The domestic capital, debt and foreign exchange (forex) markets will remain shut on Tuesday for Holi. Holi is a festival of colours as people transcending classes and age groups daub themselves in colours or gulal of all hues. Holi is also known as the Spring Festival as it marks the arrival of spring, the season of hope and joy, and the end of gruelling winter months. And just like other festivals such as Diwali, Holi also symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
The Holi festival is kicked on the previous evening with the lighting of bonfires to recreate the victory of Lord Vishnu over the demoness Holika. It is celebrated with pomp and gaiety on Purnima or full moon day across India, Nepal, south Asian countries and other countries that have a sizeable Indian diaspora.
The stock markets crashed by 5 per cent on Monday due to spiking coronavirus cases worldwide and plummeting crude oil prices. The S&P BSE Sensex ended the day at 35,635, weaker by 1,942 points or 5.1 per cent and the Nifty ended at 10,451, down 538 points or 4.9 per cent.
There was turmoil in oil markets after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing the selling prices of crude and pledging to unleash pent-up supply onto the market. Brent crude futures fell by as much as $14.25, or 31.5 per cent, to $31.02 a barrel, to mark the biggest percentage drop since January 17, 1991 at the start of the first Gulf War. To exacerbate matters, the International Energy Agency lowered its annual global demand forecast for the first time since 2009.
However, oil prices clawed back some ground to register gains of 6 per cent on Monday on hopes that the price war between the two oil manufacturing companies Saudi Arabia and Russia may not sustain in the long run. Brent crude futures rose $2.31 or 6.7 per cent to $36.67 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate crude gained $1.79 or 5.8 per cent to $32.92 a barrel on Monday.
COVID-19 has left a trail of 4,000 deaths and 110,000 confirmed cases throughout the world, despite the best of efforts by community health officials to contain the outbreak. Although virologists and microbiologists worldover are scrambling to develop an antidote for the coronavirus, a workable vaccine may still be months away. The World Health Organisation has already declared a health emergency as the novel coronavirus threatens to fast acquire pandemic proportions.
Asian shares bounced back from historic lows on Tuesday on speculation of coordinated stimulus by global central banks and governments. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.4 per cent, having shed more than 5 per cent on Monday. Australia rose 1.9 per cent as some went hunting for bargains in beaten down stocks. Japan's Nikkei eased 0.4 per cent, but was well above early lows.
The markets will re-open for trading on March 11, i.e. Wednesday. With Asian shares bouncing back from historic lows on Tuesday and US President Donald Trump scheduled to address a news conference later in the day to outline measures to deal with the aftermath of coronavirus and the contagion spreading across markets, investors back home would hope for the return of stability on Wednesday after a turbulent Monday.