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Sensex, Nifty attain record closing high

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Small gains pushed key benchmark indices to record closing high. The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market was negative. The barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, garnered 40.09 points or 0.18%, off close to 75 points from the day's high and up almost equal points from the day's low. Gains in Asian and European stocks supported the upmove on the domestic bourses.

The Sensex has risen 975.18 points or 4.61% in this month so far (till 26 March 2014). The Sensex has risen 924.62 points or 4.36% so far in calendar 2014 (till 26 March 2014). From a 52-week low of 17,448.71 on 28 August 2013, the Sensex has risen 4,646.59 points or 26.63%.

Coming back to today's trade, index heavyweight and cigarette major ITC recovered from lower level in late trade. Index heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) edged higher in volatile trade. Engineering and construction major L&T hit 52-week high. Metal and mining stocks edged higher on growing expectations that China will take steps to stimulate its sagging economy. Tata Steel edged higher after the company after market hours on Tuesday, 25 March 2014, said that it has completed the e-auction process for sale of land in Borivali (East), Mumbai on Monday, 24 March 2014. Ambuja Cements rose after the company said that Hon'ble High Courts of Gujarat and New Delhi have approved the Scheme of Amalgamation of Holcim India with the company.

The market opened on a firm note on higher Asian stocks. Key benchmark indices trimmed initial gains in morning trade. Key benchmark indices moved in a narrow range in positive zone in mid-morning trade. Key benchmark indices extended intraday gains in early afternoon trade. A bout of volatility was witnessed as key benchmark indices trimmed gains after hitting fresh record high in afternoon trade. Key benchmark indices gave away a lion's portion of intraday gains in mid-afternoon trade. The Sensex soon slipped into the red. The barometer index regained positive zone in late trade.

Indian stocks may remain volatile tomorrow, 27 March 2014, as traders roll over positions in the futures & options (F&O) segment from the near-month March 2014 series to April 2014 series. The near-month March 2014 F&O contracts expire tomorrow, 27 March 2014.

The S&P BSE Sensex garnered 40.09 points or 0.18% to settle at 22,095.30, a record closing high. The index jumped 116.99 points at the day's high of 22,172.20 in afternoon trade, a record high for the barometer index. The index fell 34.63 points at the day's low of 22,020.58 in mid-afternoon trade.

The CNX Nifty garnered 11.65 points or 0.18% to settle at 6,601.40, a record closing high. The index hit a high of 6,627.45 in intraday trade, a record high. The index hit a low of 6,580.60 in intraday trade.

The BSE Mid-Cap index garnered 25.91 points or 0.38% to settle at 6,868.07, outperforming the Sensex. The BSE Small-Cap index fell 4.72 points or 0.07% to settle at 6,848.39, underperforming the Sensex.

The S&P BSE Auto index (up 0.95%), the S&P BSE Metal index (up 2.7%), the S&P BSE Capital Goods index (up 1.35%), the S&P BSE Bankex (up 0.62%), and the S&P BSE Oil & Gas index (up 1.14%), outperformed the Sensex.

The S&P BSE Power index (down 0.19%), the S&P BSE Consumer Durables index (down 1.37%), the S&P BSE FMCG index (down 0.68%), the S&P BSE Realty index (down 0.24%), the S&P BSE IT index (down 0.9%), the S&P BSE Teck index (down 0.7%), and the S&P BSE Healthcare index (down 1.82%), underperformed the Sensex.

The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market, was negative. On BSE, 1,610 shares declined and 1,272 shares gained. A total of 141 shares were unchanged.

The total turnover on BSE amounted to Rs 4139 crore, higher than Rs 2153.71 crore on Tuesday, 25 March 2014.

Banks stocks edged higher. Among private sector banks, Axis Bank (up 2.1%), Kotak Mahindra Bank (up 0.09%), Yes Bank (up 5.89%) and Federal Bank (up 0.71%) gained. HDFC Bank fell 0.48%.

ICICI Bank rose 0.35% to Rs 1,256.90 after hitting 52-week high of Rs 1,268.40 in intraday trade.

IndusInd Bank rose 0.88%. The bank today, 26 March 2014, said it has launched a multi-faceted branding campaign "Now in your neighborhood" in Vadodara. The bank has taken this initiative to broaden its reach and offer its unique customer propositions across the city, the private sector bank said. The bank also opened its 9th branch in Vadodara city at Kareli Baug region.

Among PSU bank stocks, State Bank of India (SBI) (up 1.56%), Punjab National Bank (up 1.58%), Bank of Baroda (up 2.21%), Bank of India (up 0.99%) and Union Bank of India (up 0.8%) gained.

Index heavyweight and cigarette major ITC lost 1.06% at Rs 359 in volatile trade. The stock hit high of Rs 363.70 and low of Rs 354.

Index heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) rose 1.22% at Rs 889.40 in volatile trade. The stock hit high of Rs 902.65 and low of Rs 881.80.

Capital goods stocks reversed intraday gains. Bharat Heavy Electricals (Bhel) (down 0.69%), ABB India (down 0.06%), BEML (down 0.5%), and Praj Industries (down 0.38%) declined.

Engineering and construction major L&T rose 2.29% to Rs 1,276.95 after hitting a 52-week high of Rs 1,278 in intraday trade.

Auto stocks edged higher. Ashok Leyland (up 11.36%), and Tata Motors (up 2.7%) edged higher. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) fell 1.63%.

Maruti Suzuki India gained 1.81% to Rs 1,937.55 after hitting a record high of Rs 1,948.95 in intraday trade.

Shares of most two wheeler makers declined. TVS Motor Company dropped 1.91%. Bajaj Auto rose 1.32%.

Hero MotoCorp shed 0.63% to Rs 2,176.75, with the stock sliding on profit booking after recent rally. Shares of Hero MotoCorp had rallied 5.98% in three trading sessions to settle at Rs 2,190.60 on Tuesday, 25 March 2014, from a recent low of Rs 2,066.90 on 21 March 2014.

CMC rose 2.4%. TCS declined 2.21%. CMC after market hours today, 26 March 2014, said it has won a legal case against Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE). KSE had terminated the contract with CMC in September 2006, against which CMC filed a legal case in the courts of Kuwait. The Cassation Court of Kuwait, which is the highest judicial authority in Kuwait, delivered the judgment in favor of CMC and has ordered KSE to pay CMC a sum of KD 2.17 million (equivalent to approximately Rs 46.37 crore at current exchange rate) along with interest at 7% per annum from the original date of order from the lower court. CMC is a subsidiary of IT major TCS.

Tech Mahindra declined 0.71%. The company today, 26 March 2014, announced that the company has successfully upgraded the Infinys postpaid billing system at Nawras, a member of Ooredoo Group, from IRB 2.2. to RBM 5.3.7. This enables the telecom major to ensure transparent billing system and better revenues, Tech Mahindra said in a statement. The project also involved a hardware platform change from HP Unix to IBM AIX and migration of all data from the legacy system. This upgrade will enable Nawras to improve customer experience and as part of their drive to increase efficiency and reduce costs, Tech Mahindra said.

Tech Mahindra said that the company has a well-established strategy for the Middle East and Africa region.

Tech Mahindra after market hours on Tuesday, 25 March 2014, announced the launch of Managed Data Service (MDS), a fully managed end-to-end reference data management Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) solution for the financial services industry in North America. This solution has already witnessed a significant traction in European markets.

The Managed Data Service (MDS) solution is designed around a utility model and comprises 3 integrated components - technology infrastructure, operational outsourcing and specialized software IP. The key benefits include assured data quality, operating cost reduction, CAPEX to OPEX transformation and improved operational efficiency.

Metal and mining stocks edged higher on growing expectations that China will take steps to stimulate its sagging economy. China is the world's largest consumer of copper and aluminum.

Jindal Steel & Power (up 3.01%), National Aluminum Company (up 2.09%), Steel Authority of India (Sail) (up 6.11%), Sesa Sterlite (up 3.97%), Hindalco Industries (up 3.19%), NMDC (up 0.33%), JSW Steel (up 1.56%), and Hindustan Zinc (up 1.6%) gained. Hindustan Copper shed 0.38%.

Tata Steel rose 2.13%. Tata Steel after market hours on Tuesday, 25 March 2014, said that the company had launched the bid-cum-auction process for the sale of its land parcel in Borivali on 18 December 2013 by public advertisements in national dailies. The site measuring roughly 25 acres is located at the junction of Western Express Highway and Dattapada road in Borivali (E), Mumbai and is abutting both these roads. The neighborhood predominantly comprises medium to high-end residential developments. Tata Steel said it has completed the e-auction process on Monday, 24 March 2014, for the sale of this land with the participation of several well-known developers. The Committee of Independent Directors appointed for the oversight and governance of the sale process by the Tata Steel Board on Tuesday, 25 March 2014, declared Oberoi Realty as the highest bidder of the auction on the basis of their final bid of Rs 1155 crore, after several rounds of bidding. As per the laid down process, the sale will be concluded after all requisite permissions are obtained, Tata Steel said.

Oberoi Realty surged 8.25% after the company after market hours on Tuesday, 25 March 2014, announced that it was declared as the highest bidder at the auction of about 25 acres of land parcel owned by Tata Steel in Borivali (East), Mumbai. Oberoi Realty is awaiting detailed communication for the next steps in the process. The sale will be concluded after receipt of the requisite approvals, the company said.

Ambuja Cements rose 1.47%. Ambuja Cements today, 26 March 2014, said that Hon'ble High Courts of Gujarat and New Delhi have approved the Scheme of Amalgamation of Holcim India with the company. The Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat while sanctioning the Scheme of Amalgamation has also approved the reduction of capital of the company as envisaged in the scheme, Ambuja Cements said. Certified copies of the order from both the High Court is awaited. The effectiveness of the scheme is subject to fulfillment of conditions precedent specified therein, Ambuja Cements said.

In the foreign exchange market, the rupee edged higher against the dollar, helped by hopes of continued foreign fund inflows while gains in other Asian currencies also underpinned sentiment. The partially convertible rupee was hovering at 60.145, compared with its close of 60.48/49 on Tuesday, 25 March 2014.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allotted Rs 10004 crore in a 7 day term repo variable rate auction held today, 26 March 2014. The reversal of the 7 day term repo will take place on 2 April 2014, the RBI said on Tuesday, 25 March 2014.

The Reserve Bank of India will announce the First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2014-15 on 1 April 2014. Citing price pressures, the Reserve Bank of India raised its key lending rates by 25 basis points after Third Quarter Review of Monetary Policy for 2013-14 on 28 January 2014.

The next major trigger for the stock market is the outcome of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Lok Sabha elections will be held between 7 April 2014 and 12 May 2014 in nine phases. The counting of votes will be take place on 16 May 2014. The term of the current Lok Sabha expires on June 1 and the new House has to be constituted by May 31. Along with the Lok Sabha election, Andhra Pradesh (AP), including the regions comprising Telangana, Odisha and Sikkim will go to polls to elect new assemblies. AP, Odisha and Sikkim assemblies come to end on June 2, June 7 and May 7 respectively.

The ruling Congress at the Centre promised inclusive growth in its manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections which was released today, 26 March 2014. If voted to power again after elections, the Congress will introduce basic rights and welfare package for all working people. The priority will be to bring India back to 8% inclusive growth path. There will be zero aversion to foreign investment. The party also promised that it will bring the Direct tax Code and the Goods and Services Tax bills, which will increase aggregate revenue of the government. The party said its detailed "Jobs Agenda" will ensure 10 crore new jobs.

The party said it will ensure health insurance and pension cover for the entire labour class. There will be special focus on labour working in hazardous industries, it said. All migrant labourers will be covered under the Aadhaar programme within one year. The Unorganised Workers' Social Security Act, 2008 will be implemented in letter and spirit, the party's 2014 Lok Sabha elections manifesto stated.

The Congress will bring Right to Health and ensure everybody has access to quality healthcare. Health expenditure will be increased to 3% of GDP. The party said that its aim is to give India the best education system in the world. The party said it will transform "Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan" to "Shreshth Shiksha Abhiyan," provide state-of-the-art sporting facilities across India and establish a National Sports Education University. Youths from J&K, NE and LWE affected areas will receive special attention, it said. A state-run employment exchange will be opened for those seeking employment abroad, the Congress said.

With regard to rural development and Panchayati Raj, the party's manifesto stated that all development functionaries like Anganwadi workers and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives will be provided adequate compensation. A Universal Pension Scheme will cover elderly, destitute, widows and other similar groups. All habitations with a population of 125 persons or above will be connected by roads. Drinking water will reach all rural areas. Panchayat funding will be increased and all land records digitised.

With regard to agriculture and farmer welfare, the Congress party said it will provide its wholehearted support to farmers and continue to nurture the public private partnership for greater agricultural productivity and exports. Coverage of crop insurance schemes will be increased. The party said that if it comes to power again after elections, it will establish a Ministry of Fisheries to help families dependent on fishing. Concessional loans up to Rs 5 lakh will be provided to collectives of small, marginal and women farmers.

With regard to the industry, the Congress party said that it will prioritise the implementation of the National Manufacturing Policy to enhance share of manufacturing in GDP to 25% by 2022. The party will ensure speedy completion of the industrial corridor project, it said. The focus will be on attracting new investments for job creation, within 100 days of government formation. An "E-biz Project" will provide single window platform for all investors, it said.

On the infrastructure sector, the Congress said that it will spend $1 trillion for upgrading infrastructure. "It will be our endeavour to connect all million-plus cities through high speed rail and coastal terminals and ports through adequate rail-road network," the manifesto stated. As regards urban development, the Congress said that it will ensure that Mayors and Municipal Chairpersons have fully functional powers so that they can operate as CEOs with executive powers and responsibilities. "We will revisit issues surrounding under-franchise of urban areas so that constituencies can be adjusted to reflect population changes," the manifesto stated.

With regard to the housing sector, the party said it wants to give all poor households the "Right to Homestead". Indira Awaas Yojana will be expanded to cover all poor rural households. Rajiv Awaas Yojana will be expanded to cover all poor urban households. "We will make efforts to ensure that title deeds are given to those who have been living on lands for more than two decades," the manifesto stated.

Cleaning of rivers will be done on a large scale and a "National Mission on Wind Energy" will streamline efforts to harness wind energy, the Congress said.

"Democratisation of Information" is the party's next goal, it said. The Congress said that the party will revolutionise service delivery, citizen interface and accountability. "Aapka Paisa Aapka Haath" platform will ensure time bound delivery of benefits and prevent corruption. All Panchayats will be connected with high-speed broadband connectivity and advanced wireless communication systems will be set up for better disaster management.

With regards to governance reforms, the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission will be implemented in letter and spirit, the Congress said. A special monitoring system will be put in place for timely disposal of all cases involving elections. The Judicial Appointments Bill and the Judicial Accountability Bill will establish a transparent method of appointing judges.

With regard to the defence sector, the party said it will work towards giving a fresh impetus to India's existing manufacturing capabilities, while also exploring new avenues for expansion of military potential.

To counter terrorism, the party will focus on intelligence sharing, cutting out financial flows to terrorist outfits, and stopping money laundering, the manifesto said.

European stocks edged higher on Wednesday, 26 March 2014, with mining issues leaping higher after price gains for copper and other metals. Key benchmark indices in UK, France and Germany were up 0.54% to 1.2%.

European Central Bank officials sent strong signals Tuesday that they are willing to consider dramatic steps to guard against dangerously low inflation, including negative interest rates and asset purchases. "We haven't exhausted our maneuvering room" on interest rates, Bank of Finland Gov. Erkki Liikanen said in an interview in Helsinki. The ECB's main lending rate to banks is 0.25%, a record low. A separate deposit rate set by the ECB for overnight funds parked at the central bank has been at zero for nearly two years. Asked what tools the ECB has remaining, Mr. Liikanen, who has headed Finland's central bank since 2004 and is on the ECB's 24-member governing council, cited a negative deposit rate as well as additional loans to banks and asset purchases. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, in an interview with news agency MNI, didn't rule out large-scale asset purchases, known as quantitative easing. Mr. Liikanen also said it was an option for the ECB and wouldn't run afoul of rules prohibiting the central bank from financing governments.

"Several [ECB] policy makers are ready to adopt nonstandard measures to prevent slipping into a deflationary environment," Slovakian central bank Gov. Josef Makuch said on Tuesday, adding that quantitative easing was one option.

ECB President Mario Draghi was less specific on what the central bank might do. But in a speech in Paris on Tuesday, he sought to underscore the bank's resolve in fighting excessively low inflation, which weakens consumer spending, business profit and investment. "We will do what is needed to maintain price stability," he said, adding that the ECB is paying close attention to the euro's exchange rate.

Asian shares edged higher on Wednesday, 26 March 2014, after US consumer confidence climbed to a six-year high, buoying investor optimism about the outlook for the world's biggest economy. Key benchmark indices in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea were up 0.37% to 1.26%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite was off 0.18%.

Trading in US index futures indicated that the Dow could advance 41 points at the opening bell on Wednesday, 26 March 2014. US stocks Tuesday finished a choppy trading session higher, boosted by stronger-than-expected consumer confidence data. The main indexes recorded small gains after two days of losses.

Markets were reassured by comments from Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser, who said in a television interview that short-term interest rates should hit 4% at the end of 2016. He also said the market reaction to Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's comments after last week's Federal Open Market Committee meeting was "puzzling." He said her timetable of a rate hike six months after the end of bond buying "wasn't a wildly unexpected time frame."

Led by rosier expectations, a gauge of US consumer confidence jumped in March 2014 to the highest level in more than six years. The Conference Board on Tuesday reported that its gauge of consumer confidence reached 82.3 in March the highest level since January 2008 compared with an upwardly revised 78.3 in February.

US home prices slipped in January for a third straight month after a particularly harsh winter, according to data released Tuesday, as strong year-over-year appreciation showed signs of moderating. New US homes sold at an annual rate of 440,000 in February, down 3.3% from January's one-year high, the government said Tuesday.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) next undertakes monetary policy review at a two-day meeting on 29-30 April 2014. The Federal Reserve on 19 March 2014 said after the conclusion of a monetary policy review that it will trim its monthly bond purchases by $10 billion to $55 billion. The Federal Reserve will end its bond-buying program before the end of the year with an interest-rate increase likely to follow in "around six months," Chair Janet Yellen said on 19 March 2014. Quarterly Fed forecasts on 19 March 2014 showed more officials predicting that the benchmark interest rate, now close to zero, will rise to at least 1% by the end of 2015 and 2.25% a year later.

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, 25 March 2014, urged Russia to de-escalate the crisis over Ukraine or face the consequences of more sanctions if it encroaches further into the east of the country after its annexation of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin "has to understand that there's a choice to be made here," Obama told reporters after a 53-nation nuclear-security summit in The Hague, saying there's "another path open" to the Russian leader. "It is now up to Russia to act responsibly and show itself once again willing to abide by international rules and international norms," Obama said.

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First Published: Wed, March 26 2014. 16:37 IST