Sensex opens modest, slips by 15 points

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Mumbai, Feb 28 (UNI) The BSE 30 scrips of sensitive index resumed lower at 17,810.52 points at this morning session with a modest fall by 15.47 points from its last close of 17,825.99 points on fresh off-loading by FIIs and local operators due to speculations over the Union Budget for 2008-09 tomorrow.

The benchmark indices which opened on a negative note soon surged to hit a intra-day high. But the market could not sustain higher levels and soon slipped in red. IT stocks edged lower. Reliance Industries declined. Asian markets were mixed.

Later, the 30-share BSE Sensex was down 83.40 points or 0.47 per cent at 17,742.59 points. Sensex touched a high of 17,921.51 in initial trade. while Sensex hit a low of 17,692.13 in early trade. The broader CNX S&P Nifty index of NSE was down 31.90 points or 0.50 per cent at 5,236.10 from its last close of 5268 points.

Brokers and institutions are unlikey to take large positions today, a day ahead of the Union Budget for 2008-09.

The Finance Minister P Chidambaram would today table in Parliament, the Economic Survey - a report card on the economy during this fiscal that would also show the direction of government policy in the year ahead. It will be followed by the presentation of Union Budget 2008-09 on 29 February.

The Survey, mainly authored by the Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Virmani, is expected to indicate the government's priorities and thrust areas for the Union Budget 2008-09. The Survey is expected to indicate policy measures to rein in inflation, which is ruling above the four per cent mark, measures to reverse slowdown in export growth, tackle the impact of rising rupee and address the issue of spurt in global crude oil and food prices.

With general elections due in 2009, this Budget will be the last full-fledged one by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and it is therefore likely to be a populist budget. Thus, the Finance Minister (FM) is likely to provide higher allocations to several social initiatives like rural upliftment, employment, education, agricultural growth and public health.

Meanwhile, FM may raise the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) slightly. STT is currently at 0.125% on delivery trades. STT is 0.025 per cent on non-delivery trades on sell transactions. STT is 0.017 per cent in futures&options segment on sell trasactions.

It is also expected that the FM would announce some relief packages for troubled export sensitive sectors like textiles, rubber, jewellery, leather and IT services. These sectors have been hit by rupee's surge in the past one year.

The BSE Mid-Cap index was down 0.02 per cent at 7,721.98, while the BSE Small-Cap was down 0.08 per cent at 9,666.44.

Leading scrips drifted lower, as Reliance Industries declined 1.26 per cent at Rs 2,555, followed by ICICI Bank by 0.35 per cent to Rs 1,109.90, Larsen&Toubro by 0.17 per cent to Rs 3,624.90.

IT stocks declined as sharp drop in US durable goods orders and US home sales fueled recession concerns in the world's biggest economy. Satyam Computer Services was down by 0.02 per cent to Rs 437, followed by Wipro by 0.77 per cent to Rs 436.50 and Infosys by 1.26 per cent to Rs 1,597.90.

However, Tata Consultancy Services rose 0.14 per cent to Rs 878.90. IT firms derive more than half of their revenue from US.

Hindalco Industries was up by 3.7 per cent to Rs 203.20, similarly Hindustan Unilever by 1.64 per cent to Rs 223.50, Grasim Industries by 1.22 per cent to Rs 2,923.80, Mahindra&Mahindra by 1.18 per cent to Rs 666.40 and HDFC Bank by 1.12 per cent to Rs 1,468.05 edged higher from the Sensex pack, brokers added.

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