Indian equity benchmarks, the BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty, are poised to open higher on Thursday, tracking strong cues from Asian peers and a positive finish at Wall Street overnight amid sharp correction in crude oil prices. The positive trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a gap-up opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 300 points, or 1.84%, higher at 16,646 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:20 AM.

The domestic event will take centre stage today as the outcome of assembly polls across five states – UP, Punjab, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand – will set directions for the markets. The exit poll results indicated big wins for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur, a majority in Uttarakhand, and a tight contest in Goa, while the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party is expected to rule Punjab.

On Wednesday, the domestic benchmarks closed higher for the second straight session, driven by broad-based buying across sectors a day ahead of state assembly election results in five states. The BSE Sensex gained 1,223 points, or 2.3%, to close 54,647 higher. The Nifty50 settled at 16,345 levels, up 332 points or 2%. On the sectoral front, all indices closed in green, barring metal and power sectors, while realty and auto space gained the most. The top gainers on the BSE Sensex pack were Asian Paints, Reliance Industries, , Bajaj Finance, IndusInd Bank, and Mahindra & Mahindra.

Stocks to focus

Bharti Airtel: The telecom major has signed a pact to acquire 9% stake in Avaada CleanTN Project, a special purpose vehicle formed for the purpose of owning and operating the captive power plant.

Zydus Lifesciences: The drugmaker on Wednesday said it has received a nod from the US health regulator to market Nitroglycerin Sublingual tablets, used to treat chest pain, in the American market. The drug will be available in 0.3 mg, 0.4 mg, and 0.6 mg strengths.

Larsen & Toubro (L&T): The infrastructure major said that its construction arm, L&T Construction, has bagged a significant order from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to design and construct the underground metro project of Phase-IV of Delhi MRTS.

HUL: The FMCG major on Wednesday rejigged its management committee and announced the appointment of two key executives. The company has appointed Madhusudhan Rao as executive director, beauty & wellbeing and personal care and Deepak Subramanian will take over the role of executive director, Home Care.

Dr. Reddy's Laboratories: The drugmaker on Wednesday said it was focused on employee safety and business continuity in and around Russia. The statement came at a time when several western companies are pulling out from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Raymond: The textile and apparel major has appointed Sunil Kataria as the CEO of its lifestyle business. This flagship vertical of Raymond Group deals in branded textiles, garmenting, shirting, retail, and apparel business.

PNB Housing Finance: The mortgage lender said in an exchange filing that the board of directors of the company at its meeting held on March 9 approved the rights issue of equity shares. The company plans to raise up to ₹2,500 crore, subject to requisite approval.

TCS: The IT major on Wednesday launched its ₹18,000 crore share buyback offer, which will close on March 23. Last month, the company had announced a buyback of 4 crore shares at ₹4,500 each.

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

Wall Street rebounds as oil retreats

In the overnight trade, all the three major U.S. indices ended higher, led by financial and technology shares, as oil prices retreated sharply easing inflationary concerns. Investors’ appetite for riskier assets improved after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he’s open to some compromises amid ongoing conflict with Russia. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2%, the S&P 500 added 2.57%, and the Nasdaq Composite ended 3.59% higher.

Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were flashing in green in early trade, following solid cues from Wall Street and correction in oil prices.

Japan’s benchmark index Nikkei 225 was the best performer in the region with a 3.7% gain, followed by Taiwan Weighted index, which surged 2.6%.

The Straits Times Index in Singapore added 1.4%, and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rallied 1.8%.

In a similar fashion, Australia’s ASX 200 index jumped 1.4%, South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 2.2%, and Thailand’s SET Composite gained 1.5%.

In mainland China, the Shenzhen component surged 2.6%, while the Shanghai Composite added 1.4% in early deals.

Brent crude prices drop sharply

The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell sharply in overnight trade, registering the biggest one-day percentage drop in almost two years, following reports the U.S. was moving to find oil from other countries, such as Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. The market sentiment was also boosted after the UAE urged major oil producers to increase production in the backdrop of Russia's energy sanctions.

In the overnight trade, the Brent crude oil ended 13% lower at $111.14, while the U.S. benchmark oil, West Texas Intermediate crude oil, nosedived 12.5% to $108.70.

Meanwhile, during the early trading hours on Thursday, the U.S. WTI crude futures dropped 0.67% to $108 a barrel, while the Brent oil futures fell 1.2% to $111 per barrel.

In the previous session, Brent oil futures topped $130 a barrel mark to hit a 13-year high after the U.S. and UK announced bans on Russian oil exports.

FIIs continues funds outflow, DIIs remain buyers

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net sellers in the Indian equity market on March 9, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were net buyers. As per the data available on the NSE, FIIs sold shares worth ₹4,818.7 crore, while DIIs net purchased shares worth ₹3,275.9 crore.

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