Thursday, the Indian market is likely to open higher in line with a firm trend in the other Asian markets. While positive sentiment on account of buying by foreign funds may help, the market may show volatility due to profit taking ahead of the settlement of March series derivative contracts on Thursday. Traders would look forward to inflation data scheduled to be released later in the day.

Foreign funds remain in a buying mode. On a net basis, FII's bought shares worth Rs.348.65 crore on Wednesday, according to the provisional data released by the Bombay Stock Exchange. On Tuesday, they purchased shares worth Rs.699.20 crore on a net basis, the latest data available with the market regulator SEBI showed.

Currently, markets across the Asia-Pacific region are trading higher. China's Shanghai Composite index is up 0.16%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index is rising 2.08%, South Korea's KOSPI is gaining 0.34% and Japan's Nikkei 225 index is up 0.51%.

After experiencing considerable volatility over the course of the trading session on Wednesday, the US markets eventually ended firmly in positive territory after upbeat data on U.S. durable goods orders for February and US new home sales report fueled hopes of an economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.17%, the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.82% and the S&P 500 index moved up 0.95%.

The Indian ADRs closed higher across the board. Among the major gainers, HDFC Bank rallied 4.65%, Sterlite Industries jumped 6.66%, Reddy's Laboratories moved up 3.84%, Satyam Computers advanced 2.53% and Infosys rose 2.25%.

Crude oil futures ended more than 2% lower in New York trading on Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) weekly inventory report showed a more-than-expected 3.3 million-barrel build-up in crude oil stockpiles. The EIA estimated that compliance by OPEC members with the cartel's target production cut of 4.2 million barrels per day reached 67% in February. In Asian trading, crude oil is now trading at $53.26 a barrel, up 0.93%.

After falling to a day's low of Rs.51.10, the rupee recovered its early losses and closed little changed at Rs.50.74/75 against the dollar on Wednesday. While dollar sales by exporters and month-end demand for the US dollar from importers and oil refiners weighed on the currency, late gains in the stock market and hopes of fresh capital inflows from foreign funds improved sentiment.

On Wednesday, the Indian market shrugged off mixed global cues and ended sharply higher for the day, as higher US index futures and net buying by foreign funds in the past few sessions helped improve sentiment. Stocks of realty, oil/gas and metal companies led the rally. However, trading was extremely volatile on account of the expiry of March series derivatives contact on Thursday. After moving choppily in a range of 9,706-9,430, the BSE Sensex closed near the day's high at 9,668, up 197 points or 2.08%, while the S&P CNX Nifty rose 46 points or 1.55% to 2,984.

Satyam Computers could be in focus on reports that about 8 firms have qualified as potential suitors for acquiring a majority stake in the fraud-hit Satyam. IBM Global Services has also registered its interest through a law firm representing it.

GAIL India may be in focus following reports that it will legally separate its marketing business from April 1 to comply with the policy guidelines outlined by the petroleum regulator.

Novartis India may extend its rally on reports that the company could be de-listed from the stock exchanges in the near future. On Wednesday, its parent Novartis AG, the $41.5-billion Swiss pharma giant, said it would take an additional 39 per cent stake in its Indian subsidiary.

Hindustan Motors may move after the company and Japan-based Mitsubishi Motors launched their premium sport utility vehicle Montero 09 in Mumbai.

Havells could see some activity on reports that it has bagged a $200 million export order from the West European countries for the supply of motors and compact

fluorescent lamps.

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