Budget 2015: Sensex gains 141 points, Nifty reclaims 8900; ITC sinks 9%

What a wild swing! The market swung along some 678 points intraday, with some late buying that saved the day. After a lot of volatility, the Nifty ended at a month-high closing level. The 50-share index closed up 57.25 points or 0.6 percent at 8901.85 while the Sensex was up 141.38 points or 0.5 percent at 29361.50. About 1241 shares advanced, 1494 shares declined.

Investors had pinned a lot of hope for more reforms in the Budget 2015 presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and enthusiastic trading took the Sensex up almost 400 points in early trade. The Nifty, too, climbed the 8900-level peak much before the FM's Budget proposal speech. However, things did not remain so rosy as soon the FM announced some excise duty hikes.

An excise duty hike by 15 percent for cigarettes took a toll on index heavyweight ITC, knocking off some 9 percent intraday. Not only that, the government has also proposed an excise duty raise by 25 percent for 65mm cigarettes and on tobacco increased to Rs 70/kg from Rs 60/kg.

The market soon started to spiral down falling almost 200-points as a knee-jerk reaction as investors seemed to be looking for more big bang announcements from the Modi government's first full year Budget. However, aggressive buying in banks, pharma, oil & gas, auto and IT stocks brought the market back to green with the Nifty reclaiming 8900-level.

The government's decision to defer the much-dreaded General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) by two years gave much relief to foreign investors which was when market started to turn green after the knee-jerk negative reaction to Budget proposals. GAAR was earlier purposed to kick-start from April 1, 2015.

Market experts see it to be a well-balanced Budget and expect it to give some legs to the rally on Monday. Adrian Mowat of JPMorgan feels there is a lot in this Budget the people will like and as Modi was highlighting it is about giving us clarity over the next four years. Ramesh Damani, Member, BSE also agrees that it may not be a big bang Budget but it seems like a big bold Budget. ''I would give the Finance Minister high marks for restructuring the corporate tax rates doing away with the wealth tax,'' he said in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

However, Ajay Srivastava, CEO of Dimensions Consulting warns that the market will be correcting a little bit definitely in the next seven days or so because there are a lot of expectations built around a couple of sectors that has come down. ''We will start to see impact of company valuations and fundamentals coming to the market more than liquidity. Expectations are over, the reality is now when the new cost comes to hit the real estate, infrastructure companies what happens to their earnings dynamics and that will be a negative,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Jaitley pegged fiscal deficit for 2015-16 at 3.9 percent of GDP and proposed to lower it to 3 percent by 2017-18, a year later than planned earlier. Unveiling the roadmap for fiscal consolidation while presenting the Budget 2015-16, he said the 3 percent fiscal deficit target will now be achieved in three years.  He also said that Current Account Deficit (CAD) will be less than 1.3 percent of GDP.

Gainers & losers
Such a volatile when an index heavyweight like ITC ended the day with a steep lose of 8 percent, Axis Bank gained a whopping 9 percent.

Late bloom in banking stocks took Bank Nifty up over 3 percent at close. HDFC Bank, SBI, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra gained 1-5 percent each. BHEL, NTPC, Hindalco and HDFC were laggards in the Sensex. Among the midcap stocks, HMT, PC Jeweller, Chambal Fertiliser, Punj Lloyd and Rallis India were top performers.

After a volatile day, the market ended Budget day trading on a higher note. The Nifty was at a 1-month closing high. The 50-share index was up 57.25 points at 8901.85. The Sensex ended up 141.38 points. About 1241 shares have advanced, 1494 shares declined, and 220 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank, Sun Pharma, Tata Motors, ICICI Bank and HUL were top gainers in the Sensex. ITC lost 8 percent, BHEL, NTPC, Hindalco and Tata Power were major laggards in the Sensex.

The Finance Minister said that total additional public investment over and above is planned to be Rs 1.25 lakh crore out of which Rs 70,000 crore would be capital expenditure from budgetary outlays. ''We also have to take into account the drastically reduced fiscal space; uncertainties that implementation of GST will create; and the likely burden from the report of the 7th Pay Commission,'' he said.

''With the economy improving, the pressure for accelerated fiscal consolidation too has decreased. In these circumstances, I will complete the journey to a fiscal deficit of 3 percent in 3 years, rather than the two years envisaged previously. Thus, for the next three years, my targets are: 3.9 percent for 2015-16.

The market finally saw a strong rebound after late buying in banks, pharma and oil stocks. The Sensex is up 204.59 points at 29424.71 and the Nifty up 77.00 points at 8921.60.  About 1202 shares have advanced, 1518 shares declined, and 215 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank, Sun Pharma, Tata Motors, ICICI Bank and HUL are top gainers in the Sensex.

The Finance Minister said that total additional public investment over and above is planned to be Rs 1.25 lakh crore out of which Rs 70,000 crore would be capital expenditure from budgetary outlays. ''We also have to take into account the drastically reduced fiscal space; uncertainties that implementation of GST will create; and the likely burden from the report of the 7th Pay Commission,'' he said.

''With the economy improving, the pressure for accelerated fiscal consolidation too has decreased. In these circumstances, I will complete the journey to a fiscal deficit of 3 percent in 3 years, rather than the two years envisaged previously. Thus, for the next three years, my targets are: 3.9 percent for 2015-16.

The market is climbing with buying seen in banks, oil & gas, IT, auto and pharma stocks. The Sensex is up 64.94 points at 29285.06 and the Nifty is up 33.05 points at 8877.65.
About 1081 shares have advanced, 1551 shares declined, and 245 shares are unchanged.

Bank Nifty is up over 3 percent. Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Sun Pharma, Tata Motors and HUL are top gainers in the Sensex. The Finance Minister said that total additional public investment over and above is planned to be Rs 1.25 lakh crore out of which Rs 70,000 crore would be capital expenditure from budgetary outlays. ''We also have to take into account the drastically reduced fiscal space; uncertainties that implementation of GST will create; and the likely burden from the report of the 7th Pay Commission,'' he said.

''With the economy improving, the pressure for accelerated fiscal consolidation too has decreased. In these circumstances, I will complete the journey to a fiscal deficit of 3 percent in 3 years, rather than the two years envisaged previously. Thus, for the next three years, my targets are: 3.9 percent for 2015-16.

Aggressive buying in pharma and banks pulled the market to green. The Sensex is up 17.61 points at 29237.73 and the Nifty is up 18.75 points at 8863.35. About 1064 shares have advanced, 1555 shares declined, and 240 shares are unchanged.

Bank Nifty is up 3 percent. Axis Bank is up 7 percent, while ICICI Bank and Sbi are other gainers in the index. HUL and Sun Pharma are among major gainers in the Sensex.

"We are now embarked on two more game changing reforms. GST and what the Economic Survey has called the JAM Trinity – Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile – to implement direct transfer of benefits. GST will put in place a state-of-the-art indirect tax system by 1st April, 2016. The JAM Trinity will allow us to transfer benefits in a leakage-proof, well-targetted and cashless manner," FM said in his Budget speech.

Investors are still dumping down stocks on Saturday after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Budget speech did not meet the right chord. The Sensex is down 166.20 points at 29053.92 and the Nifty slips 31.95 points at 8812.65. About 974 shares have advanced, 1628 shares declined, and 227 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank is up 6 percent while HUL, Dr Reddy's Labs, Sun Pharma and Tata Motors are gainers in the Sensex.

Metal stocks are reacting as the government will raise the import duty on steel by 5 percentage points from April 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. This move will curb inflow of cheap supplies from China and Russia. The government also proposed to raise the tariff to 15 percent from 10 percent, Jaitley said in his Budget for the next fiscal year.

India will also raise the import tax on metallurgical coal to 5 percent from 2.5 percent.
Meanwhile, in an interview FM said that the government wants to raise savings rate to 36 percent of GDP. He said that revenue projections for FY16 is set at 16 percent.

Selling continues on Dalal Street dragging the Sensex down 140.43 points at 29079.69. The Nifty is down 35.10 points at 8809.50.  About 932 shares have advanced, 1655 shares declined, and 227 shares are unchanged.

Capital goods, FMCG and Metal indices are under heavy selling pressure. ITC, BHEL, NTPC and Hindalco are major losers in the Sensex.

In a television interview, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the government has increased central spend on infra by Rs 70,000 crore. He also said that the government's  revenue projections for FY16 is set at 16 percent. Jaitley added that indian states are financially more powerful now.

The market is still under pressure but the Nifty has managed to reclaim 8800. The 50-share index is down 38.00 points at 8806.60. The Sensex is down 173.80 points at 29046.32.About 857 shares have advanced, 1694 shares declined, and 218 shares are unchanged.

ITC is down 9 percent on excise duty hike on cigarettes. BHEL is down 5 percent, while NTPC, Hindalco and HDFC are losers in the Sensex.

In an television interview, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the government has increased central spend on infra by Rs 70,000 crore. He also said that the government's  revenue projections for FY16 is set at 16 percent. Jaitley added that indian states are financially more powerful now.

Disappointed investors are quickly selling off on Dalal Street after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Budget speech. The Sensex is down 266.99 points or 0.9 percent at 28953.13, and the Nifty slips 68.65 points or 0.8 percent at 8775.95. About 832 shares have advanced, 1711 shares declined, and 214 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank is up 5 percent, followed by HUL, Dr Reddy's Labs, GAIL and Tata Motors. Among the losers are ITC, BHEL, NTPC, Tata Power and HDFC.

The government has set aside Rs 2000 crore in net receipts under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) in the fiscal 2015-16 year, according to the budget documents. Under the MSS, the Reserve Bank of India sells government bonds to absorb excess liquidity from the banking system.

Selling pressure continues on Dalal Street as investors do not seem to be too impressed by Arun Jaitley's Budget proposals for Fy16. The Sensex is down 108.33 points at 29111.7  and the Nifty is down 23.35 points at 8821.25. About 978 shares have advanced, 1499 shares declined, and 220 shares are unchanged.

ITC is down 8 percent as government has increased excise duty by 15 percent. FMCG index is down 4 percent from previous close. However, HUL is up 2 percent from the FMCG pack. Axis Bank, Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Dr Reddy's Labs are gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are ITC, NTPC, BHEL, Sesa Sterlite and HDFC.

The market slides after FM Arun Jaitley did not give any concrete steps for reforms. The Sensex is down 70.54 points at 29149.58 and the Nifty is down 10.00 points at 8834.60.
About 983 shares have advanced, 1491 shares declined, and 206 shares are unchanged.

ITC is down 8 percent as government has increased excise duty by 15 percent. FMCG index is down 4 percent from previous close.  NTPC, BHEL, L&T and Hindalco are major losers.

Vallabh Bhansali says it is a great Budget it balanced between a lot of subjects.T he best attempt this Budget has made is to provide detailed roadmap to curb blackmoney. The intent of the government is very clear and people trying to avoid tax will find it difficult to keep unaccounted cash, Analyses Madhu Kela. Madhu Kela says the Budget is laudable. The clarity for next five years is commendable.

Investors shrug off Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Budget 2015 as it didn't guve any road map for economic reforms. The Sensex is down 62.42 points at 29157.70 and the Nifty down 21.70 points at 8822.90. About 1005 shares have advanced, 1439 shares declined, and 216 shares are unchanged.

Presenting the Budget for 2015, Arun Jaitley has promised to abolish wealth tax and 2 percent additional surcharge. He also promised to rationalise and remove exemptions for corporates. He has also said that basic rate of corporate tax to be 25 percent for next four years

Meanwhile, he has allocated Rs 25,000 crore for rural infrastructure. He has proposed Rs 1.25 lakh crore public investment for FY16.  Investment in infra will go up by Rs 70,000 crore and has proposed tax-free infra bonds for road, railways & infra projects.

The government will do away with distinction between FPIs and FDIs. He has proposed to set up 5 ultra mega power projects of 4,000 mw.

The market has begun to rally again as the Sensex is up 286.68 points or 0.9 percent at 29506.80 and the Nifty is up 77.35 points or 0.8 percent at 8921.95. About 1213 shares have advanced, 1220 shares declined, and 210 shares are unchanged.

Presenting the Budget for 2015, Arun Jaitley has promised to abolish wealth tax and 2 percent additional surcharge. He also promised to rationalise and remove exemptions for corporates. He has also said that basic rate of corporate tax to be 25 percent for next four years

Meanwhile, he has allocated Rs 25,000 crore for rural infrastructure. He has proposed Rs 1.25 lakh crore public investment for FY16.  Investment in infra will go up by Rs 70,000 crore and has proposed tax-free infra bonds for road, railways & infra projects.

The government will do away with distinction between FPIs and FDIs. He has proposed to set up 5 ultra mega power projects of 4,000 mw.

The market has turned flat while the Budget 2015 speech is still on. The Sensex is up 93.46 points or 0.3 percent at 29313.58, and the Nifty up 20.75 points or 0.2 percent at 8865.35. About 1173 shares have advanced, 1195 shares declined, and 179 shares are unchanged. IT, Auto, Pharma and FMCG indices are in the red. Coal India, Hero, Tata Power, Tata Motors and Hindalco are among laggards in the Sensex. Tata Steel, HDFC, Axis Bank, ONGC and BHEL are top gainers. Presenting the Budget for 2015, Arun Jaitley has allocated Rs 25,000 crore for rural infrastructure.

He has proposed Rs 1.25 lakh crore public investment for FY16.  Investment in infra will go up by Rs 70,000 crore and has proposed tax-free infra bonds for road, railways & infra projects. The Finance Minister said non-banking finance corporations (NBFC) will be treated at par with banks if they have a size of over Rs 500 crore. He also proposed Rs 20,000 crore for Mudra Bank to boost SMEs. Jaitley proposed to allocate Rs 5,300 crore for micro-irrigation, Rs 25,000 crore for rural infrastructure and Rs 34,699 cr for MNREGA. He also proposed Rs 8.5 lakh crore Farm Credit in FY16

The Finance Minister has stressed a lot on agriculture growth. To pump up the sector, Arun Jaitley has allocated Rs 5300 cr for micro-irrigation. He also said that the government is planning to scale up of disinvestment target. The Sensex is up 241.57 points or 0.8 percent at 29461.69 and the Nifty is up 61.20 points or 0.7 percent at 8905.80. About 1440 shares have advanced, 845 shares declined, and 181 shares are unchanged. Tata Steel, BHEL, HDFC, ICICI Bank and ONGC are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are Coal India, Tata Power, Tata Motors and Hero.

The market is picking up pace as the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley lays outlay for FY16. He has said that the monetary policy committee will look to keep CPI below 6 percent. He added that GDP is seen at 8-8.5 percent in FY16. The FM sees CPI at 5 percent by year-end. The Sensex is up 278.55 points or 0.9 percent at 29498.67, and the Nifty up 78.05 points or 0.9 percent at 8922.65. About 1415 shares have advanced, 822 shares declined, and 166 shares are unchanged

The market is still holding its gains as the Finance Miniseter Arun Jaitley starts Budget speech. The Sensex is up 244.69 points at 29464.81 and the Nifty is up 63.60 points or at 8908.20. About 1408 shares have advanced, 785 shares declined, and 183 shares are unchanged. The government is likely to meet the fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent in FY15 and aim for 3.6 percent in FY16. Gross market borrowings are likely to inch up to Rs 6.23 lakh crore in FY16.

On the taxation front, it is expected to see a roadmap towards implementation of GST. Capital markets may see a reduction in securities transaction tax. In a boost to financial savings, the FM may increase the limits for deduction under section 80C of the income tax act. The removal of infra sector from the ambit of MAT is seen as a big positive for infra players. A relaxation in gold import duty from current levels will be positive for Titan. Meanwhile a likely excise duty hike for cigarettes will be a negative for ITC.

The Sensex is up 206.57 points or 0.7 percent at 29426.69 and the Nifty up 57.65 points or 0.6 percent at 8902.25. About 1396 shares have advanced, 731 shares declined, and 163 shares are unchanged. Cipla, Hero, Infosys, TCS and Bharti Airtel are top losers in the Sensex . Among the losers are Tata Steel, BHEL, GAIL, L&T and ICICI Bank. All eyes are on the fiscal deficit number. FM Arun Jaitley is expected to remain committed to the path of fiscal consolidation. The government is likely to meet the fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent in FY15 and aim for 3.6 percent in FY16. Gross market borrowings are likely to inch up to Rs 6.23 lakh crore in FY16. On the taxation front, it is expected to see a roadmap towards implementation of GST. Capital markets may see a reduction in securities transaction tax.

Buying is seen in Indian market as Finance Minsiter Arun Jaitley gears up for Budget speech. The Sensex is up 230.54 points or 0.8 percent at 29450.66 and the Nifty is up 61.90 points or 0.7 percent at 8906.50. About 1339 shares have advanced, 698 shares declined, and 165 shares are unchanged. Oil marketing companies (OMCs) are under pressure.

CLSA sees the Budget to be negative for refiners as every 1 percent increase in duty will pull down gross refining margins by USD 0.3 per barrel. Both HPCL and BPCL are down 1-2 percent. Brent is up around 15 percent this month from January's close of USD 52.99, on course for its biggest monthly gain since May 2009. Disruptions to production and exports from Libya and Iraq in recent weeks have contributed to tightness in the physical market in the Mediterranean, while in the North Sea, Statoil has shut its Statfjord C platform after discovering cracks in the flare tower.

The Sensex is up 196.52 points or 0.6 percent at 29416.64 and the Nifty is up 51.80 points or 0.6 percent at 8896.40. About 1292 shares have advanced, 625 shares declined, and 148 shares are unchanged. TCS, Hero, Cipla, Maruti and Infosys are down while Tata Steel, HDFC, L&T, ICICI Bank and BHEL are among the gainers in the Sensex. Brokers said continued buying by funds and retail investors on hopes of an investor-friendly and growth-oriented Budget for 2015-16 influenced trading sentiments.

The Sensex is up 243.95 points or 0.8 percent at 29464.07 and the Nifty is up 64.85 points or 0.7 percent at 8909.45. About 1281 shares have advanced, 525 shares declined, and 154 shares are unchanged. Gems and jewellery stocks are in focus on hoped of import duty cut on gold. It will be positive for the stocks if the import duty is lowered from a record 10 percent in Budget 2015, to meet demand from the upcoming wedding season and Akshay Tritiya, a major festival associated with gold-buying in April. Gold has fallen more than 7 percent from a five-month high above USD ,300 an ounce hit in January as expectations of a US rate increase hurt its appeal as an insurance against risk.

Bulls seemed to be all geared up for Arun Jaitley's Budget speech. The Sensex is up 263.60 points or 0.9 percent at 29483.72 and the Nifty is up 73.40 points or 0.8 percent at 8918.00. About 1203 shares have advanced, 391 shares declined, and 141 shares are unchanged. BHEL, Sesa Sterlite, HDFC, SBI and L&T are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the Bharti Airtel, Cipla, Hero MotoCorp and Hindalco. The S&P 500 gained 5.5 percent for the month, while the Nasdaq rose 7.1 percent, its best monthly performance since January 2012. The strong gains have pushed the Nasdaq within striking distance of the 5,000 mark and record highs set in March 2000. A separate economic report showed a gauge of business activity in the US Midwest dropped to its lowest reading since July 2009 in February.

The market is still holding up gain. The Sensex is up 213.77 points or 0.7 percent at 29433.89 and the Nifty is up 55.85 points or 0.6 percent at 8900.45. About 1032 shares have advanced, 308 shares declined, and 120 shares are unchanged. All eyes are on the fiscal deficit number. FM Arun Jaitley is expected to remain committed to the path of fiscal consolidation.

The government is likely to meet the fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent in FY15 and aim for 3.6 percent in FY16. Gross market borrowings are likely to inch up to Rs 6.23 lakh crore in FY16. The S&P 500 gained 5.5 percent for the month, while the Nasdaq rose 7.1 percent, its best monthly performance since January 2012. The strong gains have pushed the Nasdaq within striking distance of the 5,000 mark and record highs set in March 2000. A separate economic report showed a gauge of business activity in the US Midwest dropped to its lowest reading since July 2009 in February.

9:23 am Nilesh Shah says 8500 should be a reasonable base for Nifty. The market is running on expectations of earnings growth by FY16-end. The market may not show big earnings growth for next 2-3 quarters. Fiscal deficit will be the key number to watch. 9:20 am Gainers & losers: SBI and BHEL are up 2 percent. Tata Power, ICICI Bank and NTPC are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers is ITC. 9:15 am Market opening: The market has open strong on Budget day. The Sensex is up 229.01 points or 0.8 percent at 29449.13 and the Nifty up 68.45 points or 0.8 percent at 8913.05. About 518 shares have advanced, 82 shares declined, and 101 shares are unchanged. SBI and BHEL are up 2 percent. Tata Power, ICICI Bank and NTPC are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers is ITC.

All eyes are on the fiscal deficit number. FM Arun Jaitley is expected to remain committed to the path of fiscal consolidation. The government is likely to meet the fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent in FY15 and aim for 3.6 percent in FY16. Gross market borrowings are likely to inch up to Rs 6.23 lakh crore in FY16. On the taxation front, it is expected to see a roadmap towards implementation of GST. Capital markets may see a reduction in securities transaction tax. In a boost to financial savings, the FM may increase the limits for deduction under section 80C of the income tax act. The removal of infra sector from the ambit of MAT is seen as a big positive for infra players. A relaxation in gold import duty from current levels will be positive for Titan. Meanwhile a likely excise duty hike for cigarettes will be a negative for ITC. The S&P 500 posted its best monthly gain since October 2011 on Friday, but US stocks ended lower for the day as US economic growth slowed more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter.

The S&P 500 gained 5.5 percent for the month, while the Nasdaq rose 7.1 percent, its best monthly performance since January 2012. The strong gains have pushed the Nasdaq within striking distance of the 5,000 mark and record highs set in March 2000. A separate economic report showed a gauge of business activity in the US Midwest dropped to its lowest reading since July 2009 in February. Greece is running out of options to fund itself despite a four-month bailout extension, raising pressure on Athens to quickly implement reforms it has vocally opposed or default on debt repayments in a matter of weeks. Euro zone and IMF creditors gave Greece until the end of June to complete the bailout programme and receive the remaining 7.2 billion euros but it will not be allowed any funds until it Shut out of debt markets and faced with a steep fall in tax revenues, Athens is expected to run out of cash by the middle or end of March. Its finance minister has warned that Greece will struggle to repay creditors starting with a 1.5 billion euro IMF loan repayment due in March.

It is the final few hours before the Modi government presents its first Budget for the full year. Bulls are hoping Budget 2015 to be a game changer for the economy and market. It was a super run up to the Budget as bulls seem excited ahead of FM arun Jaitley's speech. The Sensex was up 473.47 points or 1.6 percent at 29220.12 and the Nifty ended 160.75 points or 1.8 percent at 8844.60 on Friday. PSU banks lead the upmove while HDFC Bank twins, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank were top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers were ITC, GAIL, Wipro and HUL. Bond markets are shut today for the weekend.

All eyes on the fiscal deficit number. FM Arun Jaitley is expected to remain committed to the path of fiscal consolidation. The government is likely to meet the fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent in FY15 and aim for 3.6 percent in FY16. Gross market borrowings are likely to inch up to Rs 6.23 lakh crore in FY16. On the taxation front, it is expected to see a roadmap towards implementation of GST. Capital markets may see a reduction in securities transaction tax. In a boost to financial savings, the FM may increase the limits for deduction under section 80C of the income tax act. The removal of infra sector from the ambit of MAT is seen as a big positive for infra players.

A relaxation in gold import duty from current levels will be positive for Titan. Meanwhile a likely excise duty hike for cigarettes will be a negative for ITC. Global cues The S&P 500 posted its best monthly gain since October 2011 on Friday, but US stocks ended lower for the day as US economic growth slowed more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter. The S&P 500 gained 5.5 percent for the month, while the Nasdaq rose 7.1 percent, its best monthly performance since January 2012. The strong gains have pushed the Nasdaq within striking distance of the 5,000 mark and record highs set in March 2000.

A separate economic report showed a gauge of business activity in the US Midwest dropped to its lowest reading since July 2009 in February. Greece is running out of options to fund itself despite a four-month bailout extension, raising pressure on Athens to quickly implement reforms it has vocally opposed or default on debt repayments in a matter of weeks. Euro zone and IMF creditors gave Greece until the end of June to complete the bailout programme and receive the remaining 7.2 billion euros but it will not be allowed any funds until it Shut out of debt markets and faced with a steep fall in tax revenues, Athens is expected to run out of cash by the middle or end of March. Its finance minister has warned that Greece will struggle to repay creditors starting with a 1.5 billion euro IMF loan repayment due in March.