The Sensex and the Nifty rose over 0.4 per cent at the closing session on Wednesday amid weak European cues.

The 30-share BSE index Sensex was up 88.76 points or 0.43 per cent at 20,722.97 and the 50-share NSE index Nifty was up 25.65 points or 0.42 per cent at 6,152.75.

On the BSE, IT, TECK, healthcare and consumer durables indices remained investors' favourite and were up 1.48 per cent, 1.22 per cent, 1.17 per cent and 1.11 per cent, respectively. On the other hand, metal index fell the most by 1.06 per cent, followed by power 0.41 per cent, FMCG 0.18 per cent and auto 0.09 per cent.

Sun Pharma, Infosys, TCS, Wipro and HDFC Bank were the top five Sensex gainers, while the top five losers were Tata Power, SSLT, Hero MotoCorp, NTPC and Tata Steel.

Marketmen questioned the optimism shown by the Finance Minister in his interim budget speech.

A report by Espirito Santo Securities said: "In the interim budget, the fiscal deficit for FY14 Is pegged at 4.6 per cent, which is not a done deal yet, and projected at 4.1 per cent for FY15 on revenue optimism. We think the assumptions behind the estimates are weak and hence wait for the full-year budget post elections to gauge the quality of consolidation. We think the excise duty cut is positive for autos and consumer durables, while neutral for capital goods. The interim budget for FY15 hit all the right notes. The finance minister in his interim budget speech focussed on the current state of the economy and how majority of the macro variables have fared significantly better during the past decade of UPA rule. Moreover, budget estimates outdid the fiscal deficit number for both FY14 and FY15: FY14 expected at 4.6 per cent of GDP (vs. market expectations of 4.8 per cent) and FY15 budgeted at 4.1 per cent of GDP (vs. market expectations of 4.2-4.4 per cent). Also, the only key change announced in the budget – excise duty cuts on capital goods and consumer durables – is a positive for the respective industries.Well, the math for FY14 does add-up, but then the reality of pushing part of the expenditure to FY15, cutting down on plan expenditure (by 15 per cent compared to the budgeted amount), and lowering fiscal deficit by 0.3 per cent of GDP primarily through revenue from dividends and profits from RBI and PSUs, worth 0.8% of GDP, makes us question the quality of fiscal consolidation.''

European stocks fell as investors awaited a report on US housing starts. Most Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index sliding from a three-week high, as consumer companies led the declines.

(This article was published on February 19, 2014)
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