The equity benchmarks, the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty, are expected to open a tad lower on Thursday, following weak cues from global peers. Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were reeling under stress, tracking a negative finish on Wall Street overnight after the Federal Reserve’s July meeting minutes revealed that policymakers may go for another rate hike in September, albeit at a slower pace. The soft trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a gap-down opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 27 points, or 0.15%, lower at 17,940 levels on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:00 AM. Investors will keep an eye on the rupee-dollar trend, Brent crude oil price, and foreign funds movement, which may impact trade.

On Wednesday, the BSE benchmark extended its gaining streak for the fourth straight session and reclaimed the 60,000-level after four months as investors’ appetite for riskier assets improved amid easing crude oil prices and continued foreign fund inflows. The BSE Sensex rose 418 points, or 0.70%, to settle at 60,260, its highest closing level since April 5 this year. In a similar trend, the NSE Nifty added 119 points or 0.67% to end at 17,944, registering its seventh consecutive session of gains. The top gainers on the Sensex pack were Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Finance, Bharti Airtel, Tech Mahindra, HCL Technologies, NTPC, HUL, and Wipro. On the flip side, Mahindra & Mahindra, UltraTech Cement, Maruti, Tata Steel, Kotak Bank, Power Grid, and Titan were notable losers.

Stocks to watch

Telecom stocks: Reliance, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea shares will be in focus after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released monthly data on telecom subscribers. As per data, Reliance Jio and Airtel added 4.2 million and 0.79 million new mobile customers in June, respectively, while Vodafone Idea shed 1.8 million users.

Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC): The state-owned oil and gas major has signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) with global petroleum giant ExxonMobil Corp for deepwater exploration in India's East and West coasts.

RBL Bank: The private lender has offloaded over 12% stake in Kilburn Engineering since May for a total consideration of over ₹17 crore.

Natco Pharma: The drug maker has received tentative approval to its abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) for Trabectedin for injection for the 1mg/vial.

Indo Amines: The chemical manufacturer has received an environment clearance for expansion of 'synthetic organic chemical' for its manufacturing plants in Thane and Dhule, Maharashtra.

Infibeam Avenues: The board of directors of the company will meet on August 25 to consider fund raising.

Sona Blw Precision Forgings: Blackstone Inc. is reportedly planning to sell Sona BLW's shares worth nearly ₹4,000 cr today. The U.S.-based firm may offer shares at ₹500 each, a 7.2% discount to Wednesday’s closing price.

Bank of Baroda: The PSU lender has launched a new deposit scheme 'Baroda Tiranga Deposit Scheme', which offers interest rates of up to 6% on domestic retail term deposits.

Ujjivan Small Finance Bank: The private sector lender has raised interest rate on fixed deposits by up to 1.5%, effect from August 9, 2022.

Balrampur Chini Mills, Delta Corp, Tata Chemicals: These stocks will be under the NSE F&O ban today as securities breached 95% of the market-wide position limit.

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

Wall Street ends lower on Fed minutes

In the overnight trade, all three major U.S. indices settled in negative terrain after the Federal Reserve’s July meeting minutes revealed that policymakers may go for another rate hike in September, albeit at a slower pace. As per the Fed minutes, officials saw "little evidence" that U.S. inflation pressures were easing and expected it to take longer than anticipated to settle down. The market sentiment was also dented by disappointing earnings reports and mixed economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.5% lower, the S&P 500 shed 0.8%, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 1.3%.

Asian stocks fall as U.K. inflation hits 4-decade high

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were flashing red in early trade on Thursday, following a negative finish on Wall Street overnight and record surge in British inflation, its highest level in 40 years. Data showed British consumer price inflation climbed to 10.1% in July, the highest since February 1982, raising fear of aggressive rate hike going ahead. Adding to it, rising cases of Covid-19 in some countries in Asia and persistent worries about global inflation and China's economy also weighed on sentiments.

Regional heavyweight Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 0.9%, South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6%, and Taiwan Weighted Index shed 0.7%.

Meanwhile, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 0.4%, Australia’s ASX 200 dived 0.35%, while the Straits Times in Singapore rose 0.4%.

Markets in mainland China were also reeling under stress, with the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component falling by 0.3% each.

Crude prices steady

Brent and U.S. crude continue to trade around $90 per barrel for the third consecutive session on Thursday amid the prospect of a global recession. However, a larger-than-expected fall in U.S. oil and gasoline stocks for a second straight week has reassured investors that demand is firm. Meanwhile, Moody’s Analytics in a recent report on the Asia Pacific (APAC) region forecasted that crude prices will slide to almost $70 per barrel by the end of next year.

In early Asian trading hours on Thursday, the Brent oil for September delivery was up 0.11% at $93.75 per barrel, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude August futures fell marginally by 0.03% to $88.08 a barrel.

FIIs continues buying spree

The foreign institutional investors (FIIs) continued to support the Indian equities on August 17, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) emerged as net sellers. As per the exchange data, FIIs purchased shares worth ₹2,347.22 crore, while DIIs net sold shares amounting to ₹510.23 crore.

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