Nifty ends March series above 6600; SBI, Bharti big gainers

03:40 Market closing: It is a record closing of March F&O series with the Nifty ending at 6642, up 40.35 points. The Sensex was up 119.07 points at 22214.37. About 1668 shares have advanced, 1105 shares declined, and 158 shares are unchanged.

SBI, Bharti Airtel, Hero Motocorp, GAIL and NTPC were big gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers were Dr Reddy's Labs, Sesa Sterlite, Tata Motors, Sun Pharma and Infosys.

Nifty gained 6 percent and Bank Nifty jumped 18 percent in the March series.

Meanwhile, there is a respite for Goa miners as Supreme Court reserves order on iron ore mining ban case. The SC may accept 20 million tonne per year production cap till final study of the report.

 03:30 pm Interview:
Marico, the maker of iconic consumer brands Saffola and Parachute, has witnessed some churn at the top deck.

Recently, promoter Harsh Mariwala quit as managing director, thereby quitting an active role in the management of the company, to become the firm's board chairman and executive director.

CNBC-TV18 caught up with new MD Saugata Gupta on the changes he foresees ahead of the company and what his immediate priorities would be.

Gupta has been with Marico for over 10 years and most recently headed the Indian business at the firm. ''He will continue to play a significant role in shaping the journey of the organisation,'' Gupta says, referring to Mariwala, who founded the consumer major in 1987 and in 2013 clocked revenues of about Rs 4,600 crore.

03:20 pm Buzzing: IDFC rose 5 percent. The management told CNBC TV18 that various parts of infra landscape have seen an improvement in last 3-6 months.

Vikram Limaye, managing director and chief executive officer of the company says, ''The last 3-4 months were positive for the sector, but for it to translate into cash flows, will take time. Orders are still pending, so many projects haven't seen any execution.

On the road ahead, Limaye believes the next 12 months are far more critical for the sector and hopefully the next government should address many bottlenecks that plague Indian infra.

03:10 pm Delisting price:
The exit price for the delisting of Reliance MediaWorks has been fixed at Rs 61 per share at a premium of 25.39 percent over the floor price. In a filing to the BSE, promoters of Reliance MediaWorks Ltd (RML) -- Reliance Land and Reliance Capital --said the public shareholders of the company were invited to submit bids pursuant to a reverse book-building process (RBP) and arrived at the exit price.

"The final price determined through RBP for accepting the equity shares successfully tendered in the delisting offer is Rs 61 per equity share of Rs 5 each, which is at a premium of 25.39 percent over the floor price of Rs 48.65," the filing said.

02:59pm: Shriram City Union Finance Bonds issue
Shriram City Union Finance's Rs 200 crore non-convertible debentures (NCDs) will open for subscription on April 16. The company is aiming to garner Rs 100 crore through NCDs with an option to retain over subscription to the extent of another Rs 100 crore, aggregating to a total of Rs 200 crore.

NCDs are loan-linked securities issued by a company and cannot be converted into stocks and usually carry a higher interest rate than a convertible debenture. The issue would open on April 16 and close on May 16, as per draft prospectus filed with Sebi.

The funds raised through the issue are to be used for financing and lending activities, to repay existing loans and meet business operations, including for capital expenditure and working capital requirements, reports PTI.

02:50pm Indian Hotels up over 1%
The board of directors of Indian Hotels approved issue of compulsory convertible debentures by way of rights issue to the existing shareholders on a record date for an amount not exceeding Rs 1000 crore.

"The terms and conditions of rights issue including the right entitlement ratio, the issue price, record date, timing of rights issue shall be decided subsequently by a duly constituted committee of the board," the company said in its filing.

02:40pm Interview
We are neither confirming, nor denying the talks of David Lloyd Leisure Group buying stake in Talwalkars, says chief financial officer, Anant Gawande. Gawande's comment comes on the back of reports that the company is in talks to sell 20 percent of its stake to David Lloyd.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Gawande says the company doesn't comment on market speculation.

Gawande, however, goes on to add that the company does not need capital.
''We are very comfortable; our debt equity ratio continues to be about 0.7-0.65:1. We also hold properties worth about Rs 80 crore to Rs 90 crore in the company. We are rated AA- by rating agencies so lack of capital is not the case,'' he highlights.

02:30pm Lupin's acquisition
Lupin said it has agreed to buy eye-treatments maker Laboratorios Grin SA De CV for an undisclosed amount, moving into Mexico's USD 275 million ophthalmic market.

Grin, which makes branded generic drugs and had full-year 2013 revenues of USD 28 million, is the fourth largest player in Mexico's ophthalmic segment, according to Lupin.

Grin is Lupin's second acquisition this year, reports Reuters.

02:20pm FII View
Credit Suisse is bullish on India and considers elections to be a turning point for the country. Speaking exclusively to CNBC-TV18 on the sidelines of the Credit Suisse Asia Conference in Hong Kong, Sakthi Siva, Asia Strategist, Credit Suisse said that atleast 5-10 percent upside in the Indian market is possible from current levels in the near-term.

Siva is quite confident that though India's growth last year was the lowest in the past 10 years, but with politics, potential change, there could be a turning point for the Indian market and the economy.

02:10pm Airline stocks in focus
Shares of Jet Airways soared 4 percent as Competition Appellate Tribunal dismissed the appeal challenging fair trade watchdog CCI's approval for the Rs 2,060 crore Jet-Etihad deal. It said that the appellant does not have "locus standi" to file the plea.

Former Air India ED Jitendra Bhargava had filed the appeal questioning the decision of CCI to approve the Jet-Etihad deal without carrying out a detailed assessment.

Meanwhile, RBI extended external commercial borrowings (ECB) borrowing window for airlines. The central bank has extended the deadline for aviation sector to raise funds through ECBs route till March 2015. The scheme was valid till December 31, 2013.

Other aviation stock SpiceJet gained 4 percent too.

02:00pm Equity benchmarks extended gains in last hour of trade with the Nifty surpassing 6650 level on expiry day. It is largely supported by banks, telecom, capital goods and FMCG stocks.

The Sensex rose 141.02 points to 22236.32 and the Nifty climbed 49.90 points to 6651.30. About 1604 shares have advanced, 1058 shares declined, and 152 shares are unchanged.

India's largest lender State Bank of India rallied 4 percent after Goldman Sachs has upgraded the PSU bank to buy from neutral rating and revised target price to Rs 2,080 from Rs 1,440 apiece.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel topped the buying list in the Sensex, rising over 5 percent followed by Hero Motocorp and BHEL with 2-2.6 percent.

2:00 pm Interview: Speaking on the recent rupee rally Mindtree CFO Rostow Ravanan said a 1 percent move in the currency impacts their margins either way by 35-40 bps, adding ''the company is learning to live with a volatile rupee''.

Bangalore-based IT services exporter Mindtree's margins have expanded from 12.6 percent in June 2010 to 19.5 percent in December 2013 largely on the back of currency depreciation.

Ravanan said the current margins are the reflections of the investments that the company had made during the year.

1:50 pm Macro outlook: Core CPI has been roughly above 10 percent year-on-year for more than six years now. There is something fundamentally problematic with the agricultural sector, and those bottlenecks need to be addressed, says Subir Gokarn, Director of Research, Brookings India. According to him, the rigid core consumer price index (CPI) number is an important issue.

He says considering CPI is not reacting to monetary policy actions, it suggests that there are other underlying forces that are keeping inflation high. The natural place to look for an explanation, according to him, would be wage linkages. He says much of the CPI outside food is services, which is labour intensive.

1:40 pm Buzzing: Shares of Jet Airways soared over 7 percent intraday as Compat dismissed plea against Jet-Etihad deal. In a major relief, Competition Appellate Tribunal dismissed the appeal challenging fair trade watchdog CCI's approval for the Rs 2,060 crore Jet-Etihad deal. It said that the appellant does not have "locus standi" to file the plea.

Meanwhile, other aviation stock SpiceJet too jumped 5 percent as RBI extended external commercial borrowings (ECB) borrowing window for airlines. The central bank has extended the deadline for aviation sector to raise funds through ECBs route till March 2015. The scheme was valid till December 31, 2013.

1:30 pm Stock tips: The rally in mid cap stocks, which have risen 30 percent since August, compared with a 19 percent rise in Sensex, can extend to catch up on significant underperformance it saw in last three years versus the large caps, Deutsche Bank says.

"Mid cap stocks tend to rally sharply when economic growth is expected to be at an inflection point. While the jury is still out on the pace of economic recovery, we believe that growth has bottomed, currency has stabilised and the twin deficits have shown a marked improvement," Deutsche Bank said in a report on Wednesday.

1:15 pm End of innings: Shares ofIndia Cements falls 2 percent as Supreme Court,during the hearing on IPL case, has maintained that any person having any relation with the company should not be allowed to function in BCCI. N Srinivasan has offered to step aside as BCCI President. SC has also suggested that Sunil Gavaskar be appointed as the BCCI president.  SC has proposed that CSK and Rajasthan Royals not be allowed to participate in IPL. Hearing in the IPL spot fixing case will continue in the Supreme Court tomorrow.

The market surges ahead of expiry today. The Sensex is up 111.92 points at 22207.22, and the Nifty is up 40.15 points at 6641.55. About 1537 shares have advanced, 969 shares declined, and 158 shares are unchanged.

SBI, Bharti Airtel, BHEL, Hero Motocorp and Axis Bank are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are Dr Reddy's Labs, TCS, ONGC, Wipro and Sun Pharma.

Sakthi Siva of Credit Suisse tells CNBC-TV18 that they are overweight on India and expects 15-20 percent returns from Indian equities. She valuations of Indian market is slightly expensive but not excessive.

Sesa Sterlite is in focus as Supreme Court panel recommends mining to be permitted in Goa with a cap of twenty million tonnes per annum. The Supreme Court is likely to implement the recommendations today.

12:59pm Interview
A percentage appreciation in the rupee impacts margins by 35-40 bps, said Mindtree CFO Rostow Ravanan, adding ''the company is learning to live with a volatile rupee''.

Bangalore-based IT services exporter Mindtree's margins have expanded from 12.6 percent in June 2010 to 19.5 percent in December 2013 largely on the back of currency depreciation.

The industry analysts have been talking of muted growth in the IT space post mellowed fourth quarter guidance released by two Indian tech biggies, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

However, Ravanan expects the company's utilisations to improve slightly this quarter.

''The March quarter will be stronger for us than the December quarter,'' he told CNBC-TV18.

In an earlier interaction to CNBC-TV18, the company had said that FY15 will be better than FY14, driven by an uptick in overall demand environment along with a decent pipeline within key clients and focus verticals. The management had said that that barring one large European telcom player, it expected increased traction in a majority of the top clients.

12:50pm Airline shares fly
Airline shares gained after the RBI extended the deadline for raising working capital via external commercial borrowings by domestic airlines to March 2015 from December 2013, reports Reuters.

Shares in Jet Airways gained 5 percent while SpiceJet surged 4 percent.

Meanwhile, Competition Appellate Tribunal has dismissed plea against Jet-Etihad deal filed by former Air India official.

12:40pm ITC flat despite cigarette price hike
Cigarette major ITC will increase Gold Flake Kings and Classic cigarette prices soon, reports CNBC-TV18 quoting sources.

It is learnt that the company will increase Gold Flake Kings and Classic 20-stick pack prices by 13 percent to Rs 170 from Rs 150 earlier.

12:30pm NBFCs in focus
IDFC and L&T Finance Holdings extended gains to 6 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively on hopes of banking license.

The decision of whether to issue banking license or not during elections period is in hands of Election Commission and not the government.

Election Commissioner VS Sampath on Tuesday said he has not taken a final call on the banking license issue. "We will take up this issue on Monday," he added.

Election Commission has raised legal ethical issues on banking licenses matter.

12:20pm Talwalkars rallies
Shares of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness rose 11 percent as buzz of stake sale gathered steam. According to media reports UK's health and fitness group David Lloyd is looking to buy 20 percent stake in the Indian health and fitness company.

"The management of David Lloyd is in talks to pick up an equity stake in Talwalkars. This will help both companies to expand their current relationship," the report quoted an investment banker.

12:10pm FII View
Credit Suisse is bullish on India and considers elections to be a turning point for the country.

Speaking exclusively to CNBC-TV18 on the sidelines of the Credit Suisse Asia Conference in Hong Kong, Sakthi Siva, Asia Strategist, Credit Suisse said that atleast 5-10 percent upside in the Indian market is possible from current levels in the near-term.

Siva is quite confident that though India's growth last year was the lowest in the past 10 years, but with politics, potential change, there could be a turning point for the Indian market and the economy.

12:00pm The market extended an upmove in noon trade with the Sensex rising over 100 points supported by banks, capital goods and auto stocks.

The Sensex rose 107.58 points to 22202.88 and the Nifty climbed 38.45 points to 6639.85. About 1468 shares have advanced, 869 shares declined, and 141 shares are unchanged.

Top lender State Bank of India jumped 3.5 percent after Goldman Sachs has upgraded the PSU bank to buy from neutral rating and revised target price to Rs 2,080 from Rs 1,440 apiece. PNB and Bank of Baroda gained 2.5-3 percent while rivals HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank advanced 0.7 percent each.

Axis Bank rallied 2 percent. Brokerage house Morgan Stanley added Axis Bank to its Asia ex-Japan model portfolio. The firm is positive on the stock given company's reducing risks in books.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel surged 3 percent followed by Hindustan Unilever, M&M, Hero Motocorp, BHEL and NTPC with 1-2 percent.

However, state-run oil & gas major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's stock (ONGC) is quoting ex- dividend today. It fell nearly a percent. The board of directors on March 24 have approved second interim dividend of Rs 4.25 per equity share of Rs 5 each for the financial year 2013-14.
 
Drug majors Sun Pharma and Dr Reddy's Labs declined more than 1 percent. Dr Reddy's Labs has launched Amlodipine Besylate (to treat high blood pressure) and Atorvastatin calcium tablets in US market.

11:50 am Poll: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to keep its key interest rate steady at 8 percent on April 1 as inflation has eased, according to all 53 economists polled by Reuters. In his fight to lower stubbornly high inflation, RBI chief Raghuram Rajan has hiked interest rates thrice since he took over in September, surprising markets on two of those occasions.

But the RBI is expected to hold fire next week after February wholesale price inflation slowed to below the central bank's commonly perceived 5 percent comfort level for the first time in 9 months and retail price rises eased to a 25-month low.

11:40 am Outlook on rupee: The rupee has risen to its highest level in eight months at 60.13 per dollar due to strong capital inflows. Neeraj Gambhir, Managing Director & Co-Head, Fixed Income India, Nomura, expects to see some attempts from the Reserve Bank to reduce volatility at 60 per dollar.

He believes breaking the 60 per dollar level will be tough for the rupee. Apart from the strong capital inflows from the corporate side, substantial improvement in the macro-economic environment has also aided the rupee. It helped in attracting FII inflows. He expects the FY15 current account deficit to be 2 percent of GDP.

He says, it is likely that from April there might be some reversal of flows. But a lot will also depend on what happens to the dollar, but the main overriding factor is the elections.

11:30 am Buzzing: State-run oil & gas major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation stock (ONGC) is quoting ex-dividend on Thursday. It fell as much as 2 percent intraday today.

The board of directors of the company on March 24 have approved second interim dividend of Rs 4.25 per equity share of Rs 5 each for the financial year 2013-14.

The company has fixed the record date as March 29 for determining entitlement of shareholders for payment of this interim dividend. The payment of dividend will start from March 31 onwards to the shareholders, the company said in its filing.

ONGC said, "The total payout on account of this second interim dividend would be Rs 3636.08 crore, in addition to payment of first interim dividend of Rs 4277.75 crore (Rs 5 per share)."

11:20 am How to trade March series expiry?
The Nifty is unlikely to move to 6,700 in today's session and may end the March series in 6,630-6,650 range, believes Vineet Bhatnagar, MD, Phillip Capital.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, he said that the April series is looking positive as long rollovers are being witnessed. Also, FII buying into cash market has been very positive.

As we head closer to elections, volatility in the market is set to rise, he cautioned. ''One can expect India VIX to rise in mid April, that would be a high volatility period,'' he said. However, he sees downside for the Nifty protected at 6,500.

Market participants should go with the flow and can take a bull spread of 6,600 and 6,700 call now, he recommended.

It is a strong day for the March series expiry. The Sensex is up 118.02 points at 22213.32, and the Nifty is up 38.25 points at 6639.65.

About 1396 shares have advanced, 725 shares declined, and 111 shares are unchanged.

Bharti Airtel and SBI are up 3 percent each. Hero Motocorp, Reliance and BHEL are top gainers in the Sensex.

Among the losers are Maruti, TCS, Sesa Sterlite, Dr Reddy's Labs and ONGC.

The rupee is slightly down as some traders cover short positions in dollar. Month-end dollar demand from importers and improvement in liquidity also weigh. Government bond prices were steady as small purchases by market participants offset the caution prevailing ahead of the release of the government's market borrowing calendar for the first half of 2014-15.

Asian markets also trade lower, tracking weak cues from Wall Street, as investors fretted about tougher sanctions against Russia.

Meanwhile, it is judgement day for BCCI President N Srinivasan. The Supreme Court  resumes hearing the IPL spot fixing case. BCCI assures Supreme Court that it will act on the Mudgal report on IPL betting. The apex court had given Srinivasan a 48-hour ultimatum, asking  him to step down as board chief to ensure a free and fair probe in the IPL.

10:59am ONGC in focus
State-run oil & gas major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's stock (ONGC) is quoting ex- dividend on Thursday. It fell over a percent today.

The board of directors of the company on March 24 have approved second interim dividend of Rs 4.25 per equity share of Rs 5 each for the financial year 2013-14.

The company has fixed the record date as March 29 for determining entitlement of shareholders for payment of this interim dividend. The payment of dividend will start from March 31 onwards to the shareholders, the company said in its filing.

ONGC said, "The total payout on account of this second interim dividend would be Rs 3636.08 crore, in addition to payment of first interim dividend of Rs 4277.75 crore (Rs 5 per share)."

10:50am State Bank of India maintains upmove
State Bank of India rose over 2 percent after Goldman Sachs has upgraded the PSU bank to buy from neutral rating and revised target price to Rs 2,080 from Rs 1,440 apiece.

The brokerage house expects slippage ratio to decline to 3.2 percent in FY16 and stress loans to fall from 9.1 percent in Q3FY14 to 8.4 percent by FY16. Goldman Sachs also upgraded PNB and Bank of Baroda, which gained 1-1.5 percent.

10:40am Talwalkars on buyers' radar
Shares of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness rose to 14-month high at Rs 182 (up 14 percent) as buzz of stake sale gathered steam. According to media reports UK's health and fitness group David Lloyd is looking to buy 20 percent stake in the Indian health and fitness company.

10:30am RBI Policy on April 1
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to keep its key interest rate steady at 8 percent on April 1 as inflation has eased, according to all 53 economists polled by Reuters.

In his fight to lower stubbornly high inflation, RBI chief Raghuram Rajan has hiked interest rates thrice since he took over in September, surprising markets on two of those occasions.

But the RBI is expected to hold fire next week after February wholesale price inflation slowed to below the central bank's commonly perceived 5 percent comfort level for the first time in 9 months and retail price rises eased to a 25-month low.

The poll showed the RBI will keep the repo rate unchanged at 8.0 percent until at least October while the cash reserve ratio won't be changed from 4.0 percent until July 2015 at the earliest - the end of the forecast horizon, reports Reuters.

10:20am Rupee Update
The rupee snapped four-day winning streak, falling 7 paise to 60.21 against US dollar today.

The rupee has risen from 61.13 to its highest level in eight months at 60.13 per dollar due to strong capital inflows. Neeraj Gambhir, Managing Director & Co-Head, Fixed Income India, Nomura, expects to see some attempts from the Reserve Bank to reduce volatility at 60 per dollar.

He believes breaking the 60 per dollar level will be tough for the rupee. Apart from the strong capital inflows from the corporate side, substantial improvement in the macro-economic environment has also aided the rupee. It helped in attracting FII inflows. He expects the FY15 current account deficit to be 2 percent of GDP.

10:10am Market Expert on Expiry
The Nifty is unlikely to move to 6,700 in today's session and may end the March series in 6,630-6,650 range, believes Vineet Bhatnagar, MD, Phillip Capital.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, he said that the April series is looking positive as long rollovers are being witnessed. Also, FII buying into cash market has been very positive.

As we head closer to elections, volatility in the market is set to rise, he cautioned. ''One can expect India VIX to rise in mid April, that would be a high volatility period,'' he said. However, he sees downside for the Nifty protected at 6,500.

Market participants should go with the flow and can take a bull spread of 6,600 and 6,700 call now, he recommended.

10:00am Equity benchmarks gained further amid choppy trade with the Nifty holding the 6600 level ahead of expiry of March series derivative contracts today.

The Sensex advanced 74.78 points to 22170.08 and the Nifty rose 25.90 points to 6627.30. More than two shares advanced for every share declining on the BSE.

The broader markets outperformed benchmarks with the BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices gaining 0.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Index heavyweight Reliance Industries continued its uptrend, rising over a percent. CNBC-TV18 reports quoting unnamed sources that oil ministry will hold a crucial meet on Friday related to KG-D6 gas supply, wherein joint secretary (Refineries) PK Singh will discuss KG-D6 gas supply agreements.

It is learnt that oil ministry called meeting to extend Gas Sales Purchase Agreements (GSPAs) that will end on March 31. Reliance Industries VP, GAIL CMD, fertiliser and power producers associations will be attending meeting, sources said.

Top lender State Bank of India and telecom operator Bharti Airtel topped the buying list, rising 1.6 percent each.

Shares of ITC, HDFC, HDFC Bank, Tata Motors, M&M, Bajaj Auto, Cipla and Tata Steel gained 0.6-0.9 percent.

However, TCS, ICICI Bank, Dr Reddy's Labs, Coal India, Maruti, Sesa Sterlite and Tata Power fell 0.3-1 percent.

10:00 am Buzzing: Investors continued to buy shares of State Bank of Travancore on Thursday as the board members on Wednesday approved rights issue and preferential allotment. The stock rallied as much as 4.9 percent intraday today and 11.6 percent in four consecutive sessions since March 24.

The board of directors of the bank on March 26 has declared an interim dividend of Rs 2.50 per share to its shareholders for the year 2013-2014. The date of payment of interim dividend is fixed as the April 22, 2014.

"The board also approved to undertake preferential allotment not exceeding Rs 385 crore to State Bank of India and increasing the equity capital of the bank by way of issue of new shares on rights basis including share premium not exceeding Rs 629 crore," the bank said in its filing.

9:50 am Gold check: Gold held steady just above USD 1,300 as the metal's safe-haven appeal was boosted by weaker equities, but gains were limited by a second day of outflows from gold funds.

Spot gold was up less than 0.1 percent at USD 1,304.36 an ounce . Japanese and Australian shares fell following a late dip on Wall Street, although stocks in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore managed minor gains.

The metal fell to a six-week low of USD 1,298.29 in the previous session, trading below the USD 1,300 level briefly before moving back up.

The technical outlook for gold is bearish, and barring sudden changes in fundamentals, this technical bearishness is likely to prevail over even slightly more optimistic sentiments from the fund side," said Joyce Liu, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

9:40 am Take on Axis Bank sale: Rating agency Moody's said the partial sale of the government's non-controlling interest in Axis Bank does not impact the bank's ratings. Last week, the Government via the Specified Undertaking of UTI (SUUTI) sold 9 percent stake in Axis Bank in the open market.

Following the sale, the government still holds a 11.7 percent stake in the bank via SUUTI."The government's non-controlling interest did not separately factor into our rating of Axis, and the partial sale of it accordingly does not impact our credit analysis of the bank," Moody's said in a statement.

In contrast to public sector banks, Moody's for private sector banks do not factor in any ongoing support from the government, whether in the form of annual capital injections or through other means.

9:30 am FII view: Abhay Laijawala, Deutsche Equities says that despite a 30 percent gain in the mid cap index since August 2013, he believes the mid cap rally is likely to extend further. Mid cap stocks tend to rally sharply when economic growth is expected to be at an inflection point. His top mid cap picks include Bharat Forge, HPCL, Jain Irrigation, LIC Housing Finance, Shree Cement, Shriram Transport and Yes Bank.

The market opened flat but the Nifty managed to hold the 6600 level on March F&O series expiry day. The Nifty is up 2.10 points at 6603.50. The Sensex is up 12.00 points at 22107.30. About 440 shares have advanced, 139 shares declined, and 28 shares are unchanged.

SBI, Wipro, Sun Pharma, Bharti Airtel and NTPC are big gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are ONGC, Coal India, ITC, Hindalco and Hero Motocorp.

The Indian rupee opened marginally lower in early trade on Thursday. It slipped 11 paise to 60.24 per dollar versus previous day's closing value of 60.13 a dollar.

Mohan Shenoi of Kotak Mahindra Bank said, "Risk-on in global markets is resulting in FII flows into India keeping rupee well supported. Dollar buying by RBI and month-end demand from oil companies could, however, prevent significant appreciation. Rupee is expected to trade in a range of 59.90-60.30/dollar."

"Ahead of FY15 borrowing calendar and RBI monetary policy, the bond market is expected to be cautious and rangebound. The range for the 10-year is seen between 8.76-8.81 percent," he added.

Global cues, meanwhile, are mixed with the US markets having closed near session lows on heightened Ukraine worries. US President Barack Obama cautioned against complacency on Russian moves in Ukraine.

Asian markets are mixed in trade with the Nikkei falling over a percent. Shanghai and Hang Seng declined over 0.6 percent while Straits Times, Kospi and Taiwan Weighted are flat with a positive bias.

US Crude steadied above USD 100 per barrel after data showed oil stocks at the contract's delivery point fell for an eighth straight week to the lowest since January 2012.