Sensex up 300 points to end at life high of 22055; banks lead

Equity benchmarks saw fresh all-time highs on Monday with the Sensex closing above the psychological 22000-mark for the first time, supported by strong Asian cues and FII flows, after two weeks of consolidation.

Banks, oil & gas, FMCG, capital goods and auto led the market towards new high today.

The Sensex climbed 300.16 points or 1.38 percent to 22055.48 after hitting an intraday high of 22074.34 while the Nifty rallied 90.30 points or 1.39 percent to 6583.50 after seeing an intraday high of 6591.50.

Dealers said foreign institutional investors (FIIs) may have helped the market as they largely bought into largecaps than midcaps and smallcaps. FIIs bought more than Rs 13,000 crore worth of equity shares in cash market in current month (till March 21, including GSK Pharma and Axis Bank deals.

As per the regulator's data, banks stocks were the favourites in FIIs desk during the first 15 days in current month while they were sellers in healthcare space.

Most of experts feel this upside may continue till the general elections and they advise going long on market, citing likely stable government led by opposition party BJP.

''Market re-rating should continue as we get closer to polls and investors get more confident of NDA win,'' Rakesh Arora, Macquarie said.

Meanwhile, Bank of America Merrill Lynch after meeting over 20 equity and fixed income investors in Singapore last week said the consensus among equity investors appeared to be to go long into the April-May polls in hope of a fourth successive stable coalition. However, FX investors are more circumspect; most said that they would square up before the polls to avoid the event risk, the brokerage house added.
 
Though the rally today was completely led by largecaps, the broader markets were silent with the BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices closing 0.1 percent higher each. The market breadth was weak; decliners beat advancers by a ratio of 1530 to 1251 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

On the global front, Asian markets closed on a positive note with the Nikkei and Hang Seng gaining more than 1.7 percent while Shanghai was up 0.9 percent

03:40 pm Market closing
Both Nifty and Sensex end at record closing highs. Nifty ends at record closing high of 6583.5, up 90.30 points or 1.39 percent. Sensex ends at record closing of 22,055, up 300.16 points or 1.38 percent. About 1249 shares advanced, 1531 shares declined, and 162 shares were unchanged. Bank Nifty ends at 10-month closing high of 12,408. Bank Nifty led market rally, ends with gain of almost 3 percent.

All Bank Nifty stocks end in the green, YES Bank being the top gainer.

GAIL, ONGC, ICICI Bank, Coal India and Hero were major gainers in the Sensex.  IT and pharma stocks remained a bit weak, Dr Reddy's Labs, Wipro, Cipla, Sun Pharma and Infosys were top losers.

03:30 pm Market data
Foreign institutional investors bought a net USD 495 million in Indian banks, while selling a net USD 791 million in pharmaceutical and biotechnology shares this month as of March 15, regulatory data shows.

As a result, lenders have been one of the top performers this month, during a month in which the Nifty has hit a slew of record highs, including most recently on Monday.

The NSE's bank sub index up about 15 percent so far this month, outperforming the nearly 5 percent gain in the NSE.

03:20 pm Aadhaar setback:

In another setback to the Aadhaar programme, the Supreme Court has asked the government to withdraw orders making Aadhaar card mandatory. It further added that the UIDAI can't share Aadhaar details with any agency without nod from the card holder.

This issue has been going back and forth with the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the entire UIDAI programme because the UIDAI bill which was presented in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 went on to get cabinet approval but it was never passed by the Parliament and hence the Supreme Court (SC) has been questioning the legal sanctity - the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar card.

This is perhaps the reason why the government put its direct benefit transfer scheme as far as LPG cylinders were concerned on hold because the government was on a weak wicket as was very evident during the proceedings and that is why the LPG programme, the direct benefit transfer scheme was put on hold and now the SC has made it absolutely clear that the Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory. Information received via Aadhaar card enrollment cannot be shared with any agency without the prior permission of the person who's information is being shared.

03:10 pm Government's borrowing plan
Finance ministry officials are due to meet their counterparts at the Reserve Bank of India on Friday to finalise the government's borrowing calendar for the April-September period, said two sources aware of the schedule for the meeting, repor

The meeting has been set for 3 am on Friday, the sources added.

03:00 pm Interview
Former Sebi chairman M Damodaran has broken his silence on the ongoing CBI enquiry of the grant of license to MCX-SX. CNBC-TV18 caught up with M Damodaran who defended his action of granting approval to Financial Technologies (India) Ltd (FTIL) for buying stake in regional exchanges.

He said that stories on CBI probe on former Sebi chief CB Bhave are half-baked. ''I have refused to speak about this for the simple reason that I do not know enough and I do not want to go out there and make statements without knowing enough about what is being discussed,'' he added.

CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Bhave, as also against Sebi's former Whole Time Member KM Abraham and others, for alleged irregularities in grant of licence to MCX Stock Exchange years ago in 2008.

02:50pm MOIL hits 14-month high
Shares of MOIL (formerly known as Maganese Ore India) jumped to 14-month high with a gain of 8 percent intraday on Monday. It executed prospecting license deeds for Nagpur and Bhandara over an area of 597.44 hectares.

''We will commence prospecting operation, as per terms and conditions of the deeds,'' the state-owned manganese-ore mining company headquartered in Nagpur said in a statement to BSE.

Now the stock is up 5 percent.

02:40pm Nikkei closes on strong note
Japan's Nikkei share average climbed 1.8 percent, bouncing off from a six-week low on the back of a tentative recovery in risk appetite, though underlying concerns about Japan's economic outlook kept gains in check.

The benchmark Nikkei gained 251.07 points to 14,475.30, completely reversing the previous session's losses, after a market holiday on Friday. Still, the index was down more than 11 percent since the start of this year, likely heading for its first quarterly decline in 1-1/2 years, reports Reuters.

02:30pm Financial Technologies slips 2.6%
CNBC-TV18 reported quoting sources that there are no takers for picking up majority stake in Financial Technologies.

It is learnt that prospective investors like Tech Mahindra and L&T Infotech are likely to have backed out of bid after CBI probe as they are wary of settlement with investors.

CNBC-TV18 did not receive any comments from Financial Technologies or L&T Infotech and Tech Mahindra.

Earlier there were reports saying Jignesh Shah was in talks to sell his some stake in Financial Technologies, but Shah denied the same.

Jignesh Shah, his family members and La-Fin Financial Services Private Limited hold 45.63 percent stake in the company.

02:20pm PhillipCapital positive on Trent
Abhishek Ranganathan, vice president, PhillipCapital India recommends investors to buy Trent as the joint venture with Tesco is a major positive for the stock.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Ranganathan says that the JV will aid the company's earnings in three to five years but will strengthen the company's balance sheet.

''Following this transaction, they are going to get about Rs 850 crore odd investment into the company. Therefore, the capital requirement for this business is more or less taken care of including the backend,'' he explains.

02:10pm Market Expert
In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Independent analyst Anand Tandon said once the new government is formed, market will be a lot more circumspect irrespective of whichever government comes into power.

Tandon also adds that one can look at the IT sector post elections as there will still be general growth and rupee is unlikely to move much on the upside.

02:00pm The market extended upmove in afternoon trade with the Nifty inching towards the 6600 level supported by banks, oil & gas and FMCG stocks.

The Sensex rose 294.90 points or 1.36 percent to 22050.22 and the Nifty climbed 90 points or 1.39 percent to 6583.2, but the broader markets underperformed benchmarks.

The BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices gained 0.2 percent each. Declining shares outnumbered advancing ones by a ratio of 1460 to 1226 on the BSE.

ONGC rallied 4 percent ahead of board meeting for announcement of interim dividend today.

Top private sector lender ICICI Bank surged 3.6 percent on value buying while rivals State Bank of India and HDFC Bank jumped 2 percent each followed by Axis Bank with 1 percent.

Index heavyweight Reliance Industries climbed nearly 2 percent while shares of Bajaj Auto, Hero Motocorp and Coal India gained 2-3 percent.

Cigrette major ITC rose 1.5 percent. CLSA indicates that the company has exited the shampoo category across most markets.

According to CLSA, the company was unable to go past the one or two percent market share in the shampoo segment. However, the brokerage feels that the decision to exit the shampoo segment will bear well for the company. CLSA has a buy rating on the stock.

However, shares of Infosys, Dr Reddy's Labs, Sun Pharma, Wipro, NTPC and Cipla fell 0.5-1 percent.

2:00 pm View on rupee: The Indian rupee is likely to hover in range of 60.5 to 63.5/USD pre-elections, Samiran Chakrabarty, head-research, StanChart Bank said.

Sharing his outlook on the Indian currency, he told CNBC-TV18 that there is some intervention in the rupee at the current levels, so this range can still hold. He sees some scope of near-term appreciation for the rupee given the foreign fund flows.

"The first aspect is that the trade deficit/ current account deficit (CAD) has improved substantially, so the amount of capital inflows that we require for the balance of payment to turn positive has come down. On the back of the positivity with respect to CAD, we are also getting significant amount of capital inflows both on the debt and equities side, particularly on debt because of the impressive carry that the currency has," he said.

 1:50 pm Stock in news: Shares of ONGC rose 4 percent intraday ahead of a board meeting to consider second interim dividend for financial year 2013-2014.

''A meeting of the board of directors of the company will be held on March 24, 2014, inter alia, to consider payment of second interim dividend for the financial year 2013-14. Record date for determining entitlement of shareholders for payment of second interim dividend for FY 14 has been fixed on March 29. Payment of interim dividend, if declared, shall start from March 31, 2014 onwards to the shareholders,'' it said in a statement to the bourses.

The street is expecting a dividend of 190 percent similar to last year. ONGC has already paid a dividend of Rs 5 per share in financial year 2014 which translates to Rs 4,280 crore.

1:40 pm Market outlook: Sanjay Dutt, director, Quantum Securities sees lot of money making opportunity in market. He believes that sentiment has changed in markets for longer term as Indian macros are improving.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, he said one should now focus on individual stocks rather than the index. Investors should bet on companies which have less leveraged balance sheets with growth opportunities. Dutt is overweight on public sector banks and also sees potential in auto ancillaries.

Dutt is underweight on IT sector given better investment opportunities in other sectors, but recommends that one should have some exposure to the sector since it still has the potential to see some rally. IT stocks have seen correction in last few trading sessions due to rupee appreciation and muted Q4 guidance by sector giants Infosys and TCS .

1:30 pm Buzzing:
Shares of ITC are in focus as CLSA indicates that the company has exited the shampoo category across most markets. The stock was up 1.5 percent intraday on Monday.

According to CLSA, the company was unable to go past the one or two percent market share in the shampoo segment. However, the brokerage feels that the decision to exit the shampoo segment will bear well for the company. CLSA has a buy rating on the stock.

ITC forayed into the personal care business in July 2005. Its personal care portfolio include brands like Essenza Di Wills, Fiama Di Wills, Vivel, Engage and  Superia.

1:20 pm Interview: Dismissing any talks of its exit from the two-wheeler segment, Pawan Goenka, executive director and president- Automotive and Farm Equipment, Mahindra and Mahindra says these reports keep surfacing time and again.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Goenka says the company doesn't enter any business for a quick profit making, but has always taken a long-term view towards operations. ''Infact there are businesses which have taken 10-12 years to start giving us profit but they are giving us today and form a part of our core. Similarly, we didn't expect truck & 2-wheeler business to be a cake walk. Both businesses have very formidable current major players and therefore for any new player, M&M or otherwise, will take time to establish itself,'' explains Goenka.

The company, however, is seeing a ''pause'' in demand, he adds.

It is a stellar start to expiry week as the market hits record high on strong FII inflows. According to data available in NSE, FIIs net bought Rs 4222 crore in cash market and sold Rs 784 crore in F&O market on March 22. DIIs net sold net sell Rs 4077 crore in cash market. The Sensex is up 273.78 points at 22029.10, and the Nifty up 84.95 points at 6578.15.

About 1192 shares have advanced, 1330 shares declined, and 157 shares are unchanged.

Bank Nifty leads the rally with ICICI Bank and HDFC contributing 50 percent of gains on the Bank Nifty.

Nikkei leads Asian markets higher after weak Chinese manufacturing PMI raises hopes that China will unveil fresh monetary stimulus to tackle slowing growth.

Brent crude held above USD 106 per barrel on Monday weighed down by a seasonal slump in demand and weak economic data from China, after posting its fourth weekly loss in a row on Friday.

Brent crude fell 17 cents to USD 106.75 by 0325 GMT, after settling 47 cents higher at USD 106.92 on Friday.

US oil for May delivery dropped 23 cents to USD 99.23 after closing at USD 99.46 on Friday to pare some of the gains from fears of supply disruptions following sanctions against Russia, the world's second largest oil producer.

"There is no real support for Brent. The market is coming back to Earth. I think the market is going to focus on supply. On balance the market is balanced to oversupplied," said Tony Nunan, oil risk manager at Japan's Mitsubishi Corp.

12:55pm Financial Technologies falls 2%
CNBC-TV18 reported quoting sources that there are no takers for picking up majority stake in Financial Technologies.

It is learnt that prospective investors like Tech Mahindra and L&T Infotech are likely to have backed out of bid after CBI probe as they are wary of settlement with investors post CBI probe.

CNBC-TV18 did not receive any comments from Financial Technologies or L&T Infotech and Tech Mahindra.

12:50pm M&M talks to CNBC-TV18
Dismissing any talks of its exit from the two-wheeler segment, Pawan Goenka, executive director and president- Automotive and Farm Equipment, Mahindra and Mahindra says these reports keep surfacing time and again.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Goenka says the company doesn't enter any business for a quick profit making, but has always taken a long-term view towards operations.

''Infact there are businesses which have taken 10-12 years to start giving us profit but they are giving us today and form a part of our core. Similarly, we didn't expect truck & 2-wheeler business to be a cake walk. Both businesses have very formidable current major players and therefore for any new player, M&M or otherwise, will take time to establish itself,'' explains Goenka.

12:45pm Supreme Court has asked government to withdraw orders making Aadhaar card mandatory.

SC told UIDAI that it can't share Aadhaar details with any agency without holder's nod.

12:40pm Rupee gains 15 paise to 60.74 per dollar
Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram said the rupee was reflecting stability in economy.

"India is doing the best among emerging markets and will continue to do so. I expect growth to pick up," he elaborated.

12:30pm Stocks in News
Sunil Hitech rallied over 7 percent as promoter raised stake in company by 5 percent via warrant conversion.

Jubilant Life rose nearly a percent on getting shareholders' nod for sale of API and dosage forms business to subsidiary Jubilant Generics.

Mastek fell over 1 percent as Ashish Dhawan reduced stake in company by 4.06 percent to 6.08 percent

MOIL spiked 4 percent as it executed prospecting license deeds for Nagpur and Bhandara. "We will commence prospecting operations as per terms of deeds," the company said.

Rolta India climbed 3 percent post block deal; 10 lakh equity shares changed hands on NSE at Rs 74 apiece.

12:20pm SJVN talks to CNBC-TV18
RP Singh, CMD, SJVN said the company has successfully commissioned the 412 MW Rampur Hydro Electric Project and would begin energy generation in 2014-15. He foresees generation of around 800 mn units of electricity from FY15.

The Rampur Hydro Electric Project commenced power generation on March 20 with the synchronisation of its first 68.67 MW unit with the northern grid. The project is located on river Satluj in Himachal Pradesh.

The company, currently, has around Rs 412 crore worth of receivables from the project and does not see any issue in recovering all the receivables going ahead.

12:10pm FII View
Rakesh Arora, Macquarie feels the market has been consolidating well, even as rotation from IT, and now FMCG, to banks continues.

According to him, the nervousness due to Fed rate hike guidance is a good opportunity to go long.

''Market re-rating should continue as we get closer to polls and investors get more confident of NDA win. PSUs look extremely attractive. NMDC, Power Grid and NTPC are our key picks,'' he added.

12:00pm The market continued to hold the strong momentum in noon trade with the Nifty trading above the 6550 level as dealers said foreign institutional investors may be buying in largecap shares today.

The Sensex rose 242.57 points or 1.11 percent to 21997.89 and the Nifty climbed 75.95 points or 1.17 percent to 6569.15, but the market breadth is weak. About 1168 shares have advanced, 1194 shares declined, and 161 shares are unchanged.

Banking and financials, oil & gas, auto and capital goods see buying interest while select healthcare, metals and IT stocks are under pressure.

ICICI Bank extended rally to nearly 4 percent to Rs 1242.50, a 40-month high followed by GAIL, ONGC and Coal India with 2-3 percent.

Shares of Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, HDFC, HUL, State Bank of India, Tata Motors, M&M, Axis Bank, Hero Motocorp and BHEL climbed 1-2 percent.

However, Infosys, Dr Reddy's Labs, Sun Pharma, Tata Steel, Hindalco Industries, NTPC and Wipro fell 0.3-0.8 percent.

In the broader space, BEML, Usha Martin, Igarashi Motor and Mahindra Ugine surged 9-13 percent.

12:00 pm Interview: While the New Companies Act does aim at bringing in better governance in corporate bodies, the hurdle, Nishit Desai, founder, Nishit Desai Associates says is finding the right governors or company directors.

"For good governance, one needs an environment of governance," says Desai lambasting the Retrospective amendment that allows the government to alter decisions in cases pertaining to taxes.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Desai alongwith Sai Venkateshwaran, partner and head of accounting, KPMG Advisory Services shares his view on the New Companies Act.

11:50 am Buzzing: Reliance Power sees buying interest after the company said the third 660 MW unit of the 3960 MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project has commenced power generation. The stock gained as much as 2 percent intraday.

With this, the 1980 MW of capacity is being operational at the project.

Balance three units are in advanced stages of construction and will be commissioned over the next few months, the company in its filing said.

Its generation capacity has increased to 3,865 MW which includes 3,780 MW of thermal capacity and 85 MW of renewable energy based capacity.

11:40 am Economy: There has been a huge rise in the number of people under 30 years of age seeking credit in the last five years, according to credit information provider Cibil report.

While those under 30 years constituted just around 7 percent of the new credit applicants in 2008 and the same has grown to over 25 percent now, the Cibil report said.

Interestingly, eagerness shown by youth in getting indebted comes at a time when people have been complaining about bleak times on the economic front due to falling growth, which also led to some job losses, the report said.

Till FY 2008-09, the economy was doing very well and the same has now plummeted and logging even a 5 percent growth is also seemed to be an uphill task this fiscal, it said.

11:30 am Market news: "We are launching equity cash segment for trading on our Bolt Plus platform on April 7 this year. We have already launched currency Futures & Options in November 2013, interest rates futures in January and equity derivatives on February 7 this year on Bolt Plus Live platform," Bombay Stock Exchange CEO and MD Ashish Chauhan told PTI. BSE upgraded its technology platform in November 2013 to BOLT+. The BSE trading system (Bolt Plus) is based on T7, the global trading architecture of Deutsche Bourse AG.

11:20 am Outlook: India's battered economy could return to its glory days of growth above 8 percent, the chief financial officer of HDFC, one of India's largest lenders, told CNBC. "I really honestly believe that if the elections go well, in five years' time, I see no reason why India cannot get back to 8 percent plus GDP (gross domestic product) numbers," HDFC's vice chairman & chief executive officer Keki Mistry told CNBC.

Economic growth in Asia's third-largest economy has been stuck below 5 percent for the past seven quarters, a far cry from the days of over 9 percent enjoyed in the three fiscal years prior to the global financial crisis.

It is a spectacular rally, boosted by strength majorly in financial stocks. The Sensex is up 270.70 points or 1.24 percent at 22026.02, and the Nifty is up 79.05 points or 1.22 percent at 6572.25.

About 1145 shares have advanced, 1011 shares declined, and 137 shares are unchanged.

ICICI Bank is up 4 percent and Coal India gains 3 percent. HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Reliance are other gainers in the Sensex. IT and metal stocks are dargging. Hindalco, Tata Steel, Dr Reddy's Labs, Sun Pharma and NTPC are top losers in the Sensex.

The rupee has risen to a near-two week high against the US dollar on custodial inflows and tracking strength in domestic share indices. Appetite for government securities improved with prices up taking cues from the rupee's rise the dollar and on expectation of better acceptance at the gilt repurchase auction by the RBI today.

Gold edged lower after positing its biggest weekly drop since November. Brent is steady at USD 106 per barrel.

Asian markets trade mostly in the green with investors shrugging off weak Chinese manufacturing data. The HSBC flash PMI came in at 48.1 in March staying below 50 for the third month in a row.

According to data available in NSE, FIIs net bought Rs 4222 crore in cash market and sold Rs 784 crore in F&O market on March 22. DIIs net sold net sell Rs 4077 crore in cash market.

10:59am Supreme Infrastructure receives three orders worth Rs 618 crore in Maharashtra and Bihar

First order is worth Rs 237 crore for improvement of various roads in flexible pavements in city and eastern suburbs in Mumbai and the second is for construction of road over bridge on Nerul-Uran railway line while the third is for improvement or augmentation of Chappra-Rewaghat-Muzaffarpur section in Bihar.

10:50am Techno Electric and Engineering Company rallies 18%

Shares of Techno Electric and Engineering Company gained 18 percent after promoters increased stake in company by 4.31 percent to 59.28 percent.

Promoters were Checons Limited, Kusum Industrial Gases Limited, Varanasi Commercial Limited, Techno Leasing & Finance Co Private Limited, Techno Power Projects Limited, Ankit Saraiya, Avantika Gupta, PP Gupta (HUF), Padam Prakash Gupta and Raj Prabha Gupta.

10:40am HDFC sees India's growth above 8%
India's battered economy could return to its glory days of growth above 8 percent, the chief financial officer of HDFC, one of India's largest lenders, told CNBC.

"I really honestly believe that if the elections go well, in five years' time, I see no reason why India cannot get back to 8 percent plus GDP (gross domestic product) numbers," HDFC's vice chairman & chief executive officer Keki Mistry told CNBC.

Economic growth in Asia's third-largest economy has been stuck below 5 percent for the past seven quarters, a far cry from the days of over 9 percent enjoyed in the three fiscal years prior to the global financial crisis.

10:30am Reliance Power on buyers' radar, up nearly 2%
Reliance Power said the third 660 MW unit of the 3960 MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project has commenced power generation thus making 1980 MW of capacity operational at the project.

With this unit, its generation capacity has increased to 3865 MW which includes 3780 MW of thermal capacity and 85 MW of renewable energy based capacity.

10:20am Jaiprakash Associates gains 2%
Jaiprakash Associates said a meeting of the board of directors would be held today to consider stake sale in joint venture subsidiaries.

According to CNBC-TV18 report quoting sources, JP Associates may sell stake in  SAIL joint ventures today.

The company has joint venture with state-run SAIL for two cement companies having 4.3 million tonne capacity, wherein former owns 74 percent stake.

One joint venture company is Bhilai Jaypee Cement with 2.2 million tonne per annum (mtpa) cement capacity and second is Bokar Jaypee Cement with 2.1 mtpa cement capacity.

It is learnt that deal value may be around Rs 1,700-2,500 crore.

10:10am FII View
Suresh Ganapathy, banking analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities believes it is going to be a tactical rally in banking stocks, which tend to do well pre-polls. But beyond that fundamentals are not good as far as bank stocks are concerned and that is likely to stay for the next 12-18 months.

He believes FIIs are looking at India on a relative basis - when compared to Russia and some of the other BRIC nations, then India is doing better than most, coupled with the fact that a lot of the macro issues are under control now. Also a change of guard is expected at the Centre, post polls, he adds.

He prefers private sector banks which are more capitalized than public sector banks.

10:00am Equity benchmarks rallied more than a percent with the Sensex hitting a fresh record high of 22046.58 and Nifty of 6,580.90 after seeing consolidation in past two weeks. The rally was largely led by banks, oil & gas and FMCG stocks.

The Sensex climbed 272.30 points to 22027.62 and the Nifty rose 82.10 points to 6575.30, but the broader markets are sideways in trade with gains of 0.4 percent.

India's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank topped the buying list, rising over 3 percent followed by HDFC Bank, HDFC and Axis Bank with 2 percent.

Index heavyweights ITC and Reliance Industries advanced 1.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Top lender State Bank of India and power producer Tata Power jumped 1.7 percent each. ONGC gained 1.7 percent ahead of board meeting for dividend announcement today.

However, Hindalco Industries lost another 1.5 percent, in addition to 1.5 percent loss in Saturday session after rating agency Moody's warned its subsidiary Novelis of rating downgrade due to weak performance.

Dr Reddy's Labs, Sun Pharma, Tata Steel and Cipla declined 0.3-0.8 percent.

10:00 am Market outlook: As the market moves closer to general elections, cautious investors are likely to take some money off the table, Sandeep Shenoy of Anand Rathi Financial Services said. Sharing his market outlook with CNBC-TV18 he said given the lack of key triggers one shouldn't expect significant movement from the March F&O series, which will expire on Thursday.

The Nifty is likely to see sideways movement for few quarters, he added. ''The extreme pain point of a market is definitely a thing of the past, but can we say that it is going to be unprecedented bull rally? I do not think so,'' he said.

Nifty may end this year around 6-7 percent higher from current levels, he said.

9:50 am Market on a high: The Sensex is up 270.91 points or 1.25 percent at 22026.23, and the Nifty up 81.15 points or 1.25 percent at 6574.35. About 983 shares have advanced, 554 shares declined, and 93 shares are unchanged.

9:40 am Buzzing: Shares of Federal Bank rallied as much as 5 percent, in addition to 6 percent rally in previous session after the Reserve Bank of India said the government increased FII investment limit in bank to 74 percent from 49 percent.

The Reserve Bank of India on Friday notified that the restrictions placed on the purchase of shares of Federal Bank, have been withdrawn with immediate effect.

"The Reserve Bank stated that consequent upon the Government of India approving the increase in foreign investment in Federal Bank from 49 percent to 74 percent of its paid up equity share capital, the aggregate shareholding through foreign institutional investors (FIIs)/non-resident Indians (NRIs)/persons of Indian origin (PIOs)/foreign direct investment (FDI)/American depository receipt (ADR)/global depository receipts (GDRs) in Federal Bank has gone below the prescribed threshold ban limit stipulated under the extant FDI policy," the RBI said in its release.

9:30 am FII view: Rakesh Arora, Macquarie feels the market has been consolidating well, even as rotation from IT, and now FMCG, to banks continues.

According to him, the nervousness due to Fed rate hike guidance is a good opportunity to go long.

''Market re-rating should continue as we get closer to polls and investors get more confident of NDA win. PSUs look extremely attractive. NMDC, Power Grid and NTPC are our key picks,'' he added.

Meanwhile, Sajiid Chinoy, JP Morgan believes the market rallied as opinion polls predict a more stable formulation post the April-May elections. ''But caution is in order as pollsters and market has gotten it wrong in the past. Even assuming a stable government, the translation from political stability to economic outcomes may be more lagged than is being assumed,'' he added.

The market has opened fairly higher on March F&O expiry week. The Sensex is up 96.48 points at 21851.80, and the Nifty is up 21.75 points at 6514.95.

Bank stocks are strong with Axis Bank and HDFC Bank gaining over 1 percent each. Other gainers in the Sensex are Tata Power, ONGC and Cipla.

Hindalco, Sun Pharma, Infosys, Dr Reddy's Labs and ITC are losers in the Sensex.

About 336 shares have advanced, 106 shares declined, and 27 shares are unchanged.

The Indian rupee opened higher at 60.84 per dollar, up 5 paise from Friday's closing value of 60.89 a dollar.

Major currencies are off to a lackluster start following a relatively uneventful weekend with the dollar holding onto most of last week's solid gains at 80.130.

Traders say further gains for the dollar now depend on the strength of upcoming data with any acceleration in the US economic recovery likely to bolster expectations of an earlier normalisation of fed policy.

Global cues, meanwhile, were mixed with the US markets ending in red and the S&P 500 erasing gains after rising to an intraday high. Asia is positive in morning trade with Japan's Nikkei gaining over a percent.

Crude oil is trading flat, as traders scrambled to cover short positions after the US and EU imposed sanctions on Russia, thereby renewing fears of a supply disruption.

From the precious metals space, gold is edging lower on Monday after posting its biggest weekly drop since November.