Nifty closes below 6500 on Fed signals of early rate hike

Equity benchmarks lost ground on Thursday on weak global cues after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen hinted that the bank may increase interest rates earlier than expected.

Fed also continued its tapering plan by cutting monthly stimulus to USD 55 billion from USD 65 billion earlier.

The 30-share BSE Sensex slipped 92.77 points to 21740.09 while the 50-share NSE Nifty closed below the 6500-mark, down 40.95 points to 6483.10. Despite small corrections, the upside momentum in the market will continue, Ambareesh Baliga of Edelweiss Financial Services said.

He sees the Nifty going to 6800 plus before election results. Capital goods, banking & financials, metals and auto stocks saw selling pressure while IT bucked the trend. Housing finance company HDFC and engineering & construction major L&T lost 2 percent each. State-run gas transmission company GAIL and power equipment maker BHEL fell over 2.5 percent.

Private sector lender Axis Bank slipped 2 percent. Private sector lender Axis Bank slipped 2 percent. The government will sell 4.22 crore shares or 9 percent stake of Axis Bank through block deals on Friday. It holds 20.72 percent stake through SUUTI in the bank. Top private sector lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank lost over 0.7 percent. Commercial vehicle maker Tata Motors and top telecom operator Bharti Airtel were down over a percent.

Shares of State Bank of India, Bajaj Auto, Tata Steel and Sesa Sterlite declined 1.7 percent each. BPCL, HPCL and IOC fell 2-4 percent as oil marketing companies are set to face a massive under-recovery bill. Sources told CNBC-TV18 that finance ministry wants OMCs to absorb more under-recovery losses as they have seen better profitability.

Under-recovery bill may be as high as Rs 5,000 crore. However, buying interest was seen in technology stocks after the fall in domestic currency.

TCS recouped previous day's losses, rising over 3 percent while rival Infosys and Wipro gained 1 percent each. Shares of Reliance Industries and ONGC were up 0.4 percent each. FMCG major Hindustan Unilever surged 2 percent.

03:30pm Market closes on negative note
The market saw selling pressure on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair hinted likely hike in interest rates in coming months. The Sensex was down 92.77 points to 21740.09 and the Nifty fell 40.95 points to 6483.10. Declining shares outnumbered advancing ones by a ratio of 1511 to 1263 on the BSE.

03:20pm Sunteck Realty falls 6.5%
Sunteck Realty plunged 6.5 percent despite Ajay Piramal-led Akshar Fincom has picked up a 3.5 percent stake in company for around Rs 65 crore, according to industry sources. Sunteck Realty has around 28 million square feet of area under development with most either completed or under various stages of completion. The BSE-listed firm has projects across segments, including residential and commercial, with most of them in Mumbai, besides projects in Goa, Nagpur and Jaipur. Currently the promoter shareholding in the company is 73.49 percent, reports PTI.

03:10pm Prestige Estates talks to CNBC-TV18
Irfan Razack, CMD, Prestige Estates, believes the company will have a sustained growth going forward. Despite a slowdown in the sector, Prestige Estates is likely to achieve its FY14 guidance across various operating parameters due to good growth in the Bangalore market. The company is one of the top picks of Barclays in the real estate sector. It also figures among CLSA's preferred picks. The company, which got a good response to its Prestige Lakeside Project, is planning several new launches in FY15. Razack said that going ahead the company will be able to sustain the 30 percent operating margin levels.

02:59pm Sensex likely to rise 12% in 2014
Indian shares are forecast to continue setting new record highs this year as foreign capital is lured into the market, especially if general elections return the business-friendly opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to power, a Reuters poll found on Thursday. The BSE Sensex hit a life-time high of 22,040.72 on Tuesday but the poll of 23 equity analysts, taken in the past week, forecast the index to rise further to 23,000 by the end of June. It is then expected to hit 24,500 by the end of 2014, a 12 percent gain from Wednesday's close of 21,832.86, reports Reuters.

02:50pm Market extends losses
The Sensex fell 102.79 points to 21730.07 and the Nifty declined 41.45 points to 6482.60. About 1153 shares have advanced, 1514 shares declined, and 149 shares are unchanged. Shares of DLF, Ambuja Cements, BPCL, Bank of Baroda, Power Grid, BHEL and GAIL lost 2.8-3.7 percent. Housing finance company HDFC plunged 2 percent.

02:40pm Titan talks to CNBC-TV18
The RBI allowing more banks to import gold won't have any impact on volumes, says Subramaniam S, chief financial officer, Titan. Speaking to CNBC-TV18, he says that the move will not result in either the total quantum of gold coming into the country nor in demand for plain gold jewellery . ''Any revival in the sector is only possible now after the elections,'' he adds. The central bank on Wednesday allowed more banks, including Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, to import gold under the 80:20 scheme that allows for importing of the precious metal on the condition that 20 percent of the shipment would be exported while the other 80 would be used for domestic use.

02:30pm FII View
Jim Walker, Founder and MD, Asianomics says it is time to start accumulating Indian shares. In January this year, Asianomics had rated as a 'high conviction buy', citing improving corporate earnings and bottoming out of the economy as the main triggers. In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Walker said he was long on India for the next 5 years. On the other hand, he is bearish on US equities and sees them declining around 20 percent.

02:20pm Crude update
Brent crude rose today to hover around USD 106 a barrel after the US Federal Reserve signalled interest rates could rise next year, indicating strength in the world's largest economy and top oil consumer, while geopolitical tensions also underpinned prices. In comments that sent stocks and bonds tumbling, Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday said the bank would probably end its massive bond-buying program this fall, and could start raising interest rates around six months later. While scaling back of the central bank's commodity-friendly stimulus has been viewed as a drain of liquidity, the latest outlook is being seen by market participants as underscoring confidence in the US economy, reports Reuters.

02:10pm Mukand locked at 20% upper circuit
Investors are buying shares of Mukand after promoters raised stake to 73.3 percent from 54.33 percent in the company through rights issue. The issue price for rights issue was fixed at Rs 21 apiece and the ratio was one equity share for every share held. Promoters received 6.4 crore equity shares through rights issue by paying Rs 134.4 crore. Non-promoter shareholding including domestic institutional investors declined to 26.64 percent from 45.67 percent earlier.

02:00pm Equity benchmarks are marginally lower amid volatility with the Nifty consistently hovering around the 6500 level. Banks, capital goods, auto and metals stocks are under pressure while the buying in technology stocks capped the downside. The Sensex declined 51.25 points to 21781.61 and the Nifty lost 25.65 points to 6498.40. About 1169 shares have advanced, 1454 shares declined, and 160 shares are unchanged.   State-run gas transmission company GAIL and power equipment maker BHEL dropped 3 percent each followed by HDFC, L&T and Hero Motocorp with 2 percent. Shares of ITC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India, Axis Bank, Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Sesa Sterlite dropped 0.7-1.7 percent. However, technology stocks continued to see buying interest on rupee depreciation. TCS recouped yesterday's losses, gaining 3.56 percent while rival Infosys and Wipro rallied 1.5-2 percent. FMCG major Hindustan Unilever and drug maker Sun Pharma climbed 1-2 percent.

2:00 pm Interview: Silicon Valley-based Persistent Systems has launched a dedicated business unit called 'Accelerite' that will align its business strategy towards products and intellectual property based on the social, mobility, analytics and cloud (SMAC) platform. ''We believe that products and product development services need to be managed differently and customers need to view these as different business lines,'' the firm's CMD and CEO Anand Deshpande told CNBC-TV18 in an interview. ''We are taking some of our IP revenues and putting them into the Accelerite brand and all our products will be branded as such.''

1:50 pm FII view on Fed: Jonathan Garner, Chief Asian and Emerging Market Equity Strategist at Morgan Stanley believes the FOMC policy was moderately hawkish, which will lead to the US 10-year yields to see 3.3 percent levels by the end of this year. Post the announcements, global equity markets ended lower, while yields on US Treasuries jumped. ''The big picture for emerging markets such as India is that we are still in a period where US monetary policy is going to be tightening and bond yields are going up. The rise in global cost of capital is one reason why we are seeing the system to outflow by foreign investors from Asia and the emerging equity markets overall,'' Garner told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

1:40 pm Rupee outlook: Election outcome will be the main trigger for the rupee, says Ajay Marwaha of HDFC Bank in an interview to CNBC-TV18. He expects the currency to remain stable in the medium-term. His near-term range for the rupee is 60-61.75 to the dollar. The outcome of yesterday's Fed policy was in line with market expectations. Only a major shift in the Fed policy could impact the rupee, says Marwaha. According to him dollar will remain strong against most currencies all through Fed's rate hike cycle.

1:30 pm Buzzing: Shares of Geometric gained as much as 6.5 percent intraday as sources told CNBC-TV18 that private equity players are eyeing Godrej group stake in Geometric. It is learnt that Apax Partners, one of the PE players, is eyeing for stake in the software services provider. It may trigger an open offer if Godrej sells majority stake, sources say. In promoter group category, Godrej group companies holds 31.63 percent in Geometric while Parpia family has 7.31 percent stake in the company as of December 31, 2013. Ace investor Rakesh Radheshyam Jhunjhunwala and his wife together hold 19.32 percent stake in Geometric.

1:20 pm  How to trade IT stocks now?: Two Indian tech biggies, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), have mellowed their fourth quarter guidance. Is the IT industry headed for an extended muted growth? Speaking on the concerns, Kawaljeet Saluja, Executive Director & Head of Research, Kotak Institutional Equities, said for TCS, India business will be a swing factor in Q4. "In Q4 of FY13 the revenue growth for TCS was 3.1 percent on dollar terms but if you look at the composition; the international business grew by 1.8 percent and India business grew by 19 percent. In Q4 of FY14, the weakness in the India business is continuing and on the other hand because this is seasonally weak period for TCS, the international business also has a soft period. So, to that extent the growth expectations right now are around 2 percent for March 2014 quarter," he said.

The market is volatile as Fed Reserve Chair Janet Yellen raised the possibility of an earlier-than-anticipated increase in interest rates. Banks and oil & gas stocks drag while IT stocks gain. The Sensex is down 51.78 points at 21781.08, and the Nifty is down 25.00 points at 6499.05.  About 1133 shares have advanced, 1379 shares declined, and 165 shares are unchanged. Oil marketing companies are set to face a massive under-recovery bill--finance ministry wants OMCs to absorb more under-recovery losses as they have seen better profitability. Under-recovery bill may be as high as Rs 5,000 crore. Brent crude rose hover around USD 106 a barrel after the US Federal Reserve signalled interest rates could rise next year, indicating strength in the world's largest economy and top oil consumer, while geopolitical tensions also underpinned prices.

12:59pm Rupee off one-week low
The rupee is off one-week low hit in early session as dollar selling by foreign banks on custodial flows suspected, dealers say. The rupee is at 61.15/16 after hitting an intraday low of 61.40. The unit closes at 60.95/96 on Wednesday. Foreign fund inflows into stocks, bonds have been the key driver of INR; totalling USD 3.6 billion in March. Most other Asian currencies like the Indonesian rupiah and the Taiwan dollar are weaker against the dollar. The dollar traded at two-week highs against a basket of major currencies early on Thursday, having posted solid gains after comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen prompted markets to bring forward interest rate hike expectations, reports Reuters.

12:50pm Geometric rises 4%
PE players are eyeing Godrej group stake in Geometric, reports CNBC-TV18 quoting sources. It is learnt that Apax Partners, one of the PE players, is eyeing for stake in the software services provider. It may trigger an open offer if Godrej sells majority stake, sources say. Godrej group holds 31.63 percent in Geometric.

12:40pm Nikkei falls to 6-week low
Japanese stocks tumbled to a six-week low on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen raised the prospect of interest rate hikes starting earlier than previously thought, sparking a selloff in equities before a three-day weekend. The Nikkei share average ended 1.7 percent lower at 14,224.23, the lowest closing level since February 6. For the week, the index dropped 0.7 percent. Markets in Japan will shut on Friday for a public holiday, reports Reuters.

12:30pm Ashoka Buildcon in focus
Ashoka Buildcon gains nearly 6 percent as 32 road projects are set to benefit from finance ministry's decision to defer payments to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Proposed by Rangarajan Committee, the decision allows the already cash strapped highway developers to defer premium payment to NHAI if they don't have enough funds after servicing their debt and other obligations. Once toll collections pick up, the developer will have to pay the premium along with interest equal to bank rate plus an additional 2 percent on premium amount deferred. Out of the 32 projects, 22 are awarded for 4-laning and 10 are awarded for 6-laning. According to NHAI, these projects are currently under construction or have already achieved completion. Satish Parakh of Ashoka Buildcon says its three projects (Dhankuni-Kharagpur, Belgaum-Dharwad and Sambalpur) will be applying for premium rescheduling. ''The overall debts in these projects are around Rs 3,000 crore. So, if we get a benefit of around 100-150 bps, this will definitely release our cash flows,'' he said in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

12:20pm FII View
Jim Walker, Founder and MD, Asianomics says it is time to start accumulating Indian shares. In January this year, Asianomics had rated as a 'high conviction buy', citing improving corporate earnings and bottoming out of the economy as the main triggers. In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Walker said he was long on India for the next 5 years. On the other hand, he is bearish on US equities and sees them declining around 20 percent.

12:10pm Experts feel poll outcome will impact rupee
Election outcome will be the main trigger for the rupee, says Ajay Marwaha of  HDFC Bank in an interview to CNBC-TV18. He expects the currency to remain stable in the medium-term. His near-term range for the rupee is 60-61.75 to the dollar. The outcome of yesterday's Fed policy was in line with market expectations. Only a major shift in the Fed policy could impact the rupee, says Marwaha. According to him, dollar will remain strong against most currencies all through Fed's rate hike cycle.

12:00pm The market continued to witness marginal selling pressure weighed down by banks, auto, capital goods and PSU oil & gas stocks. The fall in global markets after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen hinting likely rate hike in coming months too impacted Indian equities. The Sensex slipped 27.29 points to 21805.57 and the Nifty lost 14.85 points to 6509.20. About 1152 shares have advanced, 1231 shares declined, and 154 shares are unchanged. Top lenders State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank declined 0.5-1 percent while housing finance company HDFC fell 1.3 percent. Among capital goods stocks, state-run BHEL plunged 3 percent while rival Larsen & Toubro plummeted 1.5 percent. Shares of auto companies like Bajaj Auto, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hero Motocorp declined 0.2-0.7 percent. State-run ONGC, GAIL, BPCL, HPCL and IOC plunged 1-4 percent. Sources told CNBC-TV18 that oil marketing companies (OMCs) may have to pay much more on under-recoveries in FY14. It is learnt that finance ministry wants OMCs to absorb Rs 3,700 crore in FY14 versus Rs 900 crore in FY13.

12:00 pm Market outlook: The Nifty is unlikely to go below 6350, and its lower trading range could be 6350-6400 till elections feels Vibhav Kapoor, group chief investment officer IL&FS. He does not see any major downside even after the election results are declared mid-May. Kapoor said there were signs of investors shifting money out of IT stocks into cyclicals. Yet, he felt that the fundamentals of top tier IT companies like Infosys and TCS were intact, despite some nervousness in the market over the muted fourth quarter guidance. Kapoor thinks frontline IT stocks are a good buy if they fall another 5 percent from current levels.

11:50 am Fund raising: The state-run IDBI Bank became the first lender to hit the overseas debt market this year, raising USD 300 million in a 5.5-year money, priced at 5.061 percent. For the city-based lender, this is first issue since last March when it had raised USD 500 million. The current RegS bond sale got an over-subscription of USD 2.2 billion from overseas investors, said Citigroup, which was one of the lead bankers to the issue along with RBS and PNB Paribas. Regulation S bonds are senior unsecured debt instruments sold to foreign investors in which US-based American investors cannot participate.

11:40 am In focus: Shares of highway developers are buzzing on Thursday as 32 road projects are set to benefit from finance ministry's decision to defer payments to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Stocks like IRB Infra and Ashoka Buildcon are up 3 and 6 percent intraday respectively. Proposed by Rangarajan Committee, the decision allows the already cash strapped highway developers to defer premium payment to NHAI if they don't have enough funds after servicing their debt and other obligations. Once toll collections pick up, the developer will have to pay the premium along with interest equal to bank rate plus an additional 2 percent on premium amount deferred. Out of the 32 projects, 22 are awarded for 4-laning and 10 are awarded for 6-laning. According to NHAI, these projects are currently under construction or have already achieved completion.

11:30 am FII view: Jim Walker, Founder and MD, Asianomics says it is time to start accumulating Indian shares . In January this year, Asianomics had rated as a 'high conviction buy', citing improving corporate earnings and bottoming out of the economy as the main triggers. Walker is long on India for the next 5 years. On the other hand, he is bearish on US equities and sees them declining around 20 percent. He sees cyclical stocks as best bets for investors looking to invest in India. And while sentiment for IT stocks in general may have soured over the last week following profit warnings from Infosys and TCS, he does not recommend selling IT shares.

11:20 am Buzzing: Shares of Persistent Systems climbed 2 percent after the software service provider announced creation of Accelerite to take a portfolio of products and related solutions to market. The company said Accelerite would be a business unit of Persistent Systems, headquartered in Silicon Valley and led by Nara Rajagopalan. "The formation of Accelerite will bring product-centric alignment to business models, strategies, sales, and operations. Persistent Systems will continue to focus on product development and technology services where it is a well-respected market leader," it said in its filing.

The market is consolidating for second day with Nifty marginally holding 6500. The Nifty is down 18.20 points at 6505.85 and the Sensex is down 40.88 points at 21791.98. About 1052 shares have advanced, 1047 shares declined, and 118 shares are unchanged. IT stocks are gaining with weakness in rupee. Wipro, TCS amd Infosys are gainers in the Sensex. Defensives like Sun Pharma and HUL are too on buyers' radar.  Among the losers are GAIL, BHEL, ITC, L&T and Axis Bank. The rupee recovers from its earlier weakness but is still lower against the dollar in line with sluggishness in other global currencies and overall strength of the dollar Government bond prices fell sharply, taking cues from the surge in US bond yields Wednesday after Federal Reserve indicated plans to raise interest rates sooner-than-expected. Gold futures continued its falling streak for the third consecutive trading session and fell to its lowest level in almost three weeks on Wednesday. Brent held steady at USD 106 per barrel while Nymex inched up to USD 100 per barrel. Asian markets trade lower tracking a decline in US equities as Fed Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen said the central bank could start raising interest rates around six months after it wraps up its bond buying programme. The central bank has kept interest rates near zero since 2008. The US FOMC, after its two day monetary policy meeting, decided to reduce its stimulus programme by another USD 10 billion to USD 55 billion a month. This is the third reduction in stimulus since December.

10:55am RBI allows banks to import gold
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed more banks, including Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, to import gold under the 80:20 scheme, a move seen as a precursor to easing restrictions on inward shipments of the metal. The government and the RBI had imposed tough measures to control gold imports, one of the primary causes of the current account deficit swelling to a record high USD 88.2 billion in 2012-13. The government also increased customs duty on gold to 10 percent from 4 percent to discourage imports. According to sources, the RBI has permitted Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank and YES Bank to import gold. These banks received permission to import gold under the 80:20 scheme from the RBI some time ago, sources said, reports PTI.

10:45am Axis Bank in focus
Sources told CNBC-TV18 that Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI) officials in Mumbai will meet merchant bankers on Axis Bank share sale. Sale of Axis Bank shares by SUUTI is likely very soon. Axis Bank declined 1.6 percent to Rs 1,363.80 on the NSE.

10:35am SEBI passes order against Financial Technologies
The Securities and Exchange Board of India on Wednesday passed an order on Financial Technologies India, deeming the company not 'fit and proper' to hold any stake in bourses. The regulator also ordered for the divestment of stake held by the company in exchanges like the MCX-SX and MCX- SX CCL in 90 days. The order also states that FTIL shall divest stake in Delhi Stock Exchange (DSE), Vadodara Stock Exchange (VSE) & NSE in 90 days apart from ceasing to be entitled to voting rights in the various bourses. Jignesh Shah-led FTIL is the promoter of MCX-SX which has been under the Central Bureau of Investigation's radar for discrepancies in granting license to the bourse in 2008.

10:25am SKS Microfinance gains 2%
SKS Microfinance on March 19 completed the tenth securitisation transaction of Rs 26.73 crore during the current financial year. With this, the total sum of securitisations completed for FY14 (year-to-date) is Rs 1,377.94 crore, the company said in its filing. SKS further said the entire pool, which qualifies for priority sector treatment as per RBI's priority sector lending guidelines, was rated A1+ (SO) by a leading rating agency. It signifies a very strong degree of safety regarding timely payment of financial obligations' and such instruments carry the lowest credit risk, it added.

10:15am Analyst on Fed move
James Glassman, JP Morgan Chase Bank believes there was no meaningful change in the Fed policy and the market reaction to Fed chair's statements are likely to soon fade out because the fundamental picture in US hasn't changed and neither has Fed forecasts. On the equity front, with the valuations for Asia Pacific region trading around 12.5 times and S&P500 trading around 15 times, there is still reason for investors to favour equities and fixed income is not attractive right now, he said in an interview to CNBC-TV18

10:00am The market is marginally under pressure in morning trade Thursday, following weak global cues, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen hinted likely interest rate hike in coming months. Moreover, the US Federal Reserve decided to continue tapering bond purchases and said it would cut bond purchases by USD 10 billion to USD 55 billion per month. The Nifty declined 30 points to 6494 and the Sensex slipped 80 points to 21752 while Asian markets like Hang Seng and Nikkei fell over a percent. BPCL fell nearly 3 percent as sources told CNBC-TV18 that oil marketing companies (OMCs) may have to pay much more on under-recoveries in FY14. It is learnt that finance ministry wants OMCs to absorb Rs 3,700 crore in FY14 versus Rs 900 crore in FY13. Shares of BHEL, Ambuja Cements, Bank of Baroda, Power Grid, DLF and Punjab National Bank lost 2-2.6 percent. Kotak Mahindra Bank, GAIL, Axis Bank, ITC, L&T, HDFC, State Bank of India, Coal India, Tata Power and ACC slipped 1-2 percnet. However, technology stocks like TCS, Wipro and Infosys ganied more than a percent after fall in rupee. Shares of Hindustan Unilever, Bharti Airtel, Lupin and Sun Pharma climbed over a percent. Meanwhile, the rupee depreciated 27 paise to 61.22 per dollar on Fed move.

9:50 am Opinion on FOMC meet outcome: Mohamed A. El-Erian says the Fed is in the midst of not one but two policy transitions. It is pivoting from reliance on a direct instrument (QE purchases of securities in the marketplace) to an indirect one (forward policy guidance to convince others to devote their balance sheets) - thereby raising effectiveness questions. It is also moving from a readily-observable unemployment threshold to a set of indicators that include qualitative judgments - thereby raising less predictable interpretation questions.

9:40 am Buzzing: Shares of SKS Microfinance gained more than 3 percent intraday after the micro-lender completed securitisation worth Rs 26.73 crore. "The company on March 19 completed the tenth securitisation transaction during the current financial year. With this, the total sum of securitisations completed for FY14 (year-to-date) is Rs 1,377.94 crore," the company said in its filing. SKS further said the entire pool, which qualifies for priority sector treatment as per RBI's priority sector lending guidelines, was rated A1+ (SO) by a leading rating agency. It signifies a very strong degree of safety regarding timely payment of financial obligations' and such instruments carry the lowest credit risk, it added.

9:40 am Sticky wicket: Oil marketing companies (OMCs) are set to face a massive under-recovery bill that may be as high as Rs 5,000 crore. The finance ministry wants the OMCs to absorb a much higher share of under recoveries this fiscal. Meanwhile, upstream companies' ONGC and Oil India 's contribution is at par with street estimates at Rs 65,400 crore. Sources say, finance ministry believes the OMCs can pay a much higher share as profits, gross refining margins (GRMs) are comparatively higher this fiscal.

The market opened lower as Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen suggested interest rate hikes in about six months after quantitative easing ends. The Sensex is down 78.59 points at 21754.27 and the Nifty is down 22.55 points  at 6501.50. Moreover, the US Federal Reserve decided to continue tapering bond purchases and cut bond purchases by USD 10 billion to USD 55 billion per month. The central bank dropped the unemployment rate as its definitive yardstick for measuring the strength of the economy and emphasised it would rely on other factors in deciding when to boost interest rates. Back to domestic shores, oil & gas and bank stocks are under pressure. Axis Bank, TCS, Dr Reddy's Labs, Coal India and ONGC are major losers. Among the gainers are Infosys, Wipro, Tata Steel, GAIL and Bharti Airtel. Indian rupee opened lower at 61.38 per dollar, down 43 paise compared to previous day's closing value of 60.95 a dollar after indication from Fed chair Janet Yellen of likely hike in interest rates in the US. Mohan Shenoi, Kotak Mahindra Bank said FOMC decision to continue tapering of bond buying programme (from USD 65 billion to USD 55 billion) and forward guidance on interest rates has pushed US 10-year higher to 2.76 percent triggering mild dollar rally against major currencies. He expects the rupee to trade in a range of 61.20 to 61.50 per dollar. "Bond market is awaiting government borrowing calendar for first half of FY15. With the fiscal year end approaching and RBI monetary policy review on April 1, bond market will be range bound. The range for the 10-year is seen between 8.79-8.84 percent," he added US stocks eased off session lows but still finished firmly in the red.  Asian stocks follow Wall Street lower after Yellen signals rate rise. South Korean shares extended declines on a 1.5 percent decline in index heavyweight Hyundai motor. From precious metals space, gold hit its weakest in three weeks this morning as the US dollar jumped on expectations the Federal Reserve could end its bond-buying program this fall, hurting the metal's safe haven appeal as a hedge against inflation. Meanwhile, the Russian finance minister said that they will cover Crimea's estimated 55 billion rouble, (USD 1.53 billion) budget deficit with funds from the federal budget. Also, Russian foreign ministry says Ukraine's argument against legitimacy of Crimean referendum "strange, illogical and legally ignorant."