Indian equity benchmarks are expected to open sharply higher on Thursday, following strong cues from Asian peers and an overnight rally at Wall Street after the U.S. central bank lifted interest rates and indicated more hikes this year to combat rising inflation. The global equity markets were also boosted after China promised to roll out more stimulus for the economy and support the capital market. The positive trends on SGX Nifty also indicated a firm opening for the domestic bourses, with SGX Nifty futures trading 264 points, or 1.55%, higher at 17,271 on the Singapore Stock Exchange at 8:20 AM.

On Wednesday, the domestic bourses closed higher for the second straight session, following strong cues from global peers amid optimism about progress in Ukraine-Russia peace talks to end their weeks-long conflict. The market also cheered further fall in crude prices that eased inflation concerns, raising hopes that the Federal Reserve may be less 'hawkish' than expected in its monetary meeting tonight. The BSE benchmark Sensex closed 1,040 points, or 1.85%, higher at 56,817. The Nifty50 also closed near the 17,000 level, ending 312 points or 1.87%, higher at 16,975. Out of the top 30 shares on the BSE Sensex pack, barring Power Grid and Sun Pharma, all heavyweights closed in the green zone. On the sectoral front, all indices closed in positive terrain, led by realty and metal space.

Stocks to focus

Tata Steel: The country’s largest steelmaker said that its subsidiary has completed the acquisition of 90% equity shares in Ceramat Private Limited. Last month, its subsidiary, Tata Steel Advanced Materials, had executed a share purchase cum shareholders’ agreement for acquiring equity stake in Ceramat.

Adani Power: The Adani group company on Wednesday said it has completed the acquisition of Essar Power's 1,200 MW thermal power project in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh. "Adani Power Limited has completed today the acquisition of 100% of paid-up share capital and management control of EPMPL (Essar Power M P Ltd), a company undergoing insolvency resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code," it said.

Mahindra & Mahindra: The auto major has said it will raise its stake in Carnot Technologies to 52.69% with an investment of around ₹14 crore. M&M currently owns 15.60% of the equity share capital of Carnot Technologies.

Future Retail: The crisis-hit Future group company in an exchange filing said its board remains committed to taking all such action as may be necessary to seek value adjustments and reversal of takeover of the stores (leases) by Reliance Group. FRL and its board are taking steps to arrive at a feasible solution that will be in the interests of all stakeholders, it said.

Karnataka Bank: The lender said that its board would meet on March 22 to consider the proposal for augmenting the capital through Basel III compliant Tier II instruments.

Godrej Consumer Products: The consumer goods company has completed the divestment of its entire stake (including the convertible debentures) in Bhabani Blunt Hair Dressing Private Limited, and the right to use the “BBLUNT” brand name to manufacture and sell BBLUNT branded products.

Bajaj Finserv: The financial services company said on Wednesday that it has re-appointed Sanjiv Bajaj as the managing director of the company for a 5-year period.

Unichem Labs: The drugmaker has received ANDA approval for its Guanfacine tablets, USP 1 mg, and 2 mg, from the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Guanfacine tablets are prescribed in the management of hypertension.

Zydus Lifesciences: The company has entered into a share purchase, subscription and shareholder’s agreement (“SPSSA”) to acquire up to 11.86% stake on a fully diluted basis in AMP Energy Green Nine Private Limited, for setting up captive wind-solar hybrid power project in Gujarat.

PNC Infratech: The infrastructure developer has received ₹82.68 crore early completion bonus for Purvanchal Expressway (Package V) from Sansarpur to Gobindpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh from Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA).

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL): The board of directors at its meeting on Wednesday approved the payment of a second interim dividend for the FY22 at ₹2.50 per equity share (25% on the paid-up equity share capital of the company). The record date for the purpose of payment of the dividend is March 29, 2022.

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

Wall Street ends higher after Fed hikes rates

In the overnight trade, all three major U.S. indices closed higher for the second straight session after the central bank announced a 25 basis point increase in its benchmark overnight rate, in line with market expectations. Maintaining a hawkish stance, the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled six more rate hikes to follow this year to tame rising inflation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.55%, the S&P 500 gained 2.24%, and the Nasdaq Composite rallied 3.77%.

Asian shares extend rally

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were trading higher in early trade, following a strong finish at Wall Street overnight after the U.S. central bank lifted interest rates for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

Hong Kong's benchmark index, the Hang Seng, extended its rally for the third session and rose nearly 4% in opening trade after a senior Chinese official said Beijing would provide more support for the slowing Chinese economy.

In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component rallied 2.9% and the Shanghai Composite gained 1.5% amid optimism over economic growth after the government vowed to support the capital market.

Japan’s benchmark index Nikkei 225 rallied 3%, the Straits Times Index in Singapore gained 1%, and South Korea’s KOSPI surged 1.9%.

Among others, Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite added 0.3%, Taiwan Weighted index soared 2.2%, and Australia’s ASX 200 index zoomed 1.5%.

Oil prices continue downtrend

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, continued southward journey amid hopes of ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine to end the conflict between them. The worsening Covid-19 situation in China and lockdown in certain cities also dented the demand outlook, which weighed on the prices. The oil prices have witnessed a sharp correction this week, with Brent crude falling 30% from the March 7 intraday high of $130 per barrel.

In the overnight trade, Brent crude settled at $98.02, down $1.89 a barrel, or 1.9%. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped $1.40, or 1.5%, to $95.04 per barrel.

In the early trading hours on Thursday, the U.S. WTI crude futures were up 1.16% at $96.2 a barrel, while the Brent oil futures climbed 1.07% to $99.09 per barrel.

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