Sensex, Nifty end higher ahead of March F&O expiry; banks soar

3:30 pm Market at Close: Benchmark indices closed the day on a positive note, with good movements on both the indices, as investors were not very bullish ahead of March F&O series' expiry.

The 30-share Sensex was up 121.91 points at 29531.43, while the Nifty was up 43.00 points at 9143.80. The market breadth was negative as 1,188 shares have advanced against a decline of 1,656 shares, while 238 shares are unchanged.

Auto stocks took a hit after the Supreme Court banned the sale of BS-III vehicles from April 1.

3:06 pm Buzzing: Reliance Defence and Engineering share price rallied more than 7 percent intraday Wednesday after sources told CNBC-TV18 that the company will exit corporate debt restructuring by March 31.

Reliance Infrastructure has increased its shareholding in Reliance Defence (Reliance Defence and Engineering) to nearly 31 percent.

Current debt of approximately Rs 6,800 crore is to have extended maturity of 18 years, sources say.

Reliance Defence's current order book stands at over Rs 5,300 crore.

2:56 pm NPA resolution soon?: As indicated by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, there could be an announcement on a scheme for resolution of non-performing assets (NPA). The scheme envisages a specialised mechanism for handling larger debt accounts which are plaguing the banking sector.

A high profile meeting between Finance Ministry, bank heads and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) representatives is scheduled this week in New Delhi to deliberate on several proposals to handle larger debt-laden accounts, sources told CNBC-TV18.

The proposals include two-pronged approach.  First, a mechanism for taking tough decisions like haircuts in NPA resolution and on the other hand how to revive some of the companies. Second, there could be a proposal for banks to write-off the unsustainable portion of debt.

2:41 pm CEA on NPA: The worsening problem of bad loans is India No.1 macroeconomic challenge, said Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian.

Speaking to the CNBC-TV18 on the sidelines of Credit Suisse's 20th Annual Investment Conference in Hong Kong, Subramanian said the government was considering steps to remedy the issue and the timing would be decided over the next few weeks.

In India specifically, he said the difficulty was exacerbated by the involvement of large private sector companies and close monitoring by the judiciary and investigation agencies.

Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of public sector banks increased to Rs 606,911 crore while total stressed assets (gross non-performing assets and restructured standard advances) of scheduled commercial banks were Rs 9.64 lakh crore as on December 31, 2016.

2:28 pm Auto stocks fall: Shares of major automobile majors took a hit as investors turned cautious of the Supreme Court's verdict on BS-III vehicles.

Hero MotoCorp, TVS Motor, Ashok Leyland, among others fell between 0.29 percent and 5 percent intraday.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday banned the sale of BS-III vehicles from April 1, 2017 onwards. The decision is significant as the industry is said to have an inventory of 8.2 lakh such vehicles, data available from SIAM has indicated.

2:10 pm Market Check: Equity benchmarks were trading steady during the afternoon session, with the Nifty inching towards 9150-mark.

The Sensex was up 110.39 points at 29519.91, while the Nifty was up 37.40 points at 9138.20. The market breadth was, however, negative as 1,264 shares advanced against a decline of 1,396 shares, while 245 shares were unchanged.

SBI, Asian Paints and Bharti Infratel were top gainers on both the indices, while Sun Pharma, M&M and Grasim were the top losers on both indices.

Auto stocks reacted negatively after the Supreme Court imposed a ban on sale of BS-III vehicles from April 1, 2017.

1:46 pm 'Q4 results to be worse than earlier quarters': In an interview with moneycontrol, Arun Thukral, Managing Director, Axis Securities said fourth quarter results are going to be worse than earlier quarters in this fiscal year.

Hopeful of earnings recovery in FY18, Thukral also spoke on global events having a bearing on Indian markets, most notably elections in France and Germany.

Closer home, he said, India's economy could grow at around 7.5 percent. You can read the full interview here.

1:29 pm UCO's fundraising plans: Public sector lender UCO Bank today said it is considering a proposal to raise Rs 1,000 crore from LIC via issuance of bonds.

"Board of our Bank is considering a proposal for issue of tier II bonds for inclusion in Tier II Capital of face value of Rs 10 lakhs each aggregating to Rs 1,000 crore to LIC of India," UCO Bank said in a BSE filing.

It further said: "We have this day placed above proposal before the Board by circulation."

1:15 pm Market Check: Benchmark indices extended their gains during the afternoon session, but investors were still cautious ahead of the crucial March F&O series expiry.

The Sensex was up 95.92 points at 29505.44, while the Nifty was up 27.60 points at 9128.40. The market breadth was in the negative as 1,282 shares advanced against a decline of 1,300 shares, while 224 shares remained unchanged.

SBI, Asian Paints and Bharti Infratel were top gainers on both the indices, while Sun Pharma, M&M and Grasim were the top losers.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday moved the four GST Bills for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha.

The Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Bill, 2017, along with three other GST Bills were moved for consideration in the lower house.

The CGST Bill will enable levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods and services or both by the central government, the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, which provides for the levy and collection of tax on inter-state supply.

12:43 pm Interview: Emmbi Industries inaugurated world's widest width pond lining facility at Silvassa. With this, the company enters into a new market segment with a potential size of Rs 2,000 crore.

The company is into advanced composites, specialty packaging products, water conservation and agriculture plastic products. It generates 48 percent of its revenues from exports.

We would be able to reach optimum capacity utilisation for the above mentioned plant in three years time, said Makrand Appalwar, CMD, Emmbi Industries to CNBC-TV18. Iinitially the utilisation would be at 40 percent, which would go up to 70 percent in the next year, he said. In the Around Rs 7.5-8 crore investment has been made for this particular plant, he added.

12:28 pm Finance Minister says GST (Goods & Services Tax) will ensure free movement of goods across the country and will put an end to tax differences.

There are 32 participants including States, Centre & Union Territories part of GST Council.

GST Council has had 12 meetings so far and has tried to take all decisions through consensus.

12:22 pm GST debate kicks off in LS: Debate over GST bills has started in Lok Sabha. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved Union Territory GST Bill, Central GST Bill, Compensation Bill, Integrated GST Bill for consideration in Lok Sabha.

12:05 pm Market Check: Equity benchmarks extended gains in noon, with the Nifty eyeing 9150 ahead of expiry of March derivative contracts due Thursday, backed by banks.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 107.27 points at 29,516.79 and the 50-share NSE Nifty rose 29.20 points to 9,130.

Bank Nifty touched a new high of 21,384 on hopes of early resolution to rising non-performing assets, up nearly a percent.

Vinod Rai, Chairman of the Banks Board Bureau, said on Tuesday that should the government create a "bad bank" to tackle bad loans, it would be essential to empower and capitalise it.

He said that while bad banks had been a success in countries such as Spain and Indonesia, its success in India would depend on appointing qualified personnel.

Bank of India, Canara Bank, SBI and ICICI Bank gained 1-2.5 percent followed by HDFC Bank.

Bharti Airtel said it sold a 10.3 percent stake in its telecom tower unit Bharti Infratel to US private equity firm KKR & Co LP and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for more than Rs 61.9 billion (USD 952.75 million). Bharti Infratel gained 4 percent.

11:55 am Stocks react on merger buzz: As market awaits Kotak Mahindra Bank's announcement today, speculations over a possible big buyout have sent some stocks -- including Axis Bank, Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Services and Shriram Transport Finance -- high up.

On Tuesday, the stock of these companies shot up by 3-5 percent in intraday trades amid expectations of a big buyout or merger announcement in the press conference which billionaire Uday Kotak, Promoter, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra Bank will be holding at 3.30 pm today.

However, today all the above-mentioned stocks are down excepting Axis which is up by about 1 percent.

11:41 am Buzzing stock: Share price of Vadilal Industries, one of the largest ice cream makers, touched a record high of Rs 968, up more than 5 percent after strong outlook from management during summer season. The stock price already rallied 36 percent this month and 89 percent in 2017 on hopes of likely strong demand as days getting hotter day by day.

To meet the expected demand for the summer season the company has already commissioned three production lines, said Rajesh Gandhi, CMD, Vadilal Industries, adding that distributors now have increased to 850 from 800 and retail outlets have increased to 60,000 from 55,000.

11:25 am Nifty Bank at record high: Banking stocks are in focus with the Nifty Bank index hitting a record high level. It just surpassed the earlier level of 21,336.

The rally on the index was helped by surge in State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.

Meanwhile, the Nifty PSU bank has gained the most in this week.

11:05 am Market Check: Equity benchmarks were in a consolidation mode ahead of expiry of March F&O series, with the Nifty just managing to hold on to 9100-mark.

The 30-share Sensex was up 72.10 points at 29481.62, while the Nifty was up 20.85 points at 9121.65. The market breadth was narrow as 1,275 shares advanced against a decline of 1,019 shares, while 168 shares were unchanged.

State Bank of India (SBI), Asian Paints, Bharti Infratel and Tata Power were top gainers on both the indices, while Mahindra and Mahindra and Adani Ports were top losers.

Share price of Larsen & Toubro (L&T) gained 1.5 percent intraday Wednesday as its construction arm won an order worth Rs 2400 crore.

The power transmission and distribution business of L&T Construction has bagged major orders worth Rs 2400 crore in the domestic and international markets.

In the Middle East and Africa, the PT&D has secured repeat orders from reputed customers to build 400 kV transmission lines and substations, 33 kV primary substations and related cabling on turnkey basis.

10:40 am VRS in SBI: State Bank of India, country's largest bank, is expecting to see 50 percent or about 6,000 employees opting for its voluntary retirement scheme (VRS).

A senior executive of SBI said, "The employees opting for VRS is on expected lines. We have estimated about half or 50 percent of the employees taking that option. You can say about 6,000 employees may opt to take it up."

The VRS has been offered to about 12,000 employees of the associate banks.

"The scheme will be on offer till April 5 and those employees who have opted or applied for the VRS can withdraw it thereafter in a week's time..so we have to wait and see how many apply," said Dinesh Khara, Managing Director at SBI.

10:24 am Market Outlook: Jayant Manglik of Religare Securities expects volatility to increase in two sessions due to scheduled derivatives expiry. Even liquid stocks are witnessing erratic intraday swings, which is normal during consolidation phase.

Traders should continue with positive yet cautious approach and refrain from going overboard, he advises.

10:08 am Market Check: Equity benchmarks remained in a positive terrain in morning ahead of expiry of March derivative contracts, backed by banks and FMCG stocks.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 57.23 points at 29,466.75 and the 50-share NSE Nifty gained 18.85 points at 9,119.65.

The market breadth was positive as about 1205 shares advanced against 798 declining shares on the BSE.

9:55 am Partnership: Indian drugmaker Biocon has partnered with Japanese drug firm Eisai Pharma to market the latter's anti-ulcer drug rabeprazole in India.

Eisai's brand is sold as Parit and its combination drug Parit-D. The Japanese firm has terminated its earlier co-marketing arrangement with GSK in India, with sources saying Eisai was disappointed with its partner's brand development and sales push.

GSK was marketing these brands since 2005.

Biocon will market the two rabeprazole brands as part of its metabolic products portfolio.

9:41 am Market outlook: After a sharp 15 percent rally in three months and hitting a 9000 level again, Motilal Oswal believes the markets have largely shrugged the impact of demonetisation. The macro backdrop remains conducive – inflation under control, twin deficits within tolerance limits, government sticking to the fiscal consolidation path, and stable currency among others, it feels.

The brokerage house says GST is on track for implementation from July 01, 2017. The BJP's strong showing in the recent UP elections (won 4/5th majority) should provide tailwinds for further reforms. The political calendar is light, as the next major elections are due only in January 2018 (Gujarat). Earnings recovery is the only missing link, according to Motilal Oswal.

9:29 am PVR performance: Multiplex operator PVR is looking at around 90 percent jump in revenue to around Rs 4,000 crore in four to five years driven by expansion across the country.

The company has set a target of 1,000 screens in next four to five years with presence in 100 cities by then. It has 570 screens in around 50 cities at present.

"Once we get to 1,000 screens, our revenue would be around Rs 3,500 crore to Rs 4,500 crore," PVR Chief Financial Officer Nitin Sood told PTI.

With the increase in the number of screens, he said in the next three years "people watching movies at our theatres will rise to 100 million from 75 million today".

9:15 am Market Check: Picking up from where it previously left, the market opened on a higher note, tracking global cues and steady domestic developments around GST as well.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was up 71.07 points at 29,480.59 and the 50-share NSE Nifty rose 22.80 points to 9,123.60. About 751 shares advanced against 204 declining shares on the BSE.

Bharti Infratel, Tata Power, Axis Bank, Bharti Airtel, Tata Steel, L&T and SBI were early gainers while Wipro, Adani Ports, Reliance Industries, GAIL, Tata Motors and BPCL were losers.

The Indian rupee gained past USD 65 against the US dollar for the first time since October 28, 2015. It closed at 65.04 to the dollar in previous session.

NS Venkatesh of Lakshmi Vilas Bank says the rupee is expected to take cues from the equity market and the FPI flows. There could be month and quarter-end demand from the importers which could be balanced by the FPI flows, he feels.

He expects the rupee to trade in a range of 64.90-65.35/dollar today.

The dollar pulled away from 4 month lows against currency basket as solid data backed expectations for more US Interest rate hikes this year, sterling was knocked by concern about Britain's impending exit from the European Union.

Asia markets were mostly higher, after US equities rose higher on the back of a strong consumer confidence survey with markets awaiting the formal move by the UK to start an historic split with the European Union.