Indian benchmark indices, the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty, are expected to extend the gaining streak on Friday, following firm global cues. The easing concerns about the Omicron Covid-19 variant spurred an appetite for riskier assets, even as COVID-19 cases rose. The positive trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a gap-up opening for the Indian equities, with SGX Nifty futures trading 23 points, or 0.14%, higher at 17,221 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:20 AM.

On Thursday, Indian benchmark indices ended higher for the third straight session as investor appetite for riskier assets improved amid easing concerns about the economic impact of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The BSE Sensex ended 384 points, or 0.68%, higher at 57,315, and the NSE Nifty settled at 17,072, up by 117.15 points or 0.69%. On the sectoral front, the BSE Realty and PSU index emerged as the top performers. Among individual stocks, state-owned electric power transmission company Power Grid Corporation of India topped Sensex’s gainers chart by rising 2.5%. Some of the other top gainers of the BSE Sensex pack today were ITC, Bajaj Finance, Infosys and NTPC.

Individual companies that will be in focus on Friday include Data Patterns, Adani Enterprises, TCS, Indian Oil, and Hero MotoCorp.

Data Patterns: Shares of defence sector player will begin trading on the domestic bourses today after successfully raising ₹588.22 crore in its IPO. Ahead of listing, the stock was trading at a premium in the grey market, indicating a positive listing on the stock exchanges. The company's initial public offer (IPO) garnered a strong response from investors as it was subscribed 119.62 times. The company provides electronics solutions to the defence and aerospace sectors.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS): The IT major has been selected by La Mobiliere, the oldest private non-life insurer in the Swiss market, as its long-term strategic partner to accelerate its digital transformation agenda.

Indian Oil Corporation: The country’s largest oil and gas company has proposed to invest ₹9,028 crore to set up a new crude oil pipeline from Mundra in Gujarat to Panipat in Haryana.

Hero MotoCorp: The two-wheeler major has announced that it will increase prices of its vehicles with effect from January 4, 2022. The company plans to hike ex-showroom prices by up to Rs 2,000 in wake of rising commodity costs.

Adani Enterprises: Billionaire Gautam Adani-led group has incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary - Adani Data Networks (ADNL). The new entity will provide domestic and international network connectivity services and bespoke solutions.

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

Wall Street extends rally for 3rd session

On Wall Street, the U.S. benchmark indices closed higher for the third day as strong macro data lifted the mood ahead of Christmas holidays. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.6%, the S&P 500 also rose 0.6%. The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite ended 0.9% higher in overnight trade on Thursday.

Investors cheered Commerce Department data which showed that consumer spending increased by 0.6% in November from the prior month, indicating a positive sign for the economy. Adding optimism to the market, another data by the Labor Department said that weekly jobless claims were unchanged in the week ended December 18. Jobless claims remained at 205,000, held below pre-pandemic levels last week.

Asian shares rise in opening trade

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region traded higher in opening trade on Friday, following positive cues from Wall Street which ended higher overnight. The market sentiment was boosted by rising optimism that the Omicron strain of Covid-19 will not have a significant impact on the global economy.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was up 0.1% in early trade, while South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.5%. The Straits Times Index in Singapore rose 0.2%, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong climbed 0.2%.

In a similar fashion, the Taiwan Weighted Index gained 0.3%, Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite rose 0.2%, and the Australian benchmark index, ASX 200, rallied 0.5%.

Meanwhile, China’s Shanghai Composite traded 0.4% lower in early deals.

Oil rallies on reduced Omicron fears

Crude oil prices extended rally on Friday as tighter U.S. crude inventories and easing concerns about the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant boosted fuel demand. The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude oil futures for February surged 1.3% to $73.72 a barrel, while Brent oil futures were at $76.30, up 1.34% during early Asian trading hours.

In the overnight trade, Brent crude futures settled 2.1% higher at $76.85 a barrel, the highest close since November 26, while WTI crude futures ended up by 1.4% at $73.79 per barrel.

Gold prices rise on weaker dollar

Gold futures traded higher during the Asian session as a weaker U.S. dollar boosted demand for the yellow metal. The safe-haven dollar dropped to a one-week low against global currencies on Thursday as investor appetite for riskier assets improved. Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,808 per ounce in futures trade.

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