Over the last three sessions the bulls have won all intra-day skirmishes. This is a clear departure from what was going on till the start of this week. Days would start strong and then the bulls would cede control to the bears in the afternoon. Only in the last few days have the closings been strong and decisive. Markedly so. Even on Thursday, the way the Nifty slipped into the red in the last hour of trade looked worrying but the losses were reversed quickly and the index managed to close with solid gains. In a sense, it was a day of consolidation; even so a small step forward was taken.
Now we are getting towards the higher end of the long-standing trading range of 4,100-4,300 for the Nifty. The bears will fight hard to keep the index within this range, as a breakout will nudge the market to all-time highs and uncharted territory. That the bears were trying to come back was visible in the afternoon volatility on Thursday and the way the futures discount widened to 15 points. But the bulls kept them at bay, at least for the day.
While the mantle of leadership is firmly with the stronger sectors like capital goods and banking, some of the dogs are showing an occasional flourish. If it was automobiles and cement on Wednesday, oil refineries did a nice jig on Thursday. It needed the golden touch of a Lakshmi Mittal to wake up these sleeping stocks. His 49 per cent stake in the Bathinda refinery perked up Hindustan Petroleum Corp and the other refining stocks followed. As we head to this derivatives settlement in five days, who knows if we have a date with an all-time high for the Sensex? The bulls clearly have an edge, the bears have their job cut out.
The writer is Executive Editor, CNBC-TV 18