Indian equity benchmarks are set to start the week on a positive note, following positive cues from Asian peers. The strong trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a gap-up opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 123 points, or 0.7%, higher at 17,405 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 7:45 AM. Following the release of the Federal Reserve policy decision last week, the developments in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, crude price trend, and macro data will set the tone for the market this week.

On Thursday, the domestic bourses extended rally for the third straight session, tracking strong global cues as well as a surge in buying by foreign portfolio investors. The 30-share Sensex ended at 57,864, up 1,047 points or 1.84%, and the Nifty50 added 312 points, or 1.84%, to settle at 17,287. Barring Infosys and HCL Tech, all top heavyweights in the BSE Sensex pack closed higher. Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), Titan Company, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Reliance Industries and Asian Paints were among top five gainers. Among sectors, all indices, barring IT and technology, closed in green. Realty and consumer durable indices were among the best performers.

Stocks to focus

Reliance Industries: The company’s retail arm, Reliance Retail Ventures has acquired 89% equity shares in Purple Panda Fashions that owns and operates the Clovia business. The company in a release on Sunday said Reliance Retail will invest ₹950 crore via a combination of secondary stake purchase and primary investment.

HDFC: The mortgage lender’s subsidiary, HDFC Capital Advisors Limited (HCAL), has acquired 3,90,666 equity shares of Loyalie IT-Solutions, a real estate digital amenities provider for ₹1.1 crore. HDFC Capital Advisors is a real estate private equity investment manager and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of HDFC.

TVS Motor Company: The two-wheeler major has declared an interim dividend for the financial year ending March 2022. The board of directors of the company declared an interim dividend of ₹3.75 per share (375%) on 47.50 crore equity shares of ₹1 each fully paid up, absorbing a sum of Rs. 178 crore for FY22.

Usha Martin: The promoter firm Peterhouse Investments has sold 2.5 lakh equity shares in the company via open market transactions on March 17.

Bharat Electronics: The board of the company has declared a second interim dividend of ₹1.50 per equity share for the financial year 2021-22.

Strides Pharma Science: Biolexis, a division of Stelis Biopharma, and Akston Biosciences have inked a licensing, manufacturing and commercialisation agreement for a Covid-19 vaccine. Last year, the board of Strides Pharma Science had given the nod for the demerger of its biotech business under Stelis Biopharma.

HPCL: The state-owned oil company has bought two million barrels of Russian crude oil as Indian oil majors rushed to cash in on deep discounts. Last week, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) bought Russian Urals crude.

F&O ban: Indiabulls Housing Finance is under the F&O ban for March 21.

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

Wall Street extends rally

On Friday, all three major U.S. indices closed higher for the third straight session as investors digested the Federal Reserve's Wednesday interest rate hike and its hawkish policy stance to tame surging inflation. Investors also monitored developments on the Russia-Ukraine conflict amid talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping over the crisis in Eastern Europe. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8%, the S&P 500 gained 1.17%, and the Nasdaq Composite surged 2.05%.

Asian shares edge higher

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region witnessed cautious trade on Monday amid lingering concerns about Russia-Ukraine peace talks as the war enters the fourth week. The looming fear about Russian bond payment this week also weighed on market sentiment. The Russian government has to pay $615 million in coupons this month and a $2 billion bond due on April 4. The stock markets in Japan were closed for the holiday.

Hong Kong's benchmark index, the Hang Seng, was up 0.3% in early trade, while the Straits Times Index in Singapore gained 0.2%. Australia’s ASX 200 index traded higher and Taiwan Weighted index climbed 0.6%. Bucking the trend, South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.3%

In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component rallied 0.9% and the Shanghai Composite added 0.2% amid optimism over economic growth after the government vowed to support the capital market.

Oil prices spike on Ukraine woes

The oil prices surged on Monday amid no sign of easing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, while supply constraints also push prices higher. The latest report from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia (OPEC+) showed some member countries are struggling to produce at par with their allotted supply quotas.

In the early trading hours on Monday, the U.S. WTI crude futures rose 3.07% to $106.28 a barrel, while the Brent oil futures climbed 2.84% to $111 per barrel.

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