Sensex skids 324 points, Nifty ends below 8400; Re at 2-yr low

03:30 pm Market close: The market plunged sharply in the last final hours of trade. The Sensex slipped 323.82 points or 1 percent at 27607.82 and the Nifty lost 122.40 points or 1 percent at 8372.75. About 787 shares have advanced, 2053 shares declined, and 105 shares are unchanged. Rupee was at fresh two-year low, at 65.48 per dollar now. Brent Crude too was struggling.

Pharma and FMCG stocks outperformed with big gainers like Lupin, ITC, Dr Reddy's Labs, Sun Pharma and HUL. Banks, metals, IT and auto stocks were hammered out of shape. Vedanta, Reliance, BHEL, Tata Steel and Axis Bank were major laggards in the Sensex.

2:55 pm Gold check: Extending its rally for the eleventh day, gold surged by Rs 365 to over six-week high of Rs 26,700 today amid a firming trend in global markets and buying by jewellers to meet the wedding season demand.

Silver also recorded a handsome gain of Rs 1,000 at Rs 36,300 per kg on increased offtake by industrial units and coin makers.

Bullion traders said apart from a firming trend overseas where gold jumped to over one month highs as prospects dimmed for a US interest rate increase in September, boosting the metal's allure, increased buying by jewellers to meet ongoing wedding season demand, mainly kept prices of the precious metals higher.

2:44 pm Market check: The Sensex is down 300.28 points or 1 percent at 27631.36 and the Nifty slips 113.00 points or 1.3 percent at 8382.15. About 684 shares have advanced, 2083 shares declined, and 98 shares are unchanged.

Infosys, Vedanta, Axis Bank, Tata Steel and Reliance are major losers in the Sensex. Among the gainers are Lupin, ITC, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy's Labs and NTPC.

2:30 pm World news: Greece made a 3.2 billion euro (USD 3.56 billion) payment to the European Central Bank on a maturing government bond on Thursday, tapping cash from its first disbursement of bailout money, a senior government official said.

"The payment was made, the funds are on their way," the official told Reuters, declining to be named.

Greece received the first tranche of funds from its new bailout loan on Thursday after the European Stability Mechanism approved a rescue of up to 86 billion euros on Wednesday.

The first tranche amounts to 13 billion euros, of which about 12 billion euros will be used to pay down debt, including an earlier bridge loan and the maturing Greek government bond held by the ECB.

The market is succumbing to pressure in the last few hours of trade.  The Sensex is down 204.21 points or 0.7 percent at 27727.43 and the Nifty is down 82.95 points or 0.9 percent at 8412.20. About 744 shares have advanced, 1954 shares declined, and 100 shares are unchanged.

Lupin, ITC, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy's Labs and HUL are top gainers. Vedanta, Infosys, Tata Steel, BHEL and Tata Motors are major losers. Lupin, Axis Bank and Sun Pharma are the most active stocks.

Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India said the Indian economy is shown signs of improvemen, adding that a pick up in rural demand would further improve economic growth.

"You may see rural demand coming back more strongly, and that would be a very tremedous bonus to the economy compared to we are," Rajan said at an industry event.

Rajan said separately that the devaluation of the Chinese yuan was not something to be "concerned" about at current levels. He added, however, that global central banks depreciating currencies as a policy action was a worrisome trend.

1:50 pm FII view: The underlying in terms of the economy is pretty fine, though it is not going to be a hockey stick kind of an economic cycle as people were hoping for, says Aditya Narain, MD and India strategist at Citi. The quality of growth is good and hence there might be an extended economic cycle, he told CNBC-TV18.

This, according to him, even the markets will welcome. However, he adds that at the moment the market has very little appetite for big misses, disappointments and corporate governance issues. "While it is a good market, it is not good enough to overlook such issues," he says. As far as highly leveraged companies (books) are concerned, Narain says in such cases there has got to be some underlying momentum backed by leverage.

1:30 pm Market slips: The Sensex is down 246.30 points or 0.9 percent at 27685.34, and the Nifty is down 87.25 points or 1 percent at 8407.90.  The 50-share index had breached 8400 intraday. About 735 shares have advanced, 1915 shares declined, and 100 shares are unchanged.

1:20 pm Market check: The Sensex is down 206 points or 0.7 percent at 27726, and the Nifty is down 79.95 points or 0.9 percent at 8415.20. About 765 shares have advanced, 1859 shares declined, and 107 shares are unchanged.  Infosys, Vedanta, Tata Steel and SBI are down 3-4 percent.

The market is losing further as metals, IT, banks, infra and auto stocks are under heavy selling pressure. The Sensex is down 165.65 points or 0.6 percent at 27765.99 and the Nifty is down 70.30 points or 0.8 percent at 8424.85. About 791 shares have advanced, 1795 shares declined, and 103 shares are unchanged.

Lupin, ITC, Sun Pharma, HUL and Dr Reddy's Labs are still top gainers while Vedanta, Infosys, Tata Steel, BHEL and GAIL are among laggards in the Sensex.

Gold rose to its highest in nearly five weeks on Thursday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's policy meeting last month signalled that a hike in US interest rates in September may be unlikely.

Fed officials worried that lagging US inflation and a weak global economy posed too big a risk to commit to a "lift off" on rates, buoying gold that had been out of favour amid an imminent tightening in US monetary policy.

The precious metal is on track for a second weekly gain after ending its longest retreat since 1999, having benefited last week from uncertainty posed by China's surprise devaluation of its currency.

12:50 pm Maruti's demand: While wholesale demand has improved, flat retail demand is weighing on growth, RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki told CNBC-TV18. Bulk sales have grown 13 percent over the last five months, with good demand in in rural and urban markets, he said. Bhargava believes a combination of new launches and the festive season will boost sales growth in the second half of this year. The Seventh Pay Commission, expected early next year, will boost demand from government employees like it had happened after the sixth pay commission in 2008-09, Bhargava said.

12:30 pm Buzzing: Shares of ITC surged 4 percent intraday. Morgan Stanley has upgraded the stock to overweight from equalweight, making it the top pick within its staples coverage. The brokerage has set a target price of Rs 400 per share stating cigarette volume elasticity over the next two quarters, pricing action and tax policy in the upcoming Union Budget to be key catalyst for the FMCG stock.

"We project 7 percent EBIT growth in F16, rising to 15 percent in F18 versus the average over the last five years of 18 percent.  It is due to compelling risk-reward, relative investor positioning, attractive valuation, solid long-term growth potential, strong business model and benign earnings expectations," Morgan Stanley says in a report.

Even with continuing sharp tax increases, rising cigarette volume elasticity and illicit cigarette trade, the brokerage expects ITC to report mid- to high-single-digit EBIT growth in the cigarette business. It firmly believes ITC may have sufficient pricing power to offset cigarette volume declines and register positive earnings growth.

The market is consolidating for another day. The Sensex is down 44.66 points at 27886.98 and the Nifty is down 27.50 points at 8467.65. About 960 shares have advanced, 1547 shares declined, and 102 shares are unchanged.

Lupin, ITC, Sun Pharma, HUL and Dr Reddy's Labs are top gainers in the Sensex while Infosys, Vedanta, Tata Steel, GAIL and ONGC are among laggards.

Gold prices rose Rs 174 to Rs 26,370 per 10 grams in futures trading today as speculators widened positions amid a firming trend overseas. Marketmen said a firming trend in the global markets where gold advanced the most in three months as prospects dimmed for a US interest rate increase in September, boosting the metal's allure, influenced gold futures.

Oil prices slid to a fresh six and a half year low in Asia , approaching the key USD 40 a barrel level after a surprise rise in US inventories added to concerns of a supply glut.

11:50 am Raghuram Rajan: Quashing fears that the new kid on the block - payment banks - will pose a threat to universal banks, Reserve Bank of India chief Raghuram Rajan said they will not compete but act as feeder to their bigger peers.

The RBI on Wednesday gave in principle nod to 11 entities for setting up payment banks . In a conversation between Rajan and State Bank of India ( SBI ) chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, the former said payment banking is one of the most exciting space in the system which will reduce the cost of accessing banks. He also announced the possibility of issuing licences to smaller banks next month.

11:30 am Buzzing: Shares of Lupin surged 8 percent intraday as  it got approval for key anti-cholesterol drug from US Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA). Lupin has received approval for Fenofibrate 160mg & 54mg tablet approval from Goa plant.

It alleviates concerns over Lupin's Goa plant as the drug approval has come from that unit. Lupin's Goa plant underwent US FDA audit and got a 483 with 9 observations. Lupin's Goa unit makes formulations for supplies to US, EU and Japan.

Brokerage firm Citi says the US FDA approval of cholesterol drug Fenofibrate is positive as it is filed from its Goa plant and it vindicates management commentary that the observations received by the regulator in July are not disruptive.

The market choppy and is in the red. The Nifty is below the 8,500 mark dragged lower by metal stocks but pharma stocks provide some support. The Sensex is down 7.53 points at 27924.11 and the Nifty is down 14.05 points or at 8481.10. About 952 shares have advanced, 1328 shares declined, and 91 shares are unchanged.

Lupin, Sun Pharma, ITC, HUL, Dr Reddy's are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are Vedanta, Infosys, Tata Steel, GAIL and ONGC.

The International Monetary Fund said it will freeze its benchmark currency basket until October 2016, giving markets more time to adjust to the possible addition of China's yuan as part of a review of global reserve currencies.

The IMF board is scheduled to decide in November whether the yuan will join the Special Drawing Rights basket. Beijing loosened government controls on the yuan this month, allowing its value to fall sharply.

The IMF saw the policy shift as a step toward a freer exchange rate, potentially setting the stage for the yuan to become part of the SDR basket.

10:50 am Market check: The Sensex is down 11.64 points at 27920, and the Nifty is down 15.50 points at 8479.65. About 897 shares have advanced, 1292 shares declined, and 94 shares are unchanged.

Lupin, Sun Pharma, ITC, HUL and Cipla are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are Vedanta, Infosys, Tata Steel, GAIL and Hindalco.

10:30 am Stock views: Parag Thakkar of HDFC Securities is bullish on Infosys among IT large caps and on Mindtree among midcaps.

On Mindtree, Thakkar says it is the only IT company to have reported a strong June quarter, and is expected to report even better numbers this quarter. The company has hedged for less than USD 40 million and this will be beneficial in an environment where the rupee is weakening.

Chandan Taparia of Anand Rathi Securities expects the Nifty to remain rangebound with 8420 a strong support level. He advises traders to go long on Nifty with a target of 8530 and a stop loss of 8350.

10:50 am Market check: The Sensex is down 11.64 points at 27920, and the Nifty is down 15.50 points at 8479.65. About 897 shares have advanced, 1292 shares declined, and 94 shares are unchanged.

Lupin, Sun Pharma, ITC, HUL and Cipla are top gainers in the Sensex. Among the losers are Vedanta, Infosys, Tata Steel, GAIL and Hindalco.

10:30 am Stock views: Parag Thakkar of HDFC Securities is bullish on Infosys among IT large caps and on Mindtree among midcaps.

On Mindtree, Thakkar says it is the only IT company to have reported a strong June quarter, and is expected to report even better numbers this quarter. The company has hedged for less than USD 40 million and this will be beneficial in an environment where the rupee is weakening.

Chandan Taparia of Anand Rathi Securities expects the Nifty to remain rangebound with 8420 a strong support level. He advises traders to go long on Nifty with a target of 8530 and a stop loss of 8350.

The market is slipping away dragged by metal stocks. The Nifty manages to hold 8450 level. The 50-share index is down 36.65 points or 0.4 percent at 8458.50 and the Sensex is down 90.46 points or 0.3 percent at 27841.18. About 771 shares have advanced, 1160 shares declined, and 62 shares are unchanged.

Vedanta, Tata Steel, Hindalco, Infosys and ONGC are among laggards while Lupin, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy's Labs, Bharti Airtel and HUL are top gainers.

Oil markets are weak following sharp falls the previous session, with US contracts hovering slightly above USD 40 per barrel, levels not seen since the credit crunch of 2009, and globally traded Brent tested support at USD 47.

Mohan Shenoi of Kotak Mahindra Bank said, "Lower crude oil prices, falling US 10-year yield and expectation of stabilising Rupee at current levels are expected to sustain the positive undertone in the bond market. The 10-year benchmark yield is expected to trade in a range of 7.71-7.74 percent today."

9:50 am FII view: Abhay Laijawala of Deutsche Bank said, "We are beginning to see resumption in urban consumption momentum, aided by a sharp decline in food and fuel inflation, improving consumer sentiment and better outlook on job creation." 
"With a lower oil pricing environment and expectations of a continuing transmission of lower policy rates, we see urban consumption accelerating further, from current levels. We prefer to play the urban consumption theme through our top picks like Nestle, Godrej Consumer, Maruti Suzuki and Zee Entertainment, "he added.

9:40 am Market check: The Sensex is down 9.74 points at 27921.90 and the Nifty is down 10.55 points at 8484.60. About 849 shares have advanced, 806 shares declined, and 66 shares are unchanged. Vedanta, Tata Steel, GAIL, ONGC and Hero Motocorp are major losers while Lupin, Sun Pharma, Bharti, Dr Reddy's Labs and Cipla are top gainers in the Sensex.

9:30 am Sun Pharma in focus: Drug major Sun Pharmaceutical has received approval from the US health regulator for its new drug application for acne treatment medicine--XiminoTM extended-release capsules. The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has approved the company's supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for XiminoTM (Minocycline HCl) extended-release capsules in strengths of 45 mg, 90 mg and 135 mg, Sun Pharma said in a statement.

The Sesnsex and Nifty were under pressure in early trade Thursday. The Sensex is down 88.21 points at 27843.43, and the Nifty down 29.70 points at 8465.45. About 352 shares have advanced, 445 shares declined, and 44 shares are unchanged.

Sun Pharma, Lupin, Bharti Airtel, Dr Reddys's Lab, Cipla, BPCL, Tech Mahindra are the top gainers, while Hero Motocorp, Tata Steel, TCS, NMDC are top losers.

Shares of Amtek Auto extended their slide, down nearly 30 percent with brokers citing unwinding of F&O positions as the reason. Amtek group company Metalyst Forging was down 10 percent.
The Indian rupee gained in the early trade. It has opened higher by 10 paise at 65.17 per dollar against previous close of 65.27.

Mohan Shenoi of Kotak Mahindra Bank said, "The dollar fell against most currencies on the back of dovish July FOMC minutes. Lower than expected inflation data in US has cast doubts about Fed rate hike next month."

The dollar fell after minutes from a Federal Reserve policymakers meeting delivered no solid signals on when the era of near-zero rates will end.

Meanwhile, Asian stocks headed south in early trade, tracking offshore losses and as investors weighed concerns about the stability of China's economy.

Wall Street fell in choppy trading overnight, as minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed that conditions for a rate increase are "approaching" but not at hand. This caused markets to question the possibility of a tightening of US monetary policy next month.