Equities have been on a high since Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a massive mandate in the recent general elections, with traders hoping for the economy to be on a growth path with a stable government.

It said banks' impaired loans ratio has declined to 10.8 per cent in first nine months (April to December) of fiscal 2018-19 from 11.5 per cent in the financial year ending March 2018 (FY 18), marking a reversal in trend.

A stern articulator with outspoken views and dignified personality, Sitharaman now bears the responsibility of steering the economy which has witnessed sluggish growth in recent quarters.

Nirmala Sitharaman, 60,  is a Rajya Sabha member and the second woman to helm the key ministry after former PM Indira Gandhi who had held the portfolio in the seventies. She was appointed as the Defence minister in September 2017.

Among the early gainers were power utility major NTPC, Bharti Airtel, Yes Bank, Tata Consultancy Services and Indiabulls Housing Finance.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced an extension of timings for customer transactions through Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) by one and half hours from 4:30 PM to 06 PM to facilitate high-value fund transfers.

Meanwhile, Asian stocks chalked up modest gains in thin trading. Equity benchmarks in Japan nudged higher but were muted by lower-than-usual trading volumes due to Monday market closures in the United States and Britain.

Japan stocks moved up higher marginally while Hong Kong and China stocks fell. Main equity gauges in Australia and South Korea were little changed.

Among others, the IT sector reported strong revenue growth of 17.6 per cent in Q4 FY 19 (in rupee terms) supported by higher dollar exchange rate. The revenue growth on dollar basis was 7.8 per cent for a sample of major IT companies.