Sensex ends 130 points lower; Nifty closes above 9100

3:30 pm Market at Close: Likely profit booking by investors dragged the indices lower on Monday, with equity benchmarks closing around key milestones.

The 30-share Sensex was down 130.25 points at 29,518.74, while the Nifty was down 33.20 point at 9,126.85. The market breadth remained in the negative zone as 1,359 shares advanced against a decline of 1,474 shares. Around 192 shares remained unchanged.

Idea Cellular was the stock in focus through the day after it announced a merger with Vodafone in the morning. The stock saw huge volatile swings as it surged nearly 15 percent intraday, before plunging 15 percent as well. It has now closed at Rs 97.05, down 10.06 percent.

Index heavyweights such as Infosys and ICICI Bank dragged the Sensex and Nifty lower as well.

Among the top losers on the index were Axis Bank, Infosys and ICICI Bank, while BHEL, Lupin, Aurobindo Pharma and Grasim were the top gainers on both the indices.

3:10 pm Capital infusion: Andhra Bank said it had received a communication from Government of India, informing that the bank has been identified for capital allocation for the financial year 2017 as a part of turnaround linked infusion plan.

The indicative allocation of capital is Rs 1100 crore to the bank, it added.

2:53 pm No H1-B for junior staff: H-1B visa woes for employees have worsened with Vishal Sikka-led IT major Infosys deciding to stay away from applying for the US work visa for its junior staffers - those with less than four years of experience. The company is trying to avoid any issues arising out of the Donald Trump administration's visa regulations, according to a report in The Economic Times.

Domestic IT companies have been trying to come to terms with the protectionist measures being implemented by the US and are aligning their operations to lessen their dependence on H-1B visas.

2:43 pm MRP label to be scrapped? The Maximum Retail Price (MRP) label on your everyday products may soon may be a thing of the post.

The government is considering letting companies do away with the mandatory practice, which global retailers find restrictive, as part of broad plans to ease regulations.

''Certain single brand retailers that want to invest in the Indian market say that getting an MRP stamp [that displays price of a particular product] on every item in the store is a cumbersome process,'' a senior government official told Moneycontrol.

2:32 pm Tax collection target: The government is likely to miss direct tax collection target for FY17, reports CNBC-TV18's Timsy Jaipuria.

The target for this year was around Rs 8.47 lakh crore and till February only Rs 6.17 lakh crore - that's 72 percent of the target met.

2:15 pm Market Check: The market continued to be in the red, but did not witness much of a fall after its morning plunge. The Nifty was managing to hold on to its 9100-mark.

The Sensex was down 132.84 points at 29516.15, while the Nifty was down 31.95 points at 9128.10. The market breadth was negative as 1,251 shares advanced against a decline of 1,423 shares. About 199 shares remained unchanged.

HCL Technologies shares hit a fresh 52-week high of Rs 879.15 on Monday, up 1.6 percent ahead of board meeting to consider a buyback proposal.

"A meeting of the board of directors of the company will be held on March 20, to a proposal for buyback of the equity shares of the company. Trading window for trading in the securities will remain closed up to the close of business on March 22," the IT firm said in its filing on March 15.

Infosys, Axis Bank and Idea Cellular led the list of top losers, while BHEL, NTPC, Tata Power and Eicher Motors were the top gainers.

1:53 pm Security issues: The government-launched payments apps UPI and BHIM may be vulnerable to security glitches and banks have witnessed instances of fake transactions, sources tell Moneycontrol.

They say that the apps, launched with much fanfare amid the government's drive to promote cashless payments, have witnessed "fake transactions" -- most of which, however, are of low value.

"The loss isn't big yet,'' said a person aware of the development, adding that most banks are not reporting such cases.

1:33 pm Buzzing Stock: Dena Bank shares gained 7.4 percent intraday Monday after the government decided to infuse capital in the bank through preferential issue.

"The bank has received a communication from Government of India, on March 16, informing about capital allocation of Rs 600 crore as part of turnaround linked infusion plan," the public sector lender said in its filing.

The board approval for raising of capital of the bank through issue of equity shares to Government of India, LIC of India and GIC of India on preferential basis, is being obtained, it added.

1:25 pm TRAI to oppose infra sharing: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to recommend sharing of back-end infrastructure between satellite TV service distributors to help them cut their costs of operations, according to an official familiar with the development.

The official said the proposals were also aimed at increasing competition in the distribution segment by encouraging entry of more players, particularly in the direct-to-home, and headend-in-the-sky (HITS) services.

The recommendations, likely to be made public today, will be sent to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for its consideration and approval.

1:15 pm Market Check: Selling pressure in the market continued on Monday as investors may have booked profits after last week's rally.

The Sensex was down 146.70 points at 29502.29, while the Nifty was down 36.75 points at 9123.30. The market breadth was in the negative space as 1,243 shares had advanced against a decline of 1,385 shares. Meanwhile, 186 shares remained unchanged.

ICICI Bank, Infosys and Idea Cellular were among the top losers on both the indices, while Lupin, HDFC, Tata Power and Grasim gained on both indices. Infosys was down nearly 2 percent after a media report said that the company was not applying for H1-B visas for its junior staff.

The Union Cabinet has approved the four crucial bills – the Central GST (CGST), Integrated GST (IGST), Union Territory GST (UTGST) and the State GST (SGST) - clearing the decks for a smooth rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July.

Along with the compensation law the four bills will now be tabled in the Parliament in the ongoing session of the Parliament, which would then conclude legislative exercise related to GST.

12:55 pm Buzzing: Dena Bank shares gained 4 percent as the government has allocated capital of Rs 600 crore as part of turnaround linked infusion plan.

The board approval for raising of capital of the bank through issue of equity shares to Government of India, LIC of India and GIC of India on preferential basis, is being obtained, it said.

12:40 pm Credit Suisse on Idea-Voda deal: The merger between Vodafone and Idea Cellular has lifted the outlook for the telecom which was at the bottom of the list in terms of investing for most analysts. But, things could well turn here for the sectors as the game has just started.

''The game has just started in the telecom sector. For the longest time the industry was in a state of equilibrium where Bharti Airtel was happy with the number 1 position, Vodafone at number 2, followed by Idea,'' Neelkanth Mishra, head of equity strategy for India at Credit Suisse said in an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV 18.

''Now we have three claimants who are trying to be number one. One of the companies has already claimed that they would like to settle at 50 per cent of market share. Although, it may be exciting as a whole for the economy as well as consumers but for the companies involved it would not be a pretty picture, stay cautious,'' he said.

12:20 pm Market Outlook: Higher inflows from foreign institutional investors (FIIs), along with domestic investors has reflected in the sharp run up in the market.

''From November 8 to January 31, domestic investors were buying. FIIs were also buying (in this market) from February 1,'' Nilesh Shah, Managing Director, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company, told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

This buying is driven by a hope of (increase in) earnings growth and that is what is reflected in prices. Furthermore, he expects domestic institutional investors (DIIs), led by mutual funds, to be net buyers in calendar year 2017 of anywhere between Rs 75,000 crore to Rs 1 lakh crore.

12:00 pm Market Check: Benchmark indices continued to reel under selling pressure in noon, dragged by Infosys, ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries and ITC shares. HDFC and HDFC Bank supported the market, up 0.8 percent each.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was down 125.33 points at 29,523.66 and the 50-share NSE Nifty fell 31.75 points to 9,128.30.

The broader markets continued to outperform benchmarks, with the Nifty Midcap rising 0.4 percent. The market breadth was balanced.

Experts expect the market consolidation to continue for couple of days before getting ready for marching towards 9,300 level.

Veteran financial commentator Udayan Mukherjee says the Nifty could move higher from this point as momentum and liquidity is strong.

"FIIs are late to the party as they were waiting for events such as elections and Fed actions to pan out," he said. "Furthermore, the USD 2 billion investment by FIIs in a week was a sign of serious commitment."

Idea Cellular was biggest loser among Nifty stocks, down 8 percent on profit booking after the Vodafone merger finalised.

11:40 am Expert Speak: Higher inflows from foreign institutional investors (FIIs), along with domestic investors has reflected in the sharp run up in the market.

''From November 8 to January 31, domestic investors were buying. FIIs were also buying (in this market) from February 1,'' Nilesh Shah, Managing Director, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company, told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

11:20 am Buzzing Stock: Share price of Marathon Nextgen Realty added 3 percent intraday Monday on approval of buyback plan.

The company at its meeting held on March 17 has approved a proposal to buyback up to 54,37,345 equity shares for an aggregate of Rs 49,52,69,875 being 19.12 percent of the total paid-up equity share capital, at Rs 275 per equity share.

10:38 am CLSA on GAIL: CLSA has maintained a sell call on Gas Authority of India Limited's (GAIL) as it finds the valuation unsustainable. It sees progress in stabilization of petrochemical plant at Pata.

The plant is operating at 70 percent capacity and the team there feels it should ramp up to 100 percent capacity utilization in first quarter of next fiscal. The brokerage house feels that the stock is ignoring large risk for US LNG contracts.

10:20 am Adani Enterprises in action: Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani, whose USD 22 billion Carmichael coal mine and port cum railhead project in Queensland is being opposed by some people, says he is hopeful of starting it by August this year.

"We expect the final federal approvals by May-June. We need just about three months from thereon to actually begin the work on the mine. Which means we can kick-start work from August this year," Adani told PTI in an interview here over the weekend.

He was flanked by the premier of Queensland Anastasia Palaszczuk, who was in town leading a 25-member delegation of mayors and state officials after visiting the Mundra port and solar power farms of the Adanis in Gujarat over the weekend.

10:00 am Market Check: Equity benchmarks extended losses in morning, with the Nifty struggling below 9150 as investors preferred to book profits after previous week's rally.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was down 142.99 points at 29,506 and the 50-share NSE Nifty fell 33.10 points to 9,126.95 while the broader markets outperformed benchmarks, rising marginally on positive breadth.

About 1181 shares advanced against 993 declining shares on the BSE.

Idea Cellular fell 13 percent to below Rs 100 level as investors may be concerned about the pricing of merger with Vodafone India. Other reason could be profit booking as the news already priced in. The stock rallied 67 percent in 2017.

9:55 am BoAML on Yes Bank: Bank of America Merrill Lynch has maintained its buy call on Yes Bank with increased target price at Rs 1,820 (from Rs 1,600), saying it is a top pick as growth visibility of the bank is strong and margins will have tailwinds.

According to the brokerage house, asset quality is likely to be as comfortable as it has been and retail side can see acceleration of timeline.

BoAML believes capital is not an issue in near-term for 'faster growth leg'. It sees return on equity rising to 23 percent by FY18 on rising return on assets and not just leverage.

9:40 am Power plant commissioning: State-run power producer NTPC today said it has commissioned the second unit of 660 MW of Mouda Super Thermal Power Station Stage-II.

"We wish to inform that 2nd unit of 660 MW of Mouda Super Thermal Power Station Stage-II (2 X 660 MW) has been commissioned," NTPC said in a filing to the BSE.

With this, the commissioned capacity of Mouda Super Thermal Power Station, NTPC and NTPC group has become 2,320 MW, 41,907 MW and 48,873 MW, respectively, it said.

9:30 am Telecom merger: Idea says Vodafone India merger is expected to be completed by 2018. Aditya Birla Group will have the right to buy 9.5 percent stake in the combined entity at Rs 130 per share.

Vodafone will sell shares in the combined company to equalise its shareholding with Aditya Birla Group.

9:15 am Market Check: Equity benchmarks opened lower on profit booking Monday after a 2.5 percent rally seen last week. Idea Cellular rallied nearly 15 percent in early trade following announcement of its merger with Vodafone India.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was down 98.36 points at 29,550.63 and the 50-share NSE Nifty fell 23.95 points to 9,136.10. About 759 shares advanced against 438 declining shares on the BSE.

The Indian rupee opened with a marginal gain of 6 paise at 65.40 per dollar today against Friday's close of 65.46.

Pramit Brahmbhatt of Veracity said, ''The rupee will trade with a positive bias on the back of positive cues from the equity market and strong FII inflow. The trading range for the USD-INR pair is seen between 65.20-65.80/dollar.''

The dollar stayed on the defensive with bulls still nursing a grudge after the Federal Reserve's rate guidance last week proved to be less "hawkish" than many had wagered on.