Indian equity benchmarks are expected to open higher on Wednesday, following strong cues from Asian peers and an overnight rally on Wall Street amid optimism about progress in peace talk to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The positive trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a firm opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 157 points, or 0.91%, higher at 17,535 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:00 AM.

On Tuesday, the domestic benchmark indices extended their winning streak for the second straight session amid hopes of progress in Russian-Ukraine peace talks and easing Brent crude prices. The 30-share Sensex ended 350 points, or 0.6%, higher at 57,944, and the 50-share Nifty settled at 17,325, up 103 points or 0.6%. The broader market also closed with solid gains, with the BSE midcap and smallcap indices adding 0.66% and 0.63%, respectively. The top performers were HDFC, Bharti Airtel, UltraTech Cement, HDFC Bank, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Kotak Bank, HUL, Bajaj Finance, ICICI Bank and Infosys. On the sectoral front, most of the indices closed in positive terrain, led by healthcare and realty, while PSU and energy space declined the most.

Stocks to focus

ONGC: The government is expected to raise ₹3,000 crore by offloading a 1.5% stake in the oil and gas major through an offer for sale (OFS) on Wednesday.

Hero MotoCorp: The two-wheeler major will hike the prices of its motorcycles and scooters by up to ₹2,000 from April 5.

IDBI Bank: The LIC-owned bank plans to raise capital up to ₹3,000 crore through additional Tier 1 bonds in FY23 to meet regulatory norms. Adding to it, the lender will also raise up to ₹1,000 crore via infrastructure bonds to finance projects and affordable housing.

Indian Overseas Bank: The PSU bank is also planning to raise capital up to ₹800 crore through Tier II bonds to meet regulatory norms and business needs.

Vedanta: India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) on Tuesday upgraded the mining firm’s long-term issuer rating to 'AA' with a stable outlook.

Future Enterprises: The Future group company on Tuesday defaulted on payment of ₹19.16 crore to Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India under the one-time restructuring plan. This is the second time this month when the cash-strapped missed dues payment.

Tata Consumer Products (TCPL): Tata group company on Tuesday announced a reorganisation plan to simplify, align and synergise its business. Under the reorganisation, the company will demerge the plantation business of Tata Coffee Limited (TCL) into TCPL Beverages & Foods Limited (TBFL), a wholly owned subsidiary of TCPL. Besides, it will merge the remaining business of TCL, consisting of its extraction and branded coffee business with TCPL.

Bharat Electronics: The state-run company has bagged a contract from the defence ministry for the development of an electronic warfare equipment for the Indian Air Force at a cost of ₹1,109 crore.

IndiGo: The budget carrier has appointed Gaurav Negi as its new chief financial officer, replacing Jiten Chopra who is leaving the airline to pursue other interests. The airline has also appointed Vinay Malhotra, regional group chief operating officer at VFS as its head of sales.

SBI Life Insurance: Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) on Tuesday sold 0.56% or 5.58 million equity shares in the company for ₹597 crore.

Alembic Pharmaceuticals: The Vadodara-based pharma company has fully acquired Aleor Dermaceuticals, by buying the remaining 40% stake from its joint venture (JV) partner Orbicular Pharmaceuticals Technologies.

Ruchi Soya Industries: The Patanjali group-owned company on Tuesday said it has rescheduled its board meeting on March 31 to fix issue price of its ₹4,300 crore FPO (follow-on public offer). The decision was taken in the backdrop of markets regulator Sebi's direction to allow withdrawal of investors' bids till Wednesday.

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

Wall Street ends higher

In the overnight trade, all three major U.S. stocks closed higher, with the Dow and S&P extending their gain for the fourth straight session, on hopes of progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talk to resolve the ongoing conflict. The drop in crude and other commodity prices eased inflationary concerns and fear of aggressive policy stance by the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.97%, the S&P 500 gained 1.23%, and the Nasdaq Composite rallied 1.84%.

Barring Japan, most Asian shares rise

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region opened mostly higher on Wednesday, barring regional heavyweight Japan which dropped as investors resorted to profit booking following a nine-day winning streak.

Japan’s benchmark index Nikkei 225 fell 1.3%, while South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 0.3%.

Hong Kong's benchmark index, the Hang Seng, rose 1.1% in early trade, while the Straits Times Index in Singapore and Australia’s ASX 200 index gained 0.2% and 0.7%, respectively.

In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component rallied 1.9% and the Shanghai Composite gained 0.6% as investors shrugged-off Covid-19 concerns.

Among others, Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite added 0.45%, Taiwan Weighted index surged 0.96%, and Thailand’s SET Composite climbed 0.3%.

Oil prices edge higher

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, edges higher in early trade on Wednesday amid hopes of a positive outcome of ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine to end the conflict between them. The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 0.89% at $105.17 a barrel, while the Brent oil futures climbed 0.8% to $108.6 per barrel.

Meanwhile, the oil marketing companies have again raised petrol and diesel prices by 80 paise per litre each on Wednesday, taking the total increase in rates in the last nine days to ₹5.60 per litre.

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