Sensex Likely To Maintain Upward Momentum

( – Indian shares may open higher on Thursday as indicated by futures trade on the Singapore Stock Exchange. Positive sentiment may prevail as Moody’s Investors Service changed India’s outlook to positive from stable, saying structural advantages, supported by relatively benign global commodity prices and liquidity conditions, and actions by policymakers will enhance the sovereign’s financial strength over coming years.

Indian shares rose for a fourth day in a row on Wednesday as top banks cut their lending rates by up to 25 basis points, passing the benefits of two rate cuts announced by the RBI earlier this year. The benchmark indexes Sensex and Nifty rose 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively to close at their highest level in nearly three weeks.

In corporate news, the Centre on Wednesday proposed a two-stage forward auction process to the states for auctioning major minerals like iron ore.

The government also launched the FAME India scheme offering incentives to the nascent hybrid and electric vehicle industry in India.

Sugarcane arrears, according to the Centre’s estimate, have touched a whopping Rs. 19,243.63 crore as of Tuesday for the 2014-15 season.

Asian stocks are mixed, with Japan’s Nikkei index rising 0.7 percent after hitting a 15-year high yesterday, while Australian, Indonesian and Malaysian shares are subdued. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is climbing 2.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite index is losing 1.3 percent on profit taking after recent sharp gains.

Oil prices rose in Asian deals after plunging 6 percent on Wednesday as data showed U.S. crude stockpiles ballooned last week. The dollar held steady and gold prices slid after the release of FOMC meeting minutes.

U.S. stocks ended a choppy session higher on Wednesday after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting showed officials are divided over when to begin raising interest rates.

While several officials thought June would be the right time to raise rates, others said conditions would not be appropriate to begin raising rates until later in the year due to the effects lower energy prices and the dollar’s appreciation have on inflation. The Dow edged up 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.8 percent.

U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa unofficially kicked off the first-quarter earnings season after the closing bell. The company swung to a first-quarter profit after posting a loss a year earlier.

The European markets closed firmly in negative territory on Wednesday even as oil and gas shares gained ground amid bets Royal Dutch Shell’s deal to buy BG Group will spark a wave of mergers in the industry. The lack of U.S. economic data and downbeat Eurozone retail sales and German factory orders data also weighed on investor sentiment. The German DAX dropped 0.7 percent, France’s CAC 40 slid 0.3 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 0.4 percent.

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