Sensex ends flat, Nifty above 6500; Maruti up 8%, IT drags

03:50 pm Rate cut
State-owned United Bank of India today slashed base rate or minimum lending rate by 0.25 percent.

It has been decided to reduce the base rate of the bank from 10.50 percent to 10.25 percent with effect from March 24, United Bank of India said in a filing on the BSE. All new loans, including home and car loans, would become cheaper by 0.25 percent with reduction in base rate.

03:40 pm Market closing
After a little bit of negativity in the last hour, the market ended on a positive note. The Nifty managed to end above 6500 at 6516, up 12.45 points. The Sensex was up 22.81 points at 21832.61. Maruti hogged the limelight with a consistent 7 percent gain throughout the day. SBI, ITC, Coal India and Bajaj Auto were other gainers in the Sensex.

Tata Motors was down 3 percent, while M&M, Wipro, Infosys and L&T were other losers in the Sensex.

03:30 pm Big plans:
Leading private insurer Reliance Life Insurance is targeting Rs 1,800 crore total new business premium in the current financial year, ending this month, and expects to continue a double-digit growth in the next fiscal along with full-year profitability.

The company recorded 56 percent rise in its new business premium collection to Rs 1,424 crore during April-December period of 2013-14, from Rs 911 crore in the year-ago period.

We have continued our growth momentum in the first three quarters of this fiscal and achieved robust growth in our new business premium income during April-December 2013-14 with a focus on traditional products, agent productivity and improved quality of business.

03:20 pm Advance tax:
The country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) today reported a flat advance tax payout for the March quarter at Rs 1,456 crore.

The lender, which controls nearly a fourth of the total banking assets, had paid Rs 1,450 crore as advance tax for the March quarter last fiscal. "State Bank of India has paid advance tax of Rs 1,456 crore for the Q4 of the financial year 2013-14 (corresponding figure for the financial year 2012-13 was Rs 1450 crore) in respect of domestic operations," it said in a statement.

Advance tax payouts is a system of staggered payments of income tax dues spread over four quarters. It is generally considered as a barometer of a company's performance during a period.

03:10 pm European markets
European shares dipped and the safe-haven yen rose as investors kept a wary eye on the standoff over Crimea and a US Federal Reserve meeting starting later on Tuesday.

The FTSEurofirst 300 slipped at the open, after stocks gained in Asia and on Wall Street on Monday.

The yen gained but stayed below recent peaks against the dollar and gold, also sought in times of market tension, fell.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order approving a draft treaty on "adopting the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation". He was due to address a special joint session of the Russian parliament on the issue later, aides said.

02:59pm Market Update
Equity benchmarks are trading marginally higher. The Sensex rose 40.77 points to 21850.57 and the Nifty rose 15.25 points to 6519.45. About 1468 shares have advanced, 1228 shares declined, and 170 shares are unchanged.

Cigarette major ITC and top lender State Bank of India extended gains, rising nearly 3 percent.

02:55pm Amtek India surges 20%
Amtek India has successfully completed the transaction and acquired the Kuepper Group which is engaged in the business of Iron, aluminium casting and integrated machining having five manufacturing facilities across Germany and Hungary.

02:50pm FOMC meeting to begin today for two days
The Federal Reserve is unlikely to damage its credibility by changing policies in today's meeting said Peter Elston, Aberdeen Asset Management.

In spite of some weakness on the data front in the US Fed will continue with the gradual tapering of USD 10 billion per month , he said.

According to him, whenever markets react negatively to any political disruptions it is more of a buying opportunity and one should not be too worried about it for the longer term.

02:40pm Defiant Putin says Crimea will become Russian
Russian President Vladimir Putin, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, announced on Tuesday that Russia would move forward with procedures to annex Ukraine's Crimean region.

Putin signed an order "to approve the draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on adopting the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation". The order indicated the president would sign the treaty with Crimea's Russian-installed leader, who is in Moscow to request incorporation into Russia, but it gave no date.

The move followed a disputed referendum in Crimea on Sunday, staged under Russian military occupation, in which a Soviet-style 97 percent of voters were declared to have voted to return to Russian rule, after 60 years as part of Ukraine, reports Reuters.

02:30pm Autoline Industries up over 6%
Investors are lapping up shares of Autoline Industries ahead of board meeting for discussion of fund raising options.

"The meeting of board of directors of the company will be held on March 19, 2014, to explore various avenues of raising funds to meet the funding requirements of the company by way of disposal of assets / full disinvestment of stock/ shares in company's Wholly Owned subsidiary - Autoline Industries Inc, USA," the company said in its filing to the exchange.

02:20pm SBI to sell NPAs for the first time ever
For the first time in its over two centuries of history, State Bank of India (SBI) is going all out to stem the rot by offloading around Rs 5,000 crore of its Rs 67,799 crore dud assets to asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) before the end of the month.

The state-run bank had reported 5.73 percent of its assets as bad loans in the December quarter.

"There are 14 ARCs functioning today, and we have invited many of them to pick up our stressed loans of around Rs 5,000 crore. We will definitely be offloading at least a large portion of this to the highest bidders. The process should be concluded before the end of the month," a senior SBI official said in Mumbai on Monday, reports PTI.

02:10pm FII View
Jyotivardhan Jaipuria, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said, "We continue to expect markets to focus on elections till May."

"On the macro the big positive is falling rates. However, a couple of weather related worries have sprung up which may create a hurdle to rate cuts," he added.

02:01pm The market gave up all its gains in afternoon trade with the Nifty breaking 6500-mark weighed down by private banks and technology stocks. Tata Motors topped the selling list, falling 2.5 percent followed by HDFC and L&T with 1.6 percent each.

The Sensex gained 13.97 points to 21823.77 and the Nifty advanced 3.80 points to 6508. About 1375 shares have advanced, 1215 shares declined, and 170 shares are unchanged.

Top software services exporters TCS, Infosys and Wipro fell 0.8-1.2 percent while private sector lender ICICI Bank slipped 0.8 percent and rival HDFC Bank declined 0.2 percent.

Index heavyweight Reliance Industries trimmed gains to 1 percent from 2 percent whereas cigarette major ITC maintained its 2 percent gains.

Shares of PSU companies like State Bank of India, ONGC and Coal India rallied 2 percent each.

India's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki surged 7.5 percent as brokerage houses raised target price on the stock after the company said the board members would seek minority shareholders' nod for Gujarat project.

Macquarie has raised target price to Rs 2000 from Rs 1800. CLSA has maintained a buy with a revised target of Rs 2350. Bank of America Merill Lynch raised target to Rs 2275 while Citi retains a buy rating.

1:50 pm Gold: US gold futures slipped about 1 percent, hovering below a six-month high hit in the previous session as investors turned cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve's policy review, but tensions over Crimea could cushion the fall, reports Reuters.

Since the US central bank is already expected to announce another $10-billion cut to its bond-buying stimulus after the two-day meeting which starts on March 18, the impact of the decision on gold could be limited.

1:40 pm Dividend: Engineers India (EIL) has said its board has approved payment of an interim dividend of Rs 3.50 per share to its shareholders.

"The Board of Directors of the company at its meeting held on March 15 declared an interim dividend of Rs 3.50 per share (on the face value of Rs 5 each) of the company for the financial year 2013-2014," the company said in a filing to stock exchanges.

The Interim Dividend for 2013-14 on the equity shares of the company shall be payable on and from March 24, 2014.

1:30 pm Shutdown: Refined copper producer Sesa Sterlite Ltd will shut its smelter for 22 days starting April 26, two company sources said on Tuesday, in what would be the first maintenance closure in four years and cut supplies to top buyer Chin, reports Reuters.

Sesa Sterlite, a unit of billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Resources Plc , produces 30,000 tonnes of refined copper per month and exports half of that to China.

"We were to close the plant last year for maintenance but could not because of the forced shutdown on environmental grounds," one of the sources said, referring to a closure of more than two months from March 30 on complaints of emissions.

1:20 pm Market outlook: The market is already at new highs and if the foreign institutional investor (FII) inflows continue then market can go up to any levels in the run up to the elections said R Sreesankar, Head-Institutional Equities, Prabhudas Lilladher.

The only concern for the market is that the domestic mutual funds still continue to witness redemption pressures but in case that stops then it will be even more positive for the market said Sreesankar.

Sectorally, the capital goods space has to be looked at from a longer term perspective than a one quarter perspective. ''The assumption is that post elections; there will be a stable government and lot more business decisions could take place – capex cycle will improve and that will affect the caps goods sector,'' he said. The house is positive on Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and Crompton Greaves from that space.

The marketing continues to hold its gains. The Sensex is up 129.33 points at 21939.13, and the Nifty is up 40.05 points at 6544.25. About 1423 shares have advanced, 1080 shares declined, and 166 shares are unchanged.

Banks and oil & gas stocks lead the gains. Broader markets also see strong trade up nearly a percent.

Maruti remains to be star of the day with over 7 percent gain. ONGC, SBI, Coal India and ITC are other gainers in the Sensex.

Among the losers are Tata Motors, Hero MotoCorp, HDFC, M&M and Wipro.

In an exclusive interview to CNBC-TV18, GK Pillai Former Chairman of MCX-SX says that his resignation from MCX-SX was partly to protest against the CBI's move to investigate former SEBI chairman CB Bhave for allowing MCX-SX to start a currency exchange.

Meanwhile, in less than a month to go for elections, the Congress party may announce its third list today. The big question ofcourse is- who will the party pit against the BJP's Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi in Varanasi. The Congress is also likely to announce candidates for Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra and UP.

12:59pm Orchid Chemicals locked at 10% upper circuit
There were only buyers for shares of Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals as the stock was locked at 10 percent upper circuit on getting approval for its debt restructuring package.

The Corporate Debt Restructuring Empowered Group has issued the letter of approval for debt restructuring package on March 10.

12:50pm SREI Infrastructure talks to CNBC-TV18
Reliance Jio has entered into infrastructure sharing agreement with Viom Network , in which the latter will lease all its 42,000 towers, said Sunil Kanoria, vice-chairman of SREI Infrastructure, part owners of Viom.

''We have signed this agreement with Reliance Jio for sharing our towers for their rollout, planned both for the 4G and the new spectrum that they have taken recently in the 14 circles,'' he told CNBC-TV18.

"We have the highest tenancy amongst entire tower industry. Thus, our pricing in this model would be among the best,'' he said adding Viom's tower tenancy ratio of over 2.3 will cross to 3 in the next 2 years because of the deal.

12:40pm Putin to sign treaty to make Crimea part of Russia
President Vladimir Putin has approved a draft treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, confirming that Russia plans to make the southern Ukrainian region part of Russia. It said he would sign the treaty with Crimea's leader.

Putin signed an order on Monday "to approve the draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on adopting the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation".

The order was part of a series of steps to bring Crimea into Russia after voters there approved the move in a weekend referendum that Ukraine and the West have called denounced by Ukraine and the West as illegal, reports Reuters.

12:30pm Market Expert
The market is already at new highs and if the foreign institutional investor (FII) inflows continue then market can go up to any levels in the run up to the elections  R Sreesankar, Head-Institutional Equities, Prabhudas Lilladher said.

The only concern for the market is that the domestic mutual funds still continue to witness redemption pressures but in case that stops then it will be even more positive for the market said Sreesankar.

12:20pm SREI Infrastructure on buyers' radar
Shares of SREI Infrastructure jumped 7 percent as Reliance Jio entered into infrastructure sharing agreement with Viom Network.

As part of the agreement, Rel Jio will use Viom Networks' telecom infrastructure having a footprint of over 42,000 telecom towers.

About 45 percent stake in Viom is held together by SREI Infrastructure and other PE investors. The Kanorias of SREI own 18 percent and control management of the company, majority owned by Tata Teleservices (54 percent) with the rest owned by IDFC Private Equity, SBI Macquarie, Oman Investment Fund and GIC of Singapore.

12:10pm Maruti keeps top position in buying list
Maruti Suzuki stock rallied as much as 9 percent intraday, hitting a record high of Rs 1,899.90 as the board reviews Gujarat project. Now the stock is up 7.77 percent.

The company, which was under heavy scrutiny over its Gujarat plant, has also agreed to seek minority shareholders' nod once contract is finalised. The company announced capex for FY15 at  Rs 4,000 crore.

The management's clarification has won brokerages' confidence as they revised their target prices. Credit Suisse has retained overweight on the stock with an increased target price of Rs 2200 per share.

12:00pm Equity benchmarks maintained positive momentum in noon trade supported by ITC and Reliance Industries. Banks too helped the market but technology stocks lost ground.

The Sensex rose 145.94 points to 21955.74 and the Nifty advanced 44.30 points to 6548.50. About 1380 shares have advanced, 956 shares declined, and 156 shares are unchanged.

Cigarette major ITC and petrochemical major Reliance Industries rallied 2 percent each.

Top lender State Bank of India gained 2.7 percent as media reports suggest that the bank is going to sell around Rs 5,000 crore worth of non-performing assets to asset reconstruction companies by March-end.

Private sector lenders ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank climbed 0.8 percent, 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

State-run ONGC, GAIL and Coal India spiked 2-2.7 percent.

However, shares of HDFC, Tata Motors and Hero Motocorp fell over a percent. TCS, Infosys, L&T, M&M, HUL and Sun Pharma declined 0.3-0.6 percent.

11:50 am Stock in news: Shares of Financial Technologies (FTIL) saw buying interest  as the company sold entire stake in National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC). The stock gained more than 4 percent intraday.

"Financial Technologies and all other shareholders of NBHC have entered into share purchase agreement for sale of 100 percent equity ownership in NBHC for Rs 241.74 crore," the company said in its filing.

NBHC is a subsidiary of the company to IVF Trustee Company Private Limited, the sole Trustee of India Value Fund IV.

The company further said this transaction is likely to be completed between April 15 to April 30, 2014, subject to shareholders approval by way of postal ballot.

11:40 am Wage issue: Upping the ante against the Toyota Kirloskar Motor management over the wage hike issue and the subsequent lockout at the two plants near Bangalore, the company's employees union today sought state government's intervention in the issue.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor, the subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp of Japan, had yesterday declared a lockout at its two manufacturing plants at Bidadi near Bangalore, following the failure of talks between the management and the union over wage negotiation. "We want the government to immediately intervene in the matter and resolve the issue. We have already submitted a memorandum to the government in this regard," Toyota Motor Union sources said.

11:30 am Market outlook: The Sensex and Nifty could rise another 10 percent from current levels, feels Gautam Trivedi, MD & Head of Equities-India, Religare Capital Markets. He sees more foreign fund flows into India if the economy continues to improve.

The equity benchmarks hit new highs this morning, as investors are betting on a stable government, and improvement in the economy and corporate earnings. Also, helping is the upbeat mood in global equity markets.

However, the market could fall as much as 20 percent if the election results fail to meet market expectations, he said.

Trivedi sees investors switching to shares of engineering and capital goods companies, and moving out from IT and pharma. He is bullish on Tata Steel, HDFC Bank, Voltas and Crompton Greaves, and Maruti.

In the PSU banking space, he likes Oriental Bank .

11:20 pm Buzzing: Shares of SREI Infrastructure jumped over 11 percent intraday as Reliance Jio entered into infrastructure sharing agreement with Viom Network. As part of the agreement, Rel Jio will use Viom Networks' telecom infrastructure having a footprint of over 42,000 telecom towers.

About 45 percent stake in Viom is held together by SREI Infrastructure and other PE investors. The Kanorias of SREI own 18 percent and control management of the company, majority owned by Tata Teleservices (54 percent) with the rest owned by IDFC Private Equity, SBI Macquarie, Oman Investment Fund and GIC of Singapore.

The infrastructure company is also exploring options of a LSE listing for Viom.

The market manages to maintain its upmove as the Sensex is up 147.56 points at 21957.36. The Nifty is up 49.95 points at 6554.15. About 1318 shares have advanced, 796 shares declined, and 126 shares are unchanged.

Maruti Suzuki, Coal India, SBI, ONGC and Tata Power are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are L&T, HDFC, TCS, Hero MotoCorp and Tata Motors.

Rupee opened higher against the dollar tracking strength in Asian currencies. Strength in euro also aids. Bunched-up dollar inflows following extended weekend holiday expected to push rupee higher.

Gilts trade is higher tracking rupee's rise against the dollar. Improvement in global investor sentiment also lends support to prices

Asian markets gain taking cue from the positive US close as Russia-Ukraine tensions ebb with focus shifting to the Fed's two-day policy that kicks off today.

Gold is hovering around its six-month highs while Brent crude softened to levels of USD 106 per barrel.

10:59am Federal Reserve's two-day meeting to start today
The Federal Reserve is unlikely to damage its credibility by changing policies in today's meeting said Peter Elston, Aberdeen Asset Management.

In spite of some weakness on the data front in the US Fed will continue with the gradual tapering of USD 10 billion per month , he said.

According to him whenever markets react negatively to any political disruptions it is more of a buying opportunity and one should not be too worried about it for the longer term.

10:50am SBI to sell NPAs worth Rs 5000 cr
For the first time in its over two centuries of history, State Bank of India (SBI) is going all out to stem the rot by offloading around Rs 5,000 crore of its Rs 67,799 crore dud assets to ARCs before the end of the month.

The state-run bank had reported 5.73 percent of its assets as bad loans in the December quarter.

"There are 14 ARCs functioning today, and we have invited many of them to pick up our stressed loans of around Rs 5,000 crore. We will definitely be offloading at least a large portion of this to the highest bidders. The process should be concluded before the end of the month," a senior SBI official said in Mumbai on Monday, reports PTI.

10:40am Goldman Sachs sees 7600 on Nifty
Goldman Sachs has upgraded India to "overweight" with a Nifty 12-month target at 7,600, which is a 17 percent upside in stock markets from current levels. The benchmark is currently trading at 6,500.

Goldman, which expects domestic fundamentals to improve, said elections may be an important domestic catalyst for markets. Timothy Moe, Goldman Sachs says: "CPI inflation for February declined further driven primarily by a fall in vegetable prices."

Goldman favours cyclicals over defensives and has retained its "overweight" call on IT and energy stocks and upgraded auto stocks. State-run ONGC, Coal India, NTPC and BPCL will be key election beneficiaries, it said. In the private sector, ICICI Bank, L&T, Ultratech, JSW Steel, IndusInd Bank and Voltas will gain from elections, it added.

10:30am Rupee breaches 61-mark
Indian rupee appreciated 25 paise to 60.93 per dollar following rally in equity markets.

10:20am AstraZeneca Pharma on buyers' radar

Shares of AstraZeneca Pharma gained 3.5 percent as the board of directors has finally approved delisting proposal.

"The delisting proposal received from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals AB, Sweden, the promoter of the company, vide their letter dated March 01, 2014, was considered and approved by the board of the company at its meeting held on March 15, 2014," the company said in its filing.

10:10am Infosys signs multi-year contract with Volvo Cars
India's second largest software services exporter Infosys has signed multi-year contract with Volvo Cars for supplying application development services for global operations.

"We will be a strategic supplier for Volvo Cars to deliver excellence and innovation to transform their IT landscape to a modern architecture," Nitesh Bansal, vice president manufacturing Europe, Infosys said.

Meanwhile, the US District of Columbia has extended its contract with Infosys Public Services, a US based subsidiary of Infosys.

"Under the new agreement, Infosys Public Services will modernise the legacy eligibility system and additional federal and local health and social programs for the US District of Columbia," the company said in its filing.

10:01am The market gained more strength as the Sensex rallied over 200 pts supported largely by index heavyweights and banks.The Sensex rose 211.78 points or 0.97 percent to 22021.58 and the Nifty climbed 55.50 points or 0.85 percent to 6559.70. About 986 shares have advanced, 371 shares declined, and 71 shares are unchanged.

Index heavyweights Reliance Industries and ITC gained 1.9 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Top lender State Bank of India advanced 2 percent followed by HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and ICICI Bank with 1-1.5 percent.

Car maker Maruti remained on buyers' radar with over 7 percent upside as board of directors decided to seek minority shareholders' nod for Gujarat project. The brokerage houses raised target price on the stock post board meet.