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Global markets: Signs of fatigue

Mar 20, 2004

The US markets remained largely volatile over the last week. However, on account of the euphoria over the status quo on the interest rates, both the Dow as well as Nasdaq managed to notch up gains during the week. While the Nasdaq ended 1% higher, Dow gained by 2%.The week's proceedings were largely dictated by the security concerns that arose in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings as well as news on the Al-Qaeda front. Moreover, with doubts over the sustainability of the US economic growth and poor job markets, markets experienced substantial downward pressure. However, the Fed's decision to maintain the status quo on interest rates, did generate some investor interest and as a result markets witnessed two successive days of growth. The fact that markets had declined over the last few trading sessions and the investors were looking for some bargain hunting also helped. But on account of uncertainty over the presidential elections and also the fact that the valuations are looking a bit stretched, volatility is likely to remain the order of the day.

Indices11-Mar-0418-Mar-04Change
NASDAQ1,944 1,962 0.9%
Hang Seng13,024 12,816 -1.6%
Nikkei11,297 11,484 1.7%
BSE-Sensex5,650 5,414 -4.2%
FTSE4,445 4,398 -1.1%
Dow10,128 10,296 1.7%
Dax3,905 3,827 -2.0%

As far as the global markets are concerned, markets across Asia and Europe, ended lower for the week. Indian benchmark index, BSE, which lost nearly 4%, emerged as the highest loser. The trend seems to be the result of investors rotating their money into IPOs and also other investment avenues to avail of the tax benefits, before they file their annual returns towards March end. Japanese markets fell mainly on account of concerns over appreciation of yen against dollar, which would affect export oriented companies. The European markets, especially the German benchmark index Dax, lost 2% over the week and was the second biggest casualty.

(Price in US$)11-Mar-0418-Mar-04Change
Dr.Reddy's 23.624.22.5%
HDFC Bank30.129.5-2.0%
ICICI Bank13.914.11.4%
Infosys76.480.45.2%
MTNL7.37.41.4%
Rediff8.57.8-8.2%
Satyam18.219.04.4%
Satyam Infoway6.36.2-1.6%
VSNL8.28.42.1%
Wipro38.640.65.2%

On the ADRs front, while tech and telecom shone, dotcoms declined and banking ADRs remained mixed. Tech majors Infosys and Wipro emerged as the major gainers, registering 5.2% gains during the week. Positive statements from some key policymakers on outsourcing seem to have been the result behind the gains in telecom and tech stocks. Pharma major Dr Reddy also registered gains of 3%. Investors seem to be taking advantage of the low price the stock had touched on account of its Norvasc debacle and are being optimistic about the company's ability to tide over the problem. Among banking ADRs, while ICICI Bank gained 1%, HDFC Bank witnessed profit booking and lost 2%.

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