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    Default Sensex extends losses to fifth consecutive week

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    Short covering and anxiety over the Reserve Bank of India's ability to ease interest rates next month weighed heavy on Indian equities markets as a benchmark index closed lower for the fifth consecutive week.

    The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) closed 0.6 per cent lower at 17,361.74 points, down 104.46 points or 0.6 per cent, from its previous weekly close at 17,466.2 points.

    The 50-scrip S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange also closed in the red at 5,278.2 points, 39.7 points or 0.74 per cent down from its previous weekly close.

    For the week, broader markets also ended in the red with the BSE 500 index closing 0.56 per cent lower.

    Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were, however, still positive about Indian equities. According to data available with the Securities and Exchange Board of India, FIIs bought stocks to the tune of $387.38 million in four days of trading for which data was available.

    The Reserve Bank of India will lay out the monetary policy for the next fiscal on April 17 and analysts earlier were majorly of the view that the central bank would start easing rates.

    But a higher borrowing programme by the government, outlined in the budget and the apex bank saying that containing inflation still remained its prime focus could dash those hopes. Moreover, high crude prices could result in an increase in domestic retail prices, again spiking inflation.

    Losers during the week on the 30-scrip Sensex included: DLF, down 5.6 per cent at Rs 196.25; Sun Pharma, down 5.2 per cent at Rs.545.05; TCS, down 4.8 per cent at Rs 1,167.50 and HDFC Bank, down 4.7 per cent at Rs 507.70.

    Gainers included ITC, up 6.9 per cent at Rs 222.45; M&M, up 5.5 per cent at Rs 688.75; HUL, up 3.9 per cent at Rs 403.25 and Hero MotoCorp, up 2.9 per cent at Rs 2,017.80.

    Among global bourses, Asian markets closed in the red on a weekly basis.

    The Japanese Nikkei fell 1.17 per cent during the week to close at 10,011.47 points, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng moved down 3.04 per cent and ended at 20,688.8 points on Friday.

    The Chinese Shanghai Composite index shed 2.3 percent to end the week at 2,349.54 points.

    European markets too closed in the red.

    Britain's FTSE 100 closed 1.86 per cent lower at 5,854.89 points, while the German DAX fell 2.27 per cent at 6,995.62 points.

    The French CAC 40 shed 3.3 per cent to close at 3,476.18 points.

    Markets in US ended lower as well.

    The S&P 500 index edged 0.5 per cent during the week to close at 1,397.11 points, while the Dow fell 1.15 per cent and closed at 13,080.73 points.

    The Nasdaq, however, managed slender gains moving up 0.41 per cent to close at 3,067.92 points.



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