Sensex up sharply by 227 points; IT led the rally

Mumbai, Feb 22 (PTI) Fag-end buying today pushed up theBSE benchmark Sensex sharply by 227 points to close at18,438.31, as investors bought strong stocks at cheaper levelsled by IT sector, amid funds buying to cover their pendingpositions ahead of settlement in the derivatives sector.

The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex, which touchedthe day''s low of 18,082.66, bounced back sharply in last 30minutes of trading to close higher by 226.79 points at18,438.31.

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty,after falling to 5,413.10 points, closed at 5,518.60 with ahandsome gain of 59.65 points.

Brokers said trading sentiment was bolstered after CreditSuisse Group upgraded Wipro and State Bank of India reportedlysaying that net interest margins may rise.

Wipro, India''s third-largest software services provider,surged the most since November 22 by rising 4.12 per cent toRs 450.25 after Credit Suisse raised it rating to "outperform"from "neutral".

Overall, IT stocks move up on a rebound in the Europeanregion, a major centre for technology business.

Major market players were buying stocks to wind up theirpending long positions ahead of the expiry of current monthsettlement in the derivatives segment on Thursday.

The most-heaviest Reliance Industries rose by 2.04 percent to Rs 956.50 and second heavy Infosys Technologies by2.09 per cent to Rs 3,161.20. The two carry nearly 23 per centweightage on the index.

In the 30-BSE index components, 20 stocks closed withgains and barring auto, all the sectoral indices remainedhigher.

The upsurge was partly checked by auto stocks as, led byTata Motors, they fell on fears that hike in interest ratesmight hamper the sales. The auto sector index fell by 1.18 percent to 8,614.90.

Tata Motors, owner of Jaguar Land Rover, slid 3.33 percent to Rs 1,161.95. Hero Honda Motors, the biggest motorcyclemaker, dropped 1.66 per cent to Rs 1,439.35. Maruti Suzukifell by 1.31 per cent to Rs 1,212.65.

As the bargain buying prevailed on the market, investorspulled out funds from low value stocks to front runners. As aresult, smallcap index fell by 0.09 per cent to 8,121.26 andmidcap index by 0.04 per cent to 6,659.18.

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