BSE Sensex posts best weekly gain since November

MUMBAI Fri Mar 4, 2011 5:31pm IST

People walk outside the Mumbai Stock Exchange building February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/Files

People walk outside the Mumbai Stock Exchange building February 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash/Files

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex posted its best weekly gain in four months, but closed barely changed on Friday, with investors locking in gains after the recent rally, while the next week was viewed with uncertainty as unrest in the Middle

East continues.

Engineering and construction firm Larsen & Toubro, led the losses. It dropped 3.1 percent, after gaining nearly 10 percent over three previous sessions as traders booked profits.

The 30-share BSE index snapped a four-session winning streak and closed 0.02 percent, or 3.31 points, lower at 18,486.45 points, after rising as much as 1.3 percent earlier.

Sixteen of its components lost ground. It logged a gain of 4.4 percent for the week, its best since early November last year.

"Market is consolidating after the recent rise, triggered after the budget," Vaibhav Sanghavi, director of Ambit Capital, said.

In the annual budget on Monday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had forecast the economy would grow 9 percent in 2011/12 beginning April and inflation would ease.

Sanghavi said: "It is very difficult to say, how the market will behave next week. Unless, the situation in the Middle East stabilises, we will continue to see volatile trade."

Situation in Middle East was closely watched after opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi prepared to march in the capital.

"The situation in Libya is changing by the hour. It is too difficult to assess the situation for now," Shankar Char, vice-president and head of sales trading at ICICI Securities.

The BSE main index is down nearly 10 percent so far this year, with foreign funds withdrawing around $2.1 billion up to March 1.

The banking sector index climbed 0.5 percent on hopes an expanding economy will boost demand for loans.

Top lender State Bank of India rose 0.4 percent. Private lender HDFC Bank firmed 1.2 percent, while its bigger rival ICICI Bank bucked the trend and shed 0.1 percent.

Mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp climbed 1.6 percent.

Leading outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services shed 1.4 percent, after gaining 3.5 percent in three earlier sessions.

Oil & Natural Gas Corp slipped 0.4 percent after sources told Reuters a share sale in the state-run explorer was likely to be delayed to the first week of April from an earlier launch date of March 15.

The 50-share NSE index or Nifty closed 0.05 percent higher at 5,538.75.

In the broader market, losers outpaced gainers in the ratio of 1.1 to 1, in a volume of 247 million shares, less than 30-day daily average volume of 286 million shares.

World stocks as measured by MSCI were up 0.4 percent by 1059 GMT, while its emerging markets sub-index rose nearly 1 percent.

(Reporting by Ami Shah; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)

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