Nifty ends above 8,950, Midcap index at record closing high

3:20 pm Market check: Buying picks up in last minute rush as the Sensex is up 93.38 points at 29454.88. The Nifty is up 53.25 points at 8955.10. About 1488 shares have advanced, 1346 shares declined, and 191 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank is up 5 percent while Cipla,L&T, BHEL and HUL are top gainers in the Sensex.

3:10 pm European market check:  European shares clung to seven-year highs on Monday, lifted by merger activity in the telecoms sector, while Asian stocks edged up after China cut interest rates at the weekend.

The dollar hit an 11-year high against a basket of currencies, partly as a result of a weaker Chinese yuan and on growing prospects of a rise in interest rates from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

German manufacturing activity expanded further in February as new order rose, according to Markit's final purchasing manager's index (PMI) for the month. Italy's Markit/ADACI PMI showed the first expansion in activity for five months.

2:55 pm Sales data: Tata Motors Monday reported 10.69 percent increase in total sales at 44,225 units in February, as against 39,951 units in the same month last year. Domestic sales of Tata commercial and passenger vehicles grew by 14.15 percent at 40,314 units as compared to 35,315 units in February 2014, Tata Motors said in a BSE filing.

Sales of passenger vehicles in the domestic market in February stood at 13,767 units, up 21.56 percent from 11,325 units in February 2014.

"The trend of growth in passenger vehicles continued with the strong Zest sales and good response to the all-new Bolt," the company said. In the commercial vehicles segment, domestic sales were at 26,547 units during the month, the company said.

2:30 pm Ratings: Ratings agency Standard & Poor's does not expect an upgrade to India's sovereign debt rating in the next year in the absence of substantial, quality reforms, it said on Monday, days after the government's budget slowed the pace of fiscal consolidation.

India needs to at least strengthen two of its macroeconomic metrics on growth, inflation and fiscal health, said Kim Eng Tan, Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Sovereign Ratings for Standard & Poor's.

"However, again,  very big improvement is unlikely to come through in next year or so... We don't see the rating going up in the next year or so," Tan said. S&P currently rates India at "BBB-minus", its lowest investment grade rating, with a "stable" outlook.

The market continues to remain sluggish as the Sensex is down 2.56 points at 29358.94. The Nifty is up 15.20 points at 8917.05. About 1352 shares have advanced, 1349 shares declined, and 177 shares are unchanged.

ITC, Bajaj Auto, Bharti Airtel, Hero and M&M are losers while Axis Bank, L&T, BHEL, Cipla and HDFC Bank are gainers.

Shares of GMR Infra slipped 7 percent intraday. The board has agreed to raise Rs 1401.83 crore via rights issue. Issue price is finalised at Rs 15 per equity share. Earlier in July, the Bengaluru-based infrastructure had raised Rs 1477 crore through issuing shares to qualified institutional investors.

1:50 am Weakling: Shares of GMR Infra slipped 7 percent intraday. The board has agreed to raise Rs 1401.83 crore via rights issue.  Issue price is decided at Rs 15 per equity share.

"The board of directors has finalised to raise Rs 1401.83 crore consisting of 93,45,53,010 fully paid up equity shares of face value of Re 1 each. Issue price is Rs 15 per equity share (including a premium of Rs 14 per equity share)," a company statement said.

Earlier in July, the Bengaluru-based infrastructure had raised Rs 1,477 crore through issuing shares to qualified institutional investors.

1:30 pm Earnings: Videocon Industries reported 5.55 percent increase in standalone net profit at Rs 18.61 crore for the quarter ended December 2014. The company had reported a standalone net profit of Rs 17.63 crore for the same quarter a year ago, Videocon Industries said in a BSE filing.

The company's net sales during the quarter stood at Rs 3,135.14 crore, down 2.25 percent from Rs 3,207.4 crore in the same quarter last year.

Its revenue from consumer electronics and home appliances segment increased marginally by 1.51 percent to Rs 2,888.96 crore and revenue from crude oil and natural gas segment declined 34.88 percent to Rs 244.66 crore.

The market is still flat but the Nifty holds 8900-level. The 50-share is up 18.75 points 8920.60. The Sensex is down 68.53 points at 29292.97. About 1277 shares have advanced, 1302 shares declined, and 183 shares are unchanged.

Bajaj Auto falls 4 percent on weak auto sales number in February. It reported a 21 percent decline in motorcycle sales at 2,16,077 units in February 2015. The company had sold 2,73,323 units in the year ago period. Its exports fell by 20 percent during the month to

1,12,909 units from 1,42,009 units in the corresponding year-ago period. The company 's total vehicle sales last month stood at 2,43,319 units, down 22 percent year-on-year.

ITC also continues to lose 4 percent. Other laggards include Tata Motors, Hero MotoCorp and Bharti Airtel.

Among the gainers are Axis Bank, L&T, Cipla, BHEL and HDFC Bank.

12:50 pm Exclusive:  The government is likely to enable a provision in Financial Bill to levy service tax on services by government to business entities. According to sources, the services may include coal as well as spectrum auctions. The list of government services that will fall under service tax is not yet decided.

Sources further tell CNBC-TV18 that the amendments will come into effect after passage of the Finance Bill with government yet to notify the date. The government has also pruned exemptions under the negative list for service tax in an attempt to broaden tax base.

The finance ministry said not all government services will fall under service tax net. The ministry is also believed to be sensitive of the impact on sectors and will therefore, analyse before taking any decision.
 
The ministry said it doesn't want to take 'people by surprise' but is looking for stability in the tax policy.

12:30 pm Buzzing: Shares of Eicher Motors rallied 3 percent intraday after its two-wheeler brand Royal Enfield showed robust sales in February.  The company's Royal Enfield reported 49 percent jump in total sales in February this year at 30,240 units against 20,343 units

in the year-ago period. Domestic sales also surged 49 percent to 29,491 units last month from 19,840 units in February 2014, the company said in a statement.

Exports during the month stood at 749 units against 503 units last year.

The market has turned flat as the Sensex is down 44.14 points at 29317.36 and the Nifty is up 0.15 points at 8902. About 1174 shares have advanced, 1217 shares declined, and 185 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank, L&T, Cipla, BHEL and HDFC Bank are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are Bajaj Auto, ITC, Tata Motors, GAIL and Tata Power.

Shares of oil marketing companies are on buyers' radar riding on fuel price hike over the weekend. Shares of BPCL, HPCL and IOC jumped 4-6 percent intraday after petrol price was raised by Rs 3.18 per litre and diesel by Rs 3.09. This is the second increase in rates this month on rising international oil rates. A litre of petrol in Delhi costs Rs 60.49 now as against Rs 57.31 while diesel costs Rs 49.71 per litre as against Rs 46.62.  Prior to the increases this month, petrol price had been cut on ten occasions since August 2014 and diesel six times since October 2014.

Meanwhile, manufacturing growth slipped to a five-month low in February as the pace of order-flows slowed and companies also reduced their workforce numbers during the month, says an HSBC report.

The headline HSBC India Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) -- a composite gauge designed to give a single-figure snapshot of manufacturing business conditions -- fell from 52.9 in the previous month to a five-month low of 51.2 in February. This is the second consecutive month of fall for the Indian manufacturing sector.

11:55 am HSBC PMI:  Manufacturing growth slipped to a five-month low in February as the pace of order-flows slowed and companies also reduced their workforce numbers during the month, says an HSBC report.

The headline HSBC India Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) -- a composite gauge designed to give a single-figure snapshot of manufacturing business conditions -- fell from 52.9 in the previous month to a five-month low of 51.2 in February. This is the second consecutive month of fall for the Indian manufacturing sector.

The factory sector output had hit a two-year high in December 2014. A figure above 50 indicates the sector is expanding, while a figure below that level means contraction.

11:45 am Budget analysis: Hiren Ved of Alchemy Capital Management believes couple of proposals like delaying GAAR, abandoning distinction between FII and FDI investment made in the Union Budget are favourable for foreign investors. He feels there is further headroom for foreign participation and that will bring in more funds into India.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Ved said private banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) will still lead the market. Also, companies that are related to railways, renewables and infrastructure are also likely to benefit going ahead.

"I don't think that this Budget improves short-term earnings capabilities. In fact at the margin, your marginal rate of tax has gone up. However, investors are not looking at the very near-term. There will be still be challenges for one or two quarters in terms of earnings is concerned. However, what most people are looking at is a broad thrust of the Budget and there is now enough on the table," he added.

11:30 am Buzzing: Shares of aviation stocks are under selling pressure as jet fuel prices are hiked by a steep 8.2 percent. The price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in Delhi was hiked by Rs 3,849.97 per kilolitre, or 8.2 percent, to Rs 50,363 per kl. Both Jet Airways and SpiceJet fell 5 percent intraday on Monday.

The rate hike follows seven consecutive monthly cuts since August, the last being by 11.27 per cent (Rs 5,909.9 per kl) from February 1.  ATF price had been cut by Rs 23,648.73 or 33 percent in seven reductions since August 2014. Even after this hike, jet fuel rates are

lowest since February 2011. Jet fuel constitutes over 40 percent of an airline's operating costs and the price increase will raise the financial burden of cash-strapped carriers.

The market starts the first trading day after the Budget on a firm footing. The Sensex is up 60.40 points at 29421.90, and the Nifty is up 24.80 points at 8926.65. About 1246 shares have advanced, 927 shares declined, and 185 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank continues to gain. Credit Suisse says this Budget provide more reason to be overweight on private banks. With FII and FDI limits being merged the foreign limit for private banks will go upto 74 percent and key beneficiaries will be Axis and YES Bank as it will open up room for foreign buying and likely raise index weights.

L&T, HDFC twins, Maruti and BHEL are other top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are ITC, GAIL, Tata Motors, Coal India and M&M,

Gold prices rose by Rs 248 to Rs 26,939 per 10 grams in futures trade today as speculators engaged in enlarging positions amid a better trend overseas. Analysts said the rise in the gold prices at futures trade was mostly in line with a firming trend overseas where the precious metal advanced to almost two-week highs after China announced a second interest rate cut in three months and the US reported a slower pace of economic expansion than estimated.

10:55 am Exclusive interview:  Axis Bank MD and CEO Shikha Sharma said the bank needs shareholder approval to raise FII limit to 74 percent.  As of now, private banks have a total foreign limit of 74 percent, of which FII limit is 49 percent. The current foreign holding in

Axis Bank is 52 percent whereas foreign limit is at 62 percent.

On Budget, Sharma said focus on fiscal discipline was a pragmatic move. Simplification of tax code, processes and approvals is a big positive for the industry. According to her, infra-related sectors should benefit from the Budget with focus on affordable housing being of great significance.

The country's third largest private sector lender maintains its guidance for stressed assets for this year at around Rs 6,500 crore.

10:30 am Market outlook: The Union Budget that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented may be a market neutral event and the ongoing rally would likely continue on hopes that a structural upturn in the economy is a few quarters away, CNBC-TV18 consulting editor Udayan Mukherjee says. ''The Budget has done nothing that will dent hopes that structural upturn is few quarters away,'' Udayan said, adding that the stops announced in the event would rather serve as another ''positive cog in the wheel''. Even as investors have already been ratcheting up their exposures to cyclical stocks, Udayan said they should now look at what are termed as ''late-cycle plays''. But he cautioned that an investor playing on this should be willing to ''look the other way for earnings'' for maybe a year. ''They will keep disappointing you. You will see an upturn in the order books in about two quarters, which will then flow into revenues four quarters down the line,'' Udayan said.

The market looks poised for a spectacular rally as the Nifty inches close to 9000-mark. The 50-share index is up 58.65 points at 8960.50. The Sensex is up 151.59 points at 29513.09, and the Nifty About 1176 shares have advanced, 599 shares declined, and 158 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank, L&T, HDFC twins and BHEL are top gainers in the Sensex. ITC is still down 3 percent while GAIL, Wipro, Tata Power and Sesa Sterlite are among the losers.

Indian bonds and the rupee fell in early trading after the government set a higher-than-expected fiscal deficit target for the 2015-16 year as part of the federal budget unveiled on Saturday.

The Budget announced a fiscal deficit target of 3.9 percent of gross domestic product for the fiscal year starting in April, higher-than-expected 3.6 percent.

The government also said it would cut the deficit to 3 percent of GDP by the 2017-18 fiscal year, one year later than expected.

The benchmark 10-year bond yield rose 3 basis points to 7.75 percent initially. The rupee weakened slightly to 61.86 per dollar compared to its 61.83-84 close on Friday, tracking Asian peers after China's central bank cut interest rates on Saturday.

9:50 am Chiadambaram's views on Budget: Accusing Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of giving Rs 2 lakh crore "bonanza" to corporates in the next four years, Congress leader P Chidambaram today said the NDA government's first full Budget has failed the fiscal test, the test of equity, and that of rising inequality.

"Budget is very pro-corporate India. You know the cost of this corporate bonanza, in the first year, it is Rs 20,000 crore, in second year Rs 40,000 crore, in third year Rs 60,000 crore and in the fourth year Rs 80,00 crore," former Finance Minister Chidambaram told Headlines Today in an interview.

After a gap of 10 years, the government had yesterday announced cut in corporate tax by 5 percent to 25 percent over four years starting April 2016, but tax exemptions and incentives to the industry will be withdrawn.

9:40 am FII view:  Morgan Stanley Managing Director Ridham Desai says the Budget proposals strengthens the case for an earnings upgrade.

In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Desai says the Budget will help sustain growth over the longer term. The higher share of revenues for states will encourage many of the progressive minded states to embark on capex plans. This in turn, should help revive the investment cycle in the country.

He is bullish on shares of private banks and capital goods companies. Among non-cyclicals, he is bullish on IT. He, however, recommends avoiding PSU banks as they are unlikely to participate in the early stage of the uptick in the credit cycle. Cement and steel are the other two sectors that Morgan Stanley is bearish on.

Among the positives in the Budget, Desai said at least 20 proposals focussed in improving the ease for doing business in the country.

9:22 am Big fall: Shares of ITC slipped another 3 percent unable to gulp down the excise duty hike on cigarettes proposed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget 2015.

Excise duty on cigarettes is increased by 25 percent for cigarettes of length not exceeding 65 mm and by 15 percent for cigarettes of other lengths. Last year the excise duty hike was at 22 percent. This is the fourth successive year of more than 18 percent hike in duty.

After closing strong on Budget day, the market has once again opened firmly on Monday. The Sensex is up 177.98 points or 0.6 percent at 29539.48 and the Nifty is up 52.75 points or 0.6 percent at 8954.60.

About 439 shares have advanced, 89 shares declined, and 102 shares are unchanged.

Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI, ONGC and HDFC Bnak are top gainers while Tata Power, ITC, Bharti Airtel and TCS are major laggards in the Sensex.

The Indian rupee opened marginally lower at 61.89 per dollar versus 61.83 Friday.

The euro trades around fresh one-month lows early in a subdued start to the week, while an interest rate cut in China over the weekend gives commodity currencies only a slight boost.

Agam Gupta of Standard Chartered said," There has been dollar strength overnight. The Budget impact on the currency will be muted though there could be some short-term disappointment from the fiscal deficit target being higher than market expectations."

Among global markets, in the US, stocks posted gains of 5 percent or more in February, despite closing modestly lower on Friday amid lackluster data and oil gains.

Asian stocks kicked off the week mostly higher as interest rate cut in China on Saturday offset a weaker finish on Wall Street on Friday. The People's Bank of China cut the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 5.35 percent and reduced the benchmark saving rate by a similar margin to 2.5 percent.

In commodities, Nymex crude trades below the USD 50 per barrel while Brent crude is steady above USD 62 per barrel. From precious metals space, gold prices rise to USD 1215 an ounce but gains are capped given a steady dollar.