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NSE Intra-day chart (20 March 2024)
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Market Commentary 21 March 2024
Benchmarks to make gap-up opening on rally in global markets

Indian equity markets ended with marginal gains in the volatile session on Wednesday as investors across the globe remained in a cautious mood ahead of a key interest rate decision in the world's largest economy due later in the day. After the initial uptick, markets turned lower as traders got cautious with the Reserve Bank of India's data in the March 2024 bulletin showing that the net foreign direct investment (FDI) in India, inflows minus outflows, declined 38.4 per cent year-on-year to $15.41 billion in the first 10 months of this financial year due to an increase in the repatriation of capital. As per the data, FDI in India was $25.53 billion and outflows were $10.11 billion in April 2023-January 2024. However, markets recouped early morning losses to trade in green in afternoon deals, as traders took support with an article on the State of Economy published in the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) March Bulletin showing that India can sustain 8 per cent annual GDP growth and the conducive macroeconomic configuration may become a launching pad for a step-up in the country's growth trajectory. Some support also came with the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) stating that the provisional figures of net direct tax collections registered a growth of 19.88 per cent to Rs 18,90,259 crore for the financial year 2023-24 (as of March 17, 2024) as compared to Rs 15,76,776 crore in the corresponding period of the previous financial year (FY 2022-23), on higher advance tax mop-up. Key gauges trimmed some gains in final minutes of trade but managed to end with mild gains supported by gains in heavyweight stocks like Maruti Suzuki, Power Grid Corporation and Nestle. Finally, the BSE Sensex rose 89.64 points or 0.12% to 72,101.69 and the CNX Nifty was up by 21.65 points or 0.10% to 21,839.10.

The US markets ended sharply higher on Wednesday after the Fed announced its widely expected decision to leave interest rates unchanged but also maintained its forecast for three rate cuts this year. In support of its dual goals of maximum employment and inflation at a rate of 2 percent over the longer run, the Fed said it once again decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 5.25 to 5.50 percent. The target range for the federal funds rate has remained unchanged since the Fed raised rates by a quarter point last July. While the accompanying statement said Fed officials still need greater confidence inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent before cutting rates, the projections still point to three rate cuts this year. The latest projections suggest Fed officials expect rates to be lowered to a range of 4.50 to 4.75 percent by the end of 2024. The interest rate forecast is unchanged from December and points to three quarter point rate cuts over the next nine months. On the sectoral front, Airline stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the session, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 3.8 percent after ending Tuesday's trading at its lowest closing level in well over a month. Substantial strength also emerged among gold stocks, as reflected by the 3.8 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The rally by gold stocks came as the price of the precious metal surged in afterhours trading. Banking stocks also showed a significant move to the upside on the day, driving the KBW Bank Index up by 2.4 percent to its best closing level in a year.

Crude oil futures ended lower on Wednesday as traders chose to take some profits. Further, a firm dollar weighed on oil prices. Oil prices fell despite data showing an unexpected drop in crude oil inventories in the week ended March 15. Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed crude inventories in the U.S. dropped by nearly 2 million barrels last week versus expectations for a slight increase. The EIA data also showed gasoline inventories slumped by 3.3 million barrels last week, while distillate stockpiles edged up by 0.6 million barrels in the week. Benchmark crude oil futures for April delivery dropped $1.79 or about 2.1% to settle at $81.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for May delivery fell by $1.43 or about 1.66% to $85.95 per barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange.

Indian rupee depreciated against the dollar on Wednesday weighed down by a strong American currency against major rivals overseas and elevated crude oil prices. Some cautiousness came in as the Reserve Bank of India's data in the March 2024 bulletin showed that the net foreign direct investment (FDI) in India, inflows minus outflows, declined 38.4 per cent year-on-year to $15.41 billion in the first 10 months of this financial year due to an increase in the repatriation of capital. As per the data, FDI in India was $25.53 billion and outflows were $10.11 billion in April 2023-January 2024. On the global front, U.S. dollar edged up while the yen remained around its multi-month low on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve policy meeting and after the Bank of Japan (BOJ) raised interest rates for the first time in 17 years. Finally, the rupee ended at 83.19 (Provisional), weaker by 16 paise from its previous close of 83.03 on Tuesday.

The FIIs as per Wednesday's data were net buyers in equity segment, while they were net sellers in debt segment. In equity segment, the gross buying was of Rs 17223.87 crore against gross selling of Rs 15872.80 crore, while in the debt segment, the gross purchase was of Rs 1231.91 crore with gross sales of Rs 1666.67 crore. Besides, in the hybrid segment, the gross buying was of Rs 25.18 crore against gross selling of Rs 25.10 crore.

The US markets ended in green on Wednesday as the US Federal Reserve kept its forecast for three rate cuts this year unchanged, while delivering a status quo outcome on the key interest rate. Asian markets are trading higher on Thursday tracking overnight gains on Wall Street. Indian markets ended volatile session slightly in green on Wednesday as weakness in financial stocks offset strength in auto, FMCG and energy shares. Today, domestic indices are likely to make gap-up opening tracking broadly positive cues from global peers. Overnight in the US, the Fed kept its interest rates unchanged and stuck on its promise of three rate cuts in the current calendar year. Some support will come after CareEdge Ratings said India's economic activity likely hit a nine-month high in February, despite rural demand remaining weak and unemployment rising, thanks to a sharp expansion in exports, imports and corporate bond issuances. The CareEdge Economic Meter, a composite index covering 18 high-frequency economic indicators to track the state of the economy, suggested a 10.3% year-on-year uptick in activity levels. Traders may take note of India's executive director at International Monetary Fund (IMF) Krishnamurthy Venkata Subramanian's statement that India needs to grow at 8 per cent on sustained basis to create sufficient jobs to reduce poverty and inequality. India's economy grew by better-than-expected 8.4 per cent in the final three months of 2023 - the fastest pace in one-and-half years. He said We should be impatient even if we grow at 7 per cent. We should be looking to grow at 8 per cent and above, as the country needs to create a lot of infrastructure. However, some cautiousness may come amid foreign fund outflows. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) net sold shares worth Rs 2,599.19 crore on March 20, provisional data from the NSE showed. Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India will lead the world in AI capabilities, and exhorted young entrepreneurs and startups to work on Indian solutions for global applications to solve challenges faced by nations across the world. Metal stocks will be in focus with a private report that Indian sponge iron producers have urged the government to impose duties on exports of low-grade iron ore to stave off shortages of the main raw material in the world's second-biggest crude steel producer. Meanwhile, Krystal Integrated Services will make its market debut today against an issue price of Rs 715 per share.

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  • NTPC has planned to issue unsecured NCDs of Rs 1,500 crore, through private placement at a coupon of 7.48% p.a. for a tenor of 2 years, maturing on March 21, 2026.
  • TCS has been selected by Central Bank to use TCS BaNCS to update its core technology infrastructure, drive innovation, and strengthen customer relationships.
  • UltraTech Cement has received approval from Competition Commission of India to acquire Kesoram Cement business from Kesoram Industries.
  • Bharti Airtel has deployed additional sites in Kollam district to densify its network.

News Analysis