Indian benchmark indices, the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty, are expected to open flat with marginal gain in the last session of 2021, following mixed cues from global peers. The muted trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a flat opening for the Indian equities, with SGX Nifty futures trading 10 points, or 0.06%, higher at 17,304 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 7:45 AM.

On Thursday, the Indian share market closed lower for the second straight session as investors rolled over their positions on the expiry of monthly F&O contracts. The market continued lacklustre trade for the second session as most of the investors remained sidelined ahead of year-end celebration mood; rising Omicron cases also weighed on sentiment. The BSE Sensex ended marginally lower by 12.17 points, or 0.02%, at 57,794, and the NSE Nifty slipped 9.65 points, or 0.06%, to settle at 17,203. The broader markets settled on a mixed note, with the S&P BSE Midcap index falling 0.22%. The S&P BSE Smallcap index rose 55 points to end 0.19% higher. Among individual stocks, Reliance Industries, the country’s most valued firm, topped losers’ chart with a 1.94% loss. Some of the other top laggards on the BSE Sensex pack were Tata Steel, Maruti Suzuki India, Bajaj Finance, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, and State Bank of India, which fell in the range of 0.5-1.4%.

Individual stocks that will be in focus on Thursday include CMS Info Systems, SBI, Biocon, Power Grid Corporation, SBI Cards, JSW Energy, IDFC First Bank, Manappuram Finance, Jindal Power, and others.

CMS Info Systems: Shares of CMS Info Systems, one of the largest cash management companies in India, is slated to make debut on the domestic exchange today. Given the tepid response to its initial public offering (IPO), the stock is likely to list at about the issue price of ₹216 apiece. The ₹1,100 crore IPO of the company was subscribed 1.95 times, which opened for subscription between December 21-23.

State Bank of India: The country’s largest lender has announced that it will acquire about 10% stake in the India International Clearing Corporation (IICC) for boosting the financial markets infrastructure. The public sector bank will invest ₹34.03 crore for a 9.95% stake in IICC, the first international clearing corporation which provides clearing and settlement and risk management services.

Power Grid Corporation of India: The state-owned firm has approved an investment proposal for 'expansion of POWERGRID telecom into data centre business. The company will set up a data center at Manesar at an estimated cost of around ₹322 crore.

JSW Energy: Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has acquired 2.01% stake in the company through open market transactions. With this, the insurer's stake in the company rose to 9.01% from 7% earlier.

Biocon: The biotech major’s subsidiary Biocon Biologics has said that it partner Viatris has won the U.S. court case on Sanofi's appeals for Lantus device patents.

IDFC First Bank: The private sector lender said its board has favoured the merger of IDFC and IDFC Financial Holding (promoter group) with the bank.

Manappuram Finance: The NBFC has raised ₹250 crore by issuing bonds, which will be utilised to repay debt and boost capital resources.

Jindal Power: The Competition Commission of India has approved the acquisition of around 96% stake in Jindal Power by Worldone.

SBI Cards and Payment Services: The credit card company has teamed up with Paytm for card tokenisation to protect data of the cardholders.

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

U.S. stocks close down after jobless claims data

On Wall Street, the major U.S. indices closed lower in penultimate session for 2021 as strong macro data reignited fear of interest rate hike. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.25%, the S&P 500 fell 0.30%, and the NASDAQ Composite ended 0.16% lower in overnight trade.

On Thursday, the Labor Department data showed that the number of Americans filing for new jobless claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 198,000 in the week ended December 25 from 206,000 in the prior week.

Another data showed that the manufacturing activity increased over the previous month. The Chicago purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 63.1 in December, 1.3 points higher than previous month and 1.1 points above consensus.

The robust manufacturer data and impressive initial jobless claims indicate that the Omicron cases had no major impact on the economy.

Asian shares trade mostly higher in shortened trading day

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region traded mostly higher in shortened trading session on the final day of the year, undermining weak cues from Wall Street. Markets in Japan and South Korea remained closed on Friday, while trading in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore will wrap up early today to allow traders to enjoy New Year's Eve parties.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was top performer in the regional market, driven by strong rally in Chinese tech firms such as Alibaba, Meituan, and Tencent.

Stocks in mainland Chinese also traded higher, with the Shanghai composite rising 0.47% while the Shenzhen component rose 0.15%. Chinese stocks were driven by improvement in factory activity, with the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) climbing to 50.3 in December, compared to November’s reading of 50.1.

Among others, the Straits Times Index in Singapore and Thailand’s SET Composite rose 0.3% each.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite dropped 0.3%, while Australian benchmark ASX 200 traded lower by 0.2%.

Crude oil prices retreat ahead of OPEC+ meeting next week

Crude oil prices traded lower during early Asian trading hours on Friday amid concerns that rising Omicron coronavirus infections will impact global fuel demand. Investors also turned cautious ahead of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies meet next week.

The global benchmark Brent crude futures dropped 0.38% to $78.72 per barrel, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures shed 1.07% to $76.19 per barrel.

In the overnight trade, oil prices settled marginally higher, with Brent crude rising 0.11% to $79.32 a barrel, and the U.S. WTI crude oil surging 0.56% to $76.9.

FIIs turn net seller, DIIs remain net buyers

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) turned net sellers in the Indian equity market for the second day on December 30, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) emerged as net buyers for the third consecutive session.

As per the data available on the NSE, FIIs net sold shares worth ₹986.32 crore, while DIIs net bought shares worth ₹577.74 crore.

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