U.S. stocks slumped to close out the first quarter on Thursday with its biggest quarterly decline in two years as concerns persisted about the continuing conflict in Ukraine and its inflationary effect on prices and the Federal Reserve's response. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 550.46 points, or 1.56%, to 34,678.35, the S&P 500 lost 72.04 points, or 1.57%, to 4,530.41 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 221.76 points, or 1.54%, to 14,220.52.
Shares in Asia-Pacific fell Friday morning following overnight losses on Wall Street, with investors looking ahead to the release of a private survey on Chinese manufacturing activity in March. The Nikkei 225 slipped 1.29%, as shares of SoftBank Group dropped more than 2%, while the Topix index fell 1.2%.
Following weak global cues, frontline indices the Sensex and the Nifty ended in the red on March 31, snapping the three-day winning run, as optimism around the Russia-Ukraine talks fizzled out after the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces are preparing for fresh Russian attacks. Sensex remained volatile through the session and ended the day 115 points, or 0.20 percent, lower at 58,568.51. Nifty closed the day 34 points, or 0.19 percent, lower at 17,464.75.
U.S. oil prices fell 7% to close just above $100 on Thursday as President Joe Biden announced the largest ever release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and called on oil companies to increase drilling to boost supply. U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures for May delivery settled down $7.54, or 7%, at $100.28 a barrel, after touching a low of $99.66. Brent crude futures for May, which expired on Thursday, closed down $5.54, or 4.8%, at $107.91 a barrel.
At 8:20 am, the SGX Nifty was trading 95 points or 0.5 percent lower at 17,450, indicating a negative opening for the Indian markets.
Gold traded volatile on March 31 and slipped from their highs amid gains in the dollar index and weakness in crude oil. Gold April futures contract settled almost flat at $1933.50 per troy ounce.
Foreign institutional investors (FII) net bought Indian shares worth ₹3,088.7 crore on Thursday, provisional exchange data showed. That was the biggest FII inflow for Dalal Street since August 31, 2021.
As per media reports, Russia and Ukraine are likely to resume talks even as Ukraine braced for further attacks in the south and east. Peace negotiations are set to resume by video conference on Friday. Seeking to bolster its position, Moscow is redeploying forces from Russian-backed breakaway regions in Georgia to Ukraine, Britain's defence ministry wrote on Twitter, reported Reuters.
The Indian rupee gained 12 paise to close at 75.79 per dollar on March 31, as per Bloomberg data. Rupee gained as crude oil prices fell after the US said it is planning to release oil from reserves to meet the rising demand.