Indian equity benchmarks are poised to open higher with solid gain on Wednesday, tracking firm cues from Asian peers and a strong finish at Wall Street overnight ahead of the U.S. central bank’s policy outcome. The positive trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a gap-up opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 267 points, or 1.6%, higher at 16,920 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:20 AM.

On Tuesday, the domestic benchmark indices ended lower, snapping a five-session gaining streak amid losses in metal and oil and gas stocks due to ease in commodity prices. The 30-share Sensex ended 709 points, or 1.26%, lower at 55,777 due to heavy selling in the final hour of the day’s trade. In a similar trend, the 50-share Nifty closed at 16,663, down 208 points or 1.23%. Tata Steel, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, Tech Mahindra, Infosys, and Reliance Industries were among top five losers on the BSE Sensex. Among sectors, all indices closed in negative terrain, barring auto, while metal and oil & gas declined the most.

Stocks to focus

Zomato: Online food delivery platform has received its board nod to grant a loan of up to $150 million (around ₹1,145 crore) to online grocery shopping player, Grofers India Pvt Ltd (GIPL). The interest rate for the loan will be 12% per annum or higher with a tenor of not more than 1 year.

Tata Motors: The auto major is reportedly planning to invest ₹15,000 crore in the electric vehicle (EV) segment in the next five years. The company plans to develop around 10 more new offerings in the segment, President for Passenger Vehicles Business of Tata Motors Shailesh Chandra said.

One97 Communications (Paytm): The payment solutions company said in an exchange filing that SoftBank's Munish Varma has stepped down as non-executive, non-independent director of the firm, citing personal reasons.

Punjab National Bank (PNB): The PSU bank on Tuesday reported a fraud of ₹2,060 crore in the NPA account of IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Company Limited (ITPCL). “A fraud of ₹2060.14 crore is being reported by the bank to RBI in the accounts of the company. Bank has already made provisions amounting to ₹824.06 crore, as per prescribed prudential norms,” the lender said in an exchange filing.

Future Retail: The talks between Amazon and Flipkart Retail, initiated at the behest of the Supreme Court, to reach an out-of-court settlement have failed. “Amazon has filed an enforcement petition under Section 17(2) of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 before Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in relation to the order dated 21 October 2021 passed by Tribunal appointed by Singapore International Arbitration Centre in the matter of the Arbitration proceedings with Amazon,” the Future group company said.

Future Enterprises: The Future group company in a filing on Tuesday said it has defaulted in payment of interest due on non-convertible debentures (NCDs). The interest on the security was due on March 14, 2022.

HDFC Life Insurance Company: The nomination & remuneration committee of the board of the company at its meeting held on March 15 approved the grant of stock options under the Employee Stock Option Scheme – 2019 (ESOS – 2019). The company has granted 324,313 options to eligible employees of the company and its subsidiaries. Each option upon exercise would be entitled for allotment of one equity share of ₹10 each of the company.

Infosys: The IT major has expanded its collaboration with Trinity College to prepare talent for the workplace of the future. Launched in 2018, more than 450 new Infosys employees have participated in the program, which uses applied learning educational techniques to prepare participants with liberal arts backgrounds for success in the digital workplace. Over the next three years, the Trinity-Infosys Applied Learning Initiative will be offered to at least an additional 500 new employees, the company said.

Macrotech Developers: The real estate developer said that its arm Lodha Developers International Ltd, Mauritius has prepaid $170 million (around ₹1,298 crore) of debt after it achieved its best-ever quarter of sales of 191 million pounds (around ₹1,900 crore) in the December quarter of 2022.

Hatsun Agro Product: The dairy firm’s chairman and managing Director Chandramogan R G on Tuesday purchased company's shares worth nearly ₹25 crore through an open market transaction. According to the block deal data on NSE, he acquired 2.08 lakh shares at an average price of ₹1,194 apiece.

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

Wall Street ends higher ahead of Fed outcome

In the overnight trade, all three major U.S. indices closed higher, snapping a three-day losing streak, ahead of the Federal Reserve's upcoming policy announcement. The Fed began its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and expected to raise interest rates from zero for the first time since 2018.

The market sentiment was lifted by continued fall in crude prices which helped ease inflation fears. Investors also kept a close eye on the Covid-19 situation in China and progress in Ukraine-Russia peace talks to end their weeks-long conflicts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 1.82%, the S&P 500 added 2.14%, and the Nasdaq Composite rallied 2.92%.

Asian shares rebound

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were flashing in green during early trade, led by Hong Kong, tracking strong cues from Wall Street overnight. Investors remained on edge ahead of the U.S. Fed policy outcome and coronavirus situation in China.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rebounded 2.6% today after falling nearly 9% in the past two sessions amid concerns over China’s ties with Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component and the Shanghai composite rose nearly 0.2% in opening deals, snapping their three days losing streak. The Chinese market has witnessed high volatility this week amid worsening Covid-19 situation in the country and lockdowns in certain regions.

Japan’s benchmark index Nikkei 225 rose 1.7%, the Straits Times Index in Singapore climbed 1.5%, and South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.8%.

In a similar trend, Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite jumped 0.9%, Taiwan Weighted index rose 0.2%, and Australia’s ASX 200 index jumped 0.9%.

Oil prices slip below $100

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, slide further in overnight trade in anticipation of a drop in demand amid rising Covid-19 cases in China as well as hope for the resumption of the Iran nuclear deal. The optimism about the ongoing peace talk between Russia and Ukraine also boosted sentiments.

In the overnight trade, oil prices declined more than 6%, with both Brent crude and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settling below $100 per barrel for the first time since late February.

In the early trading hours on Wednesday, the U.S. WTI crude futures were up 1.07% at $97.5 a barrel, while the Brent oil futures rose 1.4% to $101.4 per barrel.

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