Indian equity benchmarks are set to fall in opening trade on Thursday, following weak cues from Asian peers and a negative finish at Wall Street overnight. The bearish trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a gap-down opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 102 points, or 0.6%, lower at 17,270 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 7:50 AM.

The continued uptrend in crude prices and fear of fresh sanctions against Russia may also inject negativity in the market. U.S. President Joe Biden and his European counterparts have gathered in Brussels to discuss plans to impose further energy sanctions on Russia to force Moscow to end the month-long war in Ukraine as Russian forces bombed the capital, Kyiv.

On Wednesday, the domestic bourses ended lower amid selling in auto and banking space along with index heavyweights such as HDFC, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bharti Airtel, Sun Pharma, and Maruti Suzuki India. The 30-share Sensex ended 304.5 points, or 0.5%, lower at 57,685. On the NSE, the Nifty50 closed at 17,246, down 70 points or 0.4%. The top gainers on the BSE Sensex pack were Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Tata Steel, ITC, Power Grid Corporation of India, and NTPC. Among sectors, metal and power indices were among the best performers, while rate-sensitive bank and realty space saw maximum selling activities.

Shares to focus

HUL: The FMCG major is reportedly in talks with spice maker MDH to buy its business. However, MDH has refuted the reports, claiming that it is "completely false, fabricated and baseless".

Hero MotoCorp: The Income Tax Department on Wednesday conducted raids at multiple premises of the auto major as part of a tax evasion investigation. However, the company in a release said that this was a routine inquiry, which was not uncommon before the end of the financial year.

Bajaj Electricals: The Bajaj group company has extended its trademark agreement with the United Kingdom-based Morphy Richards for a further 15 years with effect from July 1, 2022. The consumer appliances brand has been offering products under the Morphy Richards brand to Indian consumers since April 2002 in the premium home appliances segment.

TCS: The country’s largest software exporter has concluded its ₹18,000-crore share buyback programme on Wednesday, at ₹4,500 per share, a premium of over 21% to last closing price. More than 30 crore shares were tendered in the buyback, which amounts to 8.5 times the company intended to repurchase.

Kotak Mahindra Bank: Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) plans to sell up to 2.02% stake in private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank today. CPPIB intends to offload 40 million shares at a price band of ₹1,681.26-1,769.75.

Ruchi Soya Industries: The FMCG company has allotted shares worth ₹1,290 crore to anchor investors ahead of its ₹4,300-crore follow-on public offering (FPO). The company alloted 19.83 million shares at ₹650 apiece.

Sun Pharma: The drugmaker and its US-based arm Ranbaxy, Inc, has inked a $485 million settlement with two plaintiff groups regarding Ranbaxy generic drug application antitrust litigation.

Triveni Turbine: The steam turbine manufacturer said that its arm Mis Triveni Turbines DMCC has signed a deal to acquire 70% equity of TSE Engineering in South Africa for 11.9 million South African rand (around ₹6.17 crore).

F&O ban: SAIL, Balrampur Chini Mills, Delta Corp, GNFC, Indiabulls Housing Finance, and Sun TV Network will be on the F&O ban list on the NSE.

Here are the key things investors should know before the market opens today:

Wall Street ends lower

In the overnight trade, all three major U.S. indices closed lower as continued rise in crude prices raised concerns about inflation and higher interest rates. The uncertainty about Russia-Ukraine war also left investors jittery as there seems to be no immediate cessation of hostilities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.29%, the S&P 500 shed 1.23%, and the Nasdaq Composite ended 1.32% lower.

Asian shares follow Wall Street lower

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region traded mostly lower in early deals on Thursday as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis and more hawkish comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials dented market sentiment. The weak closing at Wall Street in overnight trade also injected negativity in the market.

Japan's Nikkei slipped by more than 1% in opening trade after hitting a two-month high in the previous session. Hong Kong's benchmark index, the Hang Seng, was down 0.5%, while Australia’s ASX 200 index rose 0.1%. Taiwan Weighted index shed 0.5% and South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.8%

In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component and the Shanghai Composite dropped 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively, in the early trade.

Oil prices rise amid supply concerns

The oil price continued its uptrend on Thursday amid supply concerns following reports of storm damage at a major export terminal system on the Black Sea. The price of Brent crude, an international benchmark, surged after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed a drop in U.S. crude inventory. The natural gas price also soared after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would seek payment in roubles for gas sales in response to Western sanctions against Russia.

In the early trading hours on Thursday, the U.S. WTI crude futures were up 0.67% to $115.67 a barrel, while the Brent oil futures rose 1.05% to $122.88 per barrel.

Meanwhile, in the overnight trade, Brent crude spiked 5.4% to $121.57 a barrel, while WTI crude oil climbed 5% to $114.57 a barrel.

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