Indian equity benchmarks are expected to open flat to lower today, following weak cues from global peers as geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to weigh on market sentiments. In the overnight trade, Wall Street ended sharply lower on increased tension at the Ukraine border, while concerns about the timeline of rate hike by the Federal Reserve also left investors jittery. The soft trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a bearish opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 12.7 points, or 0.07%, lower at 17,254 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:00 AM.

On Thursday, the domestic bourses closed a tad lower, led by a mix of U.S. rate hike bets and easing of Ukraine tension. The BSE Sensex dropped 105 points to 57,892, while the Nifty50 slipped 18 points to 17,305. The broader market also settled on a negative note as Nifty Midcap 100 index falling 0.30% and small-cap shares sliding 1.04%. Among individual stocks, ICICI Bank was the top Nifty loser, followed by Axis Bank, UltraTech Cement, IndusInd Bank and UPL, among others.

Stocks to watch

Nestle India: The FMCG major has reported a 20% year-on-year decline in net profit for the three months ended December 31, 2021 at ₹386.66 crore. Total revenue from operations for the quarter under review stood at ₹3,739.32 crore, compared to ₹3,432.58 crore a year ago. It clocked ₹3,559.78 crore in domestic sales and ₹146.42 crore in export sales during the December quarter of 2021.

Aurobindo Pharma: The pharmaceutical firm is planning to foray into the domestic formulations business, over-the-counter (OTC) portfolio, and personal care portfolio.

Lupin: The homegrown pharma major has received approval from the U.S. health regulator for its supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for usage of its antibiotic Solosec in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis (BV) for female patients.

Wipro: The largcap IT company has appointed Jasjit Singh Kang as Head of digital operations and platforms of its iCORE (Integrated Cloud Infrastructure, Digital Operations, Risk and Enterprise Cyber Security Services) business.

Bharti Airtel: The Swiss brokerage firm UBS has upgraded Bharti Airtel’s rating from 'neutral' to 'buy'.

Indian Oil Corporation: The state-owned oil firm raised ₹1,500 crore debt through a bonds issue at a coupon rate lower than government bonds.

Ambuja Cements: The company’s consolidated profit fell sharply by 55.5% to Rs 431 crore in December quarter of 2021, against ₹968 crore in the year ago period amid slump in demand and rise in costs. Revenue surged 2.3% to ₹7,625 crore, against ₹7,453 crore during the same period.

Torrent Power: Domestic rating agency CRISIL has upgraded the long term credit rating of non-convertible debentures and long term bank facilities from 'AA/Positive' to 'AA+/Stable', citing solid earnings and sustained improvement in the leverage levels. The agency has also reaffirmed its rating on the short-term bank facilities and commercial paper program at 'A1+'.

Hindustan Adhesives: The company has made an investment of ₹9.73 lakh by acquiring 97,380 shares in the right issue of Bagla Tecvision. With this, the company's equity stake in Bagla Tecvision increased to 16.28%.

Birla Corporation: The company has garnered v150 crore by approving the allotment of 1,500 non-convertible debentures of ₹10 lakh each, on private placement basis.

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

Wall Street slides as Russia-Ukraine jitters continue

In the overnight trade, all three major U.S. indices closed lower amid looming fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden has warned that Moscow could be on the brink of invading Ukraine as it failed to pull back troops from the border. Russia has amassed 45,000 soldiers in Belarus, near Ukraine border.

The market sentiment was also dented by disappointing initial jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed business outlook data, a regional Federal Reserve Bank index measuring changes in business growth. The Nasdaq composite index was the worst performer with 2.9% loss as growth-driven tech stocks were hammered by rate hike concerns. The S&P 500 dropped over 2%, and the Dow lost 1.8 per cent.

Asian stocks follow Wall Street lower

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region dropped in the early trade on Friday, tracking negative cues from the U.S. markets amid escalating tensions between Russia and the Washington over Ukraine invasion.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.45% in early trade, South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.26%, and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong slipped 0.2%. Australia’s ASX 200 index also fell 0.55%, while the Straits Times Index in Singapore rose 0.1%.

In mainland China, the Shenzhen component fell 0.2%, while the Shanghai composite traded 0.05% higher.

FIIs turns net sellers, DIIs remain net buyers

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) turned net sellers in the Indian equity market on February 17, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) remained net buyers. As per the data available on the NSE, FIIs sold shares worth ₹1,242.10 crore, while DIIs net purchased shares worth ₹901.10 crore.

Brent crude retreats

Global benchmark Brent crude dropped further on Friday amid hopes of a return of Iranian oil exports if sanctions are lifted, while tensions in Ukraine limit the upmove.

During the early Asian trading hours on Friday, the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for March contracts dropped 0.98% to $90.86 a barrel, while the Brent oil futures for April contracts fell 0.84% to $92.19 per barrel.

In the overnight trade, Brent crude futures and U.S. WTI crude dropped on the prospect of a nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran, which is in the final stage of discussion.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & Instagram to never miss an update from Fortune India. To buy a copy, visit Amazon.