Selling pressure pushes Sensex 137 pts lower, Nifty below 10,500; midcaps crack

3:30 pm Market at Close: The Sensex ended 137 points down or 0.40% at 34046.94, while the Nifty was down 34.50 points or 0.33% at 10458.40.

The market breadth favoured the declines as 1163 shares advanced, against a decline of 1532 shares, while 207 shares were unchanged.

Coal India, IndusInd Bank, BPCL and Aurobindo Pharma were the top gainers among all indices, while ICICI Bank and SBI were the top losers.

3:25 pm Shareholder nod: Shareholders of billionaire Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure Ltd have approved sale of the firm's Mumbai power business to Adani TransmissionLtd for Rs 18,800 crore.

"The resolution (for the sale) has been passed with 94 per cent votes in favour of the proposal," a company statement said.

The deal will see Adani Group takeover the distribution of over 1,800 megawatt (MW) of power to roughly 30 lakh customers in Mumbai and 500MW of thermal power generation capacity.

3:00 pm Auto sales: Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) today reported a 36 per cent increase in total tractor sales at 20,483 units in February.

The company had sold 15,007 units in the same month last year, M&M said in a statement. Domestic sales in February 2018 were at 19,280 units, as against 13,834 units during February 2017, up 39 per cent.

"With the announcement of record horticulture production and increased Union budget allocations to rural and agriculture sector, we expect the growth momentum to continue in the coming months," M&M President-Farm Equipment Sector Rajesh Jejurikar said. Exports during the month grew 3 per cent to 1,203 units compared to 1,173 units in the year ago period.

2:45 pm E-Wallets business: Mobile wallet firms fear losing close to 40 percent of its user base due to the deadlines around the Know you Customer (KYC) registration.

A Business Standard report said that firms such as Amazon Pay have seen a a 30 percent drop in their customer numbers.

The report quoted Sunil Kulkarni, co-chairman of the PPI committee of the Payments Council of India (PCI), saying that the KYC registration is seen as a cause of friction and customers would need further motivation for digital transactions. This is mainly due to compliance requirements.

2:30 pm Auto sales: Homegrown automaker Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) today posted a 19 percent growth in its February sales at 51,127 units.

The company had sold 42,826 vehicles during the same month last year, M&M said in a statement.

The passenger vehicles volumes (which includes UVs, cars and vans) grew 8 percent at 22,389 units in February 2018 as against 20,717 units in February last year.

Commercial vehicle sales during the month jumped 28 percent to 20,946 units compared to 16,383 units in the same month of 2017.

2:10 pm Market Check: Rangebound moves have continued on the market in the past few sessions.

The Sensex is down 0.19 points or 0.00% at 34183.85, and the Nifty up 9.40 points or 0.09% at 10502.30. The market breadth is narrow as 1364 shares have advanced, 1149 shares declined, and 195 shares are unchanged.

BHEL, IndusInd Bank, BPCL and Aurobindo Pharma were the top losers.

1:55 pm ICICI Pru in focus: Shares of ICICI Pru gained over half a percent intraday on Thursday. This after Citi remained neutral on the stock with a target of Rs 450.

The global research firm believes that the protection business will grow faster than unit linked insurance plans (ULIPs).

Further, ULIP growth will be driven by customer preference. But, it also highlighted that it is seeing competition from mutual funds.

1:45 pm Stocks View: Shares of Zee Entertainment gained around half a percent intraday on Thursday. Global brokerage firm Citi has maintained a buy call on the stock with a target of Rs 650 apiece.

The management expects breadth of content to be the differentiator among other such service providers. Further, it said that the management also aims at growing ad revenues ahead of market.

It is expecting low-teen domestic subscription growth.

1:30 pm Gas Distribution stocks in focus: Speaking on the decision to double city gas distribution purview, Edelweiss believes that the move is a long term positive. As per the plan, the network will be expanded to more geographical areas than ever.

Further, the brokerage house highlighted that the quorum for PNGRB had been achieved and the reforms will accelerate going forward.

Edelweiss also highlighted how the marketing exclusivity had been raised to eight years.

Among stocks, it believes IGL, Mahanagar Gas and Gujarat Gas will pursue high potential areas and are better poised to leverage their expertise as well as strong balance sheets.

1:15 pm Steel sector outlook: Strong domestic prices have been in focus, which have pushed up steel stocks in a few cases.

Global broking firm Jefferies believes that these prices should sustain in the near term. It also expects higher margins for companies in the upcoming quarter.

It believes this is an opportunity to take profits as domestic prices should soften post the fourth quarter. Moreover, spreads may ease as Chinese supply ramps up post winter cut.
It Hindalco for its leverage to metals and global macro recovery. Meanwhile, it chooses to retain UPF on Tata, SAIL, JSW Steel.

1:05 pm Buzzing Stock: BPCL gained a little over 3 percent intraday on the back of crude price situation as well as a stock view by JPMorgan.

Oil prices fell on Wednesday following rise in inventories reported, which led to investors rushing to buy BPCL. The company usually imports crude and a fall in its prices implies better profits for the firm.

Additionally, investors also bet on JPMorgan's view regarding the stock. The global research firm maintained its overweight stance on the stock with a target of Rs 540.

12:50 pm Synchronised trade: Capital and commodities markets regulator SEBI will pursue violations involving 'synchronised trades' with renewed vigour following the recent ruling by the Supreme Court in the regulator's case against Rakhi Trading, a source told Moneycontrol.

Rakhi Trading had executed synchronized trades in illiquid Nifty options on behalf of its clients, solely for the purpose of tax evasion by creating artificial profits/losses. The Supreme Court ruled that Rakhi Trading was guilty of market manipulation and upheld the adjudication order by SEBI, penalizing it Rs 1.08 crore.

Synchronised trades are pre-planned trades, done with a motive which could either be genuine or dubious. Sometimes the counterparties synchronize trades (the buyer and the seller punch in the order simultaneously) so that the buyer gets the entire lot being offered by the seller. But synchronized trades are also done by entities acting in concert, to create artificial volumes and give the impression of heavy trading in a stock. They are also done to create fake profits and losses.

12:40 pm Stock view: Global research firm Deutsche Bank has initiated a buy on PSU major State Bank of India with target of Rs 350 per share.

The house is of the view that with 5 percent CASA and 70 percent loans floating, the margin trajectory should improve. It expects further pick up in loan growth as we head towards end of year.

A day after deposit rate hike, State Bank of India (SBI) raised marginal cost-based lending rates (MCLR) by 10-25 basis points across most maturities, with immediate effect.

12:20 pm MF news: Indiabulls Mutual Fund has filed draft offer document with the Securities and Exchange Board of India seeking approval to launch Indiabulls Prudence Fund, according to filing on SEBI website.

The open-ended hybrid scheme will deploy 65-80 percent of its corpus in equity and equity related securities, while 20-35 percent will be allocated to debt and money market instruments.

12:05 pm Rain forecast: Indians need to brace themselves for the heat as the Met Department has forecast a blazing summer across north India.

In an interview with CNBC-TV18, DS Pai, Director - Long Range Forecast at India Met Department shared his views and readings on the same.

As per the forecast released yesterday, we expect that during the pre-monsoon – March to May period – the average normal temperature over the country is likely to be on the positive side that is above normal, he said.

As a whole, during these three months, we expect above normal heat wave conditions over northwest and central India, he added.

11:50 am Buzzing Stock: Shares of Larsen and Toubro (L&T) rose 1 percent intraday Thursday as its construction arm won orders worth Rs 1,593 crore.

Its water & effluent treatment business won orders worth Rs 1,058 crore and buildings & factories business has secured an order worth Rs 535 crore.

At 11:42 hrs Larsen & Toubro was quoting at Rs 1,320.25, up Rs 1.15, or 0.09 percent on the BSE.

11:38 am Earnings: Fortis Healthcare reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 19.10 crore for the quarter ended December 2017 against a profit of Rs 453.29 crore in the year ago period.

The company also reported its September quarter net loss at Rs 23.61 crore after it had sought a 15-day extension to declare earnings for the second and third quarter of the current financial year citing statutory auditors' inability to complete the audit before the stipulated board meeting.

Although the company presented its earnings report, the auditor to Fortis Healthcare, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP, said it had not performed an audit. It said the interim results have been reviewed by other auditors whose report has been furnished to them by the management.

11:22 am Market Outlook: The December quarter earnings were a mixed bag but it has laid the foundation of better earnings growth in the March quarter as well as in FY19, Manish Sonthalia, Head Equities- PMS at Motilal Oswal AMC said in an interview with CNBC-TV18.

''Economic activity is picking up and I continue to remain positive not only from an FY18 perspective but from the FY19 perspective as well. We are building 15-20 percent kind of earnings growth,'' he said.

Commenting on the PSU banks, Sonthalia said that this space is unlikely to outperform markets anytime soon. There will be a lot of elephants which might come out from the stable in near future.

11:10 am Market Check: The Sensex is down 39.73 points or 0.12% at 34144.31, and the Nifty down 2.00 points or 0.02% at 10490.90. The market breadth is positive as 1257 shares have advanced, 890 shares declined, and 163 shares are unchanged.

PSU banks have erased a huge chunk of their losses, after a recovery was seen in Punjab National Bank. A report by Hindustan Times has stated that Nirav Modi had written to the bank on February 26, giving a concrete repayment plan, which included current accounts and jewellery worth Rs 2,000 crore.

10:50 am GDP reactions: The Indian economy grew at 7.2 percent in October-December 2017, and will likely expand 6.6 percent in 2017-18, latest official estimates said on Wednesday, amid strong revival signs in consumption spending and investment activity.

Sonal Varma of Nomura said the main takeaway from gross domestic product (GDP) numbers announced yesterday is that cyclical recovery is underway and sectors like trade, manufacturing, construction etc are showing pick-up.

However, although the investments have picked up, private consumption has gone down, said Varma.

Clearly the drags from demonetisation, goods and services tax (GST) seem to be fading but question marks with regards to sustainability of this cyclical recovery remains because the balancesheet issues are not yet over, she said.

10:40 am Mutual Fund update: Taurus Mutual Fund has revised the exit load structure of Taurus Nifty Index Fund with effect from March 1, the fund house said in a newspaper notice today.

The fund house will levy 0.50 percent if units are redeemed within 180 days from the allotment date. At present, the exit load of 0.50 percent is applicable if investments are redeemed within 30 days from the allotment date.

All other features of the scheme remain unchanged.

10:25 am Oil update: Oil prices were little changed on Thursday after falling in the previous two sessions as investors shied away from riskier assets amid volatile equity markets and the U.S. dollar gained, limiting overall interest in commodities.

Both global benchmark oil futures fell sharply on Wednesday after crude and gasoline inventories in the United States rose unexpectedly.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery was up 8 cents at $61.72 a barrel by 0403 GMT after settling down 2.2 percent in the previous session.

10:05 am Market Check: Shares are currently trading flat, with the Nifty hovering around 10,500.

The Sensex is down 6.59 points or 0.02% at 34177.45, and the Nifty up 2.30 points or 0.02% at 10495.20. The market breadth is positive as 1160 shares advanced, against a decline of 736 shares, while 158 shares are unchanged.

PSU banks have come under selling pressure, along with IT and FMCG names.

Bajaj Auto, Bharti Airtel and Aurobindo Pharma were the top gainers, while Infosys, SBI, Tech Mahindra and Bharti Infratel lost the most.

9:45 am Auto sales reaction: Shares of tractor maker Escorts rose more than 2 percent in the early trade on Thursday as the company has posted strong volume growth in the month of February 2018.

The company's agri machinery segment sales grow by 52.2 percent at 6462 tractors against 4247 tractors in February 2017.

Domestic sales for the month of February 2018 at 6295 tractors up by 53.4 percent as against 4104 tractors in February 2017. While on the export front, the company sold 167 tractors against 143 tractors, up by 16.8 percent.

9:30 am Buzzing Stock: Shares of Dilip Buildcon rose 3.7 percent in the early trade on Thursday as company declared lowest bidder by NHAI for 3 new projects.

The company has declared L-1 bidder by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for three new hybrid annuity projects valued at Rs 5390 crore in the state of Karnataka and Jharkhand respectively.

The trading window for dealing in the securities of the company by its designated employees, directors and promoters is already closed till March 2, 2018, which shall continue to remain close till March 6, 2018.

9:15 am Market Opens: Equities have begun the day on a flat note, with the Nifty hovering around 10,500-mark.

The Sensex is down 35.91 points or 0.11% at 34148.13, while the Nifty is down 5.50 points or 0.05% at 10487.40. The market breadth was positive as 301 shares advanced, against a decline of 221 shares, while 98 shares are unchanged.

Bajaj Auto and Tata Steel gained the most on both indices, while Infosys and Dr Reddy's Laboratories have lost the most.

Among global markets, Asian stocks declined on the first trading day of the month after finishing February with losses. Declines in the region also tracked sharp losses seen stateside in the previous session.

The Nikkei 225 declined 1.39 percent, or 307.24 points, on the first day of March. Automakers, technology stocks and financials traded lower.

Heavyweight SoftBank Group lost 0.94 percent, Toyota slid 1.71 percent and apparel company Fast Retailing was off 0.78 percent. Among manufacturing names, Fanuc declined 1.74 percent and Kyocera shed 1.75 percent.

US stocks sold off late to end sharply lower on Wednesday, dragged down by continued worries over rising interest rates, and the Dow and S&P 500 capped their worst months since January 2016.

The S&P 500 also snapped a 10-month straight run of gains, which had been its longest monthly winning streak since an 11-month run from March 1958 to January 1959.

Wednesday's declines closed a month marked by spikes in volatility and fears that rising inflation could prompt the Federal Reserve to pick up the pace of interest rate hikes.