Indian benchmark indices closed lower on Thursday after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget 2018-’19 in Parliament. The BSE Sensex finished 58.36 points lower at 35,906.66, and the National Stock Exchange Nifty lost 10.80 points to end at 11,016.90.

The markets had opened higher in the morning before the Sensex shed 360 points from the day’s high of 36,227 points by noon, and the Nifty fell 110 points.

By 1 pm, however, the indices surged again. At 2.02 pm, the Sensex was trading 212.16 points higher at 36,177.18 and the Nifty was 56.50 points up at 11,084.20.

But Jaitley’s announcement of a long-term capital gains tax and a decline in public sector unit and pharmaceuticals stocks eventually dragged the indices lower at close of trading day, Mint reported.

This is the current government’s last full-year Budget before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Budget focused largely on the rural economy. The government also announced long-term capital gains on equities exceeding Rs one lakh to be taxed at the rate of 10%.

In the face of a widening fiscal deficit, market participants were looking forward to clarity on the government’s path towards fiscal consolidation. With Assembly elections due in eight states this year, the government was largely expected to focus on the agriculture sector and rural programmes.

The government had already exceeded its fiscal deficit target for the current financial year – 3.2% of the Gross Domestic Product – in November 2017. Also in focus will be the government’s fiscal deficit target for 2018-’19, which was pegged at 3% in the previous Budget.

Agriculture-related stocks surged after the government announced it was raising the minimum support prices for the summer harvest season. Meanwhile, the realty stocks also rose as Jaitley’s promised to build one crore houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in rural areas, NDTV reported.

The government’s proposed National Health Protection Scheme helped shares of hospital operators and insurance firms in the morning.

Mahindra & Mahindra was the top gainer on both indices on Thursday. The other top stocks on the Sensex were Larsen, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Auto and Asian Paints. The best-performing stocks on the Nifty, apart from Mahindra & Mahindra, were Eicher Motors, Bajaj Finance, Larsen and IndusInd Bank.

The top losers on the Sensex were Oil and Natural Gas Corp, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, State Bank of India and ICICI Bank. On the Nifty, Sun Pharma, Oil and Natural Gas Corp, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Aurobindo Pharma and Lupin lost the most.

Asian markets

Other major Asian markets had a mixed day. Japan’s Nikkei rose nearly 388 points, and the Taiwan index over 56 points. The Hong Kong Hang Seng declined over 245 points, and the Shanghai index nearly 34 points.

Rupee value

The rupee was trading 26 paise lower at 64.04 to the United States dollar at 4.26 pm.