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NSE Intra-day chart (03 March 2022)
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Market Commentary 04 March 2022
Benchmarks to make gap-down opening amid Russia-Ukraine war


Indian equity benchmarks failed to hold initial gains to end Thursday's session in red terrain, as investors globally overlooked reassuring comments from the Fed amid nervousness on the Russia-Ukraine war front coupled with surging oil prices. Markets made a positive start as the head of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell said he supports a traditional rate hike of 0.25 percentage points instead of the bigger rise recommended by some policymakers. Key gauges despite trimming some gains stayed in green terrain as sentiments got a boost as preliminary data released by the commerce ministry stated that India's exports rose by 22.36 per cent to $33.81 billion in February on account of healthy growth in sectors like engineering, petroleum and chemicals, even as the trade deficit widened to $21.19 billion. Some support also came after income tax department stated that it has issued refunds worth over Rs 1.83 lakh crore to more than 2.09 crore taxpayers so far this fiscal. This includes 1.70 crore refunds of the 2020-21 fiscal ended March 31, 2021, amounting to Rs 34,202.31 crore. However, markets took U-turn and entered into red terrain in second half of the day as traders opted to book profit amid geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Soaring crude prices due to supply disruptions from Russian sanctions too dented investors' sentiment. Brent crude oil price soared past $118 a barrel on Thursday, the highest level in nine years, as escalated Russia-Ukraine conflict and tightened sanctions on Moscow by western countries, led by the United States, created supply and trade disruptions. Traders also remained anxious as exporters' body FIEO said export cargoes to CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries are impacted due to ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine as no shipping line is willing to take consignments there. Finally, the BSE Sensex fell 366.22 points or 0.66% to 55,102.68 and the CNX Nifty was down by 107.90 points or 0.65% to 16,498.05.


The US markets ended lower on Thursday as traders kept an eye on developments in Ukraine, as Russian forces continue to step up their attacks, forcing thousands of Ukrainians to flee the country. Traders remained worried the sanctions imposed on Russia along with the subsequent surge in oil prices could derail the economic recovery even as the Federal Reserve prepares to begin raising interest rates. Fed Chair Jerome Powell appeared before the Senate Banking Committee and reiterated the central bank is likely to raise rates by at least 25 basis points at its meeting later this month. On the sectoral front, airline stocks saw substantial weakness on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Airline Index down by 3.3 percent to a three-month closing low. Significant weakness was also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 2.2 percent slump by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. On the economic data front, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for US unemployment benefits in the week ended February 26th. The report showed initial jobless claims dipped to 215,000, a decrease of 18,000 from the previous week's revised level of 233,000. Street had expected jobless claims to edge down to 225,000 from the 232,000 originally reported for the previous week. Meanwhile, a separate report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) unexpectedly showed a continued slowdown in the pace of growth in US service sector activity in the month of February. The ISM said its services PMI fell to 56.5 in February from 59.9 in January. While a reading above 50 still indicates growth in the service sector, street had expected the index to inch up to 61.0.


Crude oil futures ended lower on Thursday retreating from a nearly 14-year high hit earlier in the session.  West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the US oil benchmark, traded as high as $116.57 per barrel, a price last seen on September 22, 2008. International benchmark Brent crude hit $119.84, the highest level since May 2012. Meanwhile, while concerns about supply disruptions due to the sanctions on the Russian refinery sector pushed up oil prices earlier in the day, speculation over a possible nuclear deal with Iran dragged down oil prices. Benchmark crude oil futures for April delivery dropped $2.93 or 2.6 percent to settle at $107.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for May delivery declined $4.42 or 2.19 percent to settle at $110.46 a barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange.


Rupee ended lower against US currency as risker asset took a hit amid deepening geopolitical tension. Sentiments were also fragile as US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has signalled the central bank would start raising rates this month despite uncertainties stemming from the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The US Fed Chair said that he is inclined to propose a 25 basis point rate hike later this month. The rate of inflation in the US has scaled a 40-year high. However, downfall remain capped as India's exports rose by 22.36 per cent to $33.81 billion in February 2022 on account of healthy growth in sectors like engineering, petroleum and chemicals. On the global front, euro slid to its lowest level in almost six years against Britain's pound and was pinned near 21-month lows versus the dollar as a fresh surge in energy prices heightened worries about the euro area economic outlook. Finally, the rupee ended at 75.96 (Provisional), weaker by 16 paise from its previous close of 75.80 on Wednesday.


The FIIs as per Thursday's data were net sellers in both equity and debt segment. In equity segment, the gross buying was of Rs 12878.94 crore against gross selling of Rs 16934.87 crore, while in the debt segment, the gross purchase was of Rs 910.15 crore with gross sales of Rs 2379.45 crore. Besides, in the hybrid segment, the gross buying was of Rs 19.63 crore against gross selling of Rs 19.59 crore.


The US markets ended lower on Thursday as the Russia-Ukraine crisis kept investors on the edge. Asian markets are trading mostly in red on Friday following weakness over Wall Street overnight. Indian equity indices relinquished early gains to close in the red for the second straight session on Thursday on surging oil prices. Today, benchmark indices are likely to see gap-down opening amid nervousness among investors globally tracking news flow on the Russia-Ukraine war. The talks between Ukraine and Russia have not seemed to make any headway and thus high volatility amid rising commodity and oil prices may continue. There will be some cautiousness with a private report that India's trade and current account deficits are likely to widen, putting pressure on the rupee, as global oil prices surge and the domestic economy reopens from a third wave of the pandemic. Traders may take note of report that commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said Industry needs to find out ways to raise the share of exports in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) to about 25%. He also made a fresh appeal for driving up the share of the manufacturing sector in GDP to 25%. Meanwhile, keen to keep government deficit within stated targets, the finance ministry will from March 15 start daily monitoring of the revenue receipts, including tax collections, as well as expenditure. Banking stocks will be in focus as the RBI is likely to meet some of the state-run lenders, including State Bank of India and UCO Bank, to discuss payment mechanisms to Russian companies. Indian banks have stopped processing payments to Russian firms after the US imposed sanctions on Russian banks following the invasion of Ukraine last week. There will be some reaction in pharma stocks with a private report stating that in what could be the highest-ever price hike allowed for scheduled drugs (or drugs under price control) in a long time, the National Pharmaceutical (pharma) Pricing Authority (NPPA) is likely to allow a price hike of 10 per cent in April due to steep rise in wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation. Scheduled drugs roughly constitute 17-18 per cent of the Rs 1.6-trillion domestic pharma market.


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