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Sensex closes below the 18,000 mark
Mon, 23 May Closing

Indian stock markets had an extremely weak session today, on negative global cues. The BSE-Sensex closed below the psychological 18,000 barrier for the first time since the start of the new financial year 2011-12 (FY12). The markets opened in the red and selling pressure pushed the indices well below the dotted line. While the Sensex closed lower by around 333 points (down 1.8%), the NSE-Nifty closed lower by around 103 points (down 1.9%). The BSE Midcap and BSE Small cap, also saw significant selling pressure. They closed lowe by 1.4% and 1.6% respectively. Most indices closed in the red today, with FMCG and consumer durables the only ones seeing some gains.

As regards global markets, all Asian indices closed in the red today, while European indices echoing the same sentiment. This was mainly due to news that Europe's sovereign debt crisis is in worse shape than anticipated. The rupee was trading at Rs 45.25 to the dollar at the time of writing.

Power equipment manufacturer, BHEL announced its fourth quarter results (4QFY11) and full year (FY11) financial results today. Profits for the full year increased 39% YoY (year on year) to Rs 60 bn. For the quarter as well, the results were encouraging, seeing a 47% YoY growth. However, despite good announcing good results, the stock was the top loser in the Sensex, falling over 7%. This was probably on the back of the 5% disinvestment of the Government's shareholding approved by the company's board of directors. The Government holds 67.7% stake in Bhel (as at the end of March 2011). Going by past records, a large follow-on public offer (FPO) from a public sector undertaking (PSU) is priced at a discount to the share's current market price in order to attract investors. At current prices, the divestment is likely to add Rs 50 bn to government coffers. Out of this, 10% of the divestment has been reserved for the company's employees. The board of directors also recommended a stock split in 1:5 ratio.

Aurobindo Pharma announced today that it received a warning letter from the US health regulator with regards to its antibiotics manufacturing unit in Hyderabad. The company had earlier received an import alert in February 2011 from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for its cephalosporin-producing Unit VI located at Chitkul Village, Hyderabad. In addition to this, based on a field alert report related to non-compliance with packaging and labelling norms at its facility, the USFDA asked the Indian drug company to submit a detailed action plan on rectifying the situation. Aurobindo Pharma is required to submit the action plan to the USFDA within 15 working days. On account of this development, the stock closed over 9% lower.

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