Sensex closes up 241 points on HDFC & ITC support; metals shine

3:30 pm Market Closing: Benchmark indices closed higher after two-day consolidation. The 30-share BSE Sensex gained 241.17 points at 28984.49 and the 50-share NSE Nifty rose 66.20 points to 8945.80.

The market breadth was positive as about 1630 shares advanced against 1220 declining shares on the BSE.

Tata Steel, M&M, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy's Labs, ITC, Hindalco and Kotak Mahindra Bank rallied 2-3.6 percent while NTPC, Tata Motors, GAIL, BHEL, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Eicher Motors were under pressure.

3:24 pm Big deals likely in 2017: A significant majority of private equity firms in India are optimistic about stronger deal activity this year, with funds looking at financial services and healthcare as the top sectors for investment, says a survey.

According to News Corp VCCircle's PE-VC Outlook Survey 2017, which covered heads and partners of large global and Asian funds that invest in India, 63 percent are optimistic about a rise in deal activity in India in 2017 as against 2016.

"It is estimated that over USD 7 billion is waiting on the sidelines to be invested by India-focussed funds. This is a figure which is at a 6-year high," Nita Kapoor, Head, India New Ventures, News Corp and CEO, News Corp VCCircle, said, adding that investors have adopted a wait and watch approach in 2017 and are "cautiously optimistic".

The top three destinations for private equity players this year are financial services, voted by 66 percent of respondents, health (52 percent) and consumer discretionary (48 percent).

3:07 pm JV stake sale: Indian Overseas Bank may consider sale of stake in its Malaysia Bank joint venture, reports CNBC-TV18 quoting Cogencis' sources.

India International Bank (Malaysia) Berhad (IIBM), a locally incorporated full-fledged commercial bank, is a joint venture of 3 large Indian Government owned banking institutions. The bank commenced business in July 2012.

Indian Overseas Bank owns 35 percent stake in IIBM while Bank of Baroda holds 40 percent and Andhra Bank has 25 percent shareholding.

Indian Overseas Bank shares gained 4 percent.

2:57 pm Auto sales: M&M said total auto sales declined 2.9 percent year-on-year to 42,714 units due to fall in passenger vehicles but commercial vehicle sales registered a 18 percent growth year-on-year at 16,383 units.

Passenger vehicle sales slipped 13 percent to 20,605 units while total auto expects dropped 13 percent to 2,300 units.

Tractor sales grew by 11 percent to 15,007 units as domestic sales increased 9 percent and exports showed a 35 percent growth.

2:50 pm Market update: Equity benchmarks extended gains in last hour of trade, with the Sensex reclaiming 29000 level as HDFC and ITC gained further.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 274.13 points or 0.95 percent at 29017.45 and the 50-share NSE Nifty gained 75.70 points or 0.85 percent at 8955.30.

2:46 pm Acquisition: Banking sources told CNBC-TV18 that steel ministry has asked SAIL to evaluate taking over debt-laden Monnet Ispat.

JSW Steel has currently made an offer to pick up 22 percent of Monnet Ispat's Rs 10,000 crore debt.

With steel ministry approaching SAIL, JSW's offer for Monnet Ispat temporarily shelved, sources say.

SAIL, JSW Steel and Monnet Ispat shares gained 2-10 percent.

2:40 pm Neuland Labs still up 20%: Hyderabad-based active ingredient maker Neuland Laboratories declined to comment on any link between the company's steep rise in share price and Teva getting a priority review status for its experimental drug SD-809.

"Please note that the approval for the aforesaid product, is not received by Neuland Laboratories Limited and therefore the Company cannot give any comments on the development," the company said in a statement to exchanges.

"Further, we would like to state that our relationships with our customers both under the Custom Manufacturing Solutions (CMS) and the Generic Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) manufacturing are bound by confidentiality clauses. All our communications to the exchanges and the investors in the past have been bound by these agreements with our customers," the company said.

2:30 pm BoAML on GDP: India is expected to clock a GDP growth of 6.9 percent this fiscal, which is likely to recover to 7.2 percent in 2017-18, says a Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) report.

"Looking ahead, we expect growth to end 2016-17 at 6.9 percent and recover to 7.2 percent in 2017-18, partly on base effects of the ongoing demonetisation shock," BofAML said in a research note, adding that this rate of growth is still higher than other BRICs.

The government on February 28 pegged GDP growth at a higher-than-expected 7.1 percent for the current fiscal.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) put the growth rate for October-December -- the quarter in which the government banned 86 percent of the currency in circulation -- at 7 percent, compared to 7.4 percent in the second quarter and 7.2 percent in the first.

2:20 pm Market Expert: India is in a bright spot in the global environment. Demonetisation was only a temporary setback for the market. These were key takeaways from the Eight Motilal Oswal Eureaka Conference, says Rajat Rajgarhia, MD & CEO, Motilal Oswal, adding that data points now indicate things are beginning to look up.

Globally, too, investors are generally positive on equities, and commodities and so global trade looks good, says Rajgarhia.

2:00 pm Market check
The market retained its strong uptrend in afternoon after better-than-expected Q3 GDP data, supported by banking & financials, metals, technology, FMCG and pharma stocks.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 218.67 points at 28961.99 and the 50-share NSE Nifty gained 59.55 points at 8939.15 but the gap in advances and declines narrowed.

Currently about three shares advanced for every two shares declining on the BSE against the morning ratio of four shares gained for every share falling.

The Nifty Realty gained the most among sectoral indices, up 3.8 percent followed by Metal with 2 percent upside. FMCG, Pharma and Bank indices also gained around a percent each.

Tata Steel, Hindalco, HDFC, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy's Labs and Kotak Mahindra Bank were top gainers on Sensex and Nifty, up 2-4 percent. However, Tata Motors was biggest loser, down over a percent ahead of February sales data.

Oil retailers were under pressure, with IOC, HPCL and BPCL falling 1-4 percent.

Markets in Europe were higher as investors focused on earnings and fresh data releases and digested President Donald Trump's address to Congress. France's CAC, Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE gained 0.6-1 percent. Asia ended mostly higher today.

1:50 pm Neuland shares spike: After shares of Neuland Labs zoomed 20 percent, the company has now declined to comment on the link between the share zoom and Teva getting priority review status for its experimental drug SD-809.

"Please note that the approval for the aforesaid product, is not received by Neuland Laboratories and therefore the Company cannot give any comments on the development," the company said in a statement to exchanges.

1:40 pm Buzzing stock: Shares of Jindal Stainless (Hisar) rose over 4 percent intraday on Wednesday as investors cheered the company's new agreement with the country's defence body.

The stainless steel maker entered into a licence agreement with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which entails transfer of technology to manufacture high nitrogen steel (HNS) for Armour applications, according to a notification filed to the exchanges by the firm.

The company claims that the use of HNS will replace Armour steel, an existing material which is mostly imported. This, it says, will result into 50 percent cost efficiency in material acquisition.

1:25 pm Wipro buyback? After TCS, Wipro now is also likely to announce a share buyback, say sources close to the development.

The proposal will be put before the board soon. The company wants to use 25-30 percent of its cash reserves as shareholders return over the next three years.

The company had undertaken a buyback of 40 million shares (1.62 percent of capital) in April 2016.

The market strengthened its position during the afternoon session, riding on better-than-expected GDP data as well as a rally in banks and pharma stocks.

The 30-share Sensex was up 182.14 points at 28925.46, while the Nifty was up 51.65 points at 8931.25.

Banks and pharma stocks drive up indices even as the market breadth was seen narrowing; midcaps were trading strong.

Pharmaceutical majors such as Aurobindo Pharma, Dr Reddy's and Sun Pharma saw a spike in the afternoon trade. Aurobindo Pharma was trading higher on the back of a product approval by the US FDA.

Wipro was also on investors' radar after sources told CNBC-TV18 that the firm may be considering a proposal for share buyback.

12:56 pm Market Check: Sensex continued its uptrend and was up 195.06 points at 28938.38. Meanwhile, the Nifty was eyeing 8950-mark and was up 54.80 points at 8934.40.

The market breadth was marginally narrowing compared to movements in the morning. About 1,629 shares had advanced, 993 shares fell, while 159 shares remain unchanged.

12:40 pm Ex-FM on surprising GDP: Former finance minister, P Chidambaram, says it is too early to celebrate. Official data showed India's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7 percent annually for the quarter, sharply beating expectations for a 6.4 percent growth rate in a Reuters poll. The economy slowed from the September quarter's 7.3 percent annual growth rate.

"The GDP numbers have come as a bit of a surprise," Chidambaram told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday, adding that the 7 percent projection by India's Central Statistics Office is completely out of line with other projections he had seen, including estimates made by the IMF, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy.

He said, "All these are very credible institutions which have made credible forecast in the past, so I think we'll have to take this number for what it is for the time being and examine it closely."

12:20 pm FII View: "With no material change in earnings estimates and no visible evidence suggesting the risk of consensus earnings downgrades – seen over the past three consecutive years - is now firmly behind us, the liquidity-driven expansion in valuations looks unlikely to sustain," Abhay Laijawala of Deutsche Bank says.

Laijawala further says while he remains excited about the roll-out of the GST (Goods & Services Tax) in July, he sees this impacting consensus earnings in second half of FY18 following the rollout.

12:00 pm Market Check
Equity benchmarks as well as broader markets maintained morning gains, driven by banking & financials, FMCG and pharma stocks after Q3 GDP data surprised street.

The 30-share BSE Sensex gained 194.54 points at 28937.86 and the 50share NSE Nifty rose 51.75 points to 8931.35 while the Nifty Midcap and Smallcap indices were up around 0.6 percent.

About 1593 shares advanced against 936 declining shares on the BSE.

India's real gross domestic product (GDP) beat consensus estimates, growing 7 percent YoY in Q3FY17 as private consumption grew at the fastest pace in 17 quarters.

Tata Motors fell over a percent ahead of February sales data due later today. Maruti Suzuki was up 0.2 percent after sales in the month gone by grew 11 percent while Eicher Motors fell 0.6 percent as Royal Enfield sales missed analysts' expectations, growing 19 percent year-on-year.

Index heavyweights HDFC, Infosys, ITC and ICICI Bank continued to support the market, up 1-2 percent.

Gold fell today as the dollar strengthened on hawkish comments overnight from US Federal Reserve officials, while an eagerly awaited speech by US President Donald Trump contained few specifics or surprises.

11:55 am Factory data: Indian factory activity expanded for a second straight month in February, while an increase in raw material costs pushed firms to raise prices at the fastest rate in nearly three and a half years, a business survey showed today.

The Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by IHS Markit, rose to 50.7 in February from 50.4 in January. That beat a Reuters poll median of 50.3 and was the highest level since November.

Readings above 50.0 signal an expansion in activity.

11:45 am Auto sales: Eicher Motors said it sold 58,439 units of Royal Enfield in February, a growth of 19 percent compared with 49,156 units sold in year-ago month.

The growth was largely driven by sales of models with engine capacity upto 350cc that increased 25 percent to 54,571 units in the month gone by.

The company missed expectations due to lower sales of models with engine capacity more than 350cc that fell 29 percent to 3,868 units year-on-year.

Motilal Oswal had expected the company to report 60,000 units sales.

Royal Enfield exports grew by 7 percent year-on-year to 1,702 units in February.

11:33 am IPO: Avenue Supermarts, the operator of supermarket retail chain D-Mart, has set a price band of Rs 295-299 for its upcoming Rs 1,870-crore initial public offering (IPO).

The issue will open on March 8 and close on March 10, 2017.

Avenue Supermarts has reserved 50 percent portion of public issue for qualified institutional buyers and out of which, 60 percent may be allocated to anchor investors.

The company said 15 percent portion of the total issue size is reserved for non-institutional investors and the rest 35 percent for retail investors.

Grey market brokers say that the issue is quoting at a premium of Rs 170-180 in the unofficial market.

11:20 am Indiabulls Real in focus: Indiabulls Real Estate's arm has suspended work on its luxury residential project called Sky Suites that it was developing in Mumbai's business district of Lower Parel. The project is being set up by Indiabulls Sky Suites, a subsidiary of IBREL arm Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust.

The company was forced to suspend work on the project after the Airport Authority of India placed severe height restrictions on the project, asking it to keep the height of the residential tower at 163 metres against 327 metres that the company had asked for.

Since the height restriction will limit the total area that can be built, the company is now forced to have a re-look at the revenue model of the project.

11:00 am Market Check
Benchmark indices as well broader markets remained strong in morning, with the Nifty reclaiming 8950 level after Q3 GDP surprised economists and Donald Trump's speech.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 216.76 points or 0.75 percent at 28960.08 and the 50-share NSE Nifty rose 55.05 points or 0.62 percent to 8934.65.

The market breadth remained strong as about 1622 shares advanced against 701 declining shares on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The Indian economy grew at a surprisingly fast 7 percent in October-December 2016, from 7.4 percent in the previous quarter and 7.2 percent expansion in third quarter 2015-16 despite demonetisation.

Auto stocks were in focus as they started announcing February sales data. Maruti Suzuki shares gained half a percent after reporting 10.9 percent growth in February sales year-on-year while Eicher Motors too gained over half a percent as Royal Enfield sales increased 19 percent in the month gone by.

HDFC, ITC, Axis Bank, Infosys, ICICI Bank, TCS, Sun Pharma and HUL gained 1-2.5 percent while Tata Motors, Bharti Airtel, M&M, NTPC and GAIL were under pressure.

State-owned power equipment maker BHEL fell half a percent on profit booking after rising 6 percent in previous session.

10:55 am ExM&M partner to supply defense trucks to Pakistan: Navistar, the US-based truck major who had a joint venture with tractor and utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra, has bagged a contract to supply armoured trucks to the Pakistan Army.

The US Department of Defense issued a USD 35 million contract for supplying 40 MaxxPro Dash DXM mine-resistant, armoured trucks to Pakistan. While Indian companies are ramping up their presence across several armies around the world they are, however, barred from supplying defence products to Pakistan.

Exports of passenger vehicles to the neighbouring country, too, are banned.

10:46 am Credit Suisse on Lupin: Riding on the 'surprising' approval of generic Suprep Bowel Prep Kit by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Lupin could add 5 percent to FY18 earnings per share (EPS), Credit Suisse has said in a report.

Simultaneously, it foresees high competition after the exclusivity period for the product ends. It has an underperform rating on the stock with a 12-month target price of Rs 1,350.

10:35 am Data Watch: Manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) has expanded for February.

The Nikkei Manufacturing PMI for the month now stands at 50.7 against 50.4.

A reading above 50-mark indicates an expansion.

10:20 am Buzzing stock: DLF added over 3 percent intraday on Wednesday ahead of its scheduled Audit Committee meeting. The agenda could include submission of a plan to execute 40 percent stake sale in its rental subsidiary, sources told CNBC-TV18.

The stake sale could fetch the real estate major a whopping Rs 14,000 crore. The Board is likely to announce the stake sale talks exclusively with GIC, the sources have informed.

The sale could also aid the debt situation of the company, with net debt figure, as of September-end, standing at Rs 23, 530 crore.

The market built up on early morning gains seen on the indices, driven by a rally in banking stocks as well as positive cues on the economic front due to better GDP numbers. Bank Nifty was higher by nearly a percent.

The Sensex was up 221.27 points at 28964.59, while the Nifty was higher by 57.05 points or at 8936.65. The market breadth was very healthy with about 1,400 shares advancing, 471 shares declining. Meanwhile, 103 shares remained unchanged. Midcap stocks too gained, with the midcap index on Sensex up over 0.30 percent.

Axis Bank and HDFC were among the top gainers on both the indices, while Tata Motors, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and BPCL were the top losers.

Amtek Auto stocks were trading higher ahead of the scheduled EGM. The company has been in the news for a possible merger of three firms Amtek Auto, Metalyst Forgings and Castex Technologies.

9:52 am Market Update: Equity benchmarks extended rally, with the Sensex rising 229.90 points to 28973.22.

The Nifty is inching towards 8950, up 60.55 points at 8940.15.

More than three shares advanced for every share declining on the BSE.

9:40 am Buzzing: Share price of Metalyst Forgings added 8 percent intraday ahead of extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM) to be held on March 23.
 
The company's EGM is scheduled to be held on March 23 to consider issue of 44 lakh equity shares to Amtek Auto at Rs 100 per share and 24 lakh warrants to Amtek Auto at Rs 100 each on preferential basis.

Amtek Auto is a promoter group company and as on December 2016 it holds 49.26 percent stake in the company.

9:30 am GDP data: The Indian economy grew at a surprisingly fast 7 percent in October-December 2016, from 7.4 percent in the previous quarter and 7.2 percent expansion in third quarter 2015-16, government data showed on Tuesday.

The data, put out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), also projected that Indian's ''real'' or inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) will likely to grow at 7.1 percent in 2016-17, 0.8 percentage points slower than the previous year's 7.9 percent expansion.

While the projections have surprised many experts, the CSO has actually forecast a greater slide in gross value added (GVA), suggesting that deceleration is sharper than what the headline GDP growth numbers suggest.

The CSO data shows that growth in GVA, which is GDP minus net taxes, will slow down to 6.7 percent in 2016-17 or 1.1 percentage points lower than 7.8 percent GVA growth in 2015-16.

Moneycontrol's Election Analytics Centre: Track assembly polls

9:15 am Market Check
Equity benchmarks opened higher after weakness in previous session, following better-than-expected Q3 GDP data and positive Asian cues.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 139.37 points at 28882.69 and the 50-share NSE Nifty gained 37.85 points at 8917.45. About 719 shares advanced against 164 declining shares on the BSE.

BHEL, Hero Motocorp, ONGC, Axis Bank, Cipla, Bharti Infratel and Power Grid Corp were early gainers while Tata Motors, Bharti Airtel, Tech Mahindra, Idea Cellular, UltraTech Cement and M&M were under pressure.

The Indian rupee has opened lower by 9 paise at 66.78 per dollar on Wednesday versus previous close of 66.69.

Ashutosh Raina of HDFC Bank says the USD-INR pair continued to trade strong in the 66.50-67/dollar range on the back of global positive risk sentiment, resumption of portfolio flows, and strong intervention.

He expects the pair to continue trading in this range with RBI expected to cap gains.

The dollar weakened slightly as investors awaited President Donald Trump's speech to congress for fresh indications of his economic plans and as portfolios were rebalanced for month-end.

Investors are also focused on when the Federal Reserve is likely to next raise interest rates as a plethora of Federal Reserve officials deliver speeches this week, culminating in an address by Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday.

Asia markets were mostly higher today, shrugging off modest US losses from Tuesday, as traders focused on President Donald Trump's address to the US Congress.