more than 84 times covered.

Also, German carmaker Daimler sold its entire 5.34% stake in top car maker Tata Motors.

Dealers said the corporate advance tax numbers for the quarter ending March, which may start trickling in next week, could provide some cues.

The country’s second-largest software services firm Infosys Technologies edged 0.4% lower, as traders logged gains.

The stock has outperformed the broader market this year, by rising 2.6% so far in 2010, while the main index slipped 1.7%.

Private sector lender HDFC Bank declined 1.5%, after rising 2.7% over the three previous sessions.

Energy giant Reliance Industries, which has the highest weight on the Sensex, rose 0.5% to Rs1,021.25.

Top mobile operator Bharti Airtel rose 1.8% to Rs299.05.

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) may help with the funding for Bharti $9-billion acquisition of Zain’s African assets, SingTel’s CEO International Lim Chuan Poh told Reuters.

In the broader market, gainers aced decliners in a ratio of 1.7:1 in a volume of 343 million shares, lower than Thursday’s volume.

The NSE 50-share rose 0.1% to 5,137 points.