Sensex rallies 227 pts; IT, refinery stocks in demand

Mumbai, Feb 21 (PTI) The BSE benchmark Sensex spurted 227points today to close at 3-week high of 18,438.31 on goodbuying after mid-session in IT, refinery, metals and bankingsector stocks.

The Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share barometer moved in anarrow range between the positive and the negative zones untilafternoon, logging a low of 18,082.66.

But a sudden gust of buying in select key pivotals at thefag-end pushed it up to settle at 18,438.31, a net rise of226.79 points or 1.25 per cent.

The NSE 50-issue Nifty also recovered by 59.65 points or1.09 per cent to settle at 5,518.60.

Overseas cues were narrowly mixed. Meanwhile, ForeignInstitutional Investors (FIIs) were net buyers to the tune ofRs 697.77 crore in the last week, including provisional dataof February 18.

A broker said that short-coverings ahead of the expiry ofderivatives contracts on February 24 as well as taking offresh positions by operators in blue-chip stocks in view ofthe forthcoming Union Budget on February 28 aided the surge, abroker said.

Peaceful resumption of Parliament session today, afteropposition''s onslaught over a series of scams also partlyaided the recovery, he added.

In a low volume, second-line stocks attracted selling andunderperformed the Sensex. Besides Auto index, all othersectoral indices ended in the green.

Meanwhile, analysts sounded a cautious note.

"Market ended choppy session with over 1 per cent gainbut with poor breadth, as there was more than one decliningstock for every advancing stock," Motilal Oswal SecuritiesManager & Analyst � Derivatives Bhavin Desai said.

"Stock specific action was seen as Auto stocks took abeating amid rising interest rate globally, while the IT andbanking pack acted as a counter balance," he added.

IIFL (India Private Clients) Head of Research Amar Ambanisaid, "The F&O expiry coupled with weekend break before theUnion Budget could have added to the intra-day gyrations. As aresult, it would be prudent on the part of market participantsto wait for the a clear trend before taking a call on thenear-term direction on the market." .

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