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Market Commentary 01 April 2024
Markets to start new financial year on positive note following Asian peers

Extending winning momentum for second straight day, Indian equity benchmarks ended the last trading day of the financial year 2023-23 (FY24) on a firm note, with Sensex and Nifty recapturing their crucial psychological levels of 73,600 and 22,300, respectively. Markets made a gap up opening and continuously strengthened for most part of the session as traders took encouragement with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's statement that the government will continue the push on its reforms agenda in its third term since political continuity, along with a predictable and stable economic environment and taxation structure, is important to achieve the laid-down developmental goals. Some support also came with provisional data from the NSE showing that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) net bought shares worth Rs 2,170.32 crore on March 27, 2024. Local bourses extended gains in afternoon deals, taking support from Chairman of the 16th Finance Commission Arvind Panagariya's statement that India can realistically push its economic growth close to 9 per cent from the current 7 per cent or so, by implementing a few more reforms in the next five years. Traders also took a note of the Finance Ministry's statement that the Centre plans to raise Rs 7.5 lakh crore through market borrowing in the April-September period of 2024-25 (H1FY25) to fund the revenue gap. In the next financial year (FY25), the government plans to borrow a total of Rs 14.13 lakh crore. Sentiments remained positive amid reports that India's central bank will keep building its forex reserves as it seeks to build larger buffers, and strong inflows into the country's equity and debt markets give it an opportunity to do so. However, markets trimmed some gains in final hour of trade but managed to close in green terrain.  Finally, the BSE Sensex rose 655.04 points or 0.90% to 73,651.35 and the CNX Nifty was up by 203.25 points or 0.92% to 22,326.90.

The US markets ended choppy trading session mostly in green on Thursday as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of a Commerce Department report on personal income and spending on Friday that includes readings on inflation said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve. There are expectations that the annual rate of consumer price growth to inch up to 2.5 percent in February from 2.4 percent in January, while the annual rate of core consumer price growth is expected to come in unchanged at 2.8 percent. Markets were closed on Friday for Good Friday. Traders largely shrugged off a slew of U.S. economic data. The Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged slightly lower in the week ended March 23rd. The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 210,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 212,000. A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed the U.S. economy unexpectedly grew by more than previously estimated in the fourth quarter of 2023. Revised data showed real gross domestic product surged by 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previously reported 3.2 percent jump. Street had expected the pace of GDP growth to be unrevised. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a report showing a notable rebound by pending home sales in the month of February. NAR said its pending home sales index shot up by 1.6 percent to 75.6 in February after plunging by 4.7 percent to a revised reading of 74.4 in January.

Crude oil futures ended significantly higher on Thursday on account of drop in supply levels due to OPEC+ production cuts and continued attacks by Ukraine on Russian oil facilities. The OPEC and its allies are meeting next Wednesday. It is widely expected that the group will decide to maintain its output reduction policies. Data showing a drop in jobless claims, and a report showing U.S. GDP surged by an upwardly revised 3.4% in the fourth quarter, raised hopes about the outlook for oil demand. Some support also came in with a recent data showing a smaller than expected increase in U.S. crude inventories, and expectations of increased demand for oil in the U.S. and China. Benchmark crude oil futures for May delivery rose $1.82 or about 2.2% to settle at $83.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for May delivery gained $1.39 or 1.61% to $87.48 per barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange.

Rupee ended lower on Thursday due to a strengthening greenback against major rivals overseas and rising crude oil prices in the international markets. Traders ignored Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's statement that government will continue the push on its reforms agenda in its third term since political continuity, along with a predictable and stable economic environment and taxation structure, is important to achieve the laid-down developmental goals. Meanwhile, Chairman of the 16th Finance Commission Arvind Panagariya said that India can realistically push its economic growth close to 9 per cent from the current 7 per cent or so, by implementing a few more reforms in the next five years. On the global front, the yen languished near its weakest in decades on Thursday though the threat of intervention from Japanese authorities kept investors leery of pushing the currency to a new low. Finally, the rupee ended at 83.38 (Provisional), weaker by 5 paise from its previous close of 83.33 on Wednesday.

The FIIs as per Thursday's data were net buyers in equity and debt segments both. In equity segment, the gross buying was of Rs 19964.98 crore against gross selling of Rs 15922.48 crore, while in the debt segment, the gross purchase was of Rs 3516.65 crore with gross sales of Rs 2075.55 crore. Besides, in the hybrid segment, the gross buying was of Rs 19.14 crore against gross selling of Rs 9.76 crore.

The US markets ended mostly in green on Thursday as investors digested the latest batch of economic data while looking towards the next inflation reading. Asian markets are trading mostly higher on Monday after China reported expansion in its manufacturing activity in March, a first since September. Indian markets posted solid gains on the last day of FY24 and extended the winning run on the second consecutive session on Thursday led by buying across the sectors. NSE and BSE were closed for trading on Friday on account of Good Friday. Today, markets are likely to start the new financial year (2024-25) on a positive note backed by strength in Asian peers. Investors will keep close eye on the upcoming the RBI policy meet foe more directional cues. RBI will conduct the first monetary policy meeting of the new fiscal 2024-25 from April 3-5, 2024. Sentiments will get a boost after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India's gross domestic product (GDP) is on track to grow by 8 percent or more in the quarter ended March 31. Sitharaman added the economy is expected to show the same rate of year-on-year expansion for the 2023/24 financial year, citing the impact of improved inflation management and macroeconomic stability. Traders will be getting encouragement as growth in output of the eight key infrastructure sectors - known as the core sector - rose to a three-month high of 6.7 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in February from 4.1 per cent in January. According to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, output accelerated in sectors like crude oil (7.9 per cent), refinery products (2.6 per cent) and electricity (6.3 per cent). Some optimism will also come as India's executive director at International Monetary Fund (IMF) Krishnamurthy Venkata Subramanian said Indian economy can grow at 8 per cent till 2047, if the country can redouble the good policies that it has implemented over the last 10 years and accelerate reforms. Some support will come with a report that foreign investors made a strong return by injecting more than Rs 2 lakh crore into Indian equities in 2023-24, driven by optimism surrounding the country's robust economic fundamentals amidst a challenging global environment. Besides, provisional data from the NSE showed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) net bought shares worth Rs 188.31 crore on March 28. However, some cautiousness may come as the government data showed that India's fiscal deficit between April and February of FY24 stood at Rs 15.01 lakh crore, and was around 86.5 per cent of the target for the entire financial year. The fiscal deficit in the same period a year ago stood at Rs 14.53 lakh crore. There will be some buzz in banking sector stocks as Care Ratings in the report said the gross non-performing assets (GNPA) of the Indian banking system are set to improve further to up to 2.1 per cent by the end of FY25. It added GNPAs are likely to come at 2.5-2.7 per cent in FY24 and will improve further to 2.1-2.4 per cent by the end of FY25. Metal industry stocks will be in limelight as Icra said domestic demand growth for non-ferrous metals such as aluminium and copper is likely to remain at 10 per cent in the next financial year. It noted the apparent consumption growth for non-ferrous metals in the domestic market remained at 10-13 per cent in the first nine months of the ongoing fiscal supported by the government's push on infrastructure development and encouraging demand from renewables sectors and electric vehicles. Automobile industry stocks will be on traders' radar owing to the monthly sales report.

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