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Market Commentary 12 March 2024
Benchmarks to get flat-to-positive start ahead of retail inflation data

Indian equity benchmarks ended Monday's session with sharp losses amid weak trends in Asian markets. After making flat-to-positive start, key gauges slipped into red and continued their downward slide as the trading session progressed as investors remained on sidelines ahead of the India's Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation and Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data to be out tomorrow. Some concern also came amid a private report stating that India's headline retail inflation rate in February is not likely to have changed from January's 5.1 percent, extending its stay within the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) tolerance range of 2-6 percent to a sixth consecutive month. Traders overlooked data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showing that foreign exchange reserves rose $6.6 billion to a two-year high of $625.6 billion in the week ended March 1. In the previous week, reserves had risen $3 billion to $619.1 billion. Traders paid no heed towards report that Moody's Ratings raised India's GDP growth forecast for FY24 to around 8 per cent from 6.6 per cent on the back of strong domestic consumption and capital expenditure. Investors also ignored Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal's statement that the many developed and developing countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and nations of the Gulf region are keen to start trade in rupee with India as it would help cut transaction costs for businesses. Traders took note of a report that India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed a landmark trade and economic partnership agreement (TEPA) to open up the EFTA markets for Indian businesses and the Indian markets for the EFTA. As part of the deal, the EFTA countries have committed to invest $100 billion in India over the next 15 years. Finally, the BSE Sensex fell 616.75 points or 0.83% to 73,502.64 and the CNX Nifty was down by 160.90 points or 0.72% to 22,332.65.

The US markets ended mostly in red on Monday amid uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates ahead of the release of key inflation data in the coming days. The Labor Department is scheduled to release its closely watched report on consumer price inflation in the month of February on Tuesday. Street currently expects consumer prices to climb by 0.4 percent in February after rising by 0.3 percent in January. Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, are expected to rise by 0.3 percent in February following a 0.4 percent increase in January. Meanwhile, the annual rate of consumer price growth is expected to come in unchanged from the previous month at 3.1 percent, while annual core consumer price growth is expected to slow to 3.7 percent from 3.9 percent. The consumer price inflation data could have a significant impact on the outlook for interest rates, with Federal Reserve officials saying they need greater confidence inflation is slowing before they consider cutting rates. While the Fed is widely expected to leave rates unchanged at its monetary policy meeting next week, the data could impact expectations regarding when the central bank will eventually lower rates. On the sectoral front, despite the recovery attempt by the broader markets, semiconductor stocks still saw significant weakness on the day, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index falling by 1.4 percent. Within the sector, semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials (AMAT) slumped by 2.0 percent despite raising its quarterly cash dividend from $0.32 to $0.40 per share.

Crude oil futures ended marginally lower on Monday on concerns about the outlook for demand from China and on caution ahead key U.S. consumer price inflation data. Investors were awaiting U.S. inflation data and reports from OPEC and the International Energy Agency (IEA) this week for more clues on the demand outlook. OPEC and the IEA are scheduled to release their monthly oil market reports on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Benchmark crude oil futures for April delivery fell $0.08 or about 0.1% to settle at $77.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. However, Brent crude for May delivery was up by $0. 13 or about 0.2% to $81.21 per barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange.

Indian rupee ended lower on Monday tracking bearish equity markets. Some concern came amid a private report stating that India's headline retail inflation rate in February is not likely to have changed from January's 5.1 percent, extending its stay within the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) tolerance range of 2-6 percent to a sixth consecutive month. Traders paid no heed towards report that Moody's Ratings raised India's GDP growth forecast for FY24 to around 8 per cent from 6.6 per cent on the back of strong domestic consumption and capital expenditure. On the global front, the yen firmed against the dollar on Monday as signs the Bank of Japan will exit negative interest rates at its policy meeting next week contrasted with expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut rates in June. Finally, the rupee ended at 82.75 (Provisional), weaker by 8 paise from its previous close of 82.67 on Thursday.

The FIIs as per Monday's data were net buyers in both equity and debt segments. In equity segment, the gross buying was of Rs 26287.64 crore against gross selling of Rs 15699.03 crore, while in the debt segment, the gross purchase was of Rs 5151.65 crore with gross sales of Rs 769.49 crore. Besides, in the hybrid segment, the gross buying was of Rs 194.03 crore against gross selling of Rs 10.53 crore.

The US markets ended mostly in red on Monday with investors preparing for this week's consumer and producer price data, which they hope will provide a better idea of whether the Federal Reserve can begin cutting interest rates in the coming months. Asian markets are trading mostly in green on Tuesday as Japan's corporate inflation figures for January came in higher than expected. Indian markets snapped a two-day winning run and ended lower as investors remained cautious ahead of the release of US inflation data. Today, markets are likely to get flat-to-positive start ahead of industrial production and retail inflation data to be out later in the day for more directional cues and amid mixed global cues. Foreign fund inflows likely to aid domestic sentiments. Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) continue to buy the Indian equities for the third consecutive week. The equity segment saw an inflow of $919.47 million last week. The month of March has seen a total inflow of $1.42 billion so far. This is a positive signal. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) net bought shares worth Rs 4,212.76 crore on March 11, provisional data from the NSE showed. Some support will come as a report by India Ratings and Research said India will join the coveted club of upper-middle income countries by FY36. The ratings agency's report estimated that by FY47, it will become a $15 trillion economy. Traders may take note of Amish Mehta, CEO of Crisil sating that the Indian economy is expected to show resilience on the back of sustained domestic demand and consumption. He added that the agency expects GDP growth in the upcoming fiscal to moderate to 6.8 per cent. There will be some buzz in the power stocks as the Department of Pharmaceutical announced the revamped Pharmaceuticals Technical Upgradation Assistance (PTUAS) scheme, aiming to provide financial assistance to drug manufacturers for upgrading their technological capabilities and conforming with global standards. Power distribution company's stocks will be in focus with a private report that as power demand touched record levels during the last financial year, the cost of electricity for the power distribution companies (discoms) escalated, and so did their debt for meeting their working capital needs. Power demand grew at 8.9 per cent between financial year (FY) 2021 and 2023, as against 4.3 per cent between FY14 and FY20. There will be some reaction in insurance industry stocks as non-life insurers posted a nearly 13 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth in gross direct premium underwritten in February 2024. But there was a sequential dip in their revenue. Meanwhile, Bharat Highways InvIT will list today over an issue price of Rs 100 and RK Swamy will debut today against an issue price of Rs 288.

Support and Resistance: NSE (Nifty) and BSE (Sensex)


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  • Power Grid Corporation of India has executed MoU with Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam to incorporate a JV Company for development of Intra State Transmission System in the state of Rajasthan
  • Sun Pharma's subsidiary -- Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Inc.is recalling around 55,000 bottles of a generic medication to treat gout from the American market due to manufacturing practices norms deviations.
  • Bharti Airtel has deployed additional sites in Nashik district to densify its network.
  • Tata Motors has rolled out the 1 millionth car from its state-of-the-art facility in Sanand, Gujarat.

News Analysis