Sensex gains 321 points, Nifty closes above 7600; ICICI up 5%

03:45 pm International markets: Stocks rose in Europe after China reported economic growth figures that were slightly stronger than markets had expected, although the reaction in Asia was more muted.

The world's second largest economy expanded at a 7.5 percent annual pace in the second quarter, the statistics bureau said, just beating the 7.4 percent median forecast in a Reuters poll.

The numbers, which also helped push crude oil and some industrial metals higher, confirmed the economy had stabilised after a shaky start to the year though analysts said the pick-up was largely driven by government stimulus.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 equity index was up 0.6 percent, buoyed by mining stocks which strengthened in anticipation of demand from China.

03:35 pm Market closing: The market managed to hold hefty gains supported by financials. The Sensex was up 321.07 points or 1.27 percent at 25549.72 and the Nifty gained 97.75 points or 1.3 percent to end at 7624.40. About 1977 shares advanced, 970 shares declined, and 99 shares were unchanged.

ICICI Bank rallied 5 percent. Hindalco, Axis Bank, Sesa Sterlite and BHEL were other top gainers in the Sensex.

Among losers were Bajaj Auto, GAIL, Cipla, Dr Reddy's and Wipro.

03:20pm Results: Bajaj Finserv's first quarter (April-June) consolidated net profit rose 15.5 percent year-on-year to Rs 319.4 crore from Rs 279 crore and total income grew 28.6 percent to Rs 1,629 crore from Rs 1,270 crore during the same period.

03:15pm Buzzing: Adani Ports has received environment and coastal regulation zone approvals for Mundra SEZ. Stock surged 7 percent.

03:10pm Market Check: Huge short covering and long build up in banks and oil & gas stocks helped the Sensex rise 324.77 points or 1.29 percent to 25553.42 and the Nifty gain 99.15 points or 1.32 percent to 7625.80.

About 1906 shares have advanced, 951 shares declined, and 105 shares are unchanged.

03:00pm Earnings: Private sector lender Federal Bank reported strong earnings with the first quarter (April-June) net profit surging 108 percent to Rs 220.2 crore compared to Rs 105.7 crore in same quarter last year, aided by sharp fall in provisions and improvement in asset quality performance despite fall in other income.

Net interest income, the difference between interest earned and interest expended, grew 10.7 percent year-on-year to Rs 564.2 crore during April-June quarter while other income (non-interest income) fell 27.5 percent to Rs 156.54 crore from Rs 215.79 crore year-on-year.

02:50pm Market Update: Equity benchmarks extended gains with the Sensex surging 235.82 points to 25464.47 and the Nifty rising 73.80 points or 0.98 percent to 7600.45 led by ICICI Bank (up 4.6 percent), Reliance Industries (1.7 percent) and HDFC Bank (0.8 percent).

About 1849 shares have advanced, 983 shares declined, and 103 shares are unchanged.

02:40pm FII View: Bhuvnesh Singh, Barclays, "We expect markets are likely to consolidate near term. Our stock preferences are Coal India, TCS and Axis Bank. Over a longer term (three years), we would take any weakness in the market as an opportunity to especially increase our exposure to domestic cyclicals."

"We believe the government is on the right path to improving administrative efficiency, increasing infrastructure spend, resolving various policy and planning bottlenecks and controlling inflation," he adds.

02:30pm TCS Q1 nos on Thursday: Motilal Oswal expects Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to report a 6.6 percent fall quarter-on-quarter (rise of 23.9 percent year-on-year) in net profit at Rs 3992.2 crore.

Sales are expected to increase by 2.4 percent Q-o-Q (up 22.7 percent Y-o-Y) to Rs 17987.1 crore, according to Motilal Oswal. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are likely to fall by 3.3 percent Q-o-Q (up 24.9 percent Y-o-Y) to Rs 5153.2 crore.

02:20pm Earnings: South Indian Bank's first quarter (April-June) net profit was up by 9.75 percent to Rs 126 crore compared to Rs 114.8 crore in same quarter last year.

Net interest income rose to Rs 341 crore versus Rs 328 crore, Y-o-Y. The bank's Q1 net NPA was up at Rs 310 crore versus Rs 281.6 crore and gross NPA was up at Rs 517 crore versus Rs 432 crore on sequential basis.

The bank has made an exceptional gain of Rs 43 crore on change in depreciation policy. Its Q1 provisions stood at Rs 94.6 crore as against Rs 28.3 crore Q-o-Q and Rs 105.3 crore Y-o-Y.

02:10pm Global update: Stocks rose in Europe after China reported economic growth figures that were slightly stronger than markets had expected, although the reaction in Asia was more muted.

The world's second largest economy expanded at a 7.5 percent annual pace in the second quarter, the statistics bureau said, just beating the 7.4 percent median forecast in a Reuters poll.

The numbers, which also helped push crude oil and some industrial metals higher, confirmed the economy had stabilised after a shaky start to the year though analysts said the pick-up was largely driven by government stimulus.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 equity index was up 0.6 percent, buoyed by mining stocks which strengthened in anticipation of demand from China, reports Reuters.

02:00pm Equity benchmarks maintained upmove in afternoon trade with the Sensex rising 116.94 points to 25345.59 and the Nifty gaining 36.55 points to 7563.20 supported by banks, oil & gas and auto stocks. However, the fall in technology and heavyweights like HDFC and ITC capped upside.

About 1785 shares have advanced, 974 shares declined, and 113 shares are unchanged.

India's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank led gainers, up 4 percent followed by Reliance Industries, Axis Bank, State Bank of India, M&M, Maruti Suzuki and Hindalco Industries with 1-2.5 percent.

However, Gail topped the selling list, down 2.66 percent. Housing finance company HDFC lost over 1.5 percent and cigarette major ITC slipped 0.4 percent.

2:00 pm Big boost: Shares of Pantaloons Retail jumped 8 percent intraday ahead of a board meeting scheduled on July 18. The board will meet to consider fund raising proposal for the company, including rights issue.

Meanwhile, in a related development media report indicates that Kumar Mangalam Birla is planning to restructure the group's retail business and create one conglomerate.

The reports say, quoting sources, KM Birla is thinking of de-mergeing Fashion & Lifestyle vertical from Aditya Birla Nuvo and Madura Garments, Pantaloons Fashion & Retail, Jayashree and More are likely to be merged as part of the process.

1:50 pm Expansion: Global Internet solutions provider Tata Communications today said that it has plans to invest USD 200 million over a period of three years to double its data centre capacity in India.

"We plan to invest more than USD 200 million towards doubling capacity in India from 5 lakh square feet to 10 lakh square feet over a period of three years," Tata Communications' Growth Ventures CEO Rangu Salgame told PTI while announcing the launch of second data centre in Delhi. The new data centre launched at Greater Kailash in Delhi is spread over 1 lakh square feet.

1:40 pm Gainer: Shares in Hindalco Industries Ltd rise as much as 2.5 percent after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgrades the stock to "buy" from "underperform" and raises its target price to 220 rupees from 96 rupees.

The investment bank cites positive outlook for aluminium prices, better margin at unit Novelis and balance sheet deleveraging as key reasons for the upgrade.

1:30 pm Houseviews: Shares of NIIT Technologies fell 8 percent intraday on Wednesday, extending its 9 percent slide seen in yesterday's trade. Brokerages have lowered target price on the stock after its April-June quarter earnings disappointed the street on every parameter.

ICICI Securities maintains a reduce rating with a target price of Rs 395 per share. The brokerage says that cash conversion continues to be an issue with net cash down by Rs 100 crore QoQ in Q1FY15 and are likely to be down further in Q2FY15 on dividend payment and capex.

Prabhudas Lilladher maintains buy on NIIT Technologies but lowers target price to Rs 440 from Rs 510. It expects the stock to remain under pressure in the near term and may revise revenue, margins expectations for FY15E and FY16E downwards.

1:20 pm Forex reserve: As a safeguard against any possible contagion, the Reserve Bank of India is likely to start shoring up FX reserves at Rs 58/USD, expects Bank of America Meriil Lynch (BofAML).

The brokerage sees the rupee benefitting from early stages of US tightening as improved business confidence would rekindle appetite for investing in high growth EMs like India. The rupee is likely to appreciate when the US Fed hikes, even if that narrows its rate differential with the RBI, the report adds.

In its report titled 'FX: A tale of two July 15s', BofAML says that Narendra Modi's government would want to recoup FX reserves, just as Governor Bimal Jalan had doubled import cover to 15 months during the previous NDA I regime of 1998-2004. After all, India's Balance of Payment (BoP) indicators have begun to trail BRIC indicators. RBI will have to buy USD 80bn just to keep import cover at its current 8 months by March 2016.

1:10 pm Results: Bajaj Finance reported a 20 percent growth in first quarter (April-June) net profit at Rs 211 crore compared to Rs 176 crore in same quarter last year, aided by strong revenue growth.

Total income of the financing company shot up 34 percent year-on-year to Rs 1,246 crore and net interest income grew 24.3 percent to Rs 747 crore in the quarter gone by. "Bajaj Finance reported asset under management of Rs 26,943 crore, a growth of 40 percent compared to previous quarter," says the company in its filing.

Gross non-performing assets (NPA) stood at 1.13 percent and net NPA at 0.27 percent during April-June quarter. The provisioning coverage ratio was 76 percent as of June 2014, says company, adding capital adequacy ratio of 18 percent during the quarter.

The market is holding on to its gains. The Sensex is up 79.34 points at 25307.99 and the Nifty is up 23.00 points at 7549.65. About 1663 shares have advanced, 965 shares declined, and 109 shares are unchanged.
 
Financial stocks lead the gains on easy infra lending norms. Broader markets continue to outperform.

ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, SBI are up 2-3 percent each. Reliance and Hindalco are other gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are GAIL, HDFC, Bajaj Auto, Sesa Sterlite and NTPC.

A surge in gold imports in June widened India's trade deficit to an 11-month high, adding to the uncertainty from global oil prices that could pile more pressure on its current account balance.
The trade deficit jumped to USD 11.76 billion last month from USD 11.23 billion in May boosted by a 65 percent annual rise in gold imports.

The bullion is India's second-biggest import item after oil and was one of the principal factors in putting it on the brink of a full-scale balance of payments crisis last year.In a desperate bid to trim a gaping current account deficit, India last year increased import duties on gold and imposed a rule that required a fifth of all bullion imports be re-exported.

Brent crude climbed above USD 106 a barrel as data from China showed its economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter and the country's implied oil demand rose to its highest sine the beginning of last year.

The improving economic outlook in the world's second largest economy and No.2 oil consumer offset downward pressure on Brent from easing concerns about supply disruptions from violence in North Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine.

12:50 pm Planning Commission rejig:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce a new look of the Planning Commission soon. Sources in the government say that the Commission is likely to hold an advisory role in the government.

It is likely to have a think-tank type of a role for providing inputs for policy making. The Commission is also likely to lose the resource-allocation role it enjoys at present as the agency overseeing annual plans.

Planning Minister Rao Inderjit Singh on Tuesday had underlined the need for streamlining the role of the Planning Commission, the country's apex policy making body which is yet to be reconstituted by the new government.

"As far as the role of the Planning Commission is concerned, it needs to be made more streamlined. The states should not take this institution as a hindrance," Singh said in his Facebook post.

12:40 pm Buzzing: Investors continued to buy shares of Atlanta , the Mumbai-based infrastructure development company after it has secured single order from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The stock gained as much as 8 percent intraday Wednesday.

"The project is for the operation and maintenance of a four lane Highway Guwahati bypass-Nagaon-Daboka-Udauli section of NH-37, 36 and 54/54E from Guwahati bypass with the total length of 205.16 km on OMT (operation, maintenance and transfer) basis in Assam," says the company in its filing. Atlanta is forming a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to undertake the said project that has concession period of 9 years.

12:30 pm Udayan Mukherjee's views: The overall Indian equity market seems to be consolidating after the run-up it has seen in the last few months, CNBC-TV18's Udayan Mukherjee said. Those looking to enter the market now should adopt a stock-specific approach, he recommended. If one sees 15-20 correction in quality midcap stocks, then that should be used as opportunity to buy, he said.

On specific sectors, he said that one shouldn't ignore IT completely and should have some exposure to it. Even if one sees small correction of about 3-5 percent in auto anciliary, infra and private banking stocks like Yes Bank and ING then these should be bought into, he said.

12:20 pm Divestment talks: There exists significant appetite for good stocks in the Indian equity market and divesting public sector companies is the best way to get retail investors in the market, says Prithvi Haldea, chairman and managing director, Prime Database.

Haldea's views come on the back of a draft cabinet note proposing to sell 10 percent stake in Coal India and 5 percent stake in ONGC is being floated. The government is infact planning to sell stake in 10 blue chip companies.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Haldea says the government should now get the pricing right for the divestment as other attempts to offload stocks have met with tepid response in the past.

Haldea says the government should price the divesting stocks 15 percent lower than the current market price (CMP).

12:10 pm Results: Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank reported stable earnings with the consolidated net profit rising 11.3 percent on yearly basis to Rs 698.3 crore during April-June quarter on account of lower provisions and higher other income but higher operating expenses limited profitability of the bank.

Consolidated net interest income, the difference between interest earned and interest expended, rose 9.9 percent to Rs 1,510.07 crore compared to Rs 1,374.04 crore year-on-year while other income (non-interest income) jumped 38 percent to Rs 1,871.27 crore during June quarter aided by profit on sale of investments including revaluation (insurance business), which also include commission, fees, exchange, brokerage income.

Operating expenses during the quarter shot up 42.9 percent to Rs 2,322.82 crore compared to Rs 1,625.72 crore in same quarter last year due to policy holders' reserves, surrender expenses and claims.

Equity benchmarks continued to see volatility with positive bias in noon trade but the BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices outperformed, up 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

The Sensex rose 69.75 points to 25298.40 and the Nifty gained 20.95 points to 7547.60. About 1593 shares have advanced, 929 shares declined, and 106 shares are unchanged.

Infrastructure financing company IDFC topped the buying list in the Nifty, up 6 percent after RBI issued guidelines for infrastructure lending. ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Reliance Industries, SBI, Hero Motocorp and DLF are other prominent gainers, rising 1-3 percent.

However, Gail India, HDFC, Bajaj Auto, Sesa Sterlite, NTPC and Power Grid Corporation lost 1-2 percent.

Among midcaps, BF Utilities, Jaypee Infratech, Natco Pharma, Unitech and ABG Shipyard spiked 5-8 percent while in smallcaps, Force Motors, Savita Oil Technologies, Financial Technologies, Asahi India and Sundram Finance shot up 6-13 percent.

11:50 am Market outlook: The Nifty does not have steam to top 7600, or at the most 7700, in the near term, feels Vineet Bhatnagar, MD, Phillip Capital. In an interview to CNBC-TV18, he says that market volatility has been coming down continuously, as seen from the implied volatility readings.

The second trend has been a a steady decline in the overall size of open positions in the market, both in index as well stock futures, indicating lower energy levels in the market, adding that FIIs have reduced their net long positions in index futures significantly.

According to Bhatnagar, there is a lot of demand for Nifty 7500 put options, the breakeven for which is 7440. So in the spot market, 7440 should be a good support level, he says.

11:40 am Results: Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank reported stable earnings with the consolidated net profit rising 11.3 percent on yearly basis to Rs 698.3 crore during April-June quarter on account of lower provisions and higher other income but higher operating expenses limited profitability of the bank.

Consolidated net interest income, the difference between interest earned and interest expended, rose 9.9 percent to Rs 1,510.07 crore compared to Rs 1,374.04 crore year-on-year while other income (non-interest income) jumped 38 percent to Rs 1,871.27 crore during June quarter aided by profit on sale of investments including revaluation (insurance business).

Operating expenses during the quarter shot up 42.9 percent to Rs 2,322.82 crore compared to Rs 1,625.72 crore in same quarter last year due to policy holders' reserves, surrender expenses and claims.

11:30 am Interview: While the pharma industry has not welcomed the government's move to put a cap on the pricing cardiovascular and diabetes drugs , it was in the offing, says Vikas Dandekar, India Bureau Chief, Pharmasia News.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Dandekar says a lot of discrepancy exists in the pricing of drugs in India, but individual companies are likely to be impacted more than the entire industry.

''Bigger brands were charging more for the same drug molecules. Infact now the government is likely to bring more formulations under the drug pricing purview. All medicines to cure diseases like HIV, Tuberculosis (TB), malaria and oncology-related drugs will be capped in time to come,'' he says. Dandekar further adds that Sanofi is likely to see the maximum impact of this price capping in India.

11:20 am Houseview: UBS downgraded HDFC to "neutral" from "buy" and cuts price target to 1,075 rupees from 1,100 rupees.

The investment bank says HDFC could be impacted by more aggressive pricing on loans by banks, while competition to raise long-term bonds could push up long-term rates.

Shares in Housing Development Finance Corp fall as much as 2.9 percent on worries about the negative impact from the RBI guidelines under which banks would be exempted from reserve requirements when raising long-term bonds for infrastructure.

The market maintains its uptrend with the Nifty holding 7600-mark. The Nifty is up 31.15 points at 7557.80. The Sensex is up 103.68 points at 25332.33. About 1481 shares have advanced, 769 shares declined, and 88 shares are unchanged.

Trade deficit is at 11-month high in June, clocking USD 11.76 billion from USD 11.23 billion in May. Imports fell to USD 38.24 billion from USD 39.23 billion month-on-month while exports was also low at USD 26.48 billion versus USD 28 billion (M-o-M).

Meanwhile, ICICI Bank, Hindalco, Tata Steel, Reliance and SBI are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are GAIL, HDFC, Sesa Sterlite, Coal India and HDFC Bank.

The dollar clung to modest gains post comments by Yellen that rates could rise sooner if employment continued to improve, while strong inflation sent sterling to a six-year high.

Brent crude extended losses to slips below USD 106 per barrel, as rising Libyan supplies and weak economic data hiked concerns over a near-term glut.

Gold retained two days of losses to trade near a four-week low, below USD 1,300 an ounce, on a stronger dollar and fears that the Federal Reserve could hike US interest rates sooner than expected.

11:00am MCX India most active
Rakesh Radheyshyam Jhunjhunwala raised his shareholding in MCX India to 2.92 percent by buying another 49 lakh equity shares of the commodity exchange from its own company Rare Enterprises.

Earlier, on July 8, he bought 10 lakh shares at Rs 664 through block deal. Financial Technologies, the promoter of MCX India, was the seller in this block deal.

The stock fell nearly 2 percent on profit booking.

10:55am Axis Bank in News
Finance ministry sources say the government will divest stake in Axis Bank in tranches. There is not enough market appetite to sell full stake in one go and the government will float proposal to sell Axis Bank stake soon, reports CNBC-TV18 quoting finance ministry sources.

The government's undertaking SUUTI holds 11.7 percent stake in Axis Bank.

10:50am: Barclays on infrastructure norms
The Reserve Bank of India (RB) on July 15, issued a fresh set of guidelines for infrastructure sector lending by the banks where it allowed amortisation of loans over 80 percent of the concession period/useful life of the project (with refinancing every 5-7 years). It also allowed modification (allowed once without being treated at 'restructured') of amortisation schedule even after the date of commencement of commercial operations (DCCO) in the case of standard loans provided NPV remains protected and the amortisation schedule remains within 85 percent of the concession period/useful life of the project.

RBI has also encouraged banks to raise long-term bonds to finance infrastructure projects which will provide an exemption from reserve (CRR/SLR) requirements which can potentially lower the cost of infrastructure funding in the medium to long term.

The brokerage believes that these steps will be positive for infrastructure asset owners in India. "We continue to like IRB (overweight) and Adani Ports (overweight) in its coverage universe," says Barclays.

10:40am Steel Strips Wheels bags repeat export order from Russian territory: The order will cater to the Russian after-market demand and this order will open up opportunity for SSWL to increase foothold in export markets. The order is for 25000 wheels and will cater to passenger car segment.

The wheels will be exported for LADA Cars sold in Russia and Europe, and will be executed in second quarter 2014-15 only.

10:30am Suzlon Energy says itsduly constituted Securities Issue Committee of the board of directors of the company has, on July 15, 2014, approved the allotment of new foreign currency convertible bonds (restructured bonds) amounting to USD 546,916,000 to the holders of existing bonds.

10:20am Atlanta in News
Atlanta, Mumbai based infrastructure development company, has secured single order from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

"The project is for the operation and maintenance of a four lane Highway Guwahati Bypass - Nagaon - Daboka - Udauli Section of NH-37, 36 and 54/54E from Guwahati Bypass with the total length of 205.16 km on OMT (operation, maintenance and transfer) basis in the state of Assam," says the company in its filing.

The project has concession period of 9 years. Atlanta is forming a SPV to undertake the said project.

10:10am Market Expert
The Nifty does not have steam to top 7600, or at the most 7700, in the near term, feels Vineet Bhatnagar, MD, Phillip Capital. In an interview to CNBC-TV18, he says that market volatility has been coming down continuously, as seen from the implied volatility readings.

The second trend has been a a steady decline in the overall size of open positions in the market, both in index as well stock futures, indicating lower energy levels in the market, adding that FIIs have reduced their net long positions in index futures significantly.

According to Bhatnagar, there is a lot of demand for Nifty 7500 put options, the breakeven for which is 7440. So in the spot market, 7440 should be a good support level, he says.

But an even stronger support level, based on technical indicators, is 7200 on the Nifty he says.

He sees bank stocks coming under pressure if the overall market weakens.

10:00am Equity benchmarks erased half of early gains weighed down by heavyweights HDFC and HDFC Bank that fell 2.13 percent and 0.46 percent, respectively. The Sensex rose 70.53 points to 25299.18 and the Nifty advanced 18.05 points to 7544.70.

The broader markets outperformed benchmarks with the BSE Midcap and Smallcap rising 0.6 percent and 1 percent, respectively. About 1242 shares have advanced, 596 shares declined, and 59 shares are unchanged.

Top private sector lender ICICI Bank kept its top position in the buying list, up nearly 3 percent after RBI issued norms for long-term bond issue by banks for infra debt and alloted infrastructure status for affordable housing projects. State Bank of India and Axis Bank gained over a percent.

Shares of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries touched an all-time high of Rs 753 on the BSE, up 1.93 percent intraday Wednesday after its subsidiary acquired US-based Pharmalucence Inc.

"Pharmalucence has sterile injectable capacity in the US, supported by strong R&D capabilities," says the company in its filing.

9:55 am Exclusive: Vikram Limaye, managing director and chief executive officer, IDFC says the RBI circular on easier lending to infra companies is not applicable to the company as yet.

While the steps are positive for the sector, the company will approach the RBI to get clarity on whether it can avail these eased norms as the company hasn't yet transitioned to a bank.

''This circular is applicable only to banks and its not applicable to us because we are not a bank as yet and we need to operationalise the bank in October 2015,'' he adds.

9:45 am Market outlook: Sanjeev Prasad, senior executive director & co-head, Kotak Institutional expects the Indian equity market to remain rangebound now.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, he said that macro-economic factors have improved considerably, but one needs to see more policy action from the government before next market upmove.

According to him, most stocks look fairly valued at the moment. Kotak Institutional has upgraded the outlook of oil and gas major Reliance to add from reduce. The fair value of Reliance at Rs 1,250/share, he said.

From the banking space, Prasad is positive on ICICI Bank with fair value target at Rs 1,650/share. Also, he retains DCB Bank as one of preferred small caps.

9:35 am Big gainer: Shares of Sun Pharma are up 2 percent, hitting record high at Rs 753 per share. The drug major's subsidiary has acquired US-based Pharmalucence. Pharmalucence has sterile injectable capacity and research capabilities.

9:25 am: Buoyed up by the RBI's relaxation of norms, Bank Nifty is doing a jig by gaining over 1 percent. SBI, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Bank of Baroda are top gainers in the sector. 

The market has opened with smart gains boosted by lending companies. The Sensex is up 142.16 points at 25370.81 and the Nifty up 37.50 points at 7564.15. About 467 shares have advanced, 103 shares declined, and 10 shares are unchanged.

IDFC is up 4 percent as ina big push to infrastructure as the Reserve Bank of India has relaxed infra financing rules. Banks are exempted from SLR and CRR requirement for long-term infrastructure bonds. Priority sector lending norms are also eased. Affordable housing has got infrastructure status.

Sun Pharma, ICICI Bank, NTPC, Axis Bank and SBI are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are Bharti Airtel, HDFC and ITC.

The Indian rupee slipped in the opening trade. It has opened lower by 11 paise at 60.23 per dollar against 60.12 Tuesday.The dollar clung to modest gains post comments by the head of the Federal Reserve that rates could rise sooner if employment continued to improve, while strong inflation sent Sterling to a six-year high.

Himanshu Arora of Religare said that, "Rupee is expected to trade slightly weaker today reacting to comments of the Fed Chief Yellen, who said increase in Federal Funds rate will likely occur sooner and be more rapid if labour market continues to improve."

"Dollar buying by state run banks for oil related demand may also underpin dollar moves in today's session. Range for the rupee is seen between 59.97-60.35/dollar," he added.

US markets lost steam despite better-than-expected earnings after Fed raised valuation concerns. Fed says valuation metrics for small caps particularly in social media and biotech companies appear substantially stretched. However, Janet Yellen reiterated the need for stimulus given the weakness in the job market.

Asian stocks are cautious this morning. Nikkei is flat after central bank left policy unchanged but slightly trimmed its growth forecast for the current fiscal year.

European shares fluctuated before ending the day lower, with comments from Yellen hitting sentiment.Brent crude extended losses to slips below USD 106 per barrel, as rising Libyan supplies and weak economic data hiked concerns over a near-term glut.

Gold retained two days of losses to trade near a four-week low, below USD 1,300 an ounce, on a stronger dollar and fears that the Federal Reserve could hike US interest rates sooner than expected.