Indian benchmark indices, the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty, are poised for a negative start on Friday, mirroring weakness in Asian peers and a negative finish at Wall Street overnight on rate hike concerns. The bearish trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a gap-down opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 197 points, or 1.13%, lower at 17,209 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:20 AM. Investors will keep an eye on corporate earnings numbers for future clues, with mining firm Hindustan Zinc, financial services firm Aditya Birla Money and many others are slated to release their earnings reports today.

On Thursday, the domestic equities ended higher for the second straight session, led by an extended rally in index heavyweights Reliance Industries, Infosys, and HDFC twins. The value-buying in IT and financial stocks also boosted market sentiments. The BSE Sensex ended at 57,911, up 874 points, or 1.5%, and the NSE Nifty settled 256 points, or 1.5%, higher at 17,392. M&M was the top gainer on the Sensex pack, followed by Maruti Suzuki, Bajaj Finserv, Asian Paints, Reliance Industries, Kotak Mahindra Bank, HDFC and TCS. Shares of RIL rose 2.4% to end at a fresh record high, extending the rally for the third straight session.

Stocks to focus:

Tata Communications: The Tata group firm has posted a 22% growth in consolidated profit at ₹365 crore for the quarter ended March 2022, compared to ₹299.2 crore in the same period a year ago. Consolidated income from operations rose by 4.65% to ₹4,263 crore from ₹4,073.25 crore in the March 2021 quarter.

HCL Technologies: The IT major’s net profit zoom more than three-fold to ₹3,593 crore for quarter ended March 2022, as against ₹1,102 crore in the year-ago period. Revenue from operations grew by 15% YoY to ₹22,597 crore.

Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday raided multiple premises of the company and also places linked to its chairman, Naveen Jindal, in a case related to violations of forex rules.

Maruti Suzuki India: The country's largest carmaker on Thursday launched a new version of its multi-purpose vehicle XL6, which is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a peak power of 75.8 kW. The car is available in manual and automatic transmission options, priced between ₹11.29 lakh and ₹14.55 lakh (ex-showroom).

ITC: FMCG major will acquire 10.07% stake in Blupin Technologies, the company behind the direct-to-consumer(D2C) brand, Mylo for up to ₹39.34 crore. In a separate development, the company has raised the prices of its dairy products in wake of rise in raw material costs.

ICICI Lombard General Insurance: The insurer has reported a 9.53% YoY fall in net profit in the January-March quarter of FY22 to 313 crore compared to ₹346 crore in the same period a year ago. The company has also proposed a dividend of ₹5 per equity share for the financial year ended March 31, 2022, subject to requisite approval.

GAIL, HPCL: The state-run GAIL, its JV company Bengal Gas Co and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd's have reportedly committed a combined investment of ₹17,000 crore in various CNG projects in West Bengal over the next five years.

Future Group companies: The listed Future group firms, including Future Retail, Future Enterprises, Future Supply Chain Solutions and Future Lifestyle Fashions, have completed meetings of their respective shareholders and creditors to consider and approve the ₹24,713 crore deal to sell their assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Retail Ventures.

L&T Technology Services: The L&T group firm has reported a growth of 34.7% in consolidated net profit to ₹262 crore for the quarter ended March 2022, as against ₹194.5 crore in the same period a year ago. The consolidated revenue from operations jumped 22% to ₹1,756.1 crore from ₹1,440.5 crore in the March 2021 quarter.

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

Wall Street ends lower on rate hike concerns

In the overnight trade, all three major U.S. indices closed lower amid looming fear about the aggressive policy stance by the Federal Reserve in the coming months, while concerns about the Russia-Ukraine war and the Covid-19 situation in China also dented market sentiment. Investors weighed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comment that a 0.5% interest rate increase will be "on the table" during the policy meeting in May to combat rising inflation. The S&P 500 dropped 1.48%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.05%, and the Nasdaq Composite plunged 2.07%.

Asian stocks follow Wall Street lower

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were flashing in red in opening trade on Friday, following a negative finish at Wall Street overnight. The looming fear of aggressive rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Covid-19 situation in China dented market sentiments.

Japan’s benchmark index Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.9%, South Korea’s KOSPI fell 1.15%, and the Straits Times Index in Singapore dropped 0.15%. In a similar trend, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dropped 0.9%, Thailand’s SET Composite shed 0.22%, and Taiwan’s Weighted index fell 0.7%.

In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component and the Shanghai Composite fell 0.9% and 0.1%, respectively, in early trade.

Oil prices retreat 1%

The price of Brent and U.S. crude oil retreated in early trade on Friday after rising more than 1% in overnight trade amid concerns about tighter global supply. In Asian trading hours on Friday, the Brent oil for June delivery was down 1.1% at $107.1 per barrel, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped 1.1% to $102.65 a barrel.

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